Ukraine

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 21 February 2017

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The SMM recorded a similar number of explosions in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous 24-hour period. The Mission followed up on reports of civilian casualties and shelling. The Mission saw weapons in violation of the respective withdrawal lines. Its freedom of movement was restricted on both sides of the contact line. The SMM, in co-ordination with the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), facilitated and monitored repairs of power and gas supply infrastructure. The Mission continued to monitor the situation of civilians living near the contact line and to observe the blockade of railway tracks near Hirske. The SMM visited two border areas currently outside government control. A rally took place in Kyiv.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations[1] in Donetsk region with a similar number of explosions (341), compared with the previous 24-hour period (370 explosions). Over 70 per cent of those explosions were recorded in the Horlivka-Svitlodarsk-Debaltseve area.

From the evening of 20 February to the morning of 21 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 7-8km north. In the same period, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded six undetermined explosions and one projectile of indirect fire in flight from south to north, all following an illumination flare, 5-7km south-east. The SMM camera at the “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence one undetermined explosion and one illumination flare, both 4-6km north-east. On 21 February, positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 8-12km south-west and 3-6km west, and 2-3km north-west.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about five hours during the day, the SMM heard 48 undetermined explosions 2-6km west and south-west as well as at least 68 bursts and 150 shots of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire 2-6km west, west-north-west and north-west. Positioned in Avdiivka for about five hours, the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 2-4km south and two undetermined explosions 3-5km south-east.

While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 20 February, the SMM heard a total of 157 undetermined explosions (28 assessed as caused by artillery rounds, 11 as caused by mortar rounds and 118 by unknown weapons) as well as some 360 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 6-8km south-south-west. In the same period, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions and over 200 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-7km south-east. In the late afternoon on 21 February, from the same location the SMM heard 71 undetermined explosions 5-7km south-east. On 21 February, within ten minutes in the afternoon positioned in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions 3-5km north-west.

Before midnight of 20-21 February the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded three undetermined explosions and nine tracer rounds (in sequence: two in flight from south-west to north-east and seven from south-east to north-west), all at undetermined distances to the north and north-east of the camera’s location.

On 21 February, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard 17 undetermined explosions at undetermined distances to the south, north and west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded a similar number of explosions (26 explosions) compared with the previous 24-hour period (20 explosions). Positioned inside the Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) disengagement area, within 30 minutes, the SMM heard three undetermined explosions (weapon type unknown) 3-5km south-south-east, it assessed as occurring outside the disengagement area. Positioned in government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), within 15 minutes after noon the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions, assessed as caused by 82mm mortar rounds or by a cannon from an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-1, 73mm). The SMM also heard approximately 80 shots of small-arms-fire and approximately 25 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-4km south-west.

The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties. In government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) the SMM spoke with two residents who said a woman had been wounded in the village on 19 February. At a house on Donetska Street, a man who introduced himself as the victim’s husband told the SMM that she had been injured by a bullet to her left shoulder outside their house in the afternoon of 19 February. At the hospital in Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk), the woman confirmed the details provided by her husband and added that at the time of injury she had had her back shoulder turned toward the river, which is approximately 1.5km south-east from her home.

The SMM observed the results of shelling, including damage to infrastructure and direct hits on houses. In Olenivka (“DPR”-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), on Pereizna Street, the SMM saw a direct impact to the roof of a house, which had made a hole in the roof. The owner of the house told the SMM the impact had occurred at 07:15 that morning. At another property on the same street, the SMM saw fragmentation scarring to the south-west facing wall of a house and a destroyed metal construction. According to the owner, “DPR” members had taken a tail fin (82 mm mortar) and fragments earlier in the day. The SMM assessed the damage to have been caused by an unknown projectile fired from directions ranging from south-west to south-east. At another property on the same street, the SMM saw that an undetermined shell had hit a roof just above the entrance door. The frame of the door and partially the roof were damaged. The SMM saw shrapnel damage to the wall of a neighbouring house as well. The SMM assessed the damage had been caused by an unknown projectile fired from a southerly direction. On Depovska Street, at one property the SMM saw a broken window. On number 4 on the same street, the SMM saw a damaged power pylon and the owner of a nearby house told the SMM that this damage had led to loss of power supply to his house. The SMM saw the tail fin and fragments of a recoilless gun round (SPG-9, 73mm) and it assessed it had been fired from directions ranging from south-south-west to south-south-east. At the “DPR” entry-exit checkpoint outside the village, people queuing to pass told the SMM that the checkpoint had been closed for two hours in the morning due to shelling and only opened at 07:00. Residents in the village also told the SMM they had heard shelling in the early morning hours. At 09:15 at the checkpoint the SMM noted a higher number of civilian cars (150) queuing to travel toward government-controlled areas than the previous morning (27).

