Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 24 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous reporting period. It continued to observe armed men and armoured personnel carriers in Luhansk city centre. The SMM observed shelling damage in a residential area of Dovhe. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it recorded ceasefire violations inside the Petrivske disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas.* It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure in Zalizne and Betmanove, as well as, reportedly, the transport of the bodies of deceased soldiers near Novotoshkivske and Sentianivka. The SMM followed up on the situation of civilians from Travneve close to the contact line.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations[1], including, however, fewer explosions (60), compared with the previous reporting period (about 80 explosions).

On the evening and night of 23-24 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, five projectiles in flight from east to west, five explosions assessed as outgoing, five projectiles in flight from east to west, followed by totals of about 20 explosions (of which 11 were assessed as outgoing) and about ten projectiles in flight from east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south. During the day on 24 November, positioned at the location of the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station for about two hours, the SMM heard four bursts of small-arms fire 2km west-south-west.

On the evening of 23 November, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded two tracer rounds and a projectile in flight from south to north, all 4-6km east-south-east.

During the day on 24 November, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), recorded, in sequence, four projectiles in flight from west to east, four projectiles in flight from east to west, a projectile in flight from west to east, followed by totals of two undetermined explosions, 83 projectiles (50 in flight from east to west and 33 in flight from west to east) and two illumination flares in vertical flight, all 5-8km south.

During the day on 24 November, positioned at the Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard a burst of small-arms and five bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1-3km north.

Positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about eight hours, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions 2-4km north-north-east.

While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 26 explosions (of which two were assessed as impacts) and about 30 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-4km south and south-east.

Positioned in government-controlled Verkhnotoretske (16km north-east of Mariupol) for about two hours, the SMM heard five explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of recoilless-gun (SPG-9, 73mm) fire 1.5km north-east.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Betmanove (formerly Krasnyi Partyzan, 23km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard six explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of rocket-propelled-grenade launcher fire 2km north-west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including, however, fewer explosions (two), compared with the previous reporting period (about ten explosions).

During the evening of 23 November, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions and about 150 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 10-15km west.

The SMM continued monitoring the situation in Luhansk city (see SMM Daily Report, 24 November 2017). On 24 November, it observed a calm situation in the city. At 59 and 48 Radianska Street, as well as at 63 Karla Marksa Street, the SMM saw at least 30 unidentified armed persons wearing military-style clothes and white armbands. About half of them were also wearing balaclavas. The SMM saw two stationary armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and 12 armed men at the former Ministry of Internal Affairs building at 3 and 4 Kotsiubynskoho Street. At the armed formations (“komendatura”) building (at 63 Karla Marksa Street), the SMM observed two armed men wearing “komendatura” unit markings patrolling around the building. The SMM also observed that a military-type truck (Kamaz) was blocking the intersection of Lermontova and Dzerzhinskoho Streets. It saw nine stationary military-type trucks (six Kamaz and three Ural) in a parking lot at 2G Lermontova Street. On the western outskirts of Luhansk city, the SMM saw 20 military-type trucks (ZIL-131) heading south.

The SMM followed up on reports of damage to civilian properties in residential areas. On 23 November, the SMM observed two fresh impact sites in “LPR”-controlled Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk).

At 9/1 Tsentralna Street, the SMM observed a fresh crater on a paved road about 10-15m north of a fence and a house. The SMM also saw a hole in the glass of the north-facing window of the house at 9/1 Tsentralna Street and broken branches of a nearby tree, 3-4m north of the fence. The SMM assessed that the damage had been caused by a recoilless gun (SPG-9) round fired from a northerly direction. Two women (aged 55-60) told the SMM that they were standing several metres from the impact site when they had heard and seen an explosion, around 17:00 on 22 November.

At 13 Tsentralna Street, the SMM observed fresh shrapnel damage to the wooden planks and the north-facing wall of a shed (7-8m south of a house) and its surrounding fence located 2-3m east of the shed. The SMM assessed that the damage had been caused by a recoilless gun (SPG-9) round fired from a northerly direction. A man (aged 45), who introduced himself as the owner of the house, told the SMM that he had been in the yard of his house when he had heard an explosion about 17:20 on 22 November.

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.*

During the early morning hours of 22 November, the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded eight tracer rounds in flight from west to east 0.5-1km south, all of which were assessed as inside the disengagement area. During the evening of 22 November, the same camera recorded five tracer rounds in flight from west to east and two undetermined explosions 1-2km south, all of which were assessed as inside the disengagement area.

During the day on 24 November, positioned in the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area and near the Petrivske and Zolote disengagement areas, the SMM observed calm situations.

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

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, in non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw a tank (T-72) loaded on a tank transporter heading south on H-21 near Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk). Aerial imagery revealed the presence, on 24 November, of 19 tanks about 4km south-east of Ternove (57km east of Donetsk) and 15 tanks about 3km west of Manuilivka (65km east of Donetsk) (in the latter area, an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle had spotted, on 18 November, 41 tanks (see SMM Daily Report 21 November 2017).)

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM saw a stationary reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) near Novoselivka Druha (36km north-east of Mariupol) and a stationary reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) near Chermalyk (31km north-east of Mariupol). In a non-government-controlled area the SMM observed two stationary APCs (BTR-80) on Kotsiubynskoho Street in Luhansk city (see above).

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co-ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-operation (JCCC), to the power line in Betmanove and to the phenol sludge reservoir in government-controlled Zalizne (formerly Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk). The SMM continued to observe that Ukrainian Armed Forces and “DPR” positions were close to the Donetsk Filtration Station.

The SMM facilitated and monitored the adherence to the ceasefire, co-ordinated by the JCCC, in government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Sentianivka (formerly Frunze, 44km west of Luhansk) to enable, reportedly, the transport of the bodies of deceased members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Positioned 1.5km north of Sentianivka, the SMM heard two shots of small-arms fire 500m north.   

The SMM followed up on the situation of civilians living near the contact line. On 23 and 24 November, two residents from Travneve (51km north-east of Donetsk) told separately the SMM by phone that since 16 November Travneve had no power supply and there were about 120 residents still living in the village (including two children less than five years old).

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, 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, for example, SMM Daily Report 21 November 2017.) 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:

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 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 de-mining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.

 

[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. During this reporting period the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (Donetsk) remained non-operational. Nine SMM cameras are in a testing phase, which will last until 30 November 2017.

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate”.

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