Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 20 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk region compared with the previous 24 hours. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas; it recorded ceasefire violations inside the Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrivske disengagement areas. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including in Siedove near the border with the Russian Federation.* The SMM saw weapons in violation and beyond withdrawal lines in Kalmiuske, and near Buhaivka and Ternove.The SMM facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure in Zalizne, Shchastia, Vesela Hora, and near Krasnyi Lyman. It visited three border areas not under government control. The SMM monitored a peaceful gathering in Odessa.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations,[1] including, however, more explosions (about 420), compared with the previous 24 hours (about 290 explosions).

On the evening of 19 November, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded an undetermined explosion 3-5km east-south-east. On 20 November, positioned on the south-western edge of Avdiivka for about five hours, the SMM heard 80 undetermined explosions (including two assessed as outgoing and their subsequent impacts) and about 100 bursts and shots of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1-5km at directions ranging from east to south-west.

On the evening and night of 19-20 November the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, an undetermined explosion, 11 tracer rounds in flight from east to west, an undetermined explosion, a tracer round in flight from west to east, followed by 34 undetermined explosions, 17 tracer rounds in flight from east to west and 37 projectiles in flight (29 from south-east to north-west and eight from east to west), all 0.5-1.5km south. During the day on 20 November, the same camera recorded six undetermined explosions and two projectiles in vertical flight, all 0.5-1.5km south.

On the evening and night of 19-20 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard about 80 explosions (including 26 assessed as outgoing and their subsequent impacts), and about 500 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-5km south-east and south. During the day on 20 November, while in the same location, the SMM heard 17 explosions (ten assessed as impacts of mortar (82mm) rounds and the remainder undetermined) and at least 100 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1-5km south-east.

During the day on 20 November, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded a projectile in flight from west to east and four undetermined explosions, all 5-8km north.

During the day on 20 November, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard about 40 undetermined explosions and about 140 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-4km west-south-west and west.

Positioned on the north-western edge of “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 2-3km south-west.

Positioned 1km north-west of the entry-exit checkpoint near government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard about 20 undetermined explosions 5km south-east and south-south-east, and about 30 explosions (18 assessed as artillery rounds, three as mortar rounds, and the remainder undetermined) and about 50 shots and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, at unknown distances and at directions ranging from south-east to north-north-east. Positioned 2km south-west of Pyshchevyk, the SMM heard about 20 undetermined explosions and eight bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire at unknown distances and at directions ranging from south to north.

Positioned 2.5km south-east of government-controlled Lomakyne (15km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 1.5km east-south-east.

Positioned 2km south-east of government-controlled Lebedynske (15km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 16 undetermined explosions and about 100 shots and bursts of small-arms, heavy-machine-gun and automatic-grenade-launcher fire, all at unknown distances and at directions ranging from east to north-north-east.

Positioned 3km south-west of government-controlled Chermalyk (31km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard an explosion assessed as outgoing 3-5km north-north-east and 45 explosions (28 assessed as outgoing artillery rounds and the remainder undetermined), 3km south-south-east.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Boikivske (formerly Telmanove, 67km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 25 undetermined explosions at unknown distances west.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 90 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours (about 200 explosions).

On the evening of 19 November, while on the northern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 16 explosions (eight assessed as mortar (82mm) rounds and the remainder undetermined), about 20 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, and seven bursts of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire, all 5-8km south-east and south-south-east. During the day on 20 November, the SMM heard three shots of small-arms fire, 4-5km south-east.

On the evening of 19 November, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard five undetermined explosions and about 40 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 10-15km west.

On the evening of 19 November, while in government-controlled Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 60 undetermined explosions 15km east-south-east.

During the day on 20 November, while in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard about 70 shots and 40 bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1-2km south-south-west.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk), as foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

On the night of 17-18 November, the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded two tracer rounds in flight from west to east 1-2km south (assessed as inside the disengagement area) and two tracer rounds in flight from south to north 0.8-1km west-south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area).

On the evening of 19 November, the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded an undetermined explosion and 20-30 bursts of small-arms fire 1-2km south (assessed as inside the disengagement area). On the evening of 19 November, while on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard five undetermined explosions and about 180 bursts of small-arms fire, all 1-2km at directions ranging from south-east to south-west (all of which were assessed as outside the disengagement area). During the day on 20 November, positioned 100m north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 5km west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

On the evening of 19 November, the SMM camera south-east of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge at Prince Ihor monument recorded an undetermined explosion 1.5-2km north (assessed as inside the disengagement area).

