Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 23 February 2017

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This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more explosions in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous 24-hour period. The SMM observed weapons in violation of the respective withdrawal lines. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Petrivske and Zolote, but its access remained restricted.* The SMM faced three conditional restrictions of its freedom of movement in areas outside of government control south-west of Donetsk and near Horlivka. The Mission visited two border areas currently not under control of the Government. It continued to observe the blockade of railway tracks near Hirske. In various cities the SMM observed generally peaceful public gatherings related to socio-economic demands.

The SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations [1] in Donetsk region, but more explosions (460), compared with the previous 24-hour period (420 explosions). The SMM recorded more than 300 explosions over less than two hours while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), during the early morning hours of 23 February.

From the evening of 22 February to the morning of 23 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions 8-15km north-west and north. In the same evening and night, the SMM camera at the “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk) recorded two undetermined explosions, followed, in sequence, by five projectiles and nine tracer rounds in flight south to north, ten tracer rounds in flight north-west to south-east and 15 tracer rounds in flight south-east to north-west, all 4-8km north-east, west and west-north-west of the camera.

On the evening of 22 February, while in Svitlodarsk the SMM heard 49 undetermined explosions and 48 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-7km south and south-west. In the following morning, the SMM heard, over less than two hours, 312 undetermined explosions 7-14km south-west and 59 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-7 km south-west.

From the evening of 22 February to the morning of 23 February, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded 20 tracer rounds, one in flight from south-west to north-east followed by 19 from east to west, all at undetermined distances north.

On 23 February, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about five and a half hours, the SMM heard 32 undetermined explosions, four bursts and some 100 shots of small-arms fire at points ranging 1-6km from south-south-west to north-north-west. Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) for about five hours, the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions 10-12km west and six undetermined explosions 2-5km east-south-east. In the afternoon of 23 February the SMM camera in Avdiivka recorded, over one and a half hour, 17 undetermined explosions, followed by a total of eight outgoing explosions and subsequent projectiles in flight from north-north-west to south-south-east, four outgoing explosions and subsequent projectiles in flight north-west to south-east, and nine undetermined explosions, all 4-6km east-south-east and south-east of the camera.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, with 41 explosions compared with 20 recorded in the previous 24-hour period.

On 23 February, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard six explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds, 1-1.5km west-south-west. Positioned in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 3-5km south-south-west, assessed as outside the disengagement area. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Zolote-5 (61km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 12 explosions assessed as impacts of artillery rounds and three bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, 4-5 km south-west. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Molodizhne (63km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one shot of small-arms fire and two undetermined explosions 1-2km north-west of its position. Positioned in government-controlled Zolote-4 (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions. While in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds 5-10km west. Positioned in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 3km south-east. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Yuzhna-Lomuvatka (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of an unknown weapon system 7km north-west.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas of 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. 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, Zolote and Petrivske.

In the night between 20 and 21 February, the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded five shots of small-arms fire, 230m west of the camera, assessed as outside of the disengagement area.

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 baseline 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 one anti-tank guided missile (9K111 Fagot, 120mm) mounted on a wooden box facing north in Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk) and two anti-tank guided missiles (9K111 Fagot, 120mm or 9M113 Konkurs, 135mm) each mounted on a stationary infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; (BMP-1) in Vyshnevyi Dil (13km east of Luhansk).

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas the SMM saw: four anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) towed by military trucks heading east in government-controlled Novookhtyrka (55km north-west of Luhansk) and three multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) in Oleksiievo-Druzhkivka(66km north of Donetsk).

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 three self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), two towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm), and four self-propelled mortars (2S9 Nona, 120mm). The SMM noted as missing 20 self-propelled howitzers (2S1), two for the first time, and two towed howitzers (D-30), both missing for the first time.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles, anti-aircraft and recoilless guns [2] in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw: two stationary IFVs (BMP-2) and a dozen armed men 3km north-west of Oleksandrivsk (10km west of Luhansk); three IFVs (BMP-1) in newly dug-out positions and also new trenches with one heavy machine-gun (12.7mm) pointed north between Zhovte (17km north-west of Luhansk) and Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk); one stationary armoured personnel carrier (APC; MTLB) east of Pryvitne (11km north of Luhansk); three stationary IFVs (BMP-1) next to the road near Pryvitne; three stationary APCs (MTLB), two of which were mounted with anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23, 23mm) in Molodizhne; one stationary IFV (BMP) in Stare (formerly Chervonyi Prapor, 58km west of Luhansk); one IFV (BMP-1) in a dug out position on the eastern side of the main road and fresh trenches on its western side as well as about ten armed men 4.5km south of Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk); two stationary IFVs (BMP-1) in Raivka (16km north-west of Luhansk) as well as two APCs (MTLB) and two IFVs (BMP-1) near Vyshnevyi Dil.

