Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 3 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. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas and recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in all three areas and elsewhere, including Markyne.* It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance to essential infrastructure near Marinka. The Mission visited a border area not under government control.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations,[1] including about 300 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 100 explosions).

During the afternoon of 3 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 21 undetermined explosions as well as bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 3-10km south-east and south-west.

On the evening and night of 2-3 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, a projectile in flight from east to west, four projectiles from west to east, nine projectiles from east to west, a projectile from west to east, six projectiles from east to west, three projectiles from west to east, 22 projectiles from east to west, two projectiles from west to east, an undetermined explosion, three projectiles from west to east, two undetermined explosions, a projectile from east to west, an undetermined explosion, 12 projectiles from east to west, eight projectiles from west to east, two undetermined explosions, a projectile from west to east, an undetermined explosion, three projectiles from east to west, three projectiles from west to east, two projectiles from east to west, two undetermined explosions, 11 projectiles from east to west, four projectiles from west to east, an undermined explosion, two projectiles from west to east, an undetermined explosion, four projectiles from east to west, a projectile from west to east, ten projectiles from east to west, a projectile from west to east, an undetermined explosion, and 24 projectiles from east to west, all 1-2km south. On the evening of 3 November, the same camera recorded, in sequence, two projectiles from east to west, four undetermined explosions, two projectiles from east to west, two undetermined explosions, eight projectiles from north-west to south-east, two projectiles from south-east to north-west, an undetermined explosion, two projectiles from east to west, 37 projectiles from east-south-east to west-north-west, an undetermined explosion, nine projectiles from east-south-east to west-north-west, a projectile from west-north-west to east-south-east, an undetermined explosion, three projectiles from east-south-east to west-north-west, an undetermined explosion, four projectiles from east-north-east to west-south-west, nine projectiles from west-north-west to east-south-east, an undetermined explosion, three projectiles from north to south, five projectiles from north-west to south-east, 11 projectiles from east to west, two projectiles from east-south-east to west-north-west, six projectiles from west-north-west to east-south-east, five undetermined explosions, two projectiles from east to west, two undetermined explosions, two projectiles from north-west to south-east, an undetermined explosion, six projectiles from east-south-east to west-north-west, and a projectile from north-west to south-east, all 0.5-2km south.

On the evening of 2 November, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded a projectile in flight from north to south followed by two undetermined explosions, all 4-6km south-south-west. The following day, positioned on the south-western edge of Avdiivka for about five hours, the SMM recorded about 30 undetermined explosions, as well as five bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 2-6km at directions ranging from east-south-east to south.

During the day on 3 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 about 150 undetermined explosions as well as bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-5km west and north-west.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 40 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (15 explosions).

During the day on 3 November, positioned on the edge of government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard 18 explosions 10-15km north-west, assessed as live-fire training inside the security zone, in violation of the decision of the Trilateral Contact Group as of 3 March 2016 that prohibits the conduct of live-fire training (exercises) in the security zone. The SMM also heard six undetermined explosions 10km east and north-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.*

In the early morning hours of 3 November, while on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions – one 3-5km south and the other an unknown distance south – neither of which could be assessed as inside or outside the disengagement area.

During the day on 3 November, positioned 1km south-east of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 3km east, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On 3 November, positioned in government-controlled Zolote, 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.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, in a government-controlled area, the SMM saw 17 self-propelled howitzers (nine 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm, and eight 2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm), six towed howitzers (type unknown) and four anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), all stationary at the railway station in Rubizhne (84km north-west of Luhansk), five stationary multiple launch rocket systems (type unknown) north‑west of Chervona Dibrova (101km north-west of Luhansk), a tank (T-72) north-west of Mykolaivka (77km west of Luhansk), and a tank (T-72) loaded on a stationary flatbed trailer near Polkove (38km north of Mariupol).

The SMM revisited a permanent storage site in an area outside government control in Donetsk region, whose location was beyond the respective withdrawal lines, and noted that seven tanks (six T-72 and one T-64) were again missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. In non‑government‑controlled areas, an SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle spotted two revetted infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP‑1) near Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk). In Donetsk, the SMM saw an armoured personnel carrier (BTR-80) with 11 individuals armed with machine-guns and anti-tank grenades (RPG) atop. In government-controlled Mariupol, the SMM observed a stationary IFV (BMP‑1).

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance, co‑ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), to power lines in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk).

The SMM visited a border area not under government control. During 20 minutes at a border crossing point near Novoazovsk (101km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw a bus with Ukrainian licence plates exit 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 23 October 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:

  • An armed individual refused the SMM entry to a compound in non-government-controlled Markyne (94km south of Donetsk). The Mission informed the JCCC.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • 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.
  • 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 could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) 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.