Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 27 February 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk region between the evenings of 26 and 27 February compared with the previous 24 hours. The SMM observed houses damaged by shelling in Zolote and Pikuzy. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Petrivske and Zolote, but its access remained restricted. The Mission reviewed video footage from the SMM camera in Zolote that revealed ceasefire violations near the disengagement area on 25 February. The SMM observed weapons in violation of the respective withdrawal lines. The SMM noted the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance in Nova Marivka and Zolote, and near Shchastia. A “DPR” member returned an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle seized by armed men in Yasynuvata on 24 February. The Mission monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable maintenance and repairs near Artema and Krasnyi Lyman. The SMM monitored the blockade of a railway track near Hirske. It visited two border areas not under government control. The SMM monitored public gatherings in Kyiv and observed removal of graffiti from a bank in Odessa, as well as a cross erected in a Jewish cemetery in Ivano-Frankivsk.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations [1] between the evenings of 26 and 27 February, including about 450 explosions compared with about 200 explosions in the previous 24 hours.

On the night of 26-27 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 42 undetermined explosions 8-15km at northerly directions.

On 27 February, positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard 56 undetermined explosions 3-5km south-east. The same day, the SMM camera in Avdiivka recorded one projectile in flight from north-east to south-west, 4-6km east-south-east of the camera. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 110 undetermined explosions and intense heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire 1-5km at directions ranging from south to west.

On the evening of 26 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 5-8km north-west, followed by a total of 38 explosions (25 assessed as impacts, three assessed as outgoing, and ten undetermined), three explosions assessed as outgoing recoilless gun rounds (SPG-9, 73mm), and intense heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 7-12km south-west. During the day on 27 February, in the same position, the SMM heard 77 shots and ten bursts of small-arms fire 1-2km south-west.

On the evening of 26 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 52 undetermined explosions 4-6km south-west.

On the morning of 27 February, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Staromarivka (46km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions 5km from its position (13 to the south-west and five to the north). Positioned in government-controlled Orlivske (23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 39 undetermined explosions at an unknown distance south. Positioned north of government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 70 undetermined explosions and six bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire at an unknown distance south-east. In the afternoon, in the same location, the Mission heard six undetermined explosions at unknown distances in directions ranging from south-south-east to north-north-west.

On the night of 26-27 February, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, six tracer rounds in flight from east-south-east to west-north-west, two tracer rounds in flight from west to east, and three undetermined explosions, all at unknown distances to the north and north-north-east of the camera. During the day on 27 February, the same camera recorded two explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of an undetermined weapon and ten tracer rounds in flight (five from east to west, five from west to east), all at unknown distances ranging from north to east of the camera.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations between the evenings of 26 and 27 February, including about 60 explosions compared with 155 explosions recorded in the previous 24 hours.

On the evening of 26 February, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an artillery round (calibre unknown) 10-15km west.

On 27 February, positioned west of “LPR”-controlled Znamianka (36km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 33 undetermined explosions 5km north-west. Positioned on the eastern outskirts of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an artillery round (calibre unknown) 15km south-west.

Positioned north of government-controlled Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 15 explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds (calibre unknown) 600m south-west. Positioned south of government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two explosions assessed as impacts of tank rounds (type unknown) and two explosions assessed as impacts of rocket-propelled grenades, all 3-5km east.

The SMM observed houses damaged by shelling. On 26 February, in government-controlled Zolote-4 (60km north-west of Luhansk) about 100m from the disengagement area, the SMM saw four houses (on Morozov, Studienska, and Ostrovkoho Streets) with shrapnel damage to east-facing walls and broken east-facing windows, along with six impacts. At three of the sites – including in the ceiling, walls, and furniture of one house, the roof of which had a 60cm hole in it – the SMM observed shrapnel assessed to be from automatic-grenade-launcher (AGS) rounds. The SMM also assessed eight impact sites on the streets as caused by automatic-grenade-launcher rounds, the majority of which were assessed as fired from an easterly direction. About ten local residents told the SMM that shelling had occurred the previous evening.

