Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 7 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 near 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 Mission saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Novoamvrosiivske. The SMM continued to observe long queues at the entry-exit checkpoint near Stanytsia Luhanska. It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure near Zalizne, Berezove, Vesela Hora and Zolote. The Mission visited five border areas outside of government control.In Kyiv, the SMM monitored public gatherings.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including about 200 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 300 explosions).

On the evening of 6 December, the SMM camera 1km south-west of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, three projectiles in flight from west to east and eight projectiles from east to west, all 5-8km north.

While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion, five explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) cannon (73mm), and heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 3-5km south-east.

On the night of 6-7 December, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, two undetermined explosions, five tracer rounds in flight from west to east, 14 tracer rounds from east to west, four projectiles in flight from east to west and eight undetermined explosions, followed by a total of 29 undetermined explosions, 197 projectiles (107 from east to west and 90 from west to east) and nine tracers (six from east to west and three from west to east), all 0.5-1.5km south. During the day on 7 December, the same camera recorded, in sequence, three undetermined explosions, two projectiles from west to east, three undetermined explosions, a projectile from west to east, two undetermined explosions, two projectiles from north to south, an undetermined explosion, a projectile from north-west to south-east and an undetermined explosion, all 0.5-3km south.

During the day on 7 December, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 2-3km north, and 53 undetermined explosions and over 100 bursts and shots of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1-4km at westerly directions. Positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata for about three hours, the SMM heard 62 explosions and about 100 bursts and shots of small-arms fire, all 1-5km at westerly directions.

Positioned on the south-western edge of government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) for about five hours, the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 3-5km east and east-south-east, and three undetermined explosions and about 60 bursts and shots of IFV (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire, heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-4km south.

Positioned 3km south-east of government-controlled Volnovakha (53km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard about 30 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire and 30 bursts of IFV (BMP-2) cannon or anti-aircraft cannon (ZU-23, 23mm) fire, all at unknown distances east-north-east.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including, however, more explosions (about 120), compared with the previous reporting period (66 explosions).

On the evening of 6 December, while on the northern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard at least 100 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds 4-5km south-east.

On the night of 6-7 December, while on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska the SMM heard two undetermined explosions and small-arms fire, all 2-3km south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 7 December, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions 15km north-north-west.

Positioned 3km south-east of government-controlled Bobrove (56km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions 7km south-west.

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 evening and night of 5-6 December, the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded ten undetermined explosions, 83 tracer rounds in flight (82 from west to east and one from north to south) and heavy-machine-gun fire, all at unknown distances at directions ranging from south-south-east to south-west (unable to determine whether inside or outside the disengagement area).

On 7 December, positioned near all three 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.

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines in an area outside of government control, the SMM observed four multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) near Novoamvrosiivske (56km east of Donetsk). Parked next to the MLRS, the SMM saw two military-type trucks loaded with MLRS ammunition.

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. On 6 December, in areas outside government control beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed two towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) and five self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), and noted that two self-propelled howitzers (2S1) continued to be absent. The Mission was denied access to an area within another heavy weapons holding area in non-government-controlled areas.*

On 6 December, the SMM revisited a permanent storage site beyond respective withdrawal lines in a non-government-controlled area of Donetsk region and noted that nine tanks (two T-64 and seven T-72) continued to be absent.

The SMM observed an armoured combat vehicle[2] in the security zone. In an area outside government control, the SMM saw an IFV (BMP-variant) on a flatbed truck near Bulavyne (54km north-east of Donetsk).

The SMM observed remnants of ammunition. In “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM saw a mortar tail fin (120mm) freshly embedded in the asphalt road 50m south of a shop on Peremohy Street. The SMM observed splinter patterns on the road westward and assessed that the mortar round had been fired from a westerly direction, and had exploded upon impact with the road. A man (in his fifties) told the SMM that the round had struck on the night of 5-6 December.

The SMM saw, for the first time, five mine hazard signs on the road between “DPR”-controlled Styla (34km south of Donetsk) and Petrivske, each reading “Do not leave the road. Mines along the road” in Russian.

The SMM continued to observe long queues at the entry-exit checkpoint near Stanytsia Luhanska. At the government checkpoint north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, at 12:50, the SMM saw about 400 pedestrians queuing to travel further into government-controlled areas and about 200 queuing to travel in the opposite direction. The SMM saw a poster on the information board and on an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) container in the Russian language reading: “ATTENTION!!! Stanytsia Luhanska EECP is scheduled to be closed on 9 and 10 December 2017. The Trilateral Contact Group agreed to repair the bridge at the Stanytsia Luhanska entry-exit checkpoint (Luhansk region) provided the silence regime is ensured”. The SMM also saw loudspeakers near the government checkpoint and the ICRC container, and heard regular announcements being made in Ukrainian stating that “the bridge will be closed on 9 and 10 December”.

At an “LPR” checkpoint south of the bridge, at 09:10, the SMM saw about 2,000 pedestrians queuing to travel toward government-controlled areas and about 300 queuing in the opposite direction. At the same checkpoint, at 12:30, the SMM saw about 1,500 pedestrians queueing to travel toward government-controlled areas. While at the checkpoint, the SMM saw a truck carrying wooden building material and six workers.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co-ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), to a water pipeline near government-controlled Zalizne (formerly Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk), a water pipeline between government-controlled Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk), to the power substation near “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), and to the Zolote-Popasna water pipeline.

The SMM visited five border areas outside of government control. At a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk), during about an hour, the SMM saw eight cars (four with “DPR” plates), a bus and 29 covered trucks (two with “DPR” plates) in a queue to exit Ukraine, and two cars (both with “DPR” plates) and four covered trucks (one with “DPR” plates) entering Ukraine.

At the border crossing point in Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk), during about 20 minutes, the SMM saw no vehicles or pedestrians exit or enter Ukraine.

At the border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk) for about an hour and a half, the SMM saw 33 cars (one with “LPR” plates), two buses and 82 pedestrians (including seven girls aged between eight and 13 who told the SMM that they were travelling to the Russian Federation for a gymnastics competition, accompanied by a man aged around 25, who said he was their gymnastics coach) exiting Ukraine and three cars, a covered truck and nine pedestrians entering Ukraine.

At the Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point for about an hour, the SMM saw 14 pedestrians entering Ukraine and six pedestrians exiting.

At the border crossing point near Leonove (formerly Chervonyi Zhovten, 82km south of Luhansk), the SMM again saw several cut trees blocking the road, six concrete blocks and barbed wire (2.5m high) behind them. (See SMM Daily Report 17 November 2017.)

In Kyiv the SMM monitored public gatherings. The SMM saw about 300 people (mostly women aged between 50 and 80), many of whom carried flags of the Batkivshchyna political party, standing in front of the Parliament building, and a group of at least 500 people (mostly women aged between 50 and 80), organized by the Socialist Party of Ukraine, also gathered in the area. 

The SMM also continued to monitor the protest camp in front of the Parliament building. (See SMM Daily Report 7 December 2017.) At the site on Hrushevskoho Street the SMM observed a calm situation, with 50-70 people (mostly men, aged between 40 and 60) present. The Parliament building was secured by about 150 police officers, and about 40 buses with police and National Guards officers were observed in Marynskii Park.

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:

  • On 6 December, armed “DPR” members denied the SMM access to part of a heavy weapons holding area. 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. 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 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] 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.