Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 8 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. In Pikuzy, a man in military-style clothing fired shots in the air within 50m of the Mission. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas; it recorded ceasefire violations in the Petrivske disengagement area and near the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including near Kreminets and at two heavy weapons holding areas.* The Mission saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Sievierodonetsk. It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure near Shchastia, Novozvanivka, Artema, and Stanytsia Luhanska. The SMM visited a border area not under government control. It continued to monitor a gathering outside the Parliament in Kyiv.

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

On the evening of 7 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded a projectile in flight from west to east 0.5-1.5km south. On the morning of 8 November, the camera recorded, in sequence, three tracer rounds in flight from west to east and an undetermined explosion, all 0.5-1.5km south. In the afternoon, the camera recorded, in sequence, six projectiles in flight from east to west, 23 explosions assessed as impacts, and a projectile from north-west to south-east, followed by totals of 13 explosions assessed as impacts, three undetermined explosions, 11 projectiles (eight from east to west, two from west to east, one from north-west to south-east), and two tracer rounds from north-west to south-east, all 0.5-1.5km south.

On 8 November, positioned on the south-western edge of government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) for about five hours, the SMM heard five explosions assessed as outgoing rounds 1-2km east and five explosions assessed as the subsequent impacts 6-7km east; the Mission also heard about 70 undetermined explosions, over 60 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, and over 80 shots of small-arms fire, all 2-6km at directions ranging from east to south. In the afternoon, the SMM camera in Avdiivka recorded, in sequence, an explosion assessed as an impact, three projectiles in flight from south-west to north-east, 13 tracer rounds in flight from south-west to north-east, five undetermined explosions, an explosion assessed as an outgoing projectile (which then flew from north-west to south-east), two projectiles from east to west, an undetermined explosion, and a projectile from east to west, all 4-6km east-south-east.

Positioned for four and a half hours at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions 5-8km north-north-east.

On the evening of 7 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard three explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) cannon (73mm) fire 5-6km south-east; the Mission also heard two undetermined explosions and over 50 bursts and shots of small-arms fire, all 4-6km south-east and south-west. During the day on 8 November, while in the same location, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions, 30 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, and three bursts of small-arms fire, all 4-7km south-west and west; the Mission also heard five undetermined explosions and about 30 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-5km at directions ranging from north-east to south-east.

On the evening of 7 November the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, an undetermined explosion, 32 projectiles in flight from east to west, a projectile from west to east, four projectiles from east to west, a projectile from south-east to north-west, seven projectiles from west to east, a projectile from east to west, three projectiles from west to east, 15 projectiles from east to west, two projectiles from south to north, an illumination flare in vertical flight, and two projectiles from west to east, all 5-8km north. On the afternoon of 8 November the camera recorded, in sequence, a projectile from west to east and an undetermined explosion, both 5-8km north.

At 11:30 on 8 November, positioned in front of a store in the centre of “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM saw a man in military-style clothing 30-50m to the east fire three shots from an assault rifle (AK-47) into the air. Three minutes later, the Mission saw the man walk across the street and behind a house. The SMM then heard five shots of small-arms fire at least 50m to the north-east, from the direction of where the man had disappeared from view. Immediately afterward, a light-brown Lada car with “DPR” plates arrived and stopped nearby, and an unarmed man in military-style clothing emerged and went into the store. Another man in military-style clothing drove the car in the direction from where the sound of the five shots had come and began shouting something that the SMM could not understand. Five minutes later, the SMM departed. No injury to Mission members or assets occurred.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 75 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (nine explosions).

Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 22 undetermined explosions 15-20km south-west.

Positioned 3km south-east of government-controlled Muratove (51km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 50 undetermined explosions and 20 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-7km east-south-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 of 6 November, the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded, in sequence, 13 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, 28 tracer rounds from north-west to south-east, 15 tracer rounds from west to east, one tracer round from east to west, four tracer rounds from west to east, and four tracer rounds from south-west to north-east, all 1-3km south and south-west. Fourteen of the rounds from north-west to south-east and the four rounds from south-west to north-east were assessed as inside the disengagement area, while the Mission was unable to assess whether the rest were inside or outside the disengagement area.

On 8 November, positioned at the southern end of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion and, nine minutes later, saw ten flares in vertical flight, all 3km south-east (assessed as outside disengagement area).

