Ukraine

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 17 February 2017

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The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations compared with the previous reporting period in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Petrivske and Zolote, but its access remained restricted.* Outside of the disengagement areas the sides also continued to restrict the Mission’s monitoring, particularly in areas not controlled by the Government.* The SMM noted three tanks and two anti-tank guns in violation of withdrawal lines in areas not under government control and one howitzer in violation in an area controlled by the Government. It noted 29 weapons missing for the first time from a storage site not under government control. The Mission continued to observe the blockade of railway tracks near Hirske. It followed up on reports of vandalism at two banks in Kyiv.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, including less than 200 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period.[1] Most of the explosions recorded by the SMM occurred in Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area.

Throughout the reporting period the SMM camera at “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk city centre) recorded 54 undetermined explosions, two airbursts, 25 projectiles in flight from westerly to easterly direction and 14 from easterly to westerly directions, all 2-10km north-east and north-north-east. The exchange began with one projectile in flight from west to east. On the evening of 17 February the camera recorded two undetermined explosions and 30 projectiles in flight from easterly to westerly directions 3-6km west.

While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city on the night of 16-17 February the SMM heard 35 undetermined explosions 7-8km north. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours on 17 February the SMM heard 34 undetermined explosions at points ranging from 3-10km south-west, north-north-west and north.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Betmanove (former Krasnyi Partizan, 23km north-east of Donetsk) late in the morning on 17 November the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an impact of a 120mm mortar round 3-4km north-north-east.

While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) late in the afternoon on 17 February the SMM heard three explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds 4-5km south-south-west, three explosions assessed as outgoing rounds from unknown weapons 4-5km north-west and nine undetermined explosions 5-12km south-south-west.

In government-controlled Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard about six minutes of continuous machine-gun fire 3-4km south, six undetermined explosions 5-7km west-north-west and one undetermined explosions 5-7km south.

On the evening and night of 16-17 February the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded four undetermined explosions and 12 rocket-assisted projectiles in flight from east to west at unknown distances north and north-north-east. Positioned in government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol) shortly after noon on 17 February the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an outgoing tank round followed three seconds later by an explosion assessed as the impact of a tank round, 2-3km east.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including eight explosions, compared with the previous reporting period. Positioned about 4.5km north-west of government-controlled Mykolaivka (77km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard two  explosions assessed as outgoing rounds from an unknown weapon 1km south-east.

The SMM followed up on reports of a civilian casualty in Donetsk city’s Kuibyshevskyi district. Medical personnel at a hospital in Donetsk told the SMM that on 30 January a 33-year-old man had been treated for a light injury to his chest. A senior “DPR” member told the SMM that on 30 January a 33-year-old man had been injured by shrapnel near the Donetsk central railway station.

The SMM observed the results of shelling in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) and Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk). The SMM was unable to follow up on reports of shelling in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) as the Ukrainian representatives of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine advised the Mission against proceeding further towards the contact line in the area due to the fragile security situation.

In Svitlodarsk the SMM observed five craters 30-70m from houses on Stepova Street. The SMM assessed one of the craters as caused by a 122mm artillery round fired from a south-westerly direction and the four other craters assessed as caused by rounds from an undetermined weapon fired from a south-westerly direction. The SMM observed three shattered windows and the rubble of a greenhouse at one of the houses and a shrapnel hole in a concrete wall, shrapnel damage inside the bedroom, and a shell fragment embedded in the living room wall of another house. Ukrainian officers of the JCCC and residents told the SMM that the shelling had occurred on the night of 5-6 February.

In Novooleksandrivka the SMM observed a hole on the roof of a house, saw shrapnel damage on the internal walls of the living room and noted that all of the windows in the living room had been shattered. Four residents told the Mission that the shelling had occurred on the evening of 15 February.

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 there remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.* The SMM noted a calm situation while present in and around the three disengagement 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.

In violation of the withdrawal lines, in areas not under government control, the SMM saw one tank near Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol), one tank near Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk), one (T-64) near Tsvitni Pisky (11km north of Luhansk), and two anti-tank guided missile systems (9K111 Fagot, 120mm), each mounted on an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV, BMP-1), near Vyshnevyi Dil (13km east of Luhansk).

Near government-controlled Lysychansk (75km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed a towed howitzer (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) in violation of the withdrawal lines.

The SMM observed fresh tracks near government-controlled Sartana (15km north-east of Mariupol), consistent with T-64 tank tracks.

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 areas not controlled by the Government beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw six mortars (PM-38, 120mm), 14 towed howitzer (D-30, 122mm) and six anti-tank guns (MT-12, 100mm). The SMM noted as missing five towed howitzers (D-30) and ten mortars (PM-38), four of them for the first time.

The SMM revisited a permanent storage site not controlled by the Government whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and observed that ten multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS; BM-21 Grad, 122mm), nine self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and ten towed howitzers (five 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm and five D-30) were all noted as missing for the first time. One MLRS (BM-21) which had first been observed as missing in May 2016 continued to be absent.

