Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 17 October 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk region compared with the previous 24 hours. The Mission observed an impact site and damage to a fence near a residence in Novooleksandrivka. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas and recorded ceasefire violations near the Zolote disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in all three areas and elsewhere, including in Oleksandrivske and Samiilove, two settlements near the border with the Russian Federation.* The Mission observed armoured combat vehicles and a surface-to-air missile system near Svobodne, in a zone within which deployment of heavy armaments and military equipment is proscribed according to the Memorandum. It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance to the thermal power plant in Shchastia, a water pumping station near Artema and power lines near Druzhba. The Mission visited two border areas not under government control. The SMM monitored large gatherings in Kyiv, including in front of the national Parliament building, and a gathering in Chernivtsi.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations,[1] including about 120 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours (about 75 explosions).

On the evening of 16 October, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded 32 projectiles in flight from west to east 2-3km east-south-east. Shortly after midnight, the camera recorded 16 tracer rounds in flight from west to east 4-6km east-south-east.

On the evening of 16 October, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, one projectile in flight from east to west, three undetermined explosions, one projectile in flight from east to west, and 31 projectiles from west to east, all 1km south. In the late afternoon of 17 October, the camera recorded, in sequence, at least 20 tracer rounds from west to east, three tracer rounds from east to west, 12 tracer rounds from north to south, 36 tracer rounds from south to north, 19 undetermined explosions, and three projectiles from north to south, all 1-3km south-south-west.

On the night of 16-17 October, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions 3-8km north-west.

During the day on 17 October, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four and a half hours, the SMM heard six undetermined explosions and small-arms fire, all 1-6km at directions ranging from south-south-west to north-west.

Positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata for about two hours, the SMM heard nine explosions assessed as rocket-propelled grenades, eight undetermined explosions, 11 shots of heavy-machine-gun fire, about 140 bursts and shots of small-arms fire, and six minutes of uncountable overlapping bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-5km at directions ranging from north-west to north.

Positioned at the entry-exit checkpoint in government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) for about three and a half hours, the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an outgoing recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm) round 500m west and one minute of uncountable overlapping bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-3km east.

Positioned on the north-western edge of “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) for about six and a half hours, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions, two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, 20 shots of small-arms fire, and five minutes of uncountable overlapping bursts and shots of small-arms fire, all 3-7km at directions ranging from west to north, as well as nine undetermined explosions 10km north.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk) for 75 minutes, the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an outgoing mortar round, 2-3km north-west, as well as a shot of automatic-grenade-launcher fire and six shots of small-arms fire, all 2-5km north-west and north-north-west.

On the evening of 16 October, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, three tracer rounds in flight from west to east, 21 tracer rounds from east to west, and one airburst, all at undetermined distances and directions.

Positioned about 4km west of “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (26km east of Mariupol), the SMM heard three shots of small-arms fire 200m south-west, assessed as live-fire training inside the security zone, in violation of the decision of the Trilateral Contact Group as of 3 March 2016 that prohibits the conduct of live-fire training (exercises) in the security zone. The SMM also heard six shots of small-arms fire 2-3km west-south-west, one undetermined explosion 2km north-west, and eight bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-4km west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations compared with the previous 24 hours.

In the late evening of 16 October, while on the northern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 8km east-south-east.

The SMM followed up on a report from residents of Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk) of an impact site and damage near a residence in the village. The Mission saw a crater, at least three days old, about 10m north-east of a house at 10 Pervomaiska Street, as well as shrapnel damage (1cm-diameter holes) in the north-east-facing side of a nearby wooden fence. The SMM assessed that the crater and damage were caused by an automatic-grenade-launcher (AGS-variant) round fired from a north-north-easterly direction. Two residents of the village (men, aged 50-60) told the Mission that ten impacts had occurred on the afternoon of 14 October. The SMM saw Ukrainian Armed Forces trenches and fortifications 150m north-west of the impact site.

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 15-16 October, the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote recorded six flashes (assessed as either muzzle flashes or impacts) and one flare in flight from north to south, all 3-10km at easterly directions and assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On 17 October, positioned in and around the disengagement areas near Zolote 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 non-government-controlled areas on 16 October, imagery revealed the presence of three reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM-variant) and a surface-to-air missile system (probable 9K31 Strela-1) in a compound about 1.5km north of Svobodne (73km 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. (These weapons are in addition to those reported near Zernove in SMM Daily Report 17 October 2017.) Aerial imagery revealed the presence earlier on 16 October of two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-1 or BMP-2), one reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-variant), and three military-type trucks in the same compound.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas on 16 October, the SMM saw 13 stationary IFVs (one BMP-2, four BMP-1s, five BRM-1Ks, and three BMP-variants) and a stationary reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-variant) near Popasna.