Near the southern edge of the disengagement area south of government-controlled Zolote, the SMM noted that 14 anti-tank mines previously observed about 100m north of the “LPR” checkpoint, inside the disengagement area, were no longer present. (See SMM Daily Report 20 October 2017.)

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 saw 12 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) near Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk).

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, the SMM saw, in government-controlled areas, a surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) travelling east near Novoandriivka (52km south-west of Donetsk).

In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw six tanks (type unknown) in firing positions south-east of Ternove (57km east of Donetsk), in an area where the SMM had previously observed live-fire exercises. Later in the day, the SMM saw that four tanks were present at the same location.

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 beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw nine towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) – including one for the first time – one anti-tank gun (MT-12), and, for the first time, nine self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm). The Mission observed as missing: 41 anti-tank guns (38 MT-12, including five for the first time; and three D-48, 85mm); 37 towed howitzers (23 2A65, including three for the first time; six D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm; and eight 2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm, including seven for the first time); and 28 mortars (12 M-120 Molot, 120mm; 15 2B11 Sani, 120mm; and one BM-37, 82mm). The SMM also observed that one site was abandoned, with seven towed howitzers (2A36) missing, including five for the first time.

The SMM revisited a heavy weapons permanent storage site in a non-government-controlled area and noted that seven towed howitzers (D-30) were still missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACVs)[2], a military-type armoured vehicle, and tracks of ACVs in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas the SMM saw two stationary IFVs (BMP-1) and a stationary military-type armoured vehicle near Nova Marivka (64km south of Donetsk), as well as fresh tracks assessed as those of two or three IFVs (BMP-variant) heading south from near Nova Tavriia (25km north-east of Mariupol).

The SMM observed mines and mine hazard signs. On 6 November, the SMM saw, for the first time, a row of 10-12 anti-tank mines (TM-62P3) in a field north of a road 3km south of government-controlled Lomakyne (15km north-east of Mariupol); the row was oriented perpendicular to the road, with the nearest mine about 5m from the road.

At the eastern entrance to Nova Marivka, the SMM saw again a metal gate with a red sign (with “Danger, Mines” in English and Russian) blocking the road. (See SMM Daily Report 17 July 2017.) A person in military-type clothing present told the Mission that no mines were present, and that “DPR” members had set up the roadblock and sign to prevent civilians from travelling through the village. In Nova Marivka, an armed person told the Mission that unexploded ordnance (UXO) near a checkpoint 2.5km east of Staromarivka (62km south of Donetsk), previously observed by the Mission (see SMM Daily Report 19 August 2017), was inert, and that “DPR” members had placed it there to prevent civilian traffic along the road.

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 (20km north of Luhansk), high-voltage lines between government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) and Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk), the Petrivske water pumping station near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk), and water wells near Stanytsia Luhanska.

The SMM visited a border area not under government control.* During one hour and 40 minutes at a border crossing point near Marynivka (78km east of Donetsk), the SMM saw 28 cars (17 with Ukrainian and six with Russian Federation licence plates, and five with “DPR” plates) and three trucks with covered cargo areas (with Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine and 19 cars (seven with Ukrainian and seven with Russian Federation licence plates, and five with “DPR” plates) entering Ukraine.

In Kyiv, the SMM continued to monitor the gathering in front of the national Parliament building. (See SMM Daily Report 8 November 2017.) The SMM saw about 100 protestors (about 80 per cent men, aged 25-70 years old) and about 20 police officers. The SMM did not observe any security incidents while present.

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, 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 secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. An unarmed “LPR” member 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 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 south from the southern end of 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. (The SMM also saw again three rows of 12 anti-tank mines (TM-62M) each, about 100m south of the Ukrainian Armed Forces position south of the bridge.)

Conditional access:

  • A person in military-style clothing at a checkpoint on road H15 east of “DPR”-controlled Kreminets (16km south-west of Donetsk) did not allow the SMM to pass until the person had visually inspected two of the Mission’s trailers from the outside. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Delay:

  • A Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier delayed the SMM’s access to a heavy weapons holding area for 18 minutes. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • A Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier delayed the SMM’s access to another heavy weapons holding area for 17 minutes. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Other impediments:

  • At the central city hospital in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), medical staff told the SMM that information could not be released without permission from a “DPR” member. Later in the day, the staff told the Mission that information on hospitals could be provided only by “DPR” members in Donetsk city.

[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.