The SMM observed two static military communication trucks with antennas, assessed as mobile command posts in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk).

In government-controlled areas the SMM saw: two armoured personnel carriers (APC; BTR-80) near Avdiivka and two tripod-mounted, man-portable recoilless guns (SPG-9, 73mm) pointing east at the western edge of Krymske (42km north-west of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to monitor a blockade at railway tracks, which cross the contact line. In government-controlled Hirske (63km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed 10 to 15 people at an encampment near the railway tracks. At a nearby road junction in government-controlled Karbonit (part of Zolote), the SMM observed six people displaying flags of former volunteer battalions and red-and-black flags. The director of the coal mine located in “LPR”-controlled Verhulivka (61km west of Luhansk) told the SMM that the coal mine was operational, but the extracted coal was stored in the warehouse, because it was not possible to transfer the coal to government-controlled areas due to the blockade. The director of the Komsomolets Donbassa coal mine in “DPR”-controlled Khrestivka (former Kirovske, 35km north-east of Donetsk) told the SMM that they were still able to deliver coal by train to the Luhanska TES thermal power plant in Shchastia, but did not receive supplies, such as machinery spare parts, wood for mine shafts and lubricants from government-controlled areas due to the blockade.

The SMM visited two border areas currently not under government control. At the Novoazovsk border crossing point (40km east of Mariupol) the SMM, during twenty minutes, saw one civilian vehicle and one covered truck (both with Ukrainian licence plates) waiting in line to exit Ukraine. At the Dovzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point in over an hour, the SMM saw seven empty civilian cars (five with Ukrainian licence plates, of which two with an “LPR” sticker) at the adjacent parking lot and 11 passenger cars (three with Russian Federation and eight with Ukrainian licence plates) in a queue to exit Ukraine. The SMM also saw one civilian bus (with Ukrainian licence plates, bearing a sign “St. Petersburg-Donetsk”) and 11 civilian cars (four with Russian Federation and seven with Ukrainian licence plates) enter Ukraine.

The SMM observed three public gatherings in Kyiv, Kherson and near Chernivtsi. In Kyiv, the SMM saw about 200 people protesting in front of the Parliament. One of the participants told the Mission that the protest was organized by small-business owners against a draft law, being discussed inside the Parliament, regarding the alleged reintroduction of a tax inspectorate. The SMM observed about ten law enforcement officials near the entrance of the Parliament. In Kherson the Mission monitored a scheduled meeting of the Kherson City Council. Approximately 200 people protested in front of the city council building against an increase in the price of public transportation which was on the agenda to be discussed at the meeting. About 20 police officers were present. On 22 and 23 February the SMM observed 60-90 protesters next to two big tents on the road to the Porubne (35km south of Chernivtsi) border crossing point. One of the participants told the SMM that he was protesting against current regulations regarding the registration of foreign cars in Ukraine. About 30 law enforcement officials were present on both days.

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

*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 Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (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 SMM 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. On two separate occasions the presence of anti-tank obstacles and mine hazard signs on the road prevented the SMM from traveling between government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) and Popasna. The Mission informed the JCCC. The SMM was unable to travel east from government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk) due to the lack of security guarantees and the presence of anti-tank mines on the road. The SMM informed the JCCC. The SMM could not travel across the bridge in Shchastia as Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC. Conditional access:

The SMM was allowed to pass a checkpoint on highway H-15 in “DPR”-controlled Kreminets (16km south-west of Donetsk) only after its trailer was inspected by an armed “DPR” member. The Mission informed the JCCC. The SMM was again allowed to pass through a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk) (see SMM Daily Report 21 February 2017) only after an unarmed man had searched its vehicles. The Mission informed the JCCC. The SMM, while monitoring the rotation of Russian representatives of the JCCC, was prevented from passing a checkpoint in “DPR” controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk). Armed “DPR” members asked the SMM members to present national passports, car documents, dates of birth and phone numbers. After 21 minutes the patrol was allowed to pass. 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.


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