Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 16 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. The Mission followed up further on reports of civilian casualties in Shyrokyi and Sakhanka. It observed damage to residences in Novoluhanske due to shelling. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas and recorded ceasefire violations near the Zolote and Petrivske areas. Its access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas – in Petrivske, an armed man required the Mission to end an unmanned aerial vehicle flight – and elsewhere, including in Siedove and Verkhnoshyrokivske.* The SMM observed a mine hazard sign and unexploded ordnance near Nova Marivka. The Mission continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance to infrastructure in Shchastia and Artema. It monitored a peaceful gathering in Kyiv.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1] including about 75 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 130 explosions).

On the evening of 15 August, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, one undetermined explosion, one projectile in flight from west to east, one undetermined explosion, one projectile from west to east, six projectiles from east to west, and 14 projectiles from west to east, all 3-5km east-south-east. On the afternoon of 16 August, the camera recorded, in sequence, one explosion assessed as an impact, one airburst, and one explosion assessed as an impact, all 4-6km east-south-east.

On the evening of 15 August, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded one undetermined explosion and, ten minutes later, one projectile in flight from west to east, both 1-2km south. On the morning of 16 August, the camera recorded, in sequence, one undetermined explosion, three tracer rounds in flight from east to west, one undetermined explosion, one projectile from north to south, and one explosion assessed as the projectile’s subsequent impact, all 1-2km south, followed by one undetermined explosion 3-4km south-south-west.

During the day on 16 August, positioned in south-western “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for six hours, the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions and small-arms fire, all 2-5km at directions ranging from west to north.

On the evening of 15 August, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard almost 30 undetermined explosions and about 65 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 5-7km south-east.

On the night of 15-16 August, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, one undetermined explosion, 15 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, two rocket-assisted projectiles from east to west, 12 undetermined explosions, three rocket-assisted projectiles from east to west, 13 tracer rounds from east to west, two undetermined explosions, three tracer rounds from east to west, two rocket-assisted projectiles from west to east, and two undetermined explosions, all at unknown distances north and north-north-east.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations – including, however, more explosions (12) – compared with the previous reporting period (eight explosions).

Just before midnight on 15 August, while in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions 3-5km south-east. On the morning of 16 August, while at the same location, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions 10-15km east.

The SMM followed up further on reports of civilian casualties. At a hospital in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM visited a 15-year-old boy injured by an explosion of an ammunition round he had handled in government-controlled Shyrokyi (38km north-east of Luhansk) and saw bandages on his body, including on his hands, face and neck. The boy said he had thought the shell was empty and therefore not dangerous. (See SMM Daily Report 16 August 2017.) Medical staff told the Mission that the boy remained in stable condition. At a hospital in “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol), the SMM visited a woman (aged 71) injured by shrapnel in “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (97km south of Donetsk). (See SMM Daily Report 16 August 2017.) The Mission saw that the woman had injuries to her face, hand and lower back, and had two small pieces of shrapnel embedded in her neck.

The SMM followed up on media reports of damage to residential areas caused by shellingon 12 August in government-controlled Novoluhanske (53km north-east of Donetsk). At 10 Pushkina Street, the Mission saw shrapnel damage to the north-west-facing side of a metal fence on the north-western side of a house, shrapnel damage to the house’s east-facing walls, and two broken windows on the house’s west-facing side. A car parked by the house had broken windows and shrapnel damage to its body, and an above-ground gas pipeline had minor shrapnel damage. A metal pole that had held up the pipeline, three metres from the house, was cut in half. The Mission assessed that all the damage at the property was caused by a round of an undetermined weapon fired from a north-westerly direction. The house’s owner told the SMM that a shell had struck the pole on 12 August.

At 5 Pushkina Street, the Mission saw a small crater in a garden 10-12m north-north-west of a house, assessed as caused by a recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm) round fired from a north-north-westerly direction. The house had shrapnel damage on its north-east-facing wall, and a small corn patch in the garden was burnt. The owner showed the Mission a recoilless gun (SPG-9) round tailfin that she said she had found in the garden following an explosion on 12 August. At 3 Pushkina Street, the SMM saw a small crater about five metres north-west of a house, assessed as caused by a grenade, a rocket-propelled grenade, or a recoilless gun (SPG-9) round fired from a north-north-westerly direction.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, 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 14 August, the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote recorded two undetermined explosions 2-5km east-north-east (assessed as having occurred outside the disengagement area) followed by two projectiles in flight (in sequence, one from south-east to north-west 4-5km south-south-east and one from north-west to south-east 2-5km east-north-east), which the Mission could not assess as having occurred inside or outside the disengagement area. In the early morning of 15 August, the camera recorded one projectile in flight from north-west to south-east followed by one undetermined explosion, both 2-5km at easterly directions and assessed as having occurred outside the disengagement area.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske for about two hours, the SMM heard one undetermined explosion and ten shots of small-arms fire, all 1-1.5km south-east and assessed as outside the disengagement area. While the Mission was flying a mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) near Petrivske, an armed man told the Mission that he had received orders not to allow the flight. The SMM landed the UAV and departed from the area.*

On 16 August, positioned at the disengagement area near 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.

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, the SMM observed in government-controlled areas a self-propelled howitzer (2S5 Giatsint-S, 152mm) attached to a stationary trailer in Sloviansk (95km north of Donetsk) and a surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) in Kostiantynivka (60km north of Donetsk).

The SMM continued to observe mine hazard signs and unexploded ordnance (UXO). On a road south of “DPR”-controlled Nova Marivka (64km south of Donetsk), the Mission saw a red sign that read “Mines” (in Russian) and, about 20m north, the tailfin of a mortar round sticking out of the asphalt.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance, co-ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), to the thermal power plant in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) and the Petrivske water pumping station near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk).

In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a gathering of about 300 people (mostly women aged 60-70) in front of the Ministry of Agriculture building. A woman with a microphone said (and other participants also told the Mission) that the group consisted of former workers of a state-owned agricultural factory on the north-western outskirts of Kyiv which had been liquidated without compensation for the workers. The SMM did not observe any incidents while present.

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

*Restrictions of the 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:

  • As the SMM was flying a mini-UAV near “DPR”-controlled Petrivske, an armed man told the Mission that he had received orders not to allow the flight. The SMM landed the UAV and informed the JCCC.

  • Two armed persons at a checkpoint at the western entrance to “DPR”-controlled Siedove (106km south of Donetsk) stopped the SMM and did not allow it to enter the village. The Mission informed the JCCC.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing areas in 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 activities had taken place during the previous 24 hours 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 officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no demining had taken place over the previous 24 hours. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • 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 the road leading west from Petrivske. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • The SMM could not travel across the bridge in Shchastia due to the presence of mines. A Ukrainian officer of the JCCC told the SMM that mines on the road south of the bridge were still present. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Delayed access:

  • Armed persons at a checkpoint west of “DPR”-controlled Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, 29km north-east of Mariupol) delayed the SMM’s passage by 26 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.

  • Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate”.

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