Ukraine

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 1 March 2017

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The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions, including more than twice as many explosions compared with the previous reporting period. It observed damage from shelling on both sides of the contact line. The SMM monitored adherence to the ceasefire and facilitated dialogue in order to repair essential infrastructure in the area of Svitlodarsk. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Petrivske and Zolote but its access remained restricted. The Mission heard artillery explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire inside and near the Zolote disengagement area. The SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska revealed five ceasefire violations inside the disengagement area on 27 February. The SMM noted unexploded ordnance in Lyman, Shchastia, Kalynove and near Donetsk airport. The Mission monitored the blockade of routes crossing the contact line in four locations. It visited a border area not under government control.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations [1] than in the previous reporting period, with over 2,000 explosions, including 220 assessed as caused by multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS).

On the night of 28 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre the SMM heard 35 undetermined explosions 3-6km north-west. On the morning of 1 March, positioned south-east of the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk airport (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions 4-5km north.

On the night of 28 February, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded seven projectiles in flight from north to south, followed by a total of two undetermined explosions and 58 projectiles (29 in flight from north to south and 29 from west to east), all 4-6km east-south-east. On the morning of 1 March, the same camera recorded 36 undetermined explosions 3-6km east and east-south-east. In the late afternoon hours, the camera recorded 69 undetermined explosions 4-5km east-south-east, ten explosions assessed as outgoing rounds from unknown weapons 2-4km east-south-east and three projectiles in flight from north to south 4-6km east-south-east.

During the day of 1 March positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for over five hours, the SMM heard 53 undetermined explosions, one instance of continuous and overlapping explosions lasting for 13 minutes and intense heavy-machine-gun fire mostly 1-5km west. Positioned in Avdiivka for over four hours, the SMM heard 66 undetermined explosions, all 2-5km at directions ranging from south-east to west.

On the evening of 28 February while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard one outgoing salvo (at least 20 rounds) of MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) and 615 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds from undetermined weapons, all 8-10km south-west. On the afternoon of 1 March, while in the same location, the SMM heard 168 undetermined explosions 8-10km south-west and 16 undetermined explosions 7-8km west-north-west. On the evening of 28 February while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the Mission heard 103 undetermined explosions all 3-5km at directions ranging from south to south-west. The SMM also heard two instances of continuous and overlapping explosions 3-5km south-south-east, one lasting 25 and the other 30 minutes. While at the same location, the SMM heard, on the following morning, 21 undetermined explosions 3-5km south-south-east, and in the afternoon 61 undetermined explosions 3-5km east, south-east and south.

On the evening of 28 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 62 undetermined explosions 4-6km and 8-10km north-north-west. On 1 March, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Novohryhorivka (61km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions 6-8km south-east and 25 explosions assessed as artillery rounds (152mm) 12-15km west-south-west.

During the day of 1 March, positioned in government-controlled Netailove (22km north-west of Donetsk) the SMM heard, within 20 minutes, 40 series of explosions (five-eight explosions each), assessed as caused by MLRS (BM-21) rockets 10km west-south-west.

On the evening of 28 February the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded one undetermined explosion and four tracer rounds in flight from west to east, all at undetermined distances north. On the morning of 1 March, the camera recorded one tracer round in flight from south-east to north-west and one undetermined explosion, followed by a total of 15 tracer rounds (13 from west to east, one from east to west, and one from south-east to north-west) at undetermined distances north-east.

During the day of 1 March, positioned at two locations in government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol) for about three hours, the SMM heard 100 explosions assessed as outgoing automatic-grenade-launcher rounds and 116 undetermined explosions at undetermined distances east, south-south-east and south-east, as well as 20 undetermined explosions 3-5km east-south-east. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the Mission heard 18 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of undetermined weapons and two explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds (120mm) 5-8km south-west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including almost 500 explosions compared with 130 recorded in the previous reporting period.

On the night of 28 February, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 424 undetermined explosions and almost 90 bursts of small-arms fire, all 10-20km at directions ranging from south-west to north-west. On the afternoon of 1 March, while at the same location, the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 10km west-south-west. On 1 March, positioned in government-controlled Komyshuvakha (68km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard eight explosions assessed as artillery rounds (four outgoing and four impacts) 2-10km south-east and south. Positioned in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 5-7km east followed by five explosions assessed as artillery rounds 7-10km south-west.

The SMM observed damage caused by shelling. In government-controlled Karbonit (part of Zolote, 60km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw a fresh crater in the area of a water substation. The crater was 10m from the western wall of the substation. The Mission observed shrapnel fragments on the wall and broken branches on nearby trees. The SMM assessed the impact was caused by a 122mm artillery round fired from a southerly direction. The SMM flew a mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to analyse a second fresh crater located in an open field, around 200m north of the facility. The Mission assessed it as caused by a 122mm artillery round fired from an easterly or east-south-easterly direction.

In “DPR”-controlled Kyivskyi District of Donetsk City the SMM observed a crater with a 120mm mortar fin next to it, about 25m from a five-storey apartment building on Novorosiiska Street. The crater was filled up with water and the SMM was unable to assess the type of weapon used, the direction of fire, or the approximate date of the impact.

The SMM, in co-ordination with the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), monitored adherence to the ceasefire in order to repair critical infrastructure. Positioned in Svitlodarsk and Debaltseve, the SMM monitored repair of electricity lines connecting Svitlodarsk and “LPR” controlled Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk).

