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

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, but more explosions in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous 24 hours. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas. The SMM camera in the Zolote disengagement area recorded one ceasefire violation on the night of 5 August, assessed as outside the disengagement area. The Mission’s access remained restricted there and elsewhere. Armed “DPR” members impeded the SMM’s access to areas south and east of Novoazovsk near the border with the Russian Federation not under government control. The Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC)was unable to facilitate the demining of the Shchastia bridge where the SMM was again denied access and its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) again spotted anti-tank mines south of the bridge.* The Mission confirmed reports of civilian casualties in Dachne and followed up on reports of shelling in Zaporozhets. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs of a water pipeline in Zolote. The Mission visited two border areas not under government control*.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], but more explosions (80), compared with the previous 24 hours (about 36 explosions).

On the night of 6-7 August the SMM, while in Donetsk city centre, heard two undetermined explosions 8-10km north-west.

On the same night, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north-west of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, two tracer rounds in flight from north to south and one projectile in flight from south to north, followed by aggregated totals of two explosions (one undetermined, one assessed as the impact of an unknown weapon round), five projectiles in flight (two from south-east to north-west, two from north to south, one from north-west to south-east) and 93 tracer rounds in flight from south to north, all 4-6km east-south-east. On 7 August, the camera recorded two explosions assessed as impacts of unknown weapon rounds 4-6km east-south-east. The same day positioned in Avdiivka for about six hours, the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 4-6km east-south-east.

On the night of 6-7 August, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 19 undetermined explosions and small-arms fire and bursts at locations ranging from 5km to 10km east. Additionally, in three minutes that night, the SMM heard and saw 22 tracer rounds in vertical flight assessed as anti-aircraft cannon (type unknown) rounds 5km south-east.

On the evening and night of 6-7 August, in just over an hour, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, nine explosions assessed as impacts, five tracer rounds in flight from east to west and 11 explosions assessed as impacts, all at unknown distances north.

Positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about seven hours on 7 August, the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions, all at locations ranging from 3km to 7km west-south-west and south-south-west. Positioned at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk city) for about five hours, the SMM heard five undetermined explosions and shots of anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm), heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire at locations ranging from 1km to 3km north-north-east, east-south-east, south-east, south-south-west and south-west. Additionally, the SMM heard and saw three explosions assessed as impacts of unknown weapon rounds 1km south.

Positioned in government-controlled Novoselivka Druha (23km north of Donetsk) for about two hours, the SMM heard six undetermined explosions and five explosions assessed as caused by outgoing rounds of recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm), all at locations ranging from 3km to 7km south-south-east and south.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, but more explosions (39) compared with the previous 24 hours (31 explosions).

While in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) on the night of 6-7 August the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions and shots and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire within half an hour before midnight at locations ranging from 10km to 15km south-south-west and west. The SMM also heard in about five hours after midnight 29 undetermined explosions, including six assessed as caused by mortar rounds of unknown calibre, and shots and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 10-15km east and south-east.

On 7 August, positioned 3km east of Popasna, in about two hours, the SMM heard two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 0.4-0.5km north-east and 57 overlapping bursts of heavy-machine-gun and infantry-fighting-vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire 2-4km south-east.

The SMM followed up on media reports of civilian casualties. At the hospital in government-controlled Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk) medical staff told the SMM that a man had been admitted just after midnight on 6 August with fragmentation injuries to both his legs, upper body and lungs, and that he was still in intensive care. According to the medical staff three people (two men, one woman) reportedly killed in the same incident had been taken to the morgue in government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk). Medical personnel at the Krasnohorivka hospital told the SMM that the morgue at that hospital had received the three bodies, but had subsequently released them to the families for burial. A police officer in Kurakhove told the SMM that the incident had occurred on the night of 5 August in government-controlled Dachne (47km west of Donetsk) when the injured man had pulled the pin of a hand-grenade and it had exploded in his hand – injuring him and killing the other three people. According to the police officer the incident had occurred at 38 Pivdenna Street in Dachne.

