Ukraine

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 24 February 2017

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This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in  Donetsk compared with the previous reporting period, with the majority of explosions concentrated in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area. In Luhansk region the SMM also recorded more ceasefire violations compared with the previous reporting with over 110 artillery explosions in the western parts of the region. The SMM followed up on reports of damage to the Donetsk Water Filtration station caused by shelling. On two separate occasions, in Yasynuvata and Pikuzy, armed men opened small-arm fire close to the SMM. The SMM observed weapons in violation of the respective withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line. The Mission continued to observe blockade of railway tracks near Hirske, Bakhmut and Shcherbynivka. The SMM monitored a public gathering in Odessa.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations[1]including more than 1,200 explosions in Donetsk region, compared with the previous reporting period (about 460 explosions). Of those explosions, some 1,000 were recorded at the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area.

Before midnight of 23-24 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre the SMM heard 153 undetermined explosions: 113 explosions 5-10km north-east and 40 explosions 5-10km north-west. While in the same location, the SMM also heard and saw, between 20:00 and 20:15, about 30 explosions assessed as salute fire outgoing from artillery 1-3km west-south-west. The following day while positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) for more than three hours, the SMM heard 30 undetermined explosions: 21 explosions 2-4km west and nine explosions 2-10km north-west. On the early evening, while in Donetsk city centre the SMM heard five explosions assessed as outgoing rounds from artillery 2-3km north-west, 25 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds from unknown weapons 1-5km north-west, and six undetermined explosions 7-10km north-west.

Before midnight of 23-24 February, the SMM camera in Avdiivka(17km north of Donetsk)  recorded 51 undetermined explosions and ten projectiles (seven in flight from north-west to south-east, one from north to south, one south-west to north-east, and one from south to north), beginning with six undetermined explosions and three projectiles flight from north-west to south-east, all 4-7km east-south-east. The following day while positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about five hours, the SMM heard 355 explosions at locations 3-9km ranging from south-west to north-north-west. Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka for more than four hours, the SMM heard 290 undetermined explosions 1-6km south-east, and 130 undetermined explosions 3-7km south-west.

On the evening of 23 February while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard eight explosions assessed as caused by artillery rounds 6-8km west. 

In the evening of 23 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 55 undetermined explosions 5-7km south-west. On the same evening while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions 8-10km south-west. On the afternoon of 24 February, while in the same location the SMM heard 28 explosions: seven explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds 3-6km south-west, three explosions assessed as the impacts of 82mm mortar rounds 5-6km south-west, and 18 undetermined explosions 3-7km south-west. During the day and while positioned in government-controlled Kodema (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard one explosions assessed as a 152mm artillery round 3km south-west.

On 24 February, while positioned in “DPR”-controlled Sofiivka (formerly Karlo-Marksove, 40km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 20 explosions (five assessed as outgoing rounds from recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm), five as outgoing rounds from rocket-propelled-grenade fire, and ten as outgoing rounds from automatic-grenade-fire) 0.5-1km south. The SMM assessed that the explosions were part of a live-fire exercise at a known shooting range in violation of the ceasefire and of the March 2016 Trilateral Contact Group’s decision on the prohibition of live-fire exercises within the security zone. Subsequently, the SMM, accompanied by a Russian officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), attempted to visit the shooting range, but two armed man denied them access. *

On the night of 23-24  February the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded one undetermined explosion and one tracer round in flight from east to west, followed by four undetermined explosions and 13 tracer rounds (seven in flight from east to west and six from west to east), all at undetermined distances to the north.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including some 150 explosions compared with41 recorded in the previous reporting period. The SMM recorded 115 explosions assessed as artillery rounds in the western parts of Luhansk.

Positioned in Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an outgoing round from 120mm mortar 2-4km south, followedbyone explosion assessed as its impact 2-4km east. While positioned in the same location, the SMM also heard ten undetermined explosions 4km south, and seven undetermined explosions 2-3km south-east. While positioned in government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 31 explosions assessed as the impacts of 152mm artillery rounds 5-7km south. While in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 33 explosions assessed as artillery rounds 10km north-west, and 51explosions assessed as the impacts of artillery rounds 10km west.

