Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 12 March 2018

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 continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske and observed a ceasefire violation near the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in all three areas and elsewhere, including again in Kozatske, at the Chervona Mohyla railway station and a border crossing point near Voznesenivka in Luhansk region – near the border with the Russian Federation – and to a compound in Kremenivka.* The SMM observed weapons in violation near Lobacheve. The Mission observed anti-tank mines in Verkhnotoretske and Betmanove. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to the Petrivske water pumping station in Artema. In Kyiv, the Mission followed up on reports of a fire at a chapel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 40 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours (about 20 explosions).

In continuation of ceasefire violations recorded in the early evening of 11 March (see SMM Daily Report 12 March 2018), on the evening and night of 11-12 March, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, three projectiles in flight from west to east and eight projectiles from east to west, followed by totals of eight undetermined explosions and 38 projectiles (35 from west to east, one from east to west, one from south to north and one from north-west to south-east), all 0.5-3km south.

During the day on 12 March, positioned at the railway station in Yasynuvata (non-government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions and five shots and bursts of small-arms fire, all 3-8km west and north-west. The same day, positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata for about an hour, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions 5-8km north-west.

Positioned on the north-western edge of Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk) for about six hours, the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions 2-4km north-west.

On the evening of 11 March, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard over 120 shots and bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire and three minutes of uncountable and overlapping bursts of small-arms fire, all 1-3km at directions ranging from east to south.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including the same number of explosions (one), compared with the previous 24 hours.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 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 12 March, while on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 3km south, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

Positioned near the Zolote and Petrivske disengagement areas, 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 withdrawal lines in areas outside of government control, an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on 12 March spotted three tanks (T-64) about 1.5km north-west of Lobacheve (13km east of Luhansk).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in areas outside government control, the SMM saw four tanks (T-64) in firing positions in Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) (for previous observations in this area, see SMM Daily Report 12 March 2018).

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. In government-controlled areas on 9 March, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted two armoured personnel carriers (APC) (one BTR-80 and one BTR variant) in Verkhnotoretske (23km north-east of Donetsk). On 12 March, the SMM saw three armoured reconnaissance vehicles (two BRM-1K and one BRDM-2) and eight infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (five BMP-1 and three undetermined) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) and two IFVs (BMP-2) on the northern edge of the Zolote disengagement area.

In non-government-controlled areas on 12 March, an SMM mini-UAV spotted nine IFVs (BMP-1) and two APCs (MT-LB) near Lobacheve.

The SMM observed anti-tank mines in Verkhnotoretske and Betmanove (non-government-controlled, formerly Krasnyi Partyzan, 23km north-east of Donetsk), none of which were present in imagery from 4 December 2017. On 9 March, on the south-eastern edge of Verkhnotoretske, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted nine anti-tank mines (type undetermined) laid at the intersection of a main road leading to Betmanove and a secondary road leading south-west. About 2km further south-south-east on the south-eastern edge of Betmanove, the SMM UAV spotted 18 anti-tank mines (type undetermined) in a field about 50m east of the abovementioned main road. On the north-eastern edge of Betmanove, the same UAV also spotted six anti-tank mines (type undetermined) laid across Chervona Street.

The SMM continued to observe remnants of war near Sakhanka (non-government-controlled, 24km north-east of Mariupol). (See SMM Daily Report 12 March 2018.) About 150m south of the southern-edge of Sakhanka, the SMM saw, for the first time, an 82mm mortar tailfin in a field about 30cm west of a road. About 2km further south, near the intersection of the aforementioned road and road E58, the SMM saw, for the first time, a 120mm mortar tailfin 120m east and an 82mm mortar tailfin 1km east of the intersection, both of which were embedded in the asphalt. The SMM assessed all tailfins to be remnants of mortar rounds fired from a south-south-easterly direction.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to the Petrivske water pumping station in Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk).

The SMM visited four border areas not under government control. At a border crossing point near Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw four cars (three with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates) in a queue to exit Ukraine and three cars (with Ukrainian licence plates) entering Ukraine. After seven minutes, an “LPR” member told the SMM to leave the area.*

At the Chervona Mohyla railway station near Voznesenivka, the SMM saw about ten stationary railway wagons, some of which were carrying timber. After two minutes, an “LPR” member told the SMM to leave the area.*

While at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for one hour, the SMM saw 20 cars (seven with Ukrainian, seven with Russian Federation and one with Georgian licence plates; five with “DPR” plates), five covered cargo trucks (three with Ukrainian licence plates; two with “DPR” plates) and a bus (with “DPR” plates) in a queue to exit Ukraine, and eight cars (four with Russian Federation licence plates; four with “DPR” plates) and a covered cargo truck (licence plates not visible) entering Ukraine.

While at a pedestrian border crossing point near Ulianivske (61 km south-east of Donetsk) for half an hour, the SMM saw no pedestrians.

In Kyiv, the SMM followed up on reports of a fire at a chapel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. At 68 Avtozavodska Street, the Mission saw one of the chapel windows covered by wooden planks, under which burned wood and glass debris were scattered on the ground. Through other windows, it also saw a charred ceiling inside the chapel. A priest of the church told the SMM by telephone that at around 02:30 on the night of 10 March, a fire fighter onsite informed him that a fire had occurred at the chapel at around 02:00 that day. The priest also told the SMM that the fire had damaged parts of the floor and ceiling and that the chapel had reopened on 11 March. According to a statement posted on the police website, the fire was caused by a plastic bottle containing flammable substances thrown into the chapel by unidentified individuals on 10 March. The police added that it had launched an investigation under Article 194.2 of the Criminal Code (intentional damage to property).

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