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

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region between the evenings of 13 and 14 October compared with the previous reporting period and fewer between the evenings of 14 and 15 October compared with the previous 24 hours. In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations between the evenings of 13 and 14 October compared with the previous reporting period and more between the evenings of 14 and 15 October compared with the previous 24 hours. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas and recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas and elsewhere, including near Pikuzy.* The Mission again observed anti-tank mines near Popasna. The SMM visited three border areas not under government control. In Kyiv, the SMM observed two large gatherings – one commemorating Defender of Ukraine Day, and the other for animal rights.

In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 13 and 14 October, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations,[1] including, however, fewer explosions (34), compared with the previous reporting period (about 60 explosions). Between the evenings of 14 and 15 October, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including, however, more explosions (about 90), compared with the previous 24 hours.

On the night of 13-14 October, the SMM camera at the entry-exit checkpoint (EECP) in government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) recorded 93 tracer rounds in flight, three illumination flares, two undetermined explosions, and a rocket-assisted projectile in flight, all at unknown distances and directions. The following night, the same camera recorded 22 tracer rounds in flight, all at unknown distances and directions.

During the day on 14 October, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions as well as about 50 shots and a burst of small-arms fire, all 1.5-5km west and west-south-west, and an undetermined explosion 3km south-east. On the same day, positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata for about two hours, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions as well as ten bursts and about 20 shots of small-arms fire, all 1‑2km west and north-west.

The following day, positioned at the railway station in Yasynuvata for almost six hours, the SMM heard 35 undetermined explosions and about 80 bursts and shots of heavy‑machine‑gun and small-arms-fire, all 1-10km at directions ranging from south-west to west.

On the evening of 14 October, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 24 undetermined explosions and five bursts of heavy‑machine‑gun fire, all 4-5km south-south-west.

In the early morning of 15 October, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM heard 24 undetermined explosions, 8-12km north-west.

On 15 October, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions, three shots of automatic‑grenade‑launcher fire and over 100 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2‑5km at westerly directions.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including no explosions, between the evenings of 13 and 14 October, compared with the previous reporting period. It recorded more ceasefire violations, including three explosions, between the evenings of 14 and 15 October compared with the previous 24 hours.

During the day on 14 October in a public square in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw 20-30 men in military-style clothing performing a variety of exercises, including what appeared to be detaining people and fighting off “attackers”, as well as shooting assault rifles and pistols (the SMM heard about 100 shots of small-arms fire) using what was assessed as practice ammunition; on two occasions, they detonated grenades (also assessed as practice ammunition). The following day, in the same square, the SMM saw 12 men parading in formation and performing scenarios similar to the previous day, wearing military-style clothing and balaclavas. The men again shot assault rifles using what was assessed as practice ammunition; the SMM heard four undetermined explosions and five bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire. The SMM saw about 200 people (aged 40-60, 75 per cent men), most of whom wore military-style clothing, watching the presentation.

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 evening of 12 October, the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote recorded five tracer rounds in flight from north-west to south-east, 3-5km east (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

In the early morning of 14 October, while on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-3km south (assessed as outside the disengagement area). On 15 October, positioned inside the disengagement area, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 5km south-west, assessed as outside the disengagement area. The same day, while in Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 14 October, positioned in and around the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote, the SMM observed a calm situation.

During the day on 15 October, positioned by the disengagement areas near Zolote and non‑government-controlled Petrivske, 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.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] and military-type vehicle tracks in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 13 October, the SMM saw an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BTR-variant) and an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2), all stationary near Mykolaivka (77km west of Luhansk). On 14 October, the SMM saw a stationary IFV (BTR-4) near Makarove (19km north-east of Luhansk) and a stationary IFV (BMP-1) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk). On 15 October, the SMM saw an IFV (BMP-1) heading south near Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk).

In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw fresh tracks assessed as those of APCs (MT‑LB) and IFVs (BMP-variant) between Metalist (7km north-west of Luhansk) and Zhovte (17km north-west of Luhansk) and between Metalist and the bridge to government‑controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk).

The SMM again observed the presence of anti-tank mines. On the side of a road 25-30m south of the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint 3km east of Popasna, the SMM observed at least three anti-tank mines connected by wire and mounted to a wooden plank. The Mission saw an anti-tank mine at the same location on 6 May, and monitored and facilitated demining there by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on 23 May. (See SMM Daily Report 8 May 2017 and SMM Daily Report 24 May 2017.)

In “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol), about 12 residents (women and men, aged 40-70 years) told the SMM of the difficulties they face, including restricted access to fuel, food and employment, as well as restricted freedom of movement, with the local main road between the village and Mariupol having been closed.

The SMM visited three border areas not under government control. On 14 October, at a border crossing point near Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk), in about an hour, the SMM saw 16 cars (seven with Ukrainian and nine with Russian Federation licence plates), two buses (both with Russian Federation licence plates), a truck (covered cargo area, Ukrainian licence plates) and nine pedestrians exiting Ukraine, as well as 13 cars (five with Ukrainian, seven with Russian Federation and one with Georgian licence plates) and seven pedestrians entering Ukraine.

On 15 October at a border crossing point near Novoazovsk (102km south-east of Donetsk), in about half an hour, the SMM saw ten cars (six with Ukrainian and three with Russian Federation licence plates, and one with “DPR” plates) exiting Ukraine and seven cars (five with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates, and one with “DPR” plates), as well as a truck with Ukrainian licence plates, entering Ukraine.

On 15 October at a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), in about an hour, the SMM saw 26 cars, four buses with Ukrainian licence plates, and 65 pedestrians exiting Ukraine, as well as a truck with Ukrainian licence plates, a bus with “LPR” plates and 16 pedestrians entering Ukraine.

The SMM monitored two gatherings in Kyiv. On 14 October, the SMM monitored events around the Defender of Ukraine Day holiday and an announced “Glory to the Heroes” march dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The SMM saw about 20,000 people (mainly under 40-years-old, and 90 per cent young men) marching through Bessarabska Square, along Khreshchatyk Street to Kontraktova Square. The SMM saw flags of National Corps, Svoboda, Right Sector and two flags of the group “Wotan Jugend”. Police officers, including about 250 wearing riot gear, walked in front of the march. The SMM saw and heard several instances of small firecrackers or smoke canisters being set off during the march, as well as small, hand-held torches that some marchers lit and burned briefly as they passed along Khreshchatyk Street. The SMM did not observe any incidents.

On 15 October, the SMM observed about 5,500 people (aged 20-40 years old, both men and women), with 50 dogs, marching in support of animal rights. The SMM saw three police cars and three traffic police officers directing traffic.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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 Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (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 14 October, the SMM was prevented from travelling west from Pikuzy along road T0519 due to the presence of mines and UXO.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • On 14 and 15 October, the SMM was prevented from accessing parts of 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 de-mining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC both times.

  • On 14 and 15 October, the SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. Armed “LPR” members positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC both times.

  • On 14 and 15 October, the SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC at a checkpoint on the northern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC both times.

  • On 14 and 15 October, the SMM could not travel across the bridge in Shchastia due to the presence of mines. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC both times.

[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 remained non-operational.

[2] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

Contacts

Mariia Aleksevych
Senior Press Assistant
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
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