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

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with the previous reporting period. In Luhansk region the Mission recorded an increase in ceasefire violations compared with the previous reporting period, mostly north-west of Kadiivka. The SMM continued monitoring all three disengagement areas and recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote disengagement areas. Its access remained restricted in all three areas.* The Mission observed anti-tank mines inside the Zolote disengagement area where it had recently facilitated and monitored demining activities as part of preparatory work to clear the road and possibly open a new entry-exit checkpoint. The SMM facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance to the Donetsk Filtration Station and power lines in Druzhba. The Mission continued to monitor an ongoing gathering in Kyiv.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1] including about 110 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 240 explosions).

On the night of 18-19 October, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions 8-10km north-west.

On the evening of 18 October, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north-west of Donetsk) recorded at least 20 projectiles in flight from west to east 3-5km east-south-east. Shortly after midnight, the same camera recorded an undetermined explosion 3-5km south-east. During the day on 19 October, positioned on the south-western edge of Avdiivka for about six hours, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions and three bursts of small-arms fire 2-3km at directions ranging from south-east to south, and an undetermined explosion 2-3km west.

On the evening of 18 October, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded two projectiles in flight from west to east, followed by a projectile from east to west, all 1km south. During the day on 19 October, the same camera recorded an explosion assessed as an impact 1-2km south. Positioned near the Donetsk Filtration Station for about four hours (including for technical works on the SMM camera), the SMM heard six shots of small-arms fire 1-2km north, and 13 undetermined explosions and about 60 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun, automatic-grenade-launcher and small-arms fire, all 1-6km south-south-west and south-west.

During the day on 19 October, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about six and a half hours, the SMM heard about 40 undetermined explosions and about 110 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-6km at directions ranging from south-west to north-north-west.

On the evening of 18 October, while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions 5-12km north-west, as well as about 70 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire and a total of six minutes of uncountable overlapping bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 3-5km north-north-west. During the day on 19 October, while at the same location, the SMM heard about 40 shots of small-arms fire 0.5-1km south-east.

During the day on 19 October, while in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 1-5km north-west and north-north-west. While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard three explosions 1.5km south-east.

On the morning of 19 October, positioned 1km north of “DPR”-controlled Kashtanove (13km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard seven explosions assessed as mortar rounds and 20 bursts of small-arms fire, all 2-3km west-south-west.

On the evening of 18 October, while in Mariupol, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions at unknown distances east-north-east.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded an increase in ceasefire violations, including about 190 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (no explosions).

On the night of 18-19 October, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard about 160 undetermined explosions, all 10km north-west – an area where the Mission recorded a similar increase in ceasefire violations on 13 October. (See SMM Daily Report 14 October 2017.)

On the night of 18-19 October, while on the northern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard ten explosions assessed as outgoing mortar (82mm) rounds and six undetermined explosions assessed as mortar (82mm) rounds, all 3-5km east-south-east, and 11 undetermined explosions 6-10km south-south-east and south.

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 morning of 19 October, positioned 1km south-east of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 5-10km south, assessed as outside the disengagement area. In the afternoon, positioned north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, inside the disengagement area, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 5-7km south-west, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

During the day on 19 October, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 10-15km south-south-west, assessed as outside the Zolote disengagement area. Later in the day, positioned in government-controlled Zolote, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 8-15km south-south-west, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On 17 October, an SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted 14 anti-tank mines (TM-62) on both sides of road T1316 (six in a field behind trees about 15m east of the road and eight in two dugouts about 5m west of the road, all of which are not visible from the road) about 100m inside the Zolote disengagement area from its southern edge – the same location where the Mission saw anti-tank mines on 2 June, which had been subsequently removed. (See SMM Daily Report 3 June 2017.) The SMM had recently facilitated and monitored demining activities in this area as part of preparatory work to clear the road and possibly open a new entry-exit checkpoint. (See SMM Daily Report 14 October 2017.)

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 an armoured combat vehicle[2] and a military-type armoured vehicle in the security zone. In government-controlled areas on 18 October, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted a stationary infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-1) near Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk). Aerial imagery revealed the presence of a military-type armoured vehicle near Vodiane (15km north-west of Donetsk).

On 17 October, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted four newly dug trenches around a water pumping station 2.5km south-west of “DPR”-controlled Vasylivka (20km north of Donetsk) – one facing east about 500m west of the pumping station, another facing west about 120m south, a third one facing south-west about 300m north-west, and a fourth one facing west about 700m north, all of which had not been present in imagery from the same location on 8 August 2017. (See SMM Daily Report 10 August 2017.)

Aerial imagery revealed on 18 October five extended trenches (not present in imagery from 1 July 2017), of which two were in government-controlled Pisky (11km north-west of Donetsk), one about 700m north-east of Pisky, one about 2km east of government-controlled Opytne (12km north-west of Donetsk) and one just west of “DPR”-controlled Spartak (9km north of Donetsk).

The SMM continued to observe the presence of mines. On 17 October, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted for the first time eight anti-tank mines (TM-62) piled near a newly dug trench about 500m west of the water pumping station near Vasylivka (see above).

On 19 October, the SMM noted that the previously observed anti-tank mines about 2.5km east of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) and mines about 3km east of Popasna had been removed. (See SMM Daily Report 17 October 2017.)

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 Donetsk Filtration Station and the power lines east of government-controlled Druzhba (45km north-east of Donetsk), as well as a needs assessment of a water pipeline between government-controlled Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk).

In Kyiv, on the evening of 18 October, the SMM followed up on a media report regarding an incident at an ongoing gathering on Hrushevskoho Street. (See SMM Daily Report 19 October 2017.) The SMM saw about 100 men, some with shields and balaclavas, facing about 300 police and National Guard officers. Medical staff onsite told the Mission that they had treated five persons for pepper spray irritation. At around 20:30, 11 persons spoke from a stage, alleging that they had been detained and then released. The SMM did not observe any incidents during its presence.

Throughout the day on 19 October, the SMM saw about 800-1,000 people (60 per cent men, different age groups), some of them in camouflage or black clothing, outside the main entrance to the national Parliament building and on Hrushevskoho Street. The tents, which the SMM had previously observed (see SMM Daily Report 19 October 2017), remained present in the area. About 500 police officers were present around the national Parliament building. At around 17:00, police blocked a group of 50-60 people (mostly men, aged 30-50) who were attempting to bring tents and other materials to the gathering site. The SMM did not observe any incidents during its presence.

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 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:

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.

[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
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]