The SMM followed up on reports of damage to the Donetsk Water Filtration Station caused by shelling the previous night. The SMM conducted flights of its mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the area, as the SMM patrol was unable to access the station due to a lack of security guarantees and the possible presence of mines. The UAV spotted four impact sites – three inside and one outside the station, all of which the SMM assessed as having been caused by 82mm mortar rounds(the SMM was not able to determine whether they were fresh). The aerial imagery showed damage to the southern edge of the roof of the Chlorine Storage building, and marks of broken building material stretching from north to south on the roof, and the SMM assessed it as having been caused by an 82mm mortar round fired from a northerly direction. The UAV also spotted one hole on the roof of the Pressure Station 6(the second impact site), another hole at the southern edge of the roof of Pressure Station 8(the third impact site), and a crater on an open field – 35m north of the station (the fourth impact site). The SMM was not able to assess the direction of fire on those three impact sites. The UAV spotted also one bus and three civilian cars moving away from the gate of the station.

Armed men opened small-arm fire close to the SMM on two separate occasions in “DPR”-controlled areas. (SeeSMM Spot Report 24 February 2017.)  In Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol), while the SMM was having a conversation with two armed men, one of them pointed an automatic rifle (AK-47) into the air and fired a round. The SMM left the area immediately. In Yasynuvata, while the SMM was preparing to launch its mini-UAV from the north-western edge of the town (after conducting the aforementioned flights of the UAV over the Donetsk Water Filtration station), four armed men approached the SMM, and seized the UAV. When 15-20m away, one of them fired a burst of small-arms fire that impacted 5m from the patrol’s position. The SMM left the area. The SMM informed the JCCC about both incidents and asked it to assist in the recovery of the UAV.

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 Petrivske.

On the evening of 22 February, the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded one shot of small-arms fire 1.7km south-south-east, and two explosions assessed as the impacts of rounds from unknown weapons 760m south-east (all assessed as inside of the disengagement area). On 24 February while positioned near government-controlled parts of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area the SMM heard four undetermined explosions at an undetermined distance west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

Inside the Zolote disengagement area in violation of the Framework Decision the SMM observed four men wearing military-style clothes without any visible unit badge, one of them having a pistol in his pocket. The SMM explained to them that forces and/or hardware should not be in the disengagement area according to the Framework Decision, and informed the JCCC. 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: two anti-tank guided missiles (unknown type) each mounted on a stationary infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP) in Vyshnevyi Dil (13km east of Luhansk); and one stationary tank and one towed artillery (unknown type) near Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk).

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas the SMM saw: one mortar (unknown type) in Vozdvyzhenka (formerly Krasnyi Pakhar 66km north-east of Donetsk); and  six towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) and 29 self-propelled howitzers (16 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm and 13 2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) in Bohoiavlenka (46km south-west of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside of storage sites the SMM observed two mortars (PM-38, 120mm) each loaded on a military truck heading east near government-controlled Metolkine (69km north-west of Luhansk).

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); eight self-propelled howitzers (2S3);five towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm); four surface-to-air missile systems (9K35, Strela, 120mm); and five mortars (2B11, 120mm). The SMM noted as missing: 12 MLRS (BM-21); 17 towed howitzers (seven 2A36, six D-20, 152mm, and four 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm); one self-propelled howitzer (2S3); and one mortar (2B11, 120mm), the latter two were observed as missing for the first time.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles anti-aircraft weapons[2] in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw: two APC (MTLB) heading north near Khreshchatytske (formerly Krasnoarmiiske, 33km north-east of Mariupol); two stationary IFVs (BMP-1) south of Stanytsia Luhanska (outside the disengagement area); one stationary APC (MTLB) mounted with one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Sentianivka (formerly Frunze, 44km west of Luhansk); one stationary IFV (BMP-1) in Luhansk city; three IFVs (BMP) and two APCs (MTLB), all stationary near Vyshnevyi Dil; two stationary IFVs (BMP) near Pryvitne (11km north of Luhansk); two stationary IFVs(BMP-1) near Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk); one IFV (BMP-1) towed by a military-type truck heading east near Oleksandrivsk (10km west of Luhansk); and one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) and two stationary IFVs (BMP-1) near Dovhe.