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 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.*

Positioned for over an hour on the northern edge of the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM heard 12 bursts and six shots of heavy-machine-gun fire and eight shots of small-arms fire, all 0.3-2km south and south-south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area), as well as two undetermined explosions 2-3km south which the Mission could not assess as inside or outside the disengagement area. The SMM also heard 15 explosions (13 assessed as artillery rounds and two as rounds from undetermined weapons) 3-5km in directions ranging from south-south-east to west-south-west, all assessed as outside the disengagement area. About 150m from the “LPR” checkpoint at the southern edge of the disengagement area, the SMM observed remnants of two recoilless gun (SPG-9) rounds stuck in the ground.

Positioned in Petrivske for about one hour, the SMM heard three bursts of heavy-machine-gun and three shots of small-arms fire 2-4km south-south-east, assessed as outside 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, the SMM saw in government-controlled Oknyne (53km north-west of Luhansk) two stationary self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM saw 12 tanks (type unknown) near government-controlled Paraskoviivka (75km north of Donetsk) on 28 February.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft weapons [2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw: at the western edge of Pervomaiske (17km north-west of Donetsk) seven infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (five BRDM and two BTR) in a military compound; an IFV (BTR) and a military truck towing an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) heading east, 2km west from Karlivka (25km north-west of Donetsk); three armoured personnel carriers (APC; MTLB) 6km north of Stanytsia Luhanska, moving south.

In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw: an IFV (BMP-1) south of Novohryhorivka, moving north; one stationary APC (MTLB) mounted with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23-2) and at least one stationary APC (MTLB) in Molodizhne (63km north-west of Luhansk); two IFVs (BMP-1) in Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk) stationary along a treeline.

The SMM continued to note mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). On 28 February, in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk) the SMM saw a UXO in a wooded area around 80m from the main road and 85m from houses, which it assessed as a 122mm artillery shell.

On 1 March, on the road leading from “LPR”-controlled areas north to the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia, the SMM observed, for the first time, what it assessed to be an improvised explosive device (IED) consisting of two tubes, with a trigger device visible at the top, both wrapped in blue tape and secured to the base of a traffic sign with barbed wire, installed on a traffic sign, as well as four anti-tank mines laid across the road. (See SMM Daily Report 1 March 2017).

At the Donetsk airport, the SMM observed that almost all facilities were destroyed and contaminated with UXO and IEDs. On the road from the cargo entrance to one of the terminals the SMM observed a BM-21 rocket round stuck in the tarmac and a VOG-25 grenade lying on the ground near a building.

The sides expressed a firm intention to publicly express their respect for SMM personnel and equipment. In response to an incident in Yasynuvata on 24 February, in which armed men had fired in the direction of SMM monitors and seized one of the Mission’s UAVs, a senior member of the “DPR” informed the Mission that an “investigation” into the incident had been concluded. But he did not indicate what steps, if any, the “DPR” had taken in relation to any of those involved. (See SMM Spot Report 25 February 2017.)

The SMM continued to monitor the blockade of routes that lead across the contact line. (See SMM Daily Report 27 February 2017). On 1 March, at railway crossings in government-controlled Hirske (63km west of Luhansk) and Shcherbynivka (44km north of Donetsk), at the road junction in Karbonit (part of Zolote) and on the side of a highway near government-controlled Buhas (44km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed a calm situation and no changes compared with the previous reporting period.

The SMM followed up on reports of the closure of humanitarian aid distribution centres. At a cultural centre in Horlivka where a Rinat Akhmetov Foundation centre was located, the director of the cultural centre told the SMM that the foundation had closed its office on 28 February. The SMM saw armed men at the spot. A representative of the foundation said that aid distribution centres in Donetsk region, both in government- and non-government-controlled areas, had been closed.

The SMM visited a border area currently outside government control. At the Dovzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point, the SMM saw during an hour: one bus, 17 civilian cars (12 with Ukrainian and five with Russian Federation licence plates), one bus (with Ukrainian licence plates) with about 15 people on board, one minibus (with Ukrainian licence plates) with six people on board and three pedestrians (two men and a woman) exit Ukraine. The SMM saw eight covered trucks with trailers, 12 civilian cars (ten with Russian Federation and two with Ukrainian licence plates), three covered trucks (with Ukrainian licence plates) and four pedestrians (three men and a woman) enter Ukraine. Seven civilian cars (six with Ukrainian licence plates and one with Georgian licence plates) were in a queue to exit Ukraine. The SMM also saw 25 civilian cars (20 with Ukrainian, three with Russian Federation, one with Georgian and one with plates marked “South Ossetia”) parked near the crossing point.

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

  • A barrier with barbed wire prevented the SMM from moving forward in government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk). 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 the fields and side roads due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • The SMM was unable to travel west from “DPR”-controlled Petrivske due to the lack of security guarantees, a road block and the potential mine threat, as indicated by mine hazard signs present. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at the bridge in Shchastia told the SMM that no demining activities had taken place and that the road south of the bridge was still mined. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • In “DPR”-controlled Molochnyi (on the northern outskirts of Vuhlehirsk, 49km north-east of Donetsk) armed men stopped the SMM and prevented it from proceeding further. The SMM noticed that one of the men loaded his weapon. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in government-controlled Nyzhnoteple (26km north of Luhansk), the officer in charge denied the SMM passage, saying he would only do so when given explicit instructions by his superior. The JCCC was informed.

Conditional access:

  • The SMM was again allowed to pass through a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (see SMM Daily Report 1 March 2017) only after an unarmed man had searched the SMM vehicles. The Mission informed the JCCC.

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.

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