Ukraine

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 26 July 2018

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This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with the previous reporting period and a similar number of ceasefire violations in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske and recorded ceasefire violations near the Zolote disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas as well as, again, in Zaichenko in southern Donetsk region and at a border crossing point near Izvaryne, near the border with the Russian Federation. The SMM observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Vershyna, Bakhmut and Pikuzy. The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station, including through monitoring the security situation around the station, as well as repairs and maintenance works to critical civilian infrastructure near Zalizne, Popasna, Stanytsia Luhanska, Artema and Naberezhne. In Odessa, the SMM again saw ethnic slurs and swastikas spray-painted on buildings. In Chernivtsi, the SMM observed two gatherings.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including about 60 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 100 explosions).

On the evening of 25 July, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion and about 150 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-5km south and south-south-east.

During the day on 26 July, positioned north-north-east of Marianivka (non-government-controlled, 13km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions 10-15km north-east.

On the evening and night of 25-26 July, the SMM camera at the entry-exit checkpoint in Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north-east of Donetsk) recorded five explosions (an outgoing explosion, an impact explosion, an airburst and two undetermined explosions), 30 projectiles in flight (most from south-south-west to north-north-east), five illumination flares and 24 bursts of undetermined weapons, all 1-7km east.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations including, however, more explosions (about 60), compared with the previous reporting period (no explosions).

On 26 July, positioned near Muratove (government-controlled, 51km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM recorded about 30 undetermined explosions 8-10km south.

On 26 July, positioned near Yasnodolsk (non-government-controlled, 41km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions, 15-20km south-east.

A member of the armed formations threatened to shoot down an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). On 25 July, positioned about 3km north-west of Debaltseve (non-government-controlled, 58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM was preparing to conduct a mid-range UAV flight when a member of the armed formations in a military-type truck verbally approached and threatened to shoot down the SMM’s UAV. The man then departed, driving north-west. The SMM flew its UAV without interference and landed it safely (for similar incidents, see SMM Daily Report 28 August 2017 and SMM Daily Report 31 August 2017). The UAV spotted a recently dug trench near a house in the Molochny neighbourhood of Lozove (non-government-controlled, 52km north-east of Donetsk) (see below).

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)[2], 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 evening of 25 July, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded three projectiles in flight from north-east to south-west 4-6km south-east (all assessed as outside the disengagement area).

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 government-controlled areas, on 25 July, an SMM long-range UAV spotted four self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) in Vershyna (63km north-east of Donetsk) and two self-propelled howitzers (2S3) near Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk). On 26 July, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted a tank (T‑72) in Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, non-government-controlled, 92km south of Donetsk) (for previous observations, see SMM Daily Report 11 July 2018).

The SMM visited sites in government-controlled areas of Donetsk region where it had previously 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. The SMM noted the following weapons missing: 24 towed howitzers (18 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm and six D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm), 23 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) (including one missing for the first time), 13 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and 28 mortars (15 2B11 Sani, 120mm; 12 M-120 Molot, 120mm; and a BM-37, 82mm).

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[3] and other indications of military-type presence in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 25 July, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (MT-LB variant) near Vershyna. On 26 July, the SMM observed an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) north-west of Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) and an APC (BTR-80) in Shchastia.

In non-government-controlled areas, on 25 July, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted a 15m-long trench about 50m from an inhabited house in the Molochny neighbourhood of Lozove (not visible in imagery from 27 May 2018). Near Pikuzy, on 26 July, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted 100m of trenches (not visible in imagery from 1 June 2018) and eight craters assessed as impacts of artillery shells fired from a north-westerly direction (not visible in imagery from 27 July 2018). Also on 26 July, an SMM mini-UAV spotted three 15m-long trench extensions connecting to a house (assessed as being used as an observation post) on the western edge of Zhovte (17km north-west of Luhansk) (not visible in imagery from 4 July 2018).

The SMM continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS), including through monitoring adherence to the ceasefire. Positioned in areas near the DFS, the SMM heard ceasefire violations, despite explicit security guarantees (see table below).

The SMM also continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance works to the phenol sludge reservoir near Zalizne (formerly Artemove, government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk), the railway station in Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk), a fibre-optic cable near Stanytsia Luhanska, the Petrivske pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) and power lines in Naberezhne (non-government-controlled, 33km north-east of Mariupol).

The SMM visited a border area outside government control. While at a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk) for about 15 minutes, the SMM saw three women, two men and a child exiting Ukraine as well as three cars (two with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates), two women and two men entering Ukraine.

The SMM followed up on reports of spray-painted ethnic slurs and swastikas in Odessa city. The Mission saw graffiti using an ethnic slur calling for the killing of people from the Caucasus region next to a swastika on the side of a shawarma stand at the intersection of Fontanska and Akademichna Streets and, on the wall of a nearby bakery, the Mission saw graffiti calling for the death of people from Central Asia, again using an ethnic slur, next to a swastika. The graffiti was similar in size and style to anti-Semitic messages the SMM observed in the city on 23 July (see SMM Daily Report 24 July 2018). Police told the SMM by telephone that an investigation would be opened under Article 161 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (violation of citizens’ equality based on racial, ethnic, or religious bias).

In Chernivtsi, on 26 July, the SMM saw about 50 men and women – half of them wearing insignia of groups such as Pobratymy Ukrainy and Nationalny Druzhyny – gathered near the entrance of the city hall, which was surrounded by 50 police officers. Inside the city hall, the SMM observed a heated debate between council members, the mayor and local citizens in support of and opposition to the city’s mayor, after which the city council voted to dismiss the mayor.

Also in Chernivtsi on 26 July, the SMM saw about 80 people (mostly men) gathered in the city’s central square carrying posters critical of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities.

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