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

This report is for the media and the general public.  

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions between the evenings of 22 and 23 August compared with the previous reporting period. Between the evenings of 23 and 24 August, it recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, but fewer in Luhansk region compared with the previous 24 hours. The Mission followed up on reports of civilian casualties in Berezove and Raihorodka. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas and recorded ceasefire violations in the Zolote area. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including in Verkhnoshyrokivske.* The SMM observed damage to civilian properties and infrastructure in Sakhanka, Pervomaisk, Malynove and Orikhove-Donetske. The Mission visited three border areas not under government control. It observed public celebrations in several locations and followed up on reports of an explosion in Kyiv.

In Donetsk region between the evenings of 22 and 23 August, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations,[1] including over 110 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (around 60 explosions). Between the evenings of 23 and 24 August, it recorded more ceasefire violations, including almost 140 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours.

On the night of 22-23 August, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, 71 tracer rounds in flight from north to south, nine projectiles in flight from west to east and six projectiles in flight from east to west, all 3-5km east. On the night of 23-24 August, the same camera recorded, in sequence, one tracer round in flight from south to north, two undetermined explosions, two projectiles in flight from north‑west to south-east, eight projectiles from east to west, one projectile from south-east to north-west, and one projectile from north-west to south-east, all 3.5-5km east-south-east, south-east and south-south-east. During the day on 24 August, the same camera recorded 12 explosions 3.5-5km east-south-east and south-south-east. The same day, positioned for over five hours in Avdiivka, the SMM heard 34 undetermined explosions and 20 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-4km south-east.

On 24 August, positioned for over six hours at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard more than 50 undetermined explosions and more than 60 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-5km west and north-north-west.

On the night of 22-23 August, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, at least 200 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, one explosion assessed as an impact, 15 tracer rounds from west to east, 17 tracer rounds from east to west, and 24 tracer rounds and three projectiles from west to east, all 1‑3km south. On the night of 23-24 August, the same camera recorded, in sequence, 43 tracer rounds in flight from east to west, 38 tracer rounds from west to east, 11 tracer rounds from east to west, three tracer rounds from west to east, one undetermined explosion, two tracer rounds from east to west, three tracer rounds from west to east, three tracer rounds from north-west to south-east, one tracer round from west to east, three tracer rounds from east to west, one undetermined explosion, 33 tracer rounds from east to west, 18 tracer rounds from west to east, one illumination flare in vertical flight, 11 tracer rounds from east to west, eight tracer rounds from west to east, seven tracer rounds from north-west to south-east, three projectiles in flight from west to east, six tracer rounds and one projectile from east to west, three projectiles from west to east, one illumination flare in vertical flight and two tracer rounds from east to west, all 1-3km south.

On 24 August, positioned for about three and a half hours in “DPR”-controlled Yenakiieve (41km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 17 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds and one hour of uncountable overlapping bursts and shots of small-arms fire, 2-3km north and north-west.

On the evening of 22 August, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 38 explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds (82mm and 120mm), seven explosions assessed as caused by outgoing recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm) or infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) cannon (73mm) fire, and 37 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1.5-2km east. On the evening of 23 August, while in the same location, the SMM heard four explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds (82mm and 120mm) 1.5-3km east and south-east.

On the night of 23-24 August, while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 13 explosions, and almost 60 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 7-12km north-west.

On the evening of 22 August, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, 11 undetermined explosions, eight rocket-assisted projectiles in flight from west to east, ten explosions assessed as impacts, four undetermined explosions, five tracer rounds from west to east, 18 undetermined explosions, two explosions assessed as impacts, six undetermined explosions and eight explosions assessed as impacts, all at undetermined distances north.

On the night of 23-24 August, the same camera recorded, in sequence, two tracer rounds in flight from south to north, six tracer rounds from east to west, two tracer rounds from south to north, five tracer rounds from west to east, 16 tracer rounds from east to west, one tracer round from west to east, 13 tracer rounds from east to west, one tracer round from west to east, one tracer round from east to west, 14 tracer rounds from west to east, six tracer rounds from east to west, one rocket-assisted projectile in flight from south to north, three tracer rounds from east to west, one tracer round from south to north, seven tracer rounds from east to west, one tracer round from west to east, 26 tracer rounds from east to west, two tracer rounds from south to north, one tracer round from east to west, an exchange of fire consisting of 20 tracer rounds from east to west and eight tracer rounds from west to east, 16 tracer rounds from east to west, all at undetermined distances north.

