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

Fewer ceasefire violations were recorded in Donetsk region between the evenings of 6 and 7 January compared with the previous reporting period. More ceasefire violations were recorded in the following 24-hour period. In Luhansk region more ceasefire violations were recorded on 7 January compared to the previous reporting period but fewer ceasefire violations were recorded between the evenings of 7 and 8 January. The Mission observed damage caused by shelling in Luhanske and in Kulykove. The SMM was restricted in its movement in the three disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske.* The Mission monitored attempts to restore the water supply to areas around Luhansk city. It visited three border crossing points in areas currently not under government control.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region on 6-7 January, including around 100 explosions compared with 170 in the previous reporting period.[1] From the evening of 7 until the evening of 8 January the Mission recorded a higher number of ceasefire violations, including 169 explosions. Over half of the explosions recorded on 7-8 January were in areas north-east of Mariupol.

On 7 January, while positioned between government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol) and Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 40 explosions assessed as impacts of automatic-grenade-launcher rounds, two airbursts, heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire and 56 undetermined explosions all 5-8km south-south-east.

While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on 7 January the SMM heard two undetermined explosions and bursts of heavy-machine gun fire 3-6km east-south-east. On the night of the 7 January the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions in areas 4-8km east-south-east, south-south-east and south. During the daytime on 8 January the Mission heard 19 explosions assessed as impacts of mortar (seven 82mm, six 120mm and six undetermined) rounds 4-5km west and 3km south-east, seven explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds (four 82mm and three 120mm) 3km west and 3km south-east, one undetermined explosion 6-8km east, and uncountable overlapping bursts of small-arms, automatic-grenade-launcher and cannon fire from infantry fighting vehicles 3-4km south-east.

In government-controlled Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk) on 7 January the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 2km south-south-east.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) on 7 January the SMM heard an undetermined explosion and three shots of small-arms fire 3-5km west-south-west. Later, while positioned about 1.5km west, the SMM heard 74 shots and two bursts of small-arms fire 2-4km west. Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) on 7 January the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 2-3km south-east.

While in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 7 January the SMM recorded eight undetermined explosions 5-10km north-west. During the daytime on 8 January the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions and bursts and shots of small-arms fire in areas 3-7km north-west.

On 8 January, positioned near Khreshchatytske (formerly Krasnoarmiiske, “DPR” controlled, 33km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 30 undetermined explosions and uncountable bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-5km south-west.

Positioned in government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol) on 8 January, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire to the north and east, and uncountable bursts of small-arms, automatic-grenade-launcher and cannon fire from infantry fighting vehicles in areas 2-3km east.

On 8 January, positioned on the eastern edge of government-controlled Sopyne (16km east of Mariupol), the SMM heard three outgoing mortar explosions and one incoming explosion 2-3km north.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol) on 8 January the SMM heard three explosions assessed as mortar impacts (calibre undetermined) and saw one air burst, all 200-500m south-west.

On 8 January, positioned on the northern edge of “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard two outgoing mortar explosions and saw flashes and heard uncountable bursts of heavy-machine-gun-fire 200m south, and heard bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire 2-5km north-west.

On 8 January the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded firing that began with 28 tracers from south-south-west to north-north-east, two outgoing explosions, intense exchanges of tracer fire (east to west and west to east) and 20 undetermined explosions, all in areas to the north-east.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations on 7 January, including 149 explosions compared with seven in the previous reporting period. Fewer ceasefire violations, including 33 explosions, were recorded in the period between the evenings of 7 and 8 January.

On 7 January, positioned near government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard more than 100 undetermined explosions assessed as artillery (122mm) or mortar rounds (82 and 120mm) 5-10km south and bursts of heavy-machine-gun-fire 3km south, all in an 18-minute period.

Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Almazna (55km west of Luhansk) on the same day, the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions about 5km north-west.

On the night of 7 January, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions more than 10km south-west.

Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk) on 7 January the SMM heard 66 undetermined explosions 5-10km south-west (assessed as outside of the Zolote disengagement area). On 8 January, positioned in Pervomaisk, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions, 5-10km south-south-west.

The SMM assessed impact sites and shelling damage to residential areas on 7 January (See SMM Daily Report 7 January 2017). On Verkhnya Street in government-controlled Luhanske the SMM, accompanied by Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), saw damage to a garage caused by shrapnel and blast damage to the roof. It observed a relatively fresh crater that had been covered in snow 50m north-west of the house. The SMM assessed it was consistent with an impact of a 122mm artillery round but the direction of fire could not be determined. The SMM observed Ukrainian Armed Forces in a house nearby and an armoured vehicle parked outside. It also saw soldiers approaching the house with sleeping bags. The SMM observed a fresh crater in the garden of a house on Krasnoshapky Street and assessed it was caused by an artillery round (122mm) fired from an east-south-easterly direction. The house had sustained shrapnel damage and shattered windows. The owner told the SMM that his mother had suffered minor cuts when the area was shelled between 22:00 and 23:00 on 5 January. Two light military vehicles were parked about 70m away and the idling engine of an armoured vehicle could be heard close by. The SMM observed a crater in the rear garden of another house and assessed it was caused by an artillery round (122mm) fired from a south-south-easterly direction. The window panes of a summerhouse (about 40m from the crater) were cracked. Two residents said that the shelling happened at about 22:30 on 5 January.

In “DPR”-controlled Kulykove (30km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed a fresh crater close to the main road and assessed it to have been caused by artillery (152mm) fired from a south-westerly direction. Shrapnel damage to the walls and gate of a house located 30m south of the crater was visible. One male resident (aged in his sixties) and two “DPR” members, speaking to the SMM together, said the village was shelled during the night of 6-7 January but that no one was injured.

Next to a checkpoint near “LPR”-controlled Raivka (16km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed remnants of an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-1) cannon rounds (73mm) and fresh impact sites in a field and on the road. The SMM assessed that an impact site on the road was caused by a BMP-1 cannon round (73mm) fired from a north-westerly direction. An armed “LPR” member said that the checkpoint was fired upon on 7 January.

In “DPR”-controlled Molodizhne (20km south of Donetsk), the SMM observed at least five men wearing military-style clothing in a residential house.

At an “LPR” checkpoint near Sentianivka (formerly Frunze, 40km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM spoke with an armed woman (aged in her late twenties), wearing military-type clothing, who said she was from Poland and was one of two women at the checkpoint.

Near government-controlled Roty (66km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed an abandoned self-propelled artillery firing position (assessed as recently used) next to the road and a fresh crater assessed as caused by an artillery round (152mm) fired from a south-easterly direction.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas of 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. The SMM’s access to all three areas remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.* The SMM observed a calm situation in the three areas.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage does not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification. In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed 23 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS; 12 BM-27 Uragan, 220mm and 11 BM-21, Grad, 122mm). One BM-21 continued to be missing, as first observed on 23 February 2016.

The SMM revisited permanent storage sites in government-controlled areas, whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. The Mission observed that six tanks (T-64) were absent, one for the first time. The other five tanks – missing since 13 November – were observed in another storage site on 6 January 2017.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft weapons[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM observed an armoured personnel carrier (APC; BTR-70) at a checkpoint in Olhynka (40km south-west of Donetsk); two stationary APC (BMP-2) at different locations in Popasna (69km north-west of Luhansk); one IFV (BMP-1) in Kondrashivka (17km north-east of Luhansk); a stationary convoy of 11 armoured reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM), one truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23-2) on the eastern outskirts of Mariupol; a Kraz Cougar with a mounted machine-gun (12.7mm) heading south-west in Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk).

On the eastern outskirts of Mariupol the SMM observed three Kraz trucks with their engines running, all carrying personnel.

