Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 10 August 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous reporting period. In Pikuzy, the SMM heard small-arms fire in the area where it was flying an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), assessed as aimed at the UAV whose footage “DPR” members later threatened to “seize”. It continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske where the possible presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) continued to restrict the SMM’s access. Armed men continued to deny the SMM access into Novoazovsk and restricted its freedom of movement in Verkhnoshyrokivske and Staromykhailivka.* The Mission visited one border area not under government control in Luhansk region.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, including about 80 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 190 explosions).[1]

While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 9-10 August the SMM heard 44 undetermined explosions as well as bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire 5-7km east.

On the night of 9-10 August the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, seven airbursts, 15 undetermined explosions, and five tracer rounds in flight from south-west to north-east, followed by a total of 13 undetermined explosions, two explosions assessed as outgoing rounds, two rocket-assisted projectiles in flight from south-west to north-east, and 12 tracer rounds in flight (six from west to east, five from east to west and one from south-east to north-west), all at undetermined distances north-north-east.

On the same night the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded five projectiles in flight from west to east 4-5km east. On 10 August the same camera recorded one explosion assessed as an impact and, two hours later, two undetermined explosions, all three 4-5km east.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 220 explosions compared with the previous reporting period (about 540 explosions).

On the evening and night of 9-10 August, while in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 53 explosions assessed as 82mm mortar rounds at distances ranging from 2-10km south-east and north-east and 37 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds fired from infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) cannons (73mm) at distances ranging from 2-8km north-east. The SMM also heard about 120 undetermined explosions and about 500 bursts and shots of IFV (BMP-2) cannons (30mm), heavy machine guns and small arms, all at distances ranging from 2-12km south-west, east-north-east and north-east.

On 10 August, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Sentianivka (formerly Frunze, 44km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard ten bursts and about 250 shots of small-arms fire 1-1.5km south-south-west.

On 10 August, the SMM heard small-arms fire assessed as aimed at its mini UAV. In “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM followed up on reports by residents that several houses had been damaged by fire resulting from shelling in the area in the last two days. The SMM flew a mini UAV over Akhmatova Street and, at 13:12, two minutes after launching the UAV, the SMM heard small-arms fire about 300m west of its position, close to the area where the UAV was flying. While landing the UAV, the SMM continued to hear small-arms fire at distances progressively closer to the UAV. The SMM heard eight shots of small-arms fire within four minutes, the last one about 20m north of its position. Before hearing the last shot of small-arms fire, the SMM saw a man in camouflage clothing look from behind a building about 20m north of its position. The SMM also saw the stock of a rifle as the man moved.

After having landed the UAV safely, an unarmed “DPR” member approached the SMM and demanded to see the UAV footage, adding that the SMM could leave the area only upon allowing him to review the footage and delete any images of “DPR” positions. He then told the SMM that he would “seize” the UAV footage unless the SMM would comply and was afterwards joined by two armed men. The SMM refused to comply with their demands. The unarmed “DPR” member then told the SMM to wait while he contacted his superior. The SMM left after about 20 minutes.* The Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) had provided security guarantees for the SMM to conduct this UAV flight. A Russian Federation officer of the JCCC, accompanying the SMM, did not intervene to assist with rapid response as stipulated by the Addendum to the Package of Measures.

In Pikuzy, the SMM asked the accompanying Russian Federation officer of the JCCC for an update on the JCCC’s co-ordination of mine clearance – a task assigned to it by the Trilateral Contact Group decision on mine action of 3 March 2016 - along road T0519 connecting Pikuzy with government-controlled Mariupol (102km south of Donetsk). The officer replied that he had not received any information from his superiors. A “DPR” member accompanying the SMM said that no demining will take place on this road. Mines placed by the sides on the above and several other major roads (See SMM Daily Report 17 January 2017) continue to constitute long-standing restrictions to the freedom of movement of civilians and of the SMM.

In government-controlled Soledar (79km north of Donetsk) the SMM enquired with the JCCC as to its response to the latest restrictions and impediments regarding the implementation of the Mission’s mandate, in particular in relation to the firing at remote observation equipment in proposed safety zones. (See SMM Spot Report 10 August 2017.) The JCCC did not yet identify those responsible for the incidents or indicate how its officers intended to control or co-ordinate steps, by forces on either side of the contact line, to prevent their recurrence.

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.*

On the evening of 8-9 August, the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote recorded five explosions assessed as impacts about 4km south-south-west, eight undetermined explosions (three 10-15km and five 4-8km south-south-west) and one rocket-assisted projectile in flight from east to west, about 4km south, all assessed as having occurred outside the disengagement area.

Positioned in the disengagement areas near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska and near “DPR”-controlled Petrivske, the SMM noted 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.

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines, but outside designated storage sites, the SMM observed four stationary tanks (T-64) in a training area near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed an armoured combat vehicle and a UAV,[2] as well as tracks of an armoured personnel carrier (APC) in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw one IFV (BMP-2) loaded on a flatbed truck about 5km west of Chermalyk (31km north-east of Mariupol) heading south-west. In Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers launch a UAV. The SMM saw the UAV fly from west to east and lost sight of it after 15 seconds.

In non-government-controlled areas the SMM saw fresh tracks of an APC (MT-LB) in Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed two unexploded mortar rounds (120mm) and a fresh crater in the middle of the road, 100m from concrete blocks placed on road E-58 between “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol) and Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol). The SMM assessed the mortar rounds as recent and fired from a westerly direction.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor maintenance works, co-ordinated by the JCCC, to the water pump at the power plant in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) (see SMM Daily Report 10 August 2017) and repairs to a water pipeline between Zolote and Popasna.

At the bridge south of Shchastia, the Mission monitored and facilitated a transfer of funds from non-government to government-controlled areas; the funds were reportedly in relation to a water utility debt.

The SMM visited a border area not under government control in Luhansk region. At the pedestrian border crossing point near Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk), during one hour, the SMM saw 20 pedestrians (ten women and eight men, aged 25-35, and two children) enter Ukraine and 16 pedestrians (ten women and six men, aged 35-45) leave 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. 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:

At a checkpoint on road E-58 north of “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol), an armed “DPR” member again prevented the SMM from entering Novoazovsk. The SMM informed the JCCC. Seven armed men at a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (15km west of Donetsk) denied SMM access further into the town. 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. An armed “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 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 demining had taken place over the previous 24 hours.

The SMM 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 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 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.

Delayed access:

An armed man at a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, 29km north-east of Mariupol) delayed the SMM for half an hour asking for details of the SMM’s itinerary, which the SMM refused to provide The SMM informed the JCCC. Other impediments:

In Pikuzy, a “DPR” member demanded to review and delete SMM UAV footage, threatening to otherwise not allow the SMM to leave the area and to “seize” the UAV footage. The SMM refused to comply and left the area after about 20 minutes. 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
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Ukraine
mobile: +380 67 650 31 57
alexandra.taylor@osce.org

Mariia Aleksevych
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