In government-controlled areas the SMM saw: one IFV (BMP-1) heading south in Svitlodarsk; one stationary armoured personnel carriers (APC; MTLB) near Heivka (27km north-west of Luhansk); six stationary IFVs (BMP-2) near Novotoshkivske (53km west of Luhansk); and one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near government-controlled part of Zolote.

The SMM followed up on the situation for civilians living near the contact line. On 23 February, on the road between “LPR”-controlled  Stare (formerly Chervonyi Prapor, 58km west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Verhulivka (61km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a high-voltage electricity cable hanging at a low height across the main road and emanating smoke. The director of the nearby coal mine in Verhulivka told the SMM that as a result of the power cut 54 coal miners were stuck underground since noon because the elevator was not operational. The SMM did not observe any signs of shelling around the hanging cable. On 24 February, a resident (a woman aged 55) in Verhulivka and an employee in the coal mine separately told the SMM that electricity supply had been restored earlier the day. The SMM also noted that electricity was available in the coal mine.

The SMM continued to monitor blockades at railway tracks, which cross the contact line (see SMM Daily Report 24 February 2017). In government-controlled Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk), Shcherbynivka (44km north of Donetsk), and Hirske (63km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed that the railway tracks were still blocked with wooden barriers and barbed wire. At the government checkpoint near the road junction in government-controlled Karbonit (part of Zolote), the SMM saw two men wearing camouflage clothes and displaying a national flag and a former Donbas volunteer battalion flag. The SMM observed that one civilian truck loaded with coal pass through the check point from east to west without interference.

The SMM monitored the situation of civilians at entry-exit checkpoints along the contact line. In the morning at an “LPR” checkpoint south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM observed about 1,200 people waiting to travel toward government-controlled areas and about 150 people waiting to travel in the opposite direction. 

In Odessa, on 23 February the SMM monitored a commemoration of the Defender of the Fatherland day at the monument of the Unknown Sailor. At 10:45 a police officer present told the SMM that there was an announced bomb threat. The SMM observed the monument and its surrounding areas were cordoned by about 80 officers of the police and National Guard, and a bomb squad vehicle and a fire truck were parked nearby. In front of the cordon there were a group of some 50 people (mostly elderly men and women) waiting to lay flowers, and another group of some 40 men (aged between 18 and 45), most of them wearing military-style clothes. The SMM saw two police officers taking an elderly woman, who was shouting at National Guard officers, to a police car, and driving away. A police officer told the SMM that it was a “measure to prevent violence”. At 11:45, police informed the SMM that the area was clear of any explosive devices and started to let small groups (10-20) of people approach the monument and lay flowers. Other than exchange of verbal arguments between the two groups the SMM did not observe any incidents.

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

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 UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • 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 the SMM was told 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.
  • Ukrainian Armed Force personnel stopped the SMM from traveling from 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 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.
  • At a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Novolaspa (50km south of Donetsk) an armed man prevented the SMM from proceeding further east, citing fighting in the area. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM, accompanied by a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer of the JCCC, attempted to visit a known shooting range in “DPR”-controlled Sofiivka, buttwo armed man denied access.
  • In “LPR”-controlled Verhulivka four armed men stopped the SMM and prevented from proceeding further into the village. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Conditional access

  • On the road leading eastward to “LPR”-controlled Pryvitne, armed men stopped the SMM and told not to stop or take pictures on the road. About 15 minutes later, on the same road 1km east of the abovementioned location, the SMM observed two stationary IFV (BMP-2).

Delay:

  • Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel delayed the SMM for half an hour before allowing it to enter a heavy weapon holding area. The Mission 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”.

[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/node/301841

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