Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 16 October 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region compared with the previous 24-hours. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske and recorded ceasefire violations, including two explosions assessed as outgoing rounds, inside the Petrivske disengagement area, outside the reporting period. Its access remained restricted in all three areas and elsewhere, including to a weapons storage site in areas outside government control and in Ivanivka, towards an area close to the border with the Russian Federation.* The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons and observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Zhelanne. Near Zernove the SMM saw a concentration of tanks and armoured combat vehicles, in a zone within which deployment of heavy armaments and military equipment is proscribed according to the Memorandum. The SMM observed the presence of mines, including east of Popasna, where it had previously seen demining activities. The Mission visited two border areas not under government control. The SMM monitored gatherings in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including about 75 explosions, compared with the previous 24-hours (about 90 explosions). Most of the ceasefire violations were recorded in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area.

On the night of 15-16 October, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions 8-10km north-west.

On the same night, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded tracer rounds in flight, in sequence: two from north to south, three from east to west, and 16 from west to east, all 0.5-2km south and south-south-west.

In the early morning of 16 October, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded four projectiles in flight from north-west to south-east 3-5km east-south-east. Later in the afternoon, the camera recorded, in sequence, 16 projectiles in flight from north to south, one undetermined explosion, 19 projectiles from west to east, seven projectiles from north to south, and five projectiles from west to east, all 2-4km east-south-east. Positioned on the south-western edge of Avdiivka for about four hours, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions and about 70 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 3-5km south-east.

Positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard 17 undetermined explosions and bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire 2-4km west-south-west, west and north-west. Positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata, the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions and about 30 shots of small-arms fire 1-4km west and north-west.

Positioned 7km north of “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an impact and two explosions assessed as outgoing rounds, all 1.5-2km north-north-east.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, however, no explosions compared with the previous 24-hours (three explosions).

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.*

The SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded 13 projectiles in flight from west to east (ten on the evening of 11 October and three on the evening of 12 October), all 2-3km south-west and assessed as inside the disengagement area. On the evening of 13 October, the same camera recorded two explosions assessed as outgoing rounds, eight projectiles in flight from east to west and three from west to east, all 1-3km south and south-west and assessed as inside the disengagement area, as well as one projectile in flight from west to east and three from south to north 1-3km west, which the SMM could not assess as whether inside or outside the disengagement area.

On 14 October, the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote recorded two projectiles in flight from north to south 3-5km east, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On 16 October, positioned on the southern edge of “LPR”-controlled Zolote-5 (61km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard ten shots of heavy-machine-gun fire 1-2km north-north-west, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

Positioned next to the disengagement areas near Petrivske and government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM observed calm situations.

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 line, in government-controlled areas, the SMM saw six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) near Zhelanne (36km north-west of Donetsk).

The SMM saw six tanks (type unknown) being unloaded from tractor-trailers near “DPR”-controlled Zernove (70km south of Donetsk), in a zone within which deployment of heavy armaments and military equipment is proscribed according to Point 5 of the Memorandum of 19 September 2014. The SMM also saw together with the tanks about 18 infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-2), assessed as new or refurbished, and 12 military-type trucks. The SMM’s freedom of movement in this area has been restricted several times in the recent months.

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In government-controlled areas, beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM visited such holding areas and saw 18 anti-tank guns (MT-12). The SMM observed that 12 mortars (six 2B11 Sani, 120mm and six PM-38, 120mm) continued to be absent.

In areas outside government control, beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM visited such holding areas and saw six multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21, Grad, 122mm) and six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) present. The SMM noted that 12 mortars (11 PM-38 and one 2B11) continued to be absent.

The SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces weapons permanent storage site whose location was beyond withdrawal lines and observed that the site continued to be abandoned, with 13 anti-tank guns (MT-12) missing.

The SMM observed an armoured combat vehicle (ACV)[2] and fresh tracks of ACVs in the security zone. An SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted on 14 October an armoured personnel carrier (BTR-60 or BTR-70) stationary near Zolote.

In areas outside government control the SMM saw fresh tracks assessed as those of at least three IFVs (BMP-2) between the southern edge of Boikivske (formerly Telmanove, 67km south-east of Donetsk) and road T-0508, leading south-west towards Naberezhne (77km south of Donetsk), as well as fresh tracks of several IFVs (BMP-2) between T-0508 and the road to Lukove (72km south of Donetsk).

The SMM observed the presence of mines. An SMM mini UAV spotted again, on 14 October, 13 anti-tank mines on road T0519 on the western outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol), as well as 17 anti-tank mines 1.5km west on the same road. (See SMM Daily Report 13 October 2017.) Also on 14 October an SMM mid-range UAV spotted again four rows of more than 200 anti-tank mines mechanically laid across 700m in a field west of government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) and three rows of hand-laid mines in an adjacent field.

On 16 October, the SMM saw seven to nine anti-tank mines mounted on a wooden plank, and covered with a camouflage net, lying along railway tracks 3-4m east of the main road about 2.5km east of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk). The SMM had last seen that these mines were removed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on 14 March 2017, (see SMM Daily Report 15 March 2017). The SMM saw that the mines 3km east of Popasna (see SMM Daily Report 16 October 2017) were still present, despite the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) having informed the SMM that the mines had been removed on 15 October.

The SMM visited two border areas not under government control. During about one hour at a border crossing point near Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw two pedestrians (women) exit Ukraine.

During about half an hour at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 60 cars (including seven with “DPR” plates) and three cargo trucks (two with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates) exit Ukraine. The SMM saw 27 cars (including five with “DPR” plates) and one bus with Ukrainian licence plates enter Ukraine.

On 16 October, in Kyiv, the SMM monitored a march called “Walk for Freedom” on the European Day Against Human Trafficking. About 170 people (aged 20-30, 60 per cent women) gathered on the Independence Square where several speeches were held by the organizers – members of an international organization - explaining that the event was designed to raise awareness of the danger of human trafficking to young people searching for jobs abroad. The participants then walked towards the city centre distributing informative brochures. The SMM did not observe police presence.

On 15 October, in Kharkiv, the SMM monitored a rally of about 800 people (men and women of different age groups) some of whom were holding banners of several political parties. The former head of the regional state administration of Odessa was also present. Some participants held speeches critical of the Government. The SMM saw about 100 police officers and 40 National Guard officers present. A verbal argument developed between two groups of people, one supporting the former head of the regional state administration and the other group consisting of ATO veterans, but no incidents occurred. The police detained one of the ATO veterans.

In Dnipro, on 14 October, the SMM observed about 2,000 people (men and women of different age groups) gathered in front of the regional state administration building. Some carried Right Sector flags and some were in military-type uniform. The group then marched towards the history museum where the mayor of Dnipro handed over medals to ATO veterans. The SMM saw about 100-150 police officers escorting the participants. The event ended peacefully.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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. 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:

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing a weapons permanent storage site in a “DPR”-controlled area as the compound was locked and there were no “DPR” members present. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • An unarmed man in military-type clothing in “DPR”-controlled Ivanivka (78km south of Donetsk) prevented the SMM from travelling further north towards “DPR”-controlled Mykhailivka (74km south-east of Donetsk) saying that it was a border area. The man added that he had been informed that the SMM was travelling towards this area and that he had been ordered to go to Ivanivka to stop the SMM. The Mission informed the JCCC.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 demining of the main road had been completed two days ago. The SMM observed, however, mine hazard signs still present and did not consider it safe to proceed. The SMM informed the JCCC.

  • The SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) 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.

[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
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