The SMM revisited a permanent storage site controlled by the Government and observed that 20 tanks (T-64) and three mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm) were missing. One of the tanks was noted as missing for the first time. The Mission also noted the presence of one new weapon at the site for the first time.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw three armoured personnel carriers (APC; BTR) near Verkhnotoretske (23km north-east of Donetsk), one infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP) and one APC (MTLB) near Luhanske, one IFV (BMP) near Myronivka (64km north-east of Donetsk), one APC (BTR-80) near Peredilske (24km north-west of Luhansk) and one IFV (BMP-1) near Makarove (19km north-east of Luhansk).

In areas outside of government control, the SMM saw two IFVs (BMP-1) near Lyman, three IFVs (BMP-1) near Tsvitni Pisky, two IFVs (BMP-1) near Lobacheve (13km east of Luhansk), two IFVs (BMP) near Luhansk city and one IFV (BMP) near Bezimenne.

The SMM continued to monitor blockades at railway tracks across the contact line (see SMM Daily Report 17 February 2017). In government-controlled Hirske (63km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed that the railway track was still blocked with wooden barriers and barbed wire. The Mission saw seven unarmed men in camouflage fatigues at a checkpoint in Hirske. Following up allegations of an additional blockade point in Donetsk region, the SMM observed 15 railway wagons, some of which were loaded with coal, standing on the tracks near government-controlled Verkhnotoretske. A resident told the SMM that the wagons had been present there for about one week. While on 16 February the SMM received security guarantees only from the Ukrainian Armed Forces to travel to this area, on 17 February, the SMM received security guarantees from both the Ukrainian Armed Forces and “DPR” via the JCCC.

In Kyiv the SMM spoke with two of the co-ordinators of the blockade in Donetsk and Luhansk regions who explained that the blockade was initiated by volunteers of the civic organization, “Interior corps of Donbas and Aidar battalions”, to stop what they said were smuggling schemes. The representative stated that their demands were the release of all those detained in areas not controlled by the Government and the adoption of legislation by the Parliament regarding these areas. They alleged that more could have been done to find alternative sources of fuel in the last three years. One of the representatives stated that a new blockade site would be established near Zolote.

At a briefing headed by senior representatives of DTEK energy company in Kyiv the speaker stated that three of four railroad supply routes between government and non-government-controlled areas had been blocked since the beginning of February. He went on to say that difficulties in supplying anthracite coal, mined in areas not controlled by the Government, could ultimately lead to cuts in electricity and heating for tens of thousands of people and a loss of employment for even more on both sides of the contact line.

The SMM noted that anti-tank mines had been removed from a government-controlled checkpoint near Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) (see SMM Daily Report 9 January 2017).

The SMM followed up on reports of vandalism at two bank buildings on the evening of 16 February in Kyiv. On 17 February the SMM saw flyers plastered over the doors and spray-painted slogans on the walls of an office building housing an Alfa-Bank branch.

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

Denial of access:

  • In the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area a Ukrainian officer of the JCCC told the SMM that, with the exception of the main road, its safety could not be guaranteed in the surrounding areas due to the possible presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • Armed men at an “LPR” checkpoint at the edge of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that its safety could not be guaranteed in fields and side roads due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. The Mission observed mine hazard signs in the area. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • Near government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) a Ukrainian officer of the JCCC told the SMM that it was unsafe to travel towards further south-east into the disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. The Mission informed the JCCC.
  • Ukrainian Armed Force personnel stopped the SMM from traveling between Katerynivka and government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), citing a lack of permission from their commander due to the area not having been demined. The Mission informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM was unable to travel west from “DPR”-controlled Petrivske towards Viktorivka (42km south-west of Donetsk) due to a lack of security guarantees and the possible presence of mines. The Mission informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia as Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel stopped the SMM from accessing a permanent weapons storage site. The Mission informed the JCCC.
  • An armed man, citing orders from a senior “DPR” member, did not allow the SMM to pass through a checkpoint into “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata. The Mission informed the JCCC.
  • In Uzhivka (formerly Leninske, 24km north-east of Mariupol) a “DPR” member stopped the SMM from travelling through the village, stating that the area was a restricted military zone. The Mission informed the JCCC.

Delay:

  • Two armed men stopped the SMM at the eastern entrance of “DPR”-controlled Novolaspa (50km south of Donetsk), stating that they expected shelling to take place in the area. The SMM informed the JCCC which was able to facilitate the Mission’s passage after a nearly 20 minute wait.

Other:

  • After stopping on a road near “DPR”-controlled Vuhlehirsk (49km north-east of Donetsk) in order to allow a military-type truck (Ural) to pass the SMM, the truck stopped in front of the Mission’s vehicles, blocking the road. Three “DPR” members, one of them carrying an assault rifle, stepped out of the truck, asked the patrol’s purpose and requested to see the patrol leader’s OSCE identification. After examining the identification one of the men told the SMM that its activity in the area was highly undesirable.

[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.

For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/300816

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 0832
mobile: +380 50 381 5192
mobile: +380 93 691 6790
mariia.aleksevych@osce.org