On 6 August the SMM followed-up on reports of shelling in “DPR”-controlled Zaporozhets (71km south of Donetsk). At 5 Stepova Street the SMM saw a hole in the north-facing fence of a house (10cm in diameter) and in a window on the north-facing wall of this house (4cm in diameter). The SMM assessed that both holes were fresh and had been caused by shrapnel of an unknown weapon round, the impact site of which the SMM assessed to be a fresh crater 70m north-west of the house in a field. The residents of the house (a middle-aged couple) together told the SMM that they had sought cover in the basement of their house together with their daughter and two grandchildren when they had heard an explosion at 13:00 on 6 August.

At 8 Stepova Street, the SMM saw a collapsed brick shed located 8m south-west from a house. The SMM observed pieces of shrapnel and pieces of copper rings in the courtyard and among the debris of the walls of the shed. The SMM assessed the destruction had been caused by a 152mm artillery round, but was unable to assess the direction of fire. The owners of the house, a middle-aged couple, together told the SMM that the wife had been inside the house, while the husband had been outside when he heard explosions and took cover behind the house, less than 10m from the destroyed structure.

At 26 Sadova Street the SMM saw a fresh crater (2m in diameter and 1.5m deep) on soft ground covered with debris in a front yard of a house and the neighbouring house (an uninhabited property on 24 Sadova Street). The SMM saw two holes (1.5m in diameter each) and shrapnel scarring on two north-facing walls – one on the house of number 26, the other on the wall of a brick shed in the neighbouring property. At the main house at 24 Sadova Street the SMM saw that the north-facing windows and their frames were broken. The SMM assessed that the crater and all damage had been caused by an artillery round (undetermined calibre) fired from a south-westerly direction and both holes and the broken windows had been caused by shrapnel. The owner of the house told the SMM by telephone that his son was living in the house but had not been present at the time of the incident.

At 23a Myru Street the SMM saw a fresh crater in a field 25m south of a house and a small hole in a south-facing corrugated metal roof of a barn in the yard of the house.

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 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

On the night of 5 August, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded one projectile in flight from north to south 2-3km east, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On 7 August, positioned at the “LPR” checkpoint on the southern edge of the Zolote disengagement area, in four minutes in the morning, the SMM heard eight bursts of small-arms fire 3km north-east, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On 7 August, positioned in the disengagement areas near government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk), Zolote and Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM observed a calm situation.

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 respective withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas, on 6 August, aerial imagery revealed the presence of six pieces of towed artillery (type unknown) 1.3km west of Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk) and 24 pieces of artillery (18 towed and 6 self-propelled) 2km south-east of Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk).

Beyond withdrawal lines, but outside storage sites, on 6 August, aerial imagery revealed the presence of 14 tanks (type unknown) 1.3km west of Shymshynivka and 25 tanks (type unknown) and five surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10, 120mm) 2km south-east of Buhaivka, and on 7 August two surface-to-air missile systems (probably 9K35) in Kalmiuske (formerly Komsomolske, 42km south-east of Donetsk).

The SMM observed **armoured combat vehicles (ACVs) in the security zone[2]. In “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM saw one armoured personnel carrier (BTR-80) with eight armed men on top, moving north-west.

Aerial imagery revealed the presence of four ACVs (type unknown) and over 50 military-type trucks near Kalmiuske on 7 August.

Aerial imagery revealed the presence on 7 August of a new section of a trench line about 650m south-south-east of the Donetsk Filtration Station, extending to the west of a section of a trench line, which was itself observed as new trench extension in imagery from 3 August compared with imagery from 26 July.

The Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination was unable to facilitate the demining of the government-controlled Shchastia bridge, thus denying the SMM access to the bridge again. An SMM mid-range UAV spotted again three rows of anti-tank mines on the government-controlled south side of the bridge. (See SMM Daily Report 19 July 2017.)

The SMM continued to facilitate repairs to essential infrastructure, co-ordinated by the JCCC by monitoring repairs to the Zolote 2/Karbonit 1200mm water pipeline on both sides of the contact line. (See SMM Daily Report 7 August 2017.)

