Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 28 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period.The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including in Kozatske.* The SMM facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure in Shchastia, and near Krasnyi Lyman, Artema and Troitske. The SMM visited five border areas not under government control.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1] including, however, more explosions (about 360), compared with the previous reporting period (about 260 explosions).

On the evening and night of 27-28 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, four undetermined explosions, two projectiles in flight from east to west, three undetermined explosions and five tracer rounds in flight from east to west, followed by a total of 12 undetermined explosions, 18 projectiles (17 from east to west and one from west to east) and a tracer round from west to east, all 0.5-1.5km south. During the day on 28 November, the camera recorded six undetermined explosions 0.5-1.5km south.

On the evening of 27 November, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne[2] (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, an illumination flare (trajectory undetermined), three tracer rounds in flight from east to west and two undetermined explosions, followed by a total of 25 projectiles and four tracer rounds from east to west, all 5-8km north.

On 28 November, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about five and a half hours, the SMM heard 95 undetermined explosions and about 120 shots and bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1-5km at directions ranging from south to west.

On the evening and night of 27-28 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 43 undetermined explosions, 49 explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds, 23 explosions assessed as impacts of artillery rounds, and about 100 shots and bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 4-10km at directions ranging from east to south. During the day on 28 November, while in the same location, the SMM heard 53 undetermined explosions, and heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire – including two minutes of uncountable overlapping bursts of fire, all 4-7km south-east.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Holmivskyi (49km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions assessed as rounds of recoilless-gun (SPG-9, 73mm) fire, and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 2km north.

Positioned 2.5km south-south-east of government-controlled Lomakyne (15km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 19 undetermined explosions 5km east-south-east and south-east.

Positioned 1km north of “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 19 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire, all at unknown distances south-south-west and south-west.

Positioned 1km north-north-west of the entry-exit checkpoint near government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 5km south-south-west and ten explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds 3-4km north-east.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including 20 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (no explosions).

On the evening of 27 November, while on the northern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard four undetermined explosions, ten explosions assessed as mortar rounds and about 130 shots and bursts of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm), automatic-grenade-launcher and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 5-8km south-east.

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 morning of 28 November, while on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 3-5km south-east (assessed as outside the disengagement area). On the same day, positioned 300m south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 1-3km south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

Positioned near the Zolote and Petrivske 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 the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, in government-controlled areas, the SMM saw two stationary surface-to-air missile systems (9K33 Osa) near Dibrova (85km north of Donetsk) and four self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk).

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles, an anti-aircraft gun[3] and trenches in the security zone. In areas outside of government control, an SMM mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted, on 25 November, five probable IFVs (BMP-2) near Zhovte (17km north-west of Luhansk) and, on 27 November, an SMM mini UAV spotted six IFVs (BMP-1) and an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (MT-LB) near Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk). The same UAV also spotted fortified positions, assessed as firing positions and bunkers, as well as about 400m of previously observed trenches in a field about 3km south-east of Dovhe and approximately 350m north of road T1303. On 28 November, in areas outside of government control, the SMM saw an APC (MT-LB) in Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk) and an IFV (BMP-2) near Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol).

In government-controlled areas the SMM saw a self-propelled anti-aircraft system (ZU-23-4 Shilka, 23mm) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), two APCs (BTR-80) near Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), two APCs (BTR-80) near Peredilske (24km north-west of Luhansk) and an armoured vehicle (Kraz Spartan) mounted with a heavy-machine-gun mounted near Myrna Dolyna (67km north-west of Luhansk)

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 thermal power plant in Shchastia, to water wells near “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk), to the Petrivske pumping station near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk), and to high-voltage lines between government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk).

The SMM visited five border areas not under government control. At a border crossing point near Marynivka (78km east of Donetsk) for about an hour, the SMM saw 29 cars (13 with Ukrainian and eight with Russian Federation licence plates, and two with “DPR” plates and six with licence plates that could not be seen), two covered cargo trucks (one with Ukrainian licence plates, and one with “DPR” plates) in a queue to exit Ukraine and nine cars (six with Ukrainian and two with Russian Federation licence plates, and one with “DPR” plates) and five pedestrians (four women and a man) enter Ukraine.

At the border crossing point near Novoazovsk (102km south-east of Donetsk) for 15 minutes, the SMM saw three cars (two with Ukrainian licence plates, and one with “DPR” plates) and two covered cargo trucks (one with Russian Federation and one with Ukrainian licence plates) exit Ukraine and five cars (three with Ukrainian and two with Russian Federation licence plates) and one minibus (with Ukrainian licence plates) enter Ukraine.

At the border crossing point in Dovzhanske (84km south-east of Luhansk) for about 45 minutes, the SMM saw four cars (three with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates) and a covered cargo truck (with Ukrainian licence plates) exit Ukraine, and ten cars (five with Russian Federation, four with Ukrainian and one with Lithuanian licence plates), two buses (one with Ukrainian licence plates carrying about 30 passengers and one with Russian Federation licence plates) and a minibus (with Ukrainian licence plates) enter Ukraine.

At the border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk) for about one hour, the SMM saw 22 cars, five covered cargo trucks and 40 pedestrians exit Ukraine and three cars (two with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates), two covered cargo trucks (with Ukrainian licence plates), a bus (with Ukrainian licence plates carrying about 40 passengers) and 17 pedestrians (11 women and six men) enter Ukraine.

At the Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point for about ten minutes, the SMM saw four pedestrians (three men and a woman) exit Ukraine and one pedestrian (a man) enter Ukraine.

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:

  • In “DPR”-controlled Kozatske (36km north-east of Mariupol), two unarmed men stopped the SMM and said that it could not proceed further due to the presence of mines on the road. 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 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] Addendum: In reference to the ceasefire violations recorded by the SMM camera in Shyrokyne on 24 November (see SMM Daily Report 25 November 2017), all ceasefire violations occurred 5-8km north, not south as initially reported.

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