Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 15 August 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas and recorded ceasefire violations near the Zolote disengagement area; its access remained restricted there and elsewhere.* The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties in Stanytsia Luhanska and Sakhanka. The Mission facilitated and monitored ongoing repairs to essential infrastructure in Luhansk region.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations[1], including about 130 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (also about 130 explosions).

On the evening and night of 14-15 August, the SMM camera in government‑controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, one undetermined explosion, seven projectiles in flight from south-east to north-west, seven undetermined explosions, one illumination flare from south-east to north-west, nine projectiles from south-west to north-east, six projectiles from south to north, one undetermined explosion, five tracers and two projectiles from south to north, 14 projectiles from north to south, one projectile from north-west to south-east, one projectile from south-east to north-west, and two projectiles from south to north, all 3-5km east-south-east.

On the evening and night of 14-15 August, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, two undetermined explosions, 13 projectiles in flight from west to east, two undetermined explosions, 20 projectiles from west to east, eight projectiles from east to west, five projectiles from west to east, one undetermined explosion, four projectiles from east to west, two undetermined explosions, three projectiles from east to west, one undetermined explosion, 14 projectiles from east to west, one undetermined explosion and five projectiles from east to west, all 1-3km south.

On the evening and night of 14-15 August, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 38 undetermined explosions and 73 heavy‑machine-gun bursts, all at distances ranging from 1-7km south-east.

On the evening and night of 14-15 August, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, one undetermined explosion, 62 tracer rounds in flight from east to west, eight tracer rounds from west to east, one undetermined explosion, one tracer round from west to east, one undetermined explosion, 16 tracer rounds from east to west, one undetermined explosion, 93 tracer rounds from east to west, five tracer rounds from west to east, four tracer rounds from east to west, one tracer round from west to east, four tracer rounds from east to west, and three tracer rounds from west to east, all at undetermined distances north.

On 15 August, positioned for 20 minutes at the western edge of government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north‑east of Mariupol), the SMM heard five explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds and five explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds. Positioned about 2km south-west of Pyshchevyk, the SMM heard and saw 15 explosions assessed as impacts of artillery rounds and two explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds and heard four explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds, all 7km north‑north-east. It also heard eight explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds at undetermined distances north-north-west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including eight explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (35 explosions).

In the early hours of 15 August, while in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard four outgoing explosions 5-6km south-south-east, and four undetermined explosions and three bursts of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire 6-8km south-east.

The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties and damage caused by shelling and gunfire to civilian properties in residential areas. The head of the hospital in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) told the SMM that a 15-year old boy from government-controlled Shyrokyi (38km north-east of Luhansk) had been admitted on 14 August with wounds to his face, neck, abdomen and both hands. He added that the boy had also lost three fingers on his right hand and after having received treatment was in stable but serious condition. According to the head of the hospital, the boy had been injured when an ammunition round he was handling had exploded.

In “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM observed a fresh crater, 20cm deep and 1m in diameter, 4m south-west of the house at 20 Konstytutsii Street. The SMM assessed it as having been caused by a mortar (82mm) round fired from a westerly direction. The SMM also saw shrapnel damage to the house’s south-facing wall and three shattered windows in its west-facing wall. A 65‑year-old man who introduced himself as a resident of the house, told the SMM that his sister (71 years old), who also lives in the house, had been struck by shrapnel in the evening of 14 August while attempting to reach the house to seek shelter. He added that she had sustained injures to her face, hand and lower back and was currently being treated in hospital in “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol).

On 14 August, the SMM observed several fresh impact sites in “LPR”-controlled Holubivske (51km west of Luhansk). The SMM saw three fresh craters, respectively 15m north-west, 50m north-north-east, and 20m east-north-east of the house at 16 Donetska Street. Approximately 80m south-east of the second crater, at 6 Donetska Street, the SMM observed damage to the east-south-east facing part of the roof of an abandoned building. The male resident of 16 Donetska Street told the SMM that the impacts had occurred on the evenings of 12 and 13 August. At 3 Kocherhina Street, the SMM observed damage to the north-north-east-facing gate and one shattered and one punctured window, both facing north-north-east. The SMM assessed all impacts and damage to have been caused by recoilless gun (SPG9) rounds (73mm) fired from a north-north-easterly direction.

On 14 August, positioned 400m from the northern edge of “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed white and grey smoke rising from a ridge 2.6km south-west of its position and white and black smoke rising 400-500m south of its position. A resident (woman aged between 50-60 years) of “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol) told the SMM that shelling had occurred the past four nights and that several houses in Pikuzy had caught fire. The SMM was unable to enter the two villages due to on-going kinetic activity. While in the area, the SMM saw two fire trucks and spoke with the driver of one of them, who stated that they had been extinguishing fires in civilian houses that morning.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near 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 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

On 13 August, the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote recorded one undetermined explosion 3-5km east-north-east and four projectiles in flight from east to west 1-3km south-south-west. The explosion was assessed as outside the disengagement area, the location of the projectiles could not be assessed.

On 15 August, positioned at the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote, and in government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk), west of the Petrivske disengagement area, the SMM observed a calm situation.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines, but outside designated storage sites, the SMM observed two tanks (T-72) being loaded on flatbed transporters at the railway station in government-controlled Kostiantynivka (60km north of Donetsk) and then being transported south on road H20.

Outside the security zone, 2km west of “DPR”-controlled Zuhres (36km east of Donetsk), the SMM observed a convoy consisting of 25 military-style four-tonne trucks accompanied by two “police” cars, moving west.

The SMM observed an armoured combat vehicle[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM saw a stationary IFV (BMP-2) near Novohnativka (40km south of Donetsk).

The SMM facilitated repairs to essential infrastructure, co-ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) and monitored them from both sides of the contact line. The SMM continued to monitor repair works on the Karbonit‑Zolote water pipeline in Zolote; to the thermal power plant in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk); to the Petrivske water pumping station near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk); and the Raivka-Vesela Hora power transmission line.

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

*Restrictions of the 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. The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remained restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April near Pryshyb_; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations; including at the disengagement area near Petrivske.

Denial of access:

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The possible presence of mines and UXO prevented the SMM from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area. Armed “LPR” members positioned on the southern side of the disengagement area told the SMM that no demining activity had been conducted in the area. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing areas in the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, with the exception of the main road, due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no demining activities had taken place during the previous 24 hours in the area. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.

  • The SMM could not travel across the bridge in Shchastia due to the presence of mines. A Ukrainian officer of the JCCC told the SMM that mines on the road south of the bridge were still present. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Conditional access:

  • An armed “DPR” member stopped the SMM at a checkpoint on road H15 near the Kargil plant in “DPR”-controlled Kreminets (16km south-west of Donetsk) and allowed the SMM to pass only after checking the trunks of its vehicles. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Other impediments:

  • At checkpoints in “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk) and Obozne (18km north of Luhansk), “LPR” members told the SMM that they were prohibited from speaking with the SMM. In Vesela Hora, one “LPR” member said this was “because the SMM had been threatened”, referring to the incident on Stanytsia Luhanska bridge on 13 August.

[1] **Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as a 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.

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 0849

Mobile: +380 50 381 5192

Mobile: +380 93 691 6790

mariia.aleksevych@osce.org

smm-media@osce.org