In Luhansk region between the evenings of 22 and 23 August, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 200 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (15 explosions). Between the evenings of 23 and 24 August, the SMM recorded about 70 ceasefire violations, all of them explosions.

On the evening of 22 August, while on the northern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 84 undetermined explosions, almost 50 heavy-machine-gun bursts and more than 50 shots of small-arms fire, all 5-8km south-east.

On the morning of 23 August, positioned for 15 minutes in “LPR”-controlled Holubivske (51km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 33 undetermined explosions 5km south. Positioned for seven minutes in “LPR”-controlled Berezivske (53km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions 10-15km south‑south‑west. Positioned for 13 minutes at the southern edge of government-controlled Muratove (51km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions 5-7km south.

On 24 August, positioned near government-controlled Vyskryva (76km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an impact of an artillery round (type unknown) and saw a cloud of black smoke rising, both 7km east-south-east. Positioned for three minutes near government-controlled Komyshuvakha (68km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard four explosions assessed as mortar (120mm) rounds 5km south-south-east. Positioned for ten minutes near “LPR”-controlled Alchevsk (40km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 60 undetermined explosions assessed as part of a live-fire exercise 5km south-east.

In a statement on 23 August, SMM Chief Monitor, Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, welcomed the recommitment to cease fire by the Trilateral Contact Group and other signatories of the Minsk agreements. On 24 August, the SMM received a letter from the Ukrainian side of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) informing that orders were given to unit commanders prohibiting the use of any weapons commencing on 25 August 2017, but retaining “the right to return fire in case of a real threat to life of servicemen and civilian population, as well as attempts to alter the contact line.” The JCCC provided no information to the SMM regarding similar orders being given to armed formations in non-government-controlled areas.

The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties. Medical staff at a hospital in government-controlled Volnovakha (53km south of Donetsk) told the SMM that two women – a 60-year-old from Donetsk and a 56-year-old from “DPR”‑controlled Khartsyzk (26km east of Donetsk) – were injured by an explosive device near a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint north of government-controlled Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk). According to the medical staff, the women were travelling to government-controlled areas by bus and entered a wooded area near the checkpoint, when the 56-year-old triggered the explosive device, resulting in shrapnel injuries to her legs, torso, arms and head. They said the other woman was some 20m away at the time and sustained shrapnel injuries to her left calf. The medical staff said the women were given first aid on the scene by military personnel and transported by ambulance to the hospital and that both were in satisfactory condition.

The SMM spoke via telephone with the head of the village council of government-controlled Raihorodka (34km north-west of Luhansk), according to whom the two boys who suffered severe burns by igniting gunpowder they had found at an abandoned checkpoint (see SMM Daily Report 22 August 2017) had sustained their injuries in Raihorodka. This information was repeated by medical staff at the hospital in government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk), who added that the boys were initially brought to the hospital in Novoaidar before being transferred to the children’s hospital in government-controlled Lysychansk (75km north-west of Luhansk) for surgery.

The SMM followed up on reports of damage to civilian properties in residential areas caused by shelling. At 18 Myru Street in “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM, accompanied by a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer of the JCCC and “DPR” members, observed a fresh crater 5m south of a house. The SMM observed two 2-3cm punctures in the arched metal cover of a well 4m north of the crater, a chip in the brick exterior of an outhouse 3m north-east of the crater, and some minor tears in plastic sheeting on the south-facing wall of the house. The SMM could not assess the type of weapon or the direction of fire.

In the central market area of “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed three fresh impacts. The first was on a paved road approximately 30m north of the corner of Ostrovskoho and Kyivska streets (and about 40m west of an apartment building), the second impact was about 100m north-west of the first impact site on a paved road next to an uninhabited building, and the third was about 400m north-west of the first impact site on a soft surface at the edge of a paved road. The SMM assessed all impacts as caused by mortar rounds (82mm) fired from a north-westerly direction which had not exploded. According to a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer of the JCCC, the shelling started at 04:10 on 24 August and had not resulted in any injuries.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), 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 the night of 22-23 August, the SMM camera in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska recorded, in sequence, two undetermined explosions, two explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds, one undetermined explosion, one explosion assessed as an outgoing mortar round, four explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds, ten undetermined explosions, and two explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds, all 2-4km at directions ranging from north-north-east to south-south-east and assessed as outside the disengagement area.

