Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 15 May 2018

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions, compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission continued to facilitate access to the Donetsk Filtration Station for Voda Donbassa water company employees in order to keep the station operational. It heard ceasefire violations close by, despite security guarantees, and immediately left the location and suspended operations in the area of the station. In Betmanove, the Mission followed up on reports of civilian casualties. The SMM followed up on reports of fresh damage to civilian properties caused by small-arms and automatic-grenade-launcher fire in Zolote-4. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske and recorded ceasefire violations near the Zolote and Petrivske disengagement areas. Its access remained restricted in all three areas and elsewhere, including in Novolaspa and Kreminets.* The SMM observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Vidrodzhennia. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to high-voltage power lines near Almazna and to the water pipeline in Obozne. The SMM continued to follow up on media reports of arson at a Roma community camp near Lviv. In Ostroh in Rivne region, the SMM followed up on reports of a break-in at a chapel at a Jewish cemetery. The SMM also followed up on media reports of a raid by the Security Service of Ukraine on the offices of RIA Novosti in Kyiv.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations[1], including about 500 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 210 explosions).

On the evening and night of 14-15 May, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, an explosion, a projectile in flight from north to south, and two explosions, all 0.2-5km west.

On the evening and night of 14-15 May, while in Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard about 50 explosions assessed as artillery rounds 3-6km west-north-west, four explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds 4-6km north-west and about 50 undetermined explosions 3-6km at directions ranging from south-west to north-west.

On 15 May, positioned 1km north of Pyshchevyk (government-controlled, 25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard about 110 undetermined explosions at undetermined distances south, an undetermined explosion at an undetermined distance north-east and an undetermined explosion 5-7km south. Positioned 1km north-north-west of the entry-exit checkpoint in Pyshchevyk, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 5-7km south-east, about 70 undetermined explosions south and south-east and small-arms fire south-west and north at undetermined distances.

Positioned 1km west of Khreshchatytske (formerly Krasnoarmiiske, non-government-controlled, 33km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 13 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) at undetermined distances south-east and 13 explosions assessed as impacts of MLRS at undetermined distances south, as well as about 70 undetermined explosions at undetermined distances south and south-east.

Positioned in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 34 undetermined explosions 4-20km at directions ranging from south-east to west-south-west and about 170 bursts and shots of small-arms fire 3-7km at directions ranging from east to south.

Positioned in Novohnativka (government-controlled, 40km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard 36 outgoing explosions 2km south-south-east and six outgoing explosions at an unknown distance south-south-east.

Positioned in Kruta Balka (non-government-controlled, 16km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard 20 explosions 0.5-3km at directions ranging from north-west to north and about 70 bursts of small-arms fire 0.5-2km north-west.

In Luhanskregion, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 100 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (13 explosions). Positioned 1km south of Stepanivka (non-government-controlled, 62km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an explosion assessed as an outgoing artillery round, an explosion assessed as the impact of a mortar round and 50 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 4-5km west-north-west.

Positioned 1km south-west of Bile (non-government-controlled, 22km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard about 60 explosions of tank rounds, assessed as outgoing and impacts, 5-10km south-south-east.

The SMM was in close proximity to small-arms fire while monitoring the security situation and facilitating access for employees of the Voda Donbassa water company to the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS). Positioned on road H20, about 1.6km south-east of Kamianka (government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard the whistling sound of a bullet flying at a distance of 20cm to 1m above their heads, assessed as small-arms fire from an unknown distance south-south-east in an area covered by explicit security guarantees. The SMM patrol immediately left the location and suspended operations in the area of the DFS. (See SMM Spot Report 15 May 2018.)

The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties in Betmanove (non-government-controlled, formerly Krasnyi Partyzan, 23km north-east of Donetsk). The SMM spoke by phone with a woman (aged 57) who said that on 1 May she and her husband (aged 58) were home at 68A Chervona Street in Betmanove when shelling had started at 13:15. The woman said that as they ran towards their shelter, their garage had sustained an impact, but a car in the yard had shielded them from much of the blast. According to her, she sustained a deep shrapnel wound above her right thigh, and her husband sustained injuries from metal fragments to the right rear of his neck. The woman also said that they were treated for two days in Horlivka Hospital No. 2. Earlier in the day in Horlivka, hospital staff told the SMM by phone that the couple had been admitted to the hospital on 1 May, provided a similar description of their injuries, and said that after two days of care the two were released. The SMM could not visit the abovementioned address due to security reasons.

The SMM followed up on reports of fresh damage to civilian properties caused by small-arms and automatic-grenade-launcher fire in Zolote-4/Rodina (government-controlled, 60km north-west of Luhansk). At 6 Ostrovskoho Street, at a two-storey brick house, the SMM observed three fresh divots (2-3cm deep, 10-15cm in diameter) on a wall and door as well as a hole in the glass of a first floor window, all facing east, assessed as caused by small-arms fire. The SMM also observed a number of minor surface scratches on the north-facing wall. Three residents (two women aged 50 and 65, and one man aged 45) told the SMM that the damage had occurred in the late evening of 4 May and that one of the women had been home at the time.

