Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 22 February 2017

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This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more explosions in Donetsk region compared with the previous 24-hour period and no explosions in Luhansk region. The Mission observed impact sites in Pikuzy. 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 critical infrastructure. The Mission continued to monitor the situation of civilians near the contact line and to observe blockade of railway tracks near Hirske, Bakhmut and Shcherbynivka. It monitored a peaceful demonstration of about 15,000 people in Kyiv.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations [1] in Donetsk region with over 420 explosions compared with 341 during previous 24-hour period. The vast majority of those explosions were recorded in the Svitlodarsk-Debaltseve area.

From the evening of 21 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 6-8km north. The same evening the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded three undetermined explosions and, in sequence, one projectile of indirect fire in flight from south to north followed by one projectile of indirect fire in flight from west to east and one illumination flare in vertical flight, all 4-6km east. The SMM camera at the “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk) recorded one illumination flare 4-6km north-east.

On 22 February over a period of about two hours, while positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 17 undetermined explosions 4-7km west and south-west as well as at least 35 bursts and nearly five minutes of intense small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire 2-6km north, south-west and north-west.

During the evening and night of 21-22 February, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 86 undetermined explosions, five explosions assessed as automatic-grenade-launcher fire, five explosions assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar rounds, nearly 60 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and 50 bursts of small-arms fire, all 3-7km east and south-east. On 21 February from the same location the SMM heard 71 undetermined explosions 5-7km south-east. While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on the morning of 22 February, the SMM heard six shots of small-arms fire 1-2km north-west.

In about two hours on the afternoon of 22 February, while positioned in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 298 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire 3-6km west-north-west, north-west, and north-north-west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations overall, and no explosions, compared with 26 explosions during the previous reporting period. While in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard a single shot of small-arms fire 1-2km south-west.

The SMM observed the results of shelling, including damage to infrastructure and direct hits on houses. In “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM, accompanied by Russian officers of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), observed two fresh impacts sites. About 3m south of 14 Akhmatova Street, the SMM saw an impact on soft soil, which was assessed to be caused by a 120mm mortar round fired from a westerly direction. The house had broken windows and shrapnel damage on the southern wall. About 50-70m south-west of the same house, the SMM observed a second fresh crater on the asphalt, which it assessed as caused by an artillery (calibre unknown) round fired from a south-westerly direction. A female resident (in her sixties) told the SMM that shelling had taken place the same morning.

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

Despite the joint statement of 1 February by the Trilateral Contact Group and the consent reached on 15 February 2017, the sides had not yet provided the information requested by the SMM related to weapons to be withdrawn or the 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 government-controlled areas, the SMM saw six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) in a compound near government-controlled Anadol (39km north of Mariupol).

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines in areas not under government control, the SMM saw two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV; BMP-1) each mounted with an anti-tank guided missile system (9K111 Fagot, 120mm) in “LPR”-controlled Vyshnevyi Dil (13km south-east of Luhansk), one tank (T-64) in Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk), and one tank on a flatbed truck heading north on the southern edge of Luhansk city.

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 25 tanks (T-64), including one for the first time, 14 towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152 mm), and two surface-to-air missile systems (9K33 Osa, 210mm). The SMM also noted as missing seven tanks (T-64) and nine towed howitzers (2A36).

The SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapons storage site, whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines. The SMM found the site abandoned as it has been since January 2017, noting 64 tanks (23 T-64 and 41 T-72) and six mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm) as missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles [2] and anti-aircraft weapons in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw: one armoured personnel carrier (APC; BTR) near Novoselivka Druha (36km north-east of Mariupol), ten IFVs (BMP-2) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), two stationary APCs (MT-LB) near Staryi Aidar (20km north-west of Luhansk), three IFVs (one BMP-1 and two BMP-2) in Zolote (outside the disengagement area) and one IFV (BMP-2) heading south from one area inside Zolote to another in the direction of the disengagement area, and two IFVs (BMP-1) and a truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) in Stanytsia Luhanska (outside the disengagement area).