In the early morning of 23 August, while on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard four shots of small-arms fire and saw four explosions assessed as impacts of automatic-grenade-launcher (AGS‑variant, 30mm) rounds, one flare in flight from north to south and two projectiles followed by explosions assessed as the resulting impacts, all 1-5km south and south-south-west and assessed as outside the disengagement area. In the early morning of 24 August, while at the same location, the SMM heard one undetermined explosion assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On the morning of 23 August, positioned for 25 minutes in government-controlled Zolote-4 (60km northwest of Luhansk), the SMM heard 28 undetermined explosions assessed as mortar and artillery rounds (type unknown) 5-10km south, assessed as outside the disengagement area. On the morning of 24 August, positioned near Zolote-4, the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an outgoing mortar round 1km south-west assessed as inside the disengagement area and one explosion assessed as the impact of an artillery round 6km south-east, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On 23 and 24 August, positioned 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.

In violation of withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas, the SMM observed, on 23 August, ten multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) in a compound in the area of Khrustalnyi (formerly Krasnyi Luch, 56km south-west of Luhansk). On 24 August, the SMM observed a stationary tank (T-64) fitted with hardware for demining near Nikishyne (60km north-east of Donetsk).

The SMM revisited an “LPR” heavy weapons permanent storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines. The SMM noted that one towed howitzer (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), three self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), five towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) and one MLRS (BM-21) were again missing, while while three MLRS (BM-21) were missing for the first time. The SMM also observed new weapons present for the first time.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, on 23 August, in non-government-controlled areas, the SMM observed one stationary tank (type unknown) at a training area close to Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk). On 24 August in government-controlled Kramatorsk (83km north of Donetsk), the SMM observed a display of military equipment including one tank, (T-64 Bulat), three surface-to-air missile systems (9K37 Buk; 9K33 Osa; 9K35 Strela-10), three self-propelled howitzers (2S1; 2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm; 2S5 Giatsint-B, 152mm), one piece of towed artillery (2A65) and one anti-tank gun (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).

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 “DPR”‑controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM again observed five self-propelled howitzers (2S1). The SMM observed that the following weapons continued to be absent: 11 MLRS (BM-21), 14 self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and two anti-tank guns (MT-12). The Mission was denied access to one heavy weapons holding area.*

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACVs)[2], an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), as well as tracks of military-type vehicles in the security zone. In government‑controlled areas on 22 August, the SMM observed one IFV (BMP-2) near Hranitne (60km south of Donetsk), one armoured personnel carrier (APC) (MT-LB) near Prokhorivka (53km south of Donetsk), as well as two IFVs (a BMP-1 towing a BMP-1KSh) and one APC (Saxon) near Bohdanivka and a combat engineering vehicle (IMR-2) near Mariupol. On 23 August, near Voitove (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a mine layer (GMZ-3) loaded on a flatbed truck heading south-east and, at the railway station in Zachativka (74km south-west of Donetsk), tracks assessed as belonging to two or more tracked vehicles with a T-72 chassis, assessed to be one to three weeks old. Also on 23 August, in Muratove (51km north-west of Luhansk), an SMM mid-range UAV spotted previously observed six sections of a pontoon bridge with two end ramps across the Siverskyi Donets river, three APCs (one BTR-80 and two BRDM-2) and small three-hole patterns consistent with the emplacement of towed howitzers. On 24 August, the SMM observed a westbound flatbed trailer transporting an IFV (BMP-1) near Popasna. Also on 24 August, the SMM saw a large white fixed-wing UAV flying at high altitude overhead from east to west, near Avdiivka.

The SMM continued to observe mine signs. On 22 August, about 3.4km south-east of government-controlled Novohnativka (40km south of Donetsk), the SMM observed for the first time a piece of white paper in a plastic sleeve in a tree with the word “Mine” printed on it in Russian. On 23 August, on the western edge of “LPR”-controlled Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk), around 30m from the northern side of a road, the SMM observed a 20x25m area surrounded by signs with “Mines!” written on them in Russian.

On 24 August, near government-controlled Blyzhnie (48km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed a vehicle bearing the markings of an international demining organization parked on the side of the road connecting the village and road H20 as well as red stakes placed at equal distances in the ground along the road shoulder, suggesting that mine mapping or clearance activities were underway.