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 disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote.

Despite the joint statement of 1 February by the Trilateral Contact Group and the consent reached on 15 February, the sides have not yet provided the information requested by the SMM related to weapons to be withdrawn and locations of units and formations.

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 respective withdrawal lines in areas not under government control, the SMM saw: three stationary tanks (T-64) in Oleksandrivsk (10km west of Luhansk); one tank (T-64) in Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk), one tank on a flatbed truck inside a compound in Luhansk city.

In violation of the respective withdrawal line an SMM mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted four self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and one anti-tank gun (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) towed by a truck, all stationary in government-controlled Kremenivka (78km south of Donetsk) on 19 February.

Beyond withdrawal lines, but outside storage sites in government-controlled Aslanove (85km south of Donetsk), an SMM mini-UAV spotted additional seven tanks (T-64) on 20 February (see SMM Daily Report 21 February 2017).

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 respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw: 12 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS; BM-21 Grad, 122mm), 24 howitzers (12 self-propelled 2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm and 12 towed 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), two surface-to-air missile systems (9K33 Osa, 210mm) and for the first time - two surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10, 120mm). The SMM also noted as missing: six self-propelled howitzers (2S1), and 30 tanks (T-64).

In such areas not under government control*, the SMM saw: five MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm; loaded with rockets and painted white). The SMM also noted as missing for the first time: one MLRS (BM-21), six self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and two mortars (PM-38, 120mm). On two separate occasions, the SMM was unable to access the areas.

The SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapons storage sites, whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. The SMM recorded additional weapons and found one abandoned as it has been since February 2016, thus noting 30 tanks (nine T64 and 21 T-72, the latter for the first time) and three mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm) missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[1] and anti-aircraft weapons in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw: one stationary armoured personnel carrier (APC; MTLB) and one IFV (BMP-1) in Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk); one stationary IFV (BMP-1) near Stanytsia Luhanska (outside the disengagement area); an APC (MTLB) with five soldiers moving through the village of Staryi Aidar (20km north-west of Luhansk.

In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw: one APC (MTLB) near Debaltseve, one IFV (BMP-1), stationary in a private property in Pikuzy; two stationary IFVs (BMP) in Lyman; one stationary IFV (BMP) mounted and an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23-2) at an “LPR” checkpoint south of Shchastia; one stationary truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) outside a compound in Luhansk city; five APCs (MTLB) heading north in Kalynove (60km west to Luhansk), two APCs (MTLB) mounted with machine guns (PKT, 7.62mm) in Khoroshe (36km west of Luhansk).

The SMM noted the presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM saw for the first time two pieces of UXO on the side of the road outside “DPR”-controlled Staromarivka (46km north-east of Mariupol) travelling east, in the direction of Boikivske (formerly Telmanove, “DPR”-controlled, 67km south-east of Donetsk). The SMM assessed one of them as a 122mm MLRS (BM-21) rocket and the other as a 300mm MLRS (BM-30 Smerch) rocket and that both had not been fired recently. The SMM noted that the shell in the vicinity of a bus stop near Znamianka (“LPR”-controlled, 36km north-west of Luhansk) (see SMM Daily Report 11 February 2017) was still present.

The SMM continued to monitor a blockade at railway tracks, which cross the contact line (see SMM Daily Report 20 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, and there were still people at the checkpoint in Hirske (see SMM Daily Report 18 February 2017).

At the Yasynuvata railway station the SMM saw over 350 stationary cargo train carriages full of coal, none of which was connected to a locomotive.

The SMM monitored the situation of civilians at entry-exit checkpoints along the contact line. At the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM saw an elderly woman had fallen in the waiting area just before the “LPR” checkpoint. Ambulance personnel present told the SMM that she had broken her hip and the SMM saw her being taken away by the ambulance.