On 27 February, in “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM was accompanied by Russian officers of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) to three impact sites. The SMM observed south-facing broken windows and a partially destroyed roof on a house at Akhmatov Street 66 (along with the tail of a 120mm mortar round wedged in the floor), a four-square-metre hole in the south-west-facing roof of a house at Kirov Street 56 and scattered debris in the yard of a house at Kirov Street 60. A man and woman (aged 50-60) living nearby said that shelling had occurred that morning.

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.*

On the evening of 25 February, the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote recorded, in sequence, one projectile in flight from south to north, nine projectiles in flight from north to south, one undetermined explosion and four additional projectiles in flight from north to south, all 1-2km east and assessed as outside the disengagement area.

The SMM noted a calm situation while near the disengagement areas in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska and “DPR”-controlled Petrivske.

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 missile systems (9K111 Fagot, 120mm) mounted on stationary infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs; BMP-1) 100m west of Vyshnevyi Dil (13km east of Luhansk), and two stationary tanks (T-64) 2.5km north-west of Lomuvatka (57km west of Luhansk). The SMM also observed tracks assessed to be those of multiple self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) west of Kadiivka.

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas the SMM saw three towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) being towed by military trucks heading north near Novoaidar and one surface-to-air missile system (9K35 Strela-10, 120mm) heading east near Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol).

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 respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw five multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS; BM-21 Grad, 122mm), six towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) and two anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm). The SMM noted that one MLRS (BM-21) was missing, as previously observed, and two anti-tank guns (MT-12) were missing for the first time. Another holding area was found to be abandoned, as previously observed, with six self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and two mortars (PM-38, 120mm) missing. The SMM saw fresh tyre prints inside the compound. At another area – previously observed to be holding 11 MRLS (BM-21) – the SMM found a locked gate and no one present to open it,* as had occurred on the most recent visit.

In government-controlled areas, the SMM found two sites to be abandoned, as previously observed, with six self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and four anti-tank guns (MT-12) missing.

The SMM revisited an “LPR” heavy weapons permanent storage site and noted that seven towed howitzers (D-30) and eight self-propelled howitzers (2S1) were missing, as previously observed.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft weapons [2] and tank tracks in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw: three static IFVs (BMP-1), two static armoured personnel carriers (APCs; MT-LB) and a possible command and communications vehicle near Vyshnevyi Dil; one static IFV (BMP-1) near Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk); an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) mounted on a truck heading east near Zhovte (17km north-west of Luhansk); two static IFVs (BMP-1) near Luhansk city; four military-type trucks heading west near Yurivka (27km west of Luhansk); and one stationary APC (probably BRDM-2D) near Styla (34km south of Donetsk). Near Styla the SMM also observed fresh tracks of several IFVs heading north-west. An SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted two stationary IFVs (BMP-1) near Lobacheve (13km east of Luhansk).

In government-controlled areas on 26 February, the SMM saw a stationary anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Orikhove (57km north-west of Luhansk) and a stationary IFV (BMP-2) near Zolote; and on 27 February the SMM saw one static anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Novotoshkivske (53km west of Luhansk), three stationary IFVS (two BMP-2s, one BMP-1) near Zolote, four stationary IFVs (BMP variant) near Orikhove, and a tank recovery vehicle (BTS-4) heading south near Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk).Near Lebedynske the SMM observed two sets of fresh tracks assessed to be those of tanks (T-64).

The SMM continued to note the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). West of “DPR”-controlled Nova Marivka (64km south of Donetsk) the SMM observed two 82mm mortar rounds embedded in a dirt road about 50m from a house. In Zolote-4, the SMM observed a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG-7) sticking out of the ground, about 150m from the nearest house, and assessed that it had been fired from a northerly direction. The SMM again saw four anti-tank mines in “LPR”-controlled areas south of Shchastia (see SMM Daily Report 27 February 2017).

Accompanied by a Russian officer of the JCCC, the SMM observed the removal of a 120mm artillery round in “LPR”-controlled Sokilnyky (38km north-west of Luhansk) by unarmed men.

In Donetsk a “DPR” member, Denis Pushilin, told the SMM that an “investigation was on-going” concerning an incident on 24 February in which armed men in Yasynuvata had fired in the direction of SMM monitors and seized one of the Mission’s UAVs. (See SMM Spot Report 25 February 2017.) He did not reveal the identities of those involved nor did he indicate when the investigation might be concluded. He returned the UAV but did not return the information collected by it, which the armed men also seized.