In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw: one APC (MT-LB) and ten armed men in Vyshnevyi Dil, six IFVs (four BMP-2, two type undetermined), six military-type trucks and ten armed men near Oleksandrivsk (10km west of Luhansk), one APC (MT-LB) heading south-east about 500m north-east of Molodizhne (63km north-west of Luhansk) and three APCs (MT-LB), one mounted with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23), in Molodizhne, a military-type truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Raivka (17km north-west of Luhansk), and two IFVs (BMP) near Pryvitne (12km north of Luhansk).

The SMM noted the presence of mines. About 400m north of the “LPR” checkpoint south of government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed four anti-tank mines blocking one of the two lanes on road from the Shchastia bridge.

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 track was still blocked with wooden barriers and barbed wire, and observed a police car parked a distance away from the blockade. In “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (49km west of Luhansk), an employee of the railway line told the SMM that repair work on the railway had been planned for the day and the SMM saw a repair team arrive at the site. However, the employee told the SMM that repair work would not be undertaken while the blockade was still in place.

In government-controlled Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk), the SMM observed five men wearing camouflage fatigues. The blockade did not obstruct vehicular traffic. In government-controlled Shcherbynivka (44km north of Donetsk), the SMM observed four men in camouflage fatigues at the railway crossing and saw Ukrainian and black-and-red flags hanging at the blockade.

The SMM monitored the situation of civilians at entry-exit checkpoints along the contact line. For at least the second time in the last week, civilians crossing the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge from “LPR”-controlled areas told the SMM that civilians are able to pay in order to jump ahead in the queue.

The SMM followed up on the situation for civilians living near the contact line. In government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), two residents (women, about 60 years old) told the SMM that there was a shortage of food in the local shop and that it was only open for a couple hours a day as there was no electricity in the building where the shop was located. The SMM saw that electricity repairs were ongoing at the shop. An engineer working for the water company in government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) told the SMM that on 21 February electricity had been cut to a water pumping station in Artema due to non-payment, which he said would affect water supply in the “LPR”-controlled areas of Obozne (18km north of Luhansk), Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), Pryvitne (11km north of Luhansk), Stukalovka Balka (9km north of Luhansk) and parts of Metalist (7km north-west of Luhansk). At 15:00 a local resident told the SMM that water was still available in Obozne but only at low pressure. In eastern parts of Luhansk city, the SMM was told that the hours for water supply would be reduced by at least two hours per day.

In some areas close to the contact line, the JCCC contributed to cessation of fire enabling repair. The SMM monitored, on both sides of the contact line, assessment of damage to power lines between Nelipivka (government-controlled, 40km north-east of Donetsk) and Shyroka Balka (“DPR”-controlled, 34km north-east of Donetsk). From both sides of the contact line, the SMM monitored repair work to water pipelines in the areas of “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk). In Raivka the SMM monitored repair of a water pumping station.

In Kyiv the SMM monitored a demonstration. The SMM saw some 15,000 people (70 per cent men, 30 per cent women, ten per cent wearing camouflage fatigues) gather for the “March of National Dignity”. Organizers called for unity and criticized what they said were corrupt business practices and profiteering off of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Hundreds of protestors were carrying flags of the political parties Svoboda, National Corps and Right Sector. Half of the protestors held signs with place names, including Bila Tserkva, Kropyvnytske, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Melitopol, Kramatorsk, and Donbas. The SMM saw and smelled smoke on Bankova Street and in front of the Parliament building, from flares that protestors fired as well as from torches. The SMM observed at least 250-300 National Guard and National Police officers in riot gear, cordoning off the Parliament building and about the same number on Bankova Street. The demonstration lasted from 10:00-13:00 and ended peacefully.

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 responses 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 (64km west of Luhansk). 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 SMM was prevented from traveling between north-east from government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) to Katerynivka by a wooden gate and mine warning signs on the road. Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel told the SMM that the road was mined and 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.

Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel denied the SMM access to a military compound in government-controlled Novoselivka Druha (36km north-east of Mariupol) and said that the SMM should have announced the visit in advance. The SMM 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. Delay:

In government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north of Luhansk), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel stopped the SMM at a checkpoint and requested to know the nationalities and see passports of SMM members. The SMM refused to show the documents. After 30 minutes, the SMM was allowed to proceed. The SMM 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

[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
Mobile: +380 67 650 31 57

Mariia Aleksevych
Senior Press Assistant
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Office: +380 44 392 0832
Mobile: +380 50 381 5192
Mobile: +380 93 691 6790