The SMM, in co-ordination with the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), monitored adherence to the ceasefire and facilitated dialogue to enable repair of critical infrastructure. The SMM monitored, on both sides of the contact line, assessment of damage to power lines between Nelipivka (government-controlled, 40km north of Donetsk) and Shyroka Balka (“DPR”-controlled, 34km north-east of Donetsk). In Pikuzy, the SMM, accompanied by JCCC officers, saw repairmen conducting further repairs to a gas pipeline 30m south of the “DPR” checkpoint at the western edge of the village, 50m from civilian houses on Akhmatova Street (see SMM Daily Report 14 February 2017).

The SMM visited two border areas currently not under government control. At the Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point the SMM saw, in about an hour: 23 civilian cars (19 with Ukrainian, two with Russian Federation licence plates and two with “LPR” plates in the adjacent parking lot). It also observed 25 civilian cars queuing to exit Ukraine (21 with Ukrainian and four with Russian Federation licence plates). The SMM noted that cars were being screened for about 3-4 minutes (per car). The SMM also saw eight pedestrians (five women and three men, around 40 years old) exit Ukraine and four pedestrians (three women and one man, around 40 years old) enter. At the Izvaryne crossing point (52km south-east of Luhansk), in one and a half hours, the SMM saw 66 civilian cars (48 with Ukrainian, 14 with the Russian Federation, three with Georgian licence plates and one with “LPR” plates) and two covered trucks (one with Ukrainian and one with Belarusian licence plates) in a queue to exit Ukraine. There were three buses (all with Ukrainian licence plates, with signs: “Luhansk-Kiev”, “Kirovsk-Moscow” and one unknown sign) queuing to exit Ukraine. The SMM saw three covered trucks (two with Ukrainian and one with Belarusian licence plates) enter Ukraine, as well as three buses (one with Ukrainian license plates, with a sign “Pervomaisk-Moscow”, which had about ten passengers inside) and the features of the other two trucks were not clearly visible). The SMM saw about 85 pedestrians queuing to exit Ukraine (men and women of different ages). During its stay, the SMM saw around 60 pedestrians exit and about 35 pedestrians enter Ukraine. At the adjacent parking lot, the SMM saw 88 cars (53 with Ukrainian, 18 with Russian Federation, two with Latvian licence plates, and 15 with “LPR” plates).

In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a rally outside of the Parliament building. The SMM saw some 1,800 people protesting in support of the blockade in the east. The Mission saw about 200 law-enforcement officers present around the Parliament and noted 40 additional law-enforcement buses parked in the adjacent Mariinski Park. The event ended without incidents.

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, 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 UXO.

The possible presence of mines and UXO prevented the SMM from travelling further south-east into the Zolote disengagement area from government-controlled Katerynivka. The Mission informed the JCCC.

At an “LPR” checkpoint at the edge of the Zolote disengagement area armed men 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.

The presence of anti-tank obstacles and mine hazard signs on the road prevented the SMM from traveling between Katerynivka and government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk). Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel told the SMM that permission to pass should be granted by higher Ukrainian Armed Forces authorities. The Mission informed the JCCC.

The SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) as Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.

The SMM was unable to access a weapons holding area as no “DPR” members were present to allow access. The SMM informed the JCCC.

The SMM was unable to access a weapons holding area as no “DPR” members were present to allow access. The Mission informed the JCCC.

Two Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers denied the SMM passage south of the village of Donske (government-controlled, 47km north of Mariupol) toward Shevchenko (government-controlled, 59km south of Donetsk). The Mission informed the JCCC.

Armed men denied the SMM access to a facility the SMM had previously observed weapons being repaired in Luhansk city. The Mission informed the JCCC.

Armed men denied the SMM access to a compound in Luhansk city. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Armed men stopped the SMM in the village of Verhulivka (61km west of Luhansk) and did not allow it to proceed further. The Mission informed the JCCC.

Conditional access:

The SMM was again allowed to pass through a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (see SMM Daily Report 21 February 2017 only after an unarmed man had searched the SMM vehicles. The Mission informed the JCCC.

An armed “DPR” member man only allowed two SMM monitors to enter a weapons holding area. The Mission informed the JCCC.

  • Armed men denied the SMM access to the village of Nova Marivka (“DPR”-controlled, 64km south of Donetsk). The SMM informed the JCCC, who subsequently facilitated SMM’s access to the village. Nonetheless, the armed men only allowed the SMM access to certain areas of the village, but not to proceed eastward toward the other side of the village. The SMM again 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.** 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”.

[1] 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 0832
mobile: +380 50 381 5192
mobile: +380 93 691 6790
mariia.aleksevych@osce.org