The SMM monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable maintenance and repairs, co-ordinated by the JCCC, to wells near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) by six Vodokanal workers using a tractor, and to power lines in “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk) by four Luhansk Water Company workers.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation of civilians walking across the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge. In the morning, the SMM observed about ten people at the government checkpoint queuing to enter government-controlled areas and 15 people queuing in the opposite direction, while at an “LPR” checkpoint south of the bridge, about 500 people were queuing to walk toward government-controlled areas and ten people were queuing in the opposite direction. Near this checkpoint, the SMM observed workers constructing a wooden shelter for people waiting to cross the bridge.

The SMM continued to monitor the blockade of routes crossing the contact line (see SMM Daily Report 27 February 2017). The SMM noted that railway tracks remained blocked by wooden barriers and barbed wire in government-controlled Hirske (63km west of Luhansk), and a train was still on the rails. At the government checkpoint near the road junction in Karbonit (part of Zolote), the SMM saw six unarmed people, along with two national flags of Ukraine, a black-and-red flag and a flag of the Aidar battalion. They told the SMM they had not yet stopped any vehicles but would intervene if they noticed anything illegal transiting the area. On the side of a highway near government-controlled Buhas (44km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed for the first time a camp and about 20 unarmed men (aged 20-50) wearing military-style clothes who said they were members of the Right Sector. One man told the SMM the group intended to take part in the blockade of trade between government- and non-government-controlled areas.

The SMM visited border areas currently outside government control. During one hour at the border crossing point in Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed two covered trucks with Ukrainian licence plates and 35 civilian cars (eight with Russian Federation and 27 with Ukrainian licence plates) leaving Ukraine, and nine civilian cars (eight with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates) entering Ukraine. A total of nine pedestrians crossed in both directions. During 15-minute visits to two pedestrian border crossing points near Krasnodarskyi (58km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed low levels of traffic.

In Kyiv the SMM monitored public gatherings on 26 February. Near the Russian Federation embassy, about 30 participants (mostly male) gathered around a truck escorted to the site by three vehicles with a black-and-red trident and the word “Maidan” on their doors. Speakers spoke about events in Crimea and eastern Ukraine since 2014. A police patrol, crowd control unit, and ten National Guards were present at the scene. The event ended peacefully. At Maidan Nezalezhnosti, about 50 people gathered to mark the second anniversary of the death of Boris Nemtsov. The event was peaceful.

The SMM observed the removal of graffiti from a bank in Odessa, following up on media reports that members of a political party had spray-painted graffiti on the bank’s walls.

The SMM observed a newly erected cross in a Jewish cemetery in Kolomyia (51km south-east of Ivano-Frankivsk), following up on a report from a representative of the town’s Jewish community. The cross had text commemorating Ukrainian Insurgent Army members allegedly killed at the site in 1941-1942. The district police chief told the SMM that the Right Sector, Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, and two other organizations had received permission to hold a gathering at the site but had not mentioned plans to install a cross. He said the police had registered a complaint from Kolomyia’s Jewish community concerning the cross.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Lviv, Kharkiv, 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 Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers told the SMM that 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, unarmed 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 unable to travel west from “DPR”-controlled Petrivske due to the lack of security guarantees and the potential mine threat, as indicated by mine hazard signs. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at the bridge in Shchastia stopped the SMM and said it could not proceed without the permission of the unit commander. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • The Mission could not access a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area because the gate was closed and no one was present to open it. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • A “DPR” member at the entry-exit checkpoint near Horlivka did not allow the SMM to speak to staff of a warming tent, and further said that the Mission must provide names, birthdates and SMM identity card numbers of its monitors to pass the checkpoint. The SMM proceeded a short distance past the checkpoint, and upon return was required to provide the information for half of the patrol members.

Conditional access:

The SMM was again allowed to pass through a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (see SMM Daily Report 24 February 2017) only after an unarmed man had searched the SMM vehicles. 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.

[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
Ukraine
Mobile: +380 67 650 31 57
alexandra.taylor@osce.org
smm-media@osce.org

Mariia Aleksevych
Senior Press Assistant
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
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
smm-media@osce.org