At 7/2 Ostrovskoho Street, at a two-storey brick house, the SMM observed three fresh bullet holes (10mm in diameter) on the south-facing wall and door as well as a hole in the glass of a south-facing second floor window, all assessed as caused by 5.45mm rounds fired from a south-easterly direction. The SMM observed a 5.45mm bullet inside the frame of a double-pane insulated window and another 5.45mm bullet inside the door frame. The SMM spoke with two owners of the house (women aged 25 and 50), one of whom said that the damage had occurred in the late evening of 3 May and that they had been inside the house, together with a two–year-old child, at the time of shooting.

At 7/1 Ostrovskoho Street, at a two-storey brick house, the SMM observed a fresh bullet hole (20mm in diameter) in the east-facing first-floor window, assessed as caused by small-arms fire from a south-easterly direction. The owner (woman aged 30) told the SMM that she had been inside the house when the damage had occurred in the late evening of 3 May.

At 5/2 Ostrovskoho Street, the SMM observed two fresh bullet holes (10mm in diameter) in the south-facing concrete wall of a shed (located 20m west of the house) assessed as caused by small-arms or heavy-machine-gun fire coming from a west-south-westerly direction (likely ricochet), and a minor surface scratch (5-7cm in length) assessed as caused by an automatic-grenade-launcher. About 20m east of the shed,the SMM observed many holes (more than 2mm in diameter, around half of them fresh, assessed as caused by various weapons) in the north-facing metal gate to another property at 4/1 Ostrovskoho Street. The owner (man, aged 40) told the SMM that he had been at home when the damage occurred on the late evening of 3 and 4 May.Otsrovskoho Street is located around 300m north of the contact line and the SMM is aware of Ukrainian Armed Forces positions between 300-400m south-east and south-west of the street.

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 15 May, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded an illumination flare in vertical flight and two undetermined explosions, all 4-12km east-south-east (all assessed as outside the disengagement area).

Positioned in Petrivske, the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions 5-8km south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

Positioned near Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, the SMM noted a calm situation.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons in implementation of the Memorandum and the Package of Measures and its Addendum.

In violation of withdrawal lines in a government-controlled area, the SMM saw a stationary self-propelled howitzer (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) near Vidrodzhennia (66kmnorth-east of Donetsk).

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in government-controlled areas, the SMM saw five self-propelled howitzers (2S1Gvozdika, 122mm) being transported on trucks travelling near Sloviansk (95km north of Donetsk), two towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) in Khlibodarivka (65km south-west of Donetsk) and three stationary tanks (T-64) in Bakhmut (67km north of Donetsk).

The SMM revisited permanent storage sites whose locations were beyond the respective withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas of Luhansk region and noted that six tanks (four T-64 and two T-72) were again missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2], a pontoon bridge and unmanned aerial vehicles in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 14 May, an SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) in Muratove (51km north-west of Luhansk) and an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-variant) in Krymske (42km north-west of Luhansk). On the same day, an SMM mini-UAV spotted a pontoon bridge (PMP-3), two motorboats (BMK-130, BMK-460) and an amphibious transporter (PTS-2) across the Siverskyi Donetsk River, as well as a trench digger (PZM-2) north-west of Krymske. On 15 May, the SMM observed an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BTR-80) in Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk).

In non-government-controlled areas, on 14 May an SMM mini-UAV spotted an IFV (BMP-1), an APC (MT-LB) and a probable APC (MT-LB) in Pryvitne (11km north of Luhansk) and, on 15 May, the SMM saw an IFV (BMP-1) near Starolaspa (51km south of Donetsk).

On both sides of the contact line in the security zone, the SMM heard UAVs. Positioned 2.5km south-east of Lomakyne (government-controlled, 93km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard an unidentified UAV flying east of its position, near the line of contact, from south to north. In a non-government-controlled area, positioned1.5km west of Khreshchatytske, the SMM heard an unidentified UAV flying from east to north-west then north-west to south.

The SMM observed demining activities. In Nikishyne (non-government-controlled, 60km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed two trucks, one fitted with blue emergency lights and “demining” written in Russian on the front of the truck, and five men (aged 30-40) in military-style clothing in an uncultivated agricultural field that had been fenced off with wooden stakes and white tape 1km north of the town.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repair works to high-voltage power lines near Almazna (non-government-controlled, 55km west of Luhansk)and the water pipeline in Obozne (non-government-controlled, 18km north of Luhansk).

In Lviv city, the SMM continued to follow up on media reports of arson at a Roma camp on 9 May. On 14 May, the head of the Department of Culture and Religions of the Lviv Regional State Administration told the SMM that prior to the alleged attack approximately 30 people had been living in the settlement in Rudne (11km west of Lviv City). On 15 May, the head of the Rudne village council told the SMM that the affected individuals had been living in the area for the past three years and that there had been no conflict between them and other local residents. The SMM was told the same by members of the local Roma community staying at a different camp in Rudne. (See also SMM Daily Report 14 May 2018.)

The SMM followed up on news reports of unknown persons breaking into a chapel at a Jwish cemetery on Kozatska Street in Ostroh (247 km north-east of Lviv) in Rivne region. At the chapel, the SMM saw three broken windows on the west side of the chapel and a door showing signs of forced entry. According to a cemetery attendant, the damage had occurred on the night of 27-28 April 2018 and the attackers took a small sum of money from the chapel.

In Kyiv, the SMM followed up on media reports of a raid on the offices of the RIA Novosti news agency at 16 Shota Rustaveli Street. At the RIA offices, a security guard told the SMM that at around 09:00 on 15 May he had seen agents of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) enter the building. The SBU published a statement on its website that it had conducted searches in offices of RIA Novosti.

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