During the day on 20 November, positioned near the Zolote and Petrivske disengagement areas, the SMM observed a calm situation.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.

In violation of withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas, aerial imagery revealed the presence, on 16 November, of five surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10) in Kalmiuske (formerly Komsomolske, 42km south-east of Donetsk), in a zone within which deployment of heavy armaments and military equipment is also proscribed according to Point 5 of the Memorandum of 19 September 2014, and 20 towed howitzers (type unknown) south-east of Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk). An SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted, on 18 November, three self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) about 4km south-east of Ternove (57km east of Donetsk).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, aerial imagery revealed the presence, on 16 November, of 15 tanks (type unknown) about 1km north-west of Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk), 32 tanks (type unknown) and six surface-to-air missile systems (type unknown) south-east of Buhaivka (see SMM Daily Report 21 October 2017 and SMM Daily Report 16 November 2017). Aerial imagery also revealed the presence, on 16 November, of about 85 military-type armoured vehicles and 70 military-type trucks in the same area south-east of Buhaivka. An SMM mid-range UAV spotted, on 18 November, 19 tanks (T-72 and T-64) about 4km south-east of Ternove (see SMM Daily Report 5 October 2017). The same UAV also spotted, on18 November, 41 tanks (probably T-64) about 3km west of Manuilivka (65km east of Donetsk) (see SMM Daily Report 5 October 2017 and SMM Daily Report 31 October 2017).

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In government-controlled areas, the SMM observed that 24 self-propelled howitzers (18 2S1 and six 2S19 Msta-S, 152mm), six towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) and six mortars (2B11 Sani, 120mm) were again missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2]in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas, aerial imagery revealed the presence, on 16 November, of six military-type armoured vehicles in Kalmiuske.

The SMM observed the presence of a mine hazard sign. On the north-western edge of government-controlled Mykolaivka Druha (55km north of Donetsk), the SMM saw, for the first time, a black square with “Danger Mines” written on it (in Ukrainian language) 2m north of road T0513.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co‑ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), to the phenol sludge reservoir in government‑controlled Zalizne (formerly Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk), to the high-voltage power lines in “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), to water wells near “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk), and to the thermal power plant in Shchastia.

The SMM visited three border areas not under government control. While at the border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about an hour, the SMM observed 20 cars (seven with Ukrainian, seven with Russian Federation, one with Lithuanian licence plates, and five with “DPR” plates), a truck (with covered cargo and “DPR” plates) and a bus (carrying approximately 40 passengers and Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine. The SMM saw 17 cars (nine with Ukrainian, five with Russian Federation licence plates, and three with “DPR” plates) and a bus (carrying approximately 40 passengers and Ukrainian licence plates) entering Ukraine.

While at the border crossing point near Novoazovsk (101km south-east of Donetsk) for about half an hour and at the border crossing point near Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk) for about 40 minutes, the SMM observed a total of about ten cars both entering and exiting Ukraine.

The SMM monitored a public gathering in Odessa. On 19 November, the SMM saw about 200 participants (mostly men, aged 18-40) in Soborna Square. The SMM identified some of them as members of the groups Sich (C14), State Initiative of Yarosh, and Right Sector. Addressing the participants, a member of Sich (C14) said that the reason for the gathering was the detention of two people in areas outside government control in Ukraine. After the address, participants marched from Soborna Square to Odessa main stadium. The SMM observed about 100 National Guard officers cordoning (from the right and left side) the participants while they were heading towards the stadium. The gathering ended peacefully.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

*Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations. They have also agreed that the JCCC should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government, citing orders to do so. (See below, for example.) The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remained restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

  • At a checkpoint on the north-western outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Siedove (106km south of Donetsk), near the border with the Russian Federation, armed men stopped an SMM patrol and denied it further passage on the road towards Siedove, citing orders from superiors. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. Armed “LPR” members positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC. 
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC at a checkpoint on the northern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing parts of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, with the exception of the main road, due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM did not consider it safe to travel across the bridge in Shchastia due to the presence of mines. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC. 

[1]Please see the annexed report for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as a map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report. During this reporting period the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (Donetsk) remained non-operational. Nine SMM cameras are in a testing phase, to last until 30 November 2017.

[2] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.