The SMM observed significant fire damage caused in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. On 22 August in government-controlled Malynove (19km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM observed significant destruction of the village due to a fire which started on 21August and destroyed almost thirty houses at least partially. According to police officers, representatives of the Ministry for Emergencies and local residents, there were no casualties. In Orikhove‑Donetske (44km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed two houses and surrounding areas badly damaged by fire. A local resident told the SMM that the fire had occurred on 19 August and that police from Novoaidar had come to investigate but had not determined a cause. On 23 August in “LPR”-controlled Khoroshe (36km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed large areas of burned fields.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor ongoing repairs and maintenance, co‑ordinated by the JCCC, including to a water pipeline in government-controlled Pivdenne (formerly Leninske, 40km north-east of Donetsk), to the Zolote-Popasna water pipeline, to the Petrivske water pumping station near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk), and the thermal power plant in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk). The military‑civil administration in government-controlled Toretsk (formerly Dzerzhynsk, 43km north of Donetsk) told the SMM that the water supply to the city has been cut off by local water utilities to allow scheduled repairs to proceed on the Horlivka-Toretsk pipeline. Two representatives of a local non-governmental organization (NGO) repeated this information to the Mission.

The SMM visited three border areas not under government control. On 23 August, at the border crossing point near Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk), in about 30 minutes, the SMM saw 36 cars (22 with Ukrainian and 14 with Russian Federation licence plates) queuing to exit Ukraine. The SMM also saw 20 cars (11 with Ukrainian and nine with the Russian Federation licence plates), one covered truck with Ukrainian licence plates, two buses (one with Ukrainian and one with Russian licence plates) and 17 pedestrians exit Ukraine. During the same period, the SMM observed 11 cars (six with Ukrainian licence plates and five with Russian Federation licence plates) and 18 pedestrians entering Ukraine. The same day, at the border crossing point near Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk), in about one hour, the SMM saw 14 cars (13 with Ukrainian and one with the Russian Federation licence plates) entering Ukraine, as well as 15 pedestrians entering Ukraine.

On 24 August, at the border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), in one hour, the SMM saw 52 cars (40 with Ukrainian and nine Russian Federation licence plates, and three “LPR” plates) and 13 pedestrians queuing to exit Ukraine. During the same period, the SMM observed 17 cars (licence plates not visible), one bus with Ukrainian licence plates, three covered trucks with Belarusian licence plates, and one fuel tank with Russian Federation licence plates leaving Ukraine as well as 145 pedestrians leave Ukraine. Entering Ukraine, the SMM observed one bus with “LPR” plates and 15 pedestrians.

On 24 August, the SMM observed convoys of trucks with “Humanitarian Aid from the Russian Federation” written in Russian on the side. The SMM observed a convoy of 22 covered cargo trucks, two fuel tanks, and four support vehicles heading north near the entrance to “LPR”-controlled Molodohvardiisk (35km south-east of Luhansk).

On 23 and 24 August, the SMM monitored public gatherings in commemoration of National Flag Day and Ukrainian Independence Day in Chernivtsi, Dnipro, Ivano‑Frankivsk, Kramatorsk, Kharkiv, Lviv, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Shchastia, Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk), Sloviansk (95km north of Donetsk) Stanytsia Luhanska, Poltava, and Zaporizhzhia; the SMM observed no incidents during the events, which gathered on average, 500 to 100 individuals. The SMM also monitored a gathering of about 4,000 people in Kharkiv marking the liberation of the city in August 1943.

On 24 August, in Kyiv, the Mission saw thousands of people gathered to observe a military parade on Khreshchatyk Street, which was secured by a large law enforcement presence. Following up on information released by Kyiv City Police regarding an explosion in Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv that resulted in injuries, the SMM observed one forensic team examining the scene, which was cordoned off.

*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, 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.

Denial of access:

On 23 August, at a “DPR” checkpoint west of Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, 29km north-east of Mariupol), an unarmed “DPR” member demanded an SMM patrol provide him with its itinerary and, when the patrol refused to do so, denied it passage. The SMM informed the JCCC.

On 23 August, the SMM could not access a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area as the gate was locked and no guards were present to open it. The SMM informed the JCCC.

On 24 August, at a “DPR” checkpoint west of Verkhnoshyrokivske, an armed “DPR” member denied the SMM passage saying the SMM’s security could not be guaranteed due to a “subversive combat group” active in the area. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

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

[1] Please see the annexed report 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. During this reporting period the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (Donetsk) remained non-operational.

[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