Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 7 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk 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 near Khrustalnyi.* The Mission saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Khrustalnyi. The SMM followed up on reports that the electricity supply had been cut to a pumping station causing water shortages in parts of Luhansk region. It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure to power lines near Novozvanivka, to the power plant in Shchastia and to the water pipeline between Zolote and Popasna. The Mission visited a border crossing area not under government control. It monitored a gathering of some 2,000 people outside the Parliament in Kyiv.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations[1], including however, fewer explosions (about 120), compared with the previous reporting period (about 150 explosions).

On the evening and night of 6 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 22 undetermined explosions, small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire 4-6km south-south-east. On 7 November, while at the same location the SMM heard (over 90 minutes) 35 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire 3-5km south-east.

On the evening of 6-7 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north-west of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, 13 projectiles in flight from east to west, two from west to east, four from east to west, one from west to east, followed by three from east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south. On the afternoon of 7 November the same camera recorded four tracer rounds in flight from west to east, all 0.5-1.5km south.

On the evening and night of 6-7 November the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, six projectiles in flight from east to west, 40 from west to east, three from east to west, followed by a total of 108 from east to west and 60 from west to east, all 5-8km north. During the day on 7 November the same camera recorded five tracer rounds from east to west followed by seven from west to east, all 5-8km north.

On 7 November, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions and small-arms fire 3-5km north and north-west and 2-6km west. Positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata for about an hour, the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 3-5km north-west.

Positioned in south-western parts of government-controlled Avdiivka (16km north of Donetsk) for about four hours on 7 November the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions, small-arms and heavy-machine-gun-fire 3-7km south-east and 2-4km east.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including nine explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 200 explosions).

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.*

While in Stanytsia Luhanska on the night of 6-7 November the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 5-7km south and south-east (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

On 6 November, an SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle spotted previously observed (see SMM Daily Report, 3 June 2017) trenches in use on the government-controlled side – and inside – of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area.

The SMM observed a calm situation in the Petrivske 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 non-government-controlled areas, the SMM observed a total of 19 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) at two locations near Khrustalnyi (formerly Krasnyi Luch, 56km south-west of Luhansk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites the SMM saw two tanks (T-64) near “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivske (formerly Rozy Liuksemburh) (90km south-east of Donetsk) at a location where armed “DPR” members said there was a live-fire exercise. (The SMM heard no live-firing in the area.)

The SMM revisited the location of such a permanent weapons storage site in a government-controlled area and observed that it continued to be abandoned, with all 14 mortars (2B11 Sani, 120mm) absent.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw two armoured personnel carriers (APC) (BTR-80) near the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area on 6 November.

The SMM followed up on reports that the electricity supply had been cut to a pumping station causing water shortages in parts of Luhansk region. An employee of the Popasna Vodakanal water company told the SMM that at 12:00 on 6 November power had been cut to the Petrivske pumping station, due to unpaid debts. According to him, Popasna Vodakanal would draw water from emergency wells but said that the water pressure in non-government-controlled areas of Luhansk region would drop over the next few days before eventually ceasing. He told the SMM that the areas affected included large parts of Luhansk city and its vicinity. The SMM noted no interruption in the water supply in its accommodation in Luhansk city. On 7 November the SMM spoke with five residents (men and women 50-75 years old) in “LPR”-controlled Obozne (18km north of Luhansk) and with three residents (men and women 40-70 years old) in “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk). In Obozne, residents said a small amount of water was available, and residents in Vesela Hora said the water pressure had dropped before supply ceased on 7 November.

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 power plant in government-controlled Shchastia, on the Donbasskaia-Pobeda power line near government-controlled Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk) and to the water pipeline between government-controlled Zolote and government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk).

In Donetsk city the SMM observed about 200 people – some carrying red flags – gathered in front of the public library on Artema Street. The gathering, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, had been announced online. The SMM also observed preparations being made in Lenin Square in Donetsk for an event to celebrate the same event.

The SMM visited a border area not under government control*. At the Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point for about an hour, the SMM counted 14 cars (with the following licence plates: eight Ukrainian, five Russian and one Polish), one bus (with Russian licence plates) carrying about 20 people and displaying “Sverdlovsk-Gukovo” in the window and 12 pedestrians (six men and six women, 30-60 years old) enter Ukraine, and seven pedestrians (four men and three women 30-65 years old) leaving Ukraine.

In Kyiv, the SMM continued to monitor the gathering in front of the national Parliament building. (See SMM Daily Report 2 November 2017.) On 7 November, the SMM saw about 2,000 protestors (about 80 per cent men, aged 25-70 years old) and 100 police officers controlling access to the area with security barriers and metal detectors. A further 100 police and National Guard officer, about 50 of whom were in riot gear, were next to the Parliament building and about 2,000 police and National Guard officers were positioned nearby in Mariinskyi Park. The SMM did not observe any security incidents during its monitoring.

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[3]

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 man denied the SMM access to a compound near “LPR”-controlled Khrustalnyi (formerly Krasnyi Luch). From outside, the SMM saw nine MLRS (BM-21 Grad) inside the compound (see above). The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • An unarmed man denied the SMM access to a second compound near Khrustalnyi. 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 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 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.

[3] Addendum: In reference to the SMM’s visit to a heavy weapons holding area in a part of Donetsk region outside government control (see SMM Daily Report, 7 November 2017), the SMM was delayed for four minutes, not 20 minutes as reported.