Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 4 April 2018

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 reporting period. The Mission confirmed a civilian casualty in Donetsk city. Small arms were fired in areas where SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were flying near Novoselivka and near Shevchenko. The SMM long-range UAV experienced jamming. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske, and recorded ceasefire violations near, but outside, the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas and at a border crossing point near Dovzhanske near the border with the Russian Federation in Luhansk region, outside government control.* The SMM observed a weapon in violation of withdrawal lines near Oknyne in Luhansk region, as well as weapons beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites on both sides of the contact line. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to the Petrivske pumping station near Artema and a water pipeline near Zaitseve. In Kyiv, the Mission monitored a gathering in front of the Ombudsperson’s office. The SMM followed up on reports of an incident at a church building in Rivne region and of a robbery at a church building in Kadiivka.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including, however, more explosions (46), compared with the previous reporting period (about 40 explosions).

On the night of 3-4 April, the SMM camera 1km south-west of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, two illumination flares in flight from west to east, 15 projectiles from west to east and a projectile from south-east to north-west, followed by a total of 16 projectiles (eight from east to west, five from south to north, two from south-east to north-west and one from west to east), all 1-4km north.

During the day on 4 April, positioned at the railway station in Yasynuvata (non-government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk) for about three hours, the SMM heard 17 explosions (three assessed as impacts of artillery rounds and the remainder undetermined) and about 40 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-3km west and north-west.

Positioned on the western edge of Novoselivka (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard six to eight shots of small-arms fire 1.5km east, assessed as directed towards an SMM mini-UAV that was flying in the area.* Further analysis of the UAV footage showed a man in military-style clothing pointing a gun in the direction of the UAV.

Positioned 2km north-west of Shevchenko (government-controlled, 19km north-west of Mariupol), the SMM heard a shot of small-arms fire 700m east, assessed as directed towards an SMM mini-UAV that was flying in the area.*A few minutes before, a truck with five Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers stopped near the SMM and the soldiers told it not to fly the UAV over the area as it was a “no-flight zone”.

Positioned 2km north-east of Zaichenko (non-government-controlled, 26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard six explosions assessed as outgoing rounds 3-6km south-west. Positioned in Zernove (non-government-controlled, 70km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions and 20 bursts and 70 shots of small-arms fire, all 1.5-2km south, assessed as live-fire training (exercise) outside the security zone.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including 15 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (two explosions). Positioned 2.5km south-west of Muratove (government-controlled, 51km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions 7-15km south and south-south-west and a shot of small-arms fire 1-2km south.

In Donetsk city, the SMM confirmed a civilian casualty who had been injured from the explosion of a small metal object that he had found and picked up from the street in a market.

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.*

During the day on 4 April, positioned in Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard ten shots of small-arms fire 2km west-north-west, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

Positioned near the Zolote and Petrivske disengagement areas, 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.

In violation of withdrawal lines, the SMM saw a self-propelled howitzer (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) south-east of Oknyne (government-controlled, 53km north-west of Luhansk) on 3 April.

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in a government-controlled area, the SMM saw an anti-tank gun (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and two surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10) near Kalynove (formerly Kalinine, 65km south-west of Donetsk).

In a non-government-controlled area, the SMM saw eight tanks (three T-64 and the rest undetermined) and five self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), as well as eight infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-1), all stationary near Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

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 a government-controlled area of Luhansk region, the SMM saw five towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) present and observed five towed howitzers (2A65) present for the first time. The SMM noted that two towed howitzers (2A65) were again missing.

The SMM revisited a heavy weapons permanent storage site in a non-government-controlled area of Luhansk region whose location was beyond the respective withdrawal lines, and noted that six towed howitzers (2A65), ten multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm), three self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and nine towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) were again missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM saw two IFVs (BMP-1 and BMP-2) between civilian houses near Zolote-3/Stakhanovets (60km west of Luhansk), an IFV (BMP-2) near Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) and an IFV (BMP-2) east of Mariupol.

In a non-government-controlled area, in a zone within which deployment of heavy armaments and military equipment is further proscribed according to Point 5 of the Memorandum of 19 September 2014, the SMM saw 14 IFVs (three BMP-1 and 11 BMP variant) near Zernove.

The SMM observed the presence of mines. On 3 April, an SMM mini-UAV spotted for the first time at least 50 anti-tank mines (probable TM-62) laid in a field south of a road, about 1.6km east of Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk) (not present in the imagery from 28 February 2018).

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to the Petrivske pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk). While present in Obozne (18km north of Luhansk) to monitor the abovementioned repairs, the SMM heard two explosions 5km north, assessed as having occurred near Artema. A member of the repair team told the SMM by phone that they had also heard an explosion, but that the repairs continued. The SMM also facilitated and monitored the repair of a water pipeline in a non-government-controlled part of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk), which was completed (see SMM Daily Report 4 April 2018).

The SMM continued to monitor the situation of civilians at entry-exit checkpoints. At 13:00, at the government checkpoint north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM observed about 150 people in a queue to exit (through ten screening booths) and about 1,000 people in a queue to enter (through ten screening booths) government-controlled areas. Several civilians told the SMM that they had been waiting for three hours in the queue to enter government-controlled areas. At the parking lot south of the checkpoint of the armed formations on the bridge, the SMM saw about 500 people waiting at the bus stop.

The SMM visited a border area not under government control. At a border crossing point near Dovzhanske (84km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw six cars (four with Ukrainian and two with no visible licence plates), and 16 covered cargo trucks (ten with Ukrainian licence plates and six with “LPR” plates) exiting Ukraine. Five minutes later, a member of the armed formations told the SMM to leave the area, adding that the restriction to SMM’s presence at the crossing point was still in place.*

In Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, non-government-controlled, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM followed up on reports of a robbery at the Evangelical-Baptist Church on 27 March. On 30 March, a representative of the Union of Evangelical-Baptists Churches told the SMM by phone that between 21:30 and 00:30 on the night of 27-28 March, several people in military-style clothing had entered the building of the church at 15 Telmana Street through a secondary door, which they had opened with a key. He added that, subsequently, the same people had opened the main entrance door and had parked two vehicles in front of the entrance; they had also stolen assets mainly used for religious services.

In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a gathering of about 600 people (men and women, aged 20-40) in front of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Office (Ombudsperson Office) at 21/8 Instytutska Street. The SMM saw some of them carrying Ukrainian flags and banners with messages critical of homosexuality. There were five police officers securing the area and no incidents were observed while the SMM was present.

In Rivne region, the SMM followed up on reports of an incident at a church building in Ptycha (148km north-east of Lviv) on 2 April. On 3 April, a representative of the Ptycha local administration told the SMM that the church had been sealed by police. On 4 April, the SMM saw an administrative seal on the door of the church and at least 20 police officers present. Local officials told the SMM that on 2 April, a group of 10-15 individuals wearing balaclavas, including some in military-style clothing, had broken into the church and evicted two elderly women who were serving on a parishioner-staffed security shift inside the church. The police told the SMM that when they had arrived on the scene one hour after the incident they had seen ten members of the Kozatska Varta self-defence group from Dubno (138km north-east of Lviv) standing near the church. A priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church told the SMM that they would co-operate with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate by sharing Easter ceremonies in shifts in the garden of the church. (See SMM Daily Report 6 April 2016.)

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