On 7 August, the SMM followed up on reports of a fire in Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk). Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove-Borshchuvate (61km west of Luhansk) at about 10:00, the SMM observed smoke from the direction of Novooleksandrivka which spread for some 2km. The SMM spoke to a male resident of Novooleksandrivka on the telephone who said that five residents were attempting to put out the fire with buckets of water. Between 11:00 and 17:00 the SMM co-ordinated and facilitated on both sides of the contact line, the travel of one fire engine with six firefighters from government-controlled areas, accompanied by Ukrainian officers of the JCCC, from a government-controlled checkpoint east of Popasna to (69km west of Luhansk) to Novooleksandrivka. At about 17:30, the fire brigade returned to the same checkpoint in Popasna and told the SMM that the fire inside the village had been extinguished.

The SMM visited two border areas not under government control. In about 45 minutes at the Uspenka border crossing point (73km south-east of Donetsk)*, the SMM saw six civilian cars (three with Russian Federation licence plates, one with Ukrainian licence plates, one with Georgian licence plates and one with “DPR” plates), two fuel trucks (one with Russian Federation licence plates, one with “DPR” plates), two covered cargo trucks (both with Ukrainian licence plates) and three buses (all with Ukrainian licence plates; one empty, one with 12 passengers on board, one with 40 passengers on board) in a queue to exit Ukraine. The SMM saw 25 civilians standing in the vicinity of the crossing point. The SMM saw the following vehicles enter Ukraine: 21 civilian cars (nine with Ukrainian licence plates, nine with Russian Federation licence plates, three with “DPR” plates), two vans (both with “DPR” plates), and three buses (two with Ukrainian licence plates, one with “DPR” plates. The number of passengers could not be observed for any of the three buses)*. At the parking lot adjacent to the crossing point, the SMM saw 33 civilian cars (17 with Ukrainian licence plates, 11 with “DPR” plates, five with Russian Federation licence plates).

At the Ulianivske pedestrian border crossing point (61km south-east of Donetsk), in about ten minutes, the SMM saw no pedestrians exit or enter Ukraine. The Mission saw four civilian cars parked near the crossing point (one with Ukrainian licence plates, one with Russian Federation licence plates and two with “DPR” plates). The SMM noted that the previously-observed concrete obstacles had been removed from the entrance to the crossing point, making it possible for vehicles, not only pedestrians, to pass.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Lviv, 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, 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. 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, including at the disengagement area near Petrivske.

Denial of access:

  • An armed “DPR” member at a checkpoint on road E58 north of “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol) prevented the SMM from proceeding south towards the town and east towards the border with the Russian Federation. He told the SMM it was not allowed to go to Novoazovsk or “DPR”-controlled Siedove (33km north-east of Mariupol). The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • At the Uspenka border crossing point (see above section on border areas not under government-control) two men (one armed, one unarmed) told the SMM right after it had arrived that it could not be positioned closer than 10km from all border crossing points and border areas not under government control, citing orders from their superiors. The Mission informed the JCCC.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The possible presence of mines and UXO prevented the SMM from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area. Armed “LPR” members positioned on the southern side of the disengagement area told the SMM that no demining activity had been conducted in the area. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.

  • The possible presence of mines and UXO prevented the SMM from accessing secondary roads north of the Zolote disengagement area. At a checkpoint on the northern edge of the area a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no de-mining had taken place over the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.

  • With the exception of the main road the SMM was prevented from accessing areas in the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no demining activities had taken place in the area 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 Shchastia due to the possible presence of mines (see above section on JCCC inability to facilitate joint demining). On 7 August an SMM UAV revealed the presence of three sets of anti-tank mines south of the government-controlled bridge, laid across road H-21. The SMM had requested well in advance that the JCCC facilitate its passage and co-ordinate demining which the JCCC failed to do. The fact that this route continues not to be cleared of mines impedes the possible evacuation of the Mission for medical or security reasons. (See SMM Daily Report 19 July 2017.)

Conditional access:

  • An armed man stopped the SMM at a checkpoint on highway H-15 near the Kargil plant in “DPR”-controlled Kreminets (16km south-west of Donetsk) and demanded to check the trunks of its vehicles. The SMM informed the JCCC.

[1] Please see the annexed table 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.

[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

Mariia Aleksevych

Senior Press Assistant

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine

26 Turhenievska Street

01054 Kyiv

Ukraine

Office: +380 44 392 0849

Mobile: +380 50 381 5192

Mobile: +380 93 691 6790

mariia.aleksevych@osce.org

smm-media@osce.org