The SMM saw six people with demining equipment working in a field, previously assessed as a minefield by the SMM, with areas marked off by red-and-white tape and sticks about 1km north-west of “DPR”-controlled Nikishyne (60km north-east of Donetsk).

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance works, co-ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-operation (JCCC), to the thermal power plant in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) and the Petrivske water pumping station near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk), and power lines east of government-controlled Druzhba (45km north-east of Donetsk), as well as needs assessments of high-voltage power lines between government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk), and of a water pipeline between government-controlled Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk).

The SMM visited two border areas not under government control. During about 45 minutes at a border crossing point near Marynivka (78km east of Donetsk), the SMM saw 16 cars (ten with Ukrainian and five with Russian Federation licence plates, and one with “DPR” plates) and five trucks with covered cargo areas (four with Ukrainian and one with Georgian licence plates) exiting Ukraine, and 11 cars (five with Ukrainian and three with Russian Federation licence plates, and three with “DPR” plates) and two trucks with covered cargo areas (both with Georgian licence plates) entering Ukraine.

On 16 October, the SMM noted again that a border crossing point near Makariv Yar (formerly Parkhomenko, 28km east of Luhansk) appeared to be abandoned and closed. The former State Border Guard Service facility was empty.

In Kyiv, the SMM monitored gatherings in the city centre. At about 09:00 the Mission saw up to 3,000 people gather around Independence Square and then walk toward the National Bank of Ukraine on Instytutska Street. At about 11:30 the SMM saw about 1,500 participants (mostly aged 55-70, 75 per cent women) outside the National Bank building, some of whom carried flags of the political party Za Zhytia. About 430 police and National Guard officers were present. The gathering ended peacefully shortly after 13:00.

At about 10:15 the SMM saw hundreds of people (aged 20-60, 60 per cent men) on Sadova Street, many of whom carried flags of the political party Movement of New Forces. At the junction of Sadova and Hrushevskoho Streets, about 80m from the national Parliament building, dozens of police officers and National Guards conducted checks at a security barrier with four portable metal detectors. Beyond the barrier, the Mission saw about 5,000 people (aged 20-70, 65 per cent men) in front of the national Parliament building and in adjacent Mariinskyi Park, many of whom carried flags of political parties, including Movement of New Forces, Samopomich, Batkivshchyna and Svoboda, as well as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and National Corps. Speakers said that the protestors’ demands included political and electoral reform, the establishment of an anti-corruption court, and the lifting of immunity from prosecution for members of Parliament.

About 3,500 police and National Guard officers, many in riot gear, were nearby. (The SMM also saw up to 100 police officers near the Cabinet of Ministers building, and over 100 police and National Guard officers on Bankova Street.) Staff of a medical unit told the SMM that they had treated one civilian and one police officer for minor concussions, as well as two civilians who had been pepper sprayed. By 17:30, the number of participants had decreased to about 1,500. The Mission saw that about ten large and 20 small tents had been set up on Hrushevskoho Street and in Mariinskyi Park, and hundreds of sleeping bags were present. The Mission did not observe any serious incidents during its presence throughout the day.

The SMM also followed up on a media report that activists had occupied the Parkovyi Congress and Exhibition Centre on Parkova Street, near Mariinskyi Park. At about 11:00, the SMM saw three people in front of the building with a large banner of Sokil, a youth organization affiliated with Svoboda. A police car was parked nearby. At 14:00, a member of a group of about ten young men at the building told the Mission that he was a representative of Sokil, and that, in conjunction with National Corps and Right Sector, it was demanding the nationalization of the building because it belonged to a business group tied to the family of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

In Chernivtsi, the SMM monitored a gathering organized by the Romanian Cultural Centre, Mihai Eminescu Society for Romanian Culture and Romanian non-governmental organizations in front of the Chernivtsi regional state administration building. The Mission saw two groups: one consisting of 250 people (men and women of different ages), including priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, carrying the Ukrainian and Romanian national flags and the European Union flag; and one consisting of 40 people (mostly men, aged 18-40) carrying the Ukrainian national flag and flags of National Corps and Right Sector. Speakers from the former group called for non-discrimination and respect for their native languages, while members of the second one shouted that every citizen of Ukraine must be taught in the state language, as well as slogans such as “Glory to Ukraine” and “Glory to the heroes”. About 100 police officers were present. The SMM did not observe any incidents during its presence.

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

*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:

  • An armed man at the eastern edge of “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivske (formerly Rozy Liuksemburh, 90km south-east of Donetsk) stopped the SMM and said it could not travel east due to training activities in the area. The Mission informed the JCCC.

  • Three armed persons at the south-western entrance to “DPR”-controlled Samiilove (89km south of Donetsk) did not allow the SMM to enter a compound. 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. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer 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.

  • 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.

Other impediments:

  • The deputy director of a school in a non-government-controlled area of Donetsk region refused to speak to the SMM, citing instructions from a “DPR” member.

[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
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