The Mission observed unexploded ordnance (UXO) near entry-exit checkpoints along the contact line. Between the entry-exit government-checkpoint in Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk) and the “DPR” checkpoint in Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed UXO in the middle of the road. (See SMM Daily Report 4 January 2017.) At a government checkpoint in Marinka (23km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed at least nine anti-tank mines (some partially covered) which should have been marked and fenced as per the decision of the Trilateral Contact Group of March 2016.

On 7 January, the Mission observed technicians reconnect water wells at the Petrivka water pumping station in government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) to restore water supply to non-government-controlled areas. The director of the water pumping station told the SMM that Popasna Vodakanal technicians co-ordinated the activity with counterparts from Luhanska Vodakanal, based on the other side of the contact line. According to the director the supply was re-activated following the payment of ten million Ukrainian Hryvnia of debt out of a total of about 120 million. On 8 January the SMM was informed by the director that the water supply had been interrupted again due to a rupture in the pipeline. The SMM observed Popasna Vodakanal technicians repairing the pipeline; they said repairs would be completed on 9 January. A representative from Popasna Vodakanal told the SMM that when restored, water should be supplied to about 250,000 people in parts of Luhansk city, and to about 3,000 people in several “LPR”-controlled villages between the contact line and Luhansk city.

The SMM visited three border areas currently not under control of the government. At the “DPR”-controlled Uspenka border crossing point (73km south-east of Donetsk) the SMM for over about an hour observed about 40 civilian cars (about half Ukrainian licence plates, half Russian Federation plates) waiting to leave Ukraine. At the pedestrian border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Novoborovytsi (79km south of Luhansk) on 7 January, the SMM observed that no “LPR” members were present and, in the course of 45 minutes, that no pedestrians crossed. On 8 January, at the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (53km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 65 cars (40 with Ukrainian licence plates, 23 with Russian Federation license plates, one with an “LPR” sticker and another with a “DPR” sticker covering the plates), five trucks and four buses (all with Ukrainian plates) waiting to leave Ukraine. Forty-two pedestrians also waited to cross. Over a period of 80 minutes, the SMM saw one bus and 14 cars leave Ukraine. During this time, 15 cars, one bus and about 50 pedestrians entered Ukraine.

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

*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.

Denial of access:

On 7 and 8 January, armed “DPR” members in Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk) told the SMM that they had no information about demining of the road leading west from the village. Due to the threat of mines, the SMM could not travel further and informed the JCCC.

On three separate occasions on 7 and 8 January, the SMM was unable to travel south-east into Zolote-Pervomaisk disengagement area using a secondary road east of government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) as Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC said that they could not assist in ensuring the SMM’s safety due to the possible presence of mines and/or UXO in the area. The SMM did not proceed further and informed the JCCC.

On 7 and 8 January, the SMM was unable to access areas other than the main road in the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, as a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC present told the SMM that no demining had been taken place. The SMM informed the head of the local JCCC office.

On 7 and 8 January, Ukrainian Armed Forces prevented the SMM from travelling between Popasna and Katerynivka. The road was also blocked with anti-tank obstacles. The SMM informed the JCCC.

On 7 and 8 January, the SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) as Ukrainian Armed Forces said they could not guarantee the safety of the SMM due to the threat of mines. The SMM informed the JCCC.

On 7 January, an armed man stopped the SMM as it drove to an observation post on the western side of Debaltseve and said he needed to consult with a superior before the patrol could proceed. When he returned, he said access had been denied. He said that in future the SMM must gain permission from the “brigade commander” located in Debaltseve. The SMM informed the JCCC.

[1] Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

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

Contacts

Alexandra Taylor
Head of Press and Public Information Unit
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Ukraine
Mobile: +380 67 650 31 57
alexandra.taylor@osce.org
smm-media@osce.org

Tetiana Tesliuchenko
Senior Social Media Assistant
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Ukraine
Office: +380 44 382 0832
Mobile: +380 67 466 2563
Tetiana.Tesliuchenko@osce.org