Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 6 December 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 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 and elsewhere, including at a heavy weapons holding area in a non-government-controlled area of Donetsk region.* The SMM saw shelling damage on a roof of a building in Novooleksandrivka and impact sites in residential areas of Dokuchaievsk. The Mission saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Volnovakha. It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure near Zalizne, Vesela Hora, Artema and Zolote.In Kyiv the SMM followed up on the situation around the protest camp outside the Parliament building.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including almost 300 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 760 explosions).

On the night of 5-6 December the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north-west of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, 12 projectiles in flight from east to west, 13 undetermined explosions, followed by a total of 69 undetermined explosions, 73 projectiles and eight tracer rounds from east to west, 18 projectiles and one tracer round from west to east, all 0.5-1.5km south. During the day on 6 December the camera recorded a total of 104 undetermined explosions, 40 projectiles and four tracer rounds in flight from east to west, three projectiles in flight from west to east, 73 projectiles and eight tracer rounds in flight from south to north, two projectiles in flight from north to south and 31 tracer rounds in flight (trajectory not determined), all 0.5-1.5km south.

On the night of 5-6 December the SMM camera 1km south-west of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, 28 projectiles in flight from east to west, followed by a total of five projectiles from west to east, 26 from east to west and one undetermined explosion, all 5-8km north.

While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 5-6 December the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 6-8km south-west.

While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 5-6 December the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all either 4-6km north-west or 4-10km south-west.

On the afternoon of 6 December, while at the same location, the SMM heard 29 shots of small-arms fire 800m south-west, assessed as part of a live-fire exercise in the security zone, in violation of the Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group on full cessation of live-fire exercises of March 2016.

Positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard 77 undetermined explosions and small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire – including about five minutes of overlapping, uncountable bursts and shots – all 1-5km west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including 66 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 600 explosions).

While positioned on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) on the morning of 6 December the SMM heard 50 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire 3km west, assessed as outside the disengagement area

Positioned on the southern edge of “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk) to monitor and facilitate maintenance work on nearby water wells, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions 10km west, one explosion assessed as an outgoing round from a recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm) 1km west and heavy-machine-gun fire 1km north-west, 3km north-east and 5km north-west. As a result of the ceasefire violations, the Luhansk Water Company stopped the repair work and left the area.

The SMM observed shelling damage to a building in Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk). The SMM observed a 1m by 0.8m wide hole on the east-south-east-facing side of the roof of a former civil administration building. The SMM assessed that the damage was fresh and had been caused by a projectile fired from a recoilless gun (SPG-9) from an easterly direction. A resident (aged about 60) told the SMM that he had heard five explosions at about 23:00 on 5 December. The SMM saw a Ukrainian Armed Forces positions about 100m west of the damaged building.

The SMM, accompanied by Russian Federation officers of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), observed impact sites in residential areas of “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk). The SMM saw fresh damage to the west-facing side of the roof and holes in the metal siding of the west-facing wall of a shop at 78/2 Tsentralna Street. In a fifth-floor apartment on 91/44 Tsentralna Street the SMM saw a fresh hole in an exterior west-facing window frame. The owner (a woman aged 36) of the apartment told the SMM that she was at home with her husband and two children when she heard an explosion close by at 21:30 on 5 December.

Inside a fourth-floor apartment on 93/54 Tsentralna Street the SMM saw that a west-facing window in the living room had been broken. The owner of the apartment (a woman aged 65) said she had heard an explosion at 22:00 on 5 December.

In a fifth-floor apartment at 83/30 Tsentralna Street the SMM saw holes in a west-facing balcony door. The apartment owner (a woman aged 23) said that she was at home with her husband and daughter when she heard an explosion at about 21:30 on 5 December.

The SMM observed shrapnel damage to a west-facing balcony of a fifth-floor apartment at 95/24 Tsentralna Street. The SMM saw shrapnel damage to the west-facing exterior brick wall and balcony door and also saw that the glass in the door was shattered.

At 48 Hvardiiska Street, the SMM saw a fresh hole in a window on a west-facing wall and shrapnel damage on the wall itself. The homeowner (a man aged 50) said that at about 21:30 on 5 December he – along with his wife and child – had heard something impact their building.

At an apartment building on 15/29 Vatutina Street the SMM saw that the windows on a west-facing fifth-floor balcony were missing, replaced with plastic sheeting. In the apartment three women (aged in their 40s) said that the resident of the apartment (a woman aged 71) was in her apartment at the time of the incident but was not injured. The SMM saw fresh shrapnel damage on the balcony and on the west-facing wall of the living room.

Residents, speaking to the SMM separately, told the SMM that no one had been injured and that “DPR” members had removed shrapnel from the area before the SMM’s arrival. The SMM assessed that in all cases the damage was caused by unknown projectiles fired from a westerly direction.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, 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 5 December both SMM cameras in Stanytsia Luhanska and at the Prince Ihor monument recorded the same undetermined explosion (assessed as outside of the disengagement area) about 70m north of the camera at the Prince Ihor monument.

On 4 December the SMM camera in Petrivske recorded one tracer round in flight from east to west 0.5-1km south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area), one tracer round from north to south 0.5-1km south (unable to assess if in or outside the disengagement area) and seven tracer rounds from west to east 1-2km south (assessed as inside the disengagement area). On 5 December the camera recorded at least 300 tracer rounds in flight from north to south 6-10km west (assessed as outside the disengagement area) and two from west to east 1-2km south (assessed as inside the disengagement area).

