Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 31 October 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM observed fresh impact sites near Slovianoserbsk. The SMM continued monitoring all three disengagement areas; it recorded ceasefire violations inside the Zolote disengagement area and near the Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrivske disengagement areas. Its access remained restricted in all three areas and elsewhere.* The Mission saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines in Kostiantynivka. It facilitated and monitored repairs to and maintenance of essential infrastructure in Shchastia. The SMM visited a border area not under government control.It followed up on reports of an attack which killed a person and wounded another near Kyiv. It continued monitoring a public gathering in front of the national Parliament building in Kyiv.  

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1] including about 80 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 250 explosions).

On the evening and night of 30-31 October, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard about 50 undetermined explosions 6-8km south-west. During the day on 31 October, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 6-7km south-west.

On the evening and night of 30-31 October, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, five projectiles in flight from east to west 0.5-1km south, an undetermined explosion 0.5-1km south-west, two undetermined explosions 0.5-1km south-south-east, five projectiles in flight from east to west, a projectile in flight from west to east, eight projectiles in flight from east to west, a rocket-assisted projectile in flight from east to west, followed by totals of seven undetermined explosions, 276 projectiles in flight (200 from east to west, 15 from west to east and the remainder undetermined), all 0.5-1km south. During the day on 31 October, the same camera recorded an undetermined explosion 0.5-0.8km south.

During the day on 31 October, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded a projectile in flight from north-east to south-west and a projectile in flight from west-north-west to east-south-east 4-6km south-south-east. During the day on 31 October, positioned on the south-western edge of Avdiivka for about three hours, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 3-5km south-east.

During the day on 31 October, positioned on the north-western edge of “DPR”-controlled Vuhlehirsk (49km north-east of Donetsk) for about an hour, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 5-6km north-north-west.

During the day on 31 October, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about five hours, the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions, a burst and eight shots of small-arms fire and two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1.5-5km at directions ranging from south-west to north-west. 

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

During the day on 31 October, positioned on the south-western edge of “LPR”-controlled Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 5-7km west.

During the day on 31 October, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Khrystove (18km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard seven bursts and four shots of small-arms fire 1km north-west.

During the night of 30-31 October, an SMM sensor in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) recorded an explosion about 800m north-west.

The SMM observed three impact sites. On 31 October, the SMM saw a fresh crater in a field 0.5m south of a paved road on the western edge of “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk). The crater was located 1km south of an “LPR” checkpoint and about 400m north of the nearest residential house. The SMM assessed that the crater was caused by a mortar (82mm) round fired from a northerly direction. The SMM saw in a field another two fresh craters about 25m south of the first crater; it was unable to assess the weapon used or the direction of fire.  

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 evening of 30 October, the SMM camera near the Prince Ihor monument south-east of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk) recorded an undetermined explosion near the monument, assessed as outside the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area.

On the night of 30-31 October, the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote recorded about ten explosions and 14 projectiles, all at unknown distances and directions. The SMM was unable to assess whether they were inside or outside the Zolote disengagement area.

During the night of 27-28 October, the SMM camera in Petrivske recorded three tracer rounds in flight from east to west 2-4km west-south-west (assessed as inside the Petrivske disengagement area). During the night of 27-28 October, the same camera also recorded an undetermined explosion 2-4km south and an illumination flare 1-3km west. During the evening of 28 October, the same camera recorded two tracer rounds in flight from west to east 0.5-1km west (the SMM could not assess whether they were inside or outside the disengagement area). During the night of 28-29 October, the same camera recorded two tracer rounds in flight from west to east 1-2km west and two tracer rounds in flight from east to west 0.5-1km west (the SMM could not assess whether they were inside or outside the disengagement area).

On 31 October, positioned near all three 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 the respective withdrawal lines, in a government-controlled area, the SMM saw six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) stationary in a train yard at the railway station in Kostiantynivka (60km north of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, in government-controlled areas, the SMM saw: on 28 October ten stationary self-propelled howitzers (four 2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm and six 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) in Zachativka (74km south-west of Donetsk); on 30 October, a stationary anti-tank gun (MT-12) in Zachativka; on 31 October, four stationary tanks (T64), as well as 26 tanks (T64), seven surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10) and three anti-aircraft artillery systems (2S6M Tunguska) heading north near Zachativka; on 31 October, four tanks (T-64 or T-80) on flatbed trailers 3km west of Smolianynove (61km north-west of Luhansk) and four tanks (T-64 or T-80) near Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk). An SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle spotted, on 30 October 2017, a stationary anti-tank gun (MT-12) in Zachativka.

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 saw a surface-to-air missile system (9K31 Strela-1) and 19 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm), of which 12 were noted as present for the first time. The SMM noted that a self-propelled howitzer (2S1) and four MLRS (BM-21) were missing for the first time.   

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. In government‑controlled areas, the SMM saw five stationary infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-2) in the area of Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk); a stationary armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BTR-60) near Toshkivka (60km north-west of Luhansk); two stationary IFVs (BMP-2) and a stationary truck (Kraz Cougar) with a heavy machine-gun (12.7) mounted on top near Zolote.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance, co‑ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), to the thermal power plant in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk).

The SMM visited a border area not under government control. At a border crossing point near Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk) in about an hour, the SMM saw 19 cars (eight with Ukrainian, two with Russian Federation, one with Georgian licence plates, and eight with licence plates that could not be seen), a covered cargo truck (with Ukrainian licence plates); a bus (with a sign “Sverdlovsk-Gukovo-Sverdlovsk” written in Russian, about 30 passengers on board and Russian Federation licence plates), and four pedestrians (all men, aged 35-60) exit Ukraine. The SMM saw eight cars (three with Ukrainian and five with Russian Federation licence plates) and a bus (with a sign “Sverdlovsk-Gukovo-Sverdlovsk” written in Russian, about 25 passengers on board and Russian Federation licence plates) enter Ukraine.

In Kyiv region, the SMM followed up on media reports of an attack that killed a woman and wounded her husband near a market in Hlevakha (26km south-west of Kyiv) around 20:00 on 30 October. (Ukrainian media reported that they were former ATO volunteers and had been previously wounded during an attack against them in June 2017 in Kyiv city centre.) On 31 October, the SMM saw a police car parked on Zaliznychna Street in Hlevakha about 160m north-west of road M05. The SMM saw that the car was blocking a 200-metre-long section of the street which extends east behind the market. Inside the blocked-off area, the SMM saw two police vans, a van with the sign “forensic laboratory” written in Ukrainian, and a grey van about 200m north-east. The Mission saw about 20 police officers, some of whom were armed with rifles and wearing camouflage clothes, in the surrounding area.

In Kyiv, the SMM continued to monitor the gathering in front of the national Parliament building. (See SMM Daily Report 27 October 2017.) The SMM saw about 100 people (mostly men, aged 25-60) around about 20 tents adjacent to the Parliament building on Hrushevskoho Street. The Mission also saw civilian vehicles parked across Hrushevskoho Street, blocking the traffic in the area between Shovkovychna and Lypska Streets. The SMM observed about 15-20 National Guard and police officers in front of the Parliament building, and noted that security barriers and metal detectors previously observed on Hrushevskoho Street were no longer present. The SMM did not observe any incidents during its presence.

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

*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:

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 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 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. Ukrainian Armed Forces officers 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 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.

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