Positioned in Petrivske on 6 December the SMM heard four undetermined explosions 1-5km north-west and small-arms fire (assessed as outside the disengagement area) and small-arms fire 2-3km south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area).

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 government-controlled areas, the SMM observed two stationary self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) and a stationary multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) near Volnovakha (53km south of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in government-controlled areas, the SMM observed a tank (T-64) without a turret and main armament near government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in non-government-controlled areas, the SMM observed a tank (T-64) near Oleksandrivske (formerly Rozy Liuksemburh) (90km south-east of Donetsk).

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles, anti-aircraft weapons[2] and a military-type armoured vehicle in the security zone. In government-controlled areas an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on 5 December spotted a probable reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) and a military-type armoured vehicle (type undetermined), both revetted and under netting, near a government-controlled part of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk). An SMM mini-UAV on 5 December spotted one armoured personnel carrier (APC) (Saxon), one probable reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2), one probable aircraft communications automatic jamming station (R-934B/BM VHF/UHF), one covered infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (type undetermined) and one probable IFV (BMP-1). Near Dacha (53km north of Donetsk) an SMM mid-range UAV spotted, on 5 December, one reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2). On 6 December the SMM saw one IFV (BMP-1) near Popasna and one reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) near Orikhove-Donetske (44km north-west of Luhansk).

North-north-east of Travneve (51km north-east of Donetsk) an SMM mid-range UAV spotted, on 5 December, a military camp with tents, bunkers, firing positions, vehicle revetments and one APC (an MT-LB with a mounted ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun), three IFV (two BMP-1, and an additional BMP) and several ammunition crates nearby; two BMPs had Ukrainian Armed Forces markings. In the centre of the village, the UAV observed a group of about 25 civilians gathered in front of a military truck. North-west of Travneve, the UAV also spotted another military camp, bunkers and trenches, sandbags and a communications antenna. North-west of Travneve (and north-east of Hladosove, 51km north-east of Donetsk) an SMM mid-range flight spotted, on 5 December, a military camp with bunkers, firing positions and vehicle revetments and three IFV (BMP-1). Nearby, north of Hladosove, the UAV also spotted another military camp, bunkers and trenches and one reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2).

On 5 December an SMM mid-range UAV flight over “DPR”-controlled Holmivskyi (49km north-east of Donetsk) spotted a camp north of the village and new firing positions and trenches several hundred metres long. Aerial imagery of the area taken in September did not show these new positions. The UAV also spotted ammunition crates and military-type trucks in the area.

The SMM saw tracks assessed as those of vehicles with a tank (T-64) chassis near Kuznetsovo-Mykhailivka (67km south-east of Donetsk) and Kozatske (36km north-east of Mariupol).

Near “DPR”-controlled Samiilove (89km south of Donetsk and about 1-2km from the border with the Russian Federation) the SMM observed newly dug trenches, barbed-wire, watchtowers and sand bags at a former weapon storage site. An armed man denied the SMM access to the compound on 1 December (see SMM Daily Report, 2 December 2017).

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co-ordinated by the JCCC, to a water pipeline near government-controlled Zalizne (42km north-east of Donetsk), to the power substation near “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), to the Zolote-Popasna water pipeline and to the water pumping station in government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk).

In Luhansk city the SMM followed up on reports that an electricity company had cut power to the Petrivske pumping station on 5 December, thus stopping the supply of water from the pumping station to Luhansk city. The SMM observed minimal impact of the cut on the supply of water in Luhansk city and surrounding areas.

The SMM visited three border areas outside of government control. Whilst at the Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point for about 20 minutes, the SMM saw no vehicles cross in either direction.

At the Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point for about an hour, the SMM saw 14 cars (one with “LPR” plates) and 60 pedestrians (equal numbers of men and women) exiting Ukraine and 15 cars (one with “LPR” plates), two covered trucks, three buses and 30 pedestrians (19 women and 11 men) entering Ukraine.

At the border crossing point near Novoazovsk (102km south-east of Donetsk) for about 40 minutes, the SMM counted four cars (two with “DPR” plates) and a truck exiting Ukraine, and four cars (one with “DPR” plates) entering Ukraine.

In Kyiv the SMM followed up on the situation around the protest camp in front of the Parliament building, following media reports of early morning clashes between police and protesters associated with Mikhail Saakashvili (see SMM Daily Report, 6 December 2017). At the site on Hrushevskoho Street the SMM observed a calm situation. It observed about 100 people (mostly men in military-style outfits) and some members of the Donbas battalion in black uniforms wearing helmets and carrying hand-held radios. In the middle of the camp the SMM saw a pile of tyres and piles of bricks. The Parliament building was secured by 200 police and National Guard officers, all wearing riot gear. In Marynskii Park the SMM saw around 30 police and National Guard buses, police vans and patrol vehicles. The SMM assessed that about 1,200 law enforcement officers were present. Later, in the afternoon, the SMM saw protestors had piled bricks and stones inside the camp perimeter, and that some wore protective gear (helmets, masks and even some body armour). In the evening the SMM observed Mr. Saakashvili address a crowd of about 1,000 persons (middle-aged and elderly men and women). He said that he and his followers planned a march on 10 December. About 150 law enforcement officers blocked the entrance to the Parliament building. When the address was over the crowd dispersed peacefully.

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 2 December 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 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 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 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.

Delay:

  • Armed “DPR” members delayed the SMM for 26 minutes before giving it access to a heavy weapons holding area. The SMM informed the JCCC.

 

[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. Four SMM cameras continue to be tested until the end of December 2017.

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