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

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions between the evenings of 2 and 3 November, compared with the previous reporting period. Between the evenings of 3 and 4 November, the Mission recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and a sharp increase in ceasefire violations in Luhansk region, compared with the previous 24 hours. The SMM recorded ceasefire violations inside the Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote disengagement areas. On 4 November, the Mission heard an explosion 300-400m north of its location in Zolote-5/Mykhailivka as well as at least 15 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 500m from its location in the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. It saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line. The Mission’s access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas. It was also restricted in Holmivskyi, near Novoazovsk – an area close to the border with the Russian Federation – and Verkhnoshyrokivske, and again near Zaichenko and Bezimenne.* The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable demining near Zolote-2/Karbonit and Nyzhnoteple. In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a public gathering organized in memory of Kateryna Handziuk, a Kherson city council official and civil society activist who died on 4 November after having suffered severe acid injuries in an attack on 31 July 2018.

In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 2 and 3 November, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations,[1] including about 370 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 230 explosions). Between the evenings of 3 and 4 November, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 260 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours.[2]

On the evening and night of 2-3 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk) recorded an explosion assessed as an incoming round, seven undetermined explosions and about 200 projectiles in flight (mostly from westerly to easterly directions), all at an assessed range of 1-5km at southerly directions. On the following day, the same camera recorded 12 explosions assessed as impacts of rounds of undetermined weapons 1-2km south, as well as 37 undetermined explosions and about 40 projectiles in flight (mostly from westerly to easterly directions), all at an assessed range of 1-5km at southerly directions. On the evening and night of 3-4 November, the same camera recorded three undetermined explosions and 19 projectiles in flight (mostly from north-westerly to south-easterly directions), all at an assessed range of 1-2km at south-westerly directions.

During the day on 3 November, positioned 1km north-west of the railway station in Yasynuvata (non-government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 56 undetermined explosions and about 300 shots and bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 1-6km at directions ranging from south to north-north-west. On the following day, at the same location, the Mission heard 23 undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 1-5km north-north-east and south-west.

On the same day, positioned on the eastern edge of Kamianka (government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions and ten bursts of small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 3-5km south-south-east. The following day, positioned on the eastern edge of Kamianka, the SMM heard 22 explosions (16 assessed as outgoing rounds, two as impacts and the remainder undetermined) and ten bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all at an assessed range of 2-4km north-north-east and south-south-west.

During the day on 4 November, positioned at the central railway station in Donetsk city (non-government-controlled, 6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard 22 undetermined explosions and about 50 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 1-4km north-east and north-north-west.

On the evening of 2 November, while in Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard about 90 undetermined explosions and about 40 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all at an assessed range of 5-7km west-south-west and north-west. On the evening and night of 3-4 November, at the same location, the Mission heard 110 undetermined explosions and about 160 bursts of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) cannon (30mm), anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) and heavy-machine-gun fire, all at an assessed range of 3-6km south-west, west-north-west and north-west.

On the evening of 2 November, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions and about 300 shots and bursts of automatic grenade launcher, heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 3-4km south-south-east. The following day, the SMM heard about 90 undetermined explosions and 42 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all at an assessed range of 3-7km south.

In Luhansk region, between the evenings of 2 and 3 November, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including, however, fewer explosions (ten), compared with the previous reporting period (about 70 explosions). Between the evenings of 3 and 4 November, the SMM recorded almost twice as many ceasefire violations (about 1,000), including about 420 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours. Most ceasefire violations were recorded in areas near Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) and between Sentianivka (formerly Frunze, non-government-controlled, 44km west of Luhansk) and Zholobok (non-government-controlled, 47km west of Luhansk).

During the day on 4 November, positioned in Sentianivka, the SMM heard about 220 undetermined explosions and about 330 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 3-6km west-north-west and north-west.

On the same day, while in Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, non-government-controlled, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard about 110 explosions at an assessed range of 10-15km north-north-east and north-north-west.

On the same day, positioned in Zolote-5/Mykhailivka (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an explosion (assessed as an airburst ) 300-400m north, six bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 300-500m north-west, as well as seven undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 1-2km north.

The SMM continued to monitor and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote and Petrivske[3] (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 the evening of 2 November, the SMM camera at Prince Ihor Monument south-east of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk) recorded two outgoing explosions at an assessed range of 0.3-1km north-north-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area), as well as an undetermined explosion and 30 projectiles in flight (mostly from north-easterly to south-westerly directions) at an assessed range of 0.3-1.5km north-west, north-north-west and north (assessed as inside the disengagement area). On the same evening, the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded 12 projectiles in flight (five from west to east and seven from northerly to southerly directions), all at an assessed range of 0.5-1km south and south-south-west (all assessed as inside the disengagement area).

On the same evening, while on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions and about 120 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 1.5-6km south-south-west and south-west, assessed as outside the disengagement area. The Mission also heard four undetermined explosions and about 300 shots and bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 2-6km south-south-west and south-west (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 4 November, positioned 250m south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM heard at least 15 bursts of small-arms fire 500m north-north-west, assessed as inside the disengagement area. On the same day, positioned 1km south-south-east of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the Mission heard two bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 1-2km north-west, assessed as inside the disengagement area.

On the evening and night of 2-3 November, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded four projectiles in flight at an assessed range of 1-3km south-east, assessed as inside the disengagement area, and six projectiles in flight 2-5km east-north-east, assessed as outside the disengagement area. During the day on 3 November, positioned on the northern edge of Zolote, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 2-3km south-south-east, assessed as outside the disengagement area. On the same day, the SMM saw a tanker truck painted in camouflage colours driven by a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier entering the disengagement area from the north-eastern outskirts of Katerynivka (government-controlled, 64km west of Luhansk).

During the day on 4 November, positioned in Pervomaisk (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk), the Mission heard 20 bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 2-3km north-north-east, assessed as inside the disengagement area, as well as 32 undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 5-7km north-north-east and 12 bursts and shots of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 1-2km north-north-east, all assessed as outside the disengagement area. The same day, positioned in Zolote, the SMM heard 40 shots and bursts of automatic grenade launcher, heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire at an assessed range of 2-3km south-west, all assessed as outside the disengagement area.

During the day on 3 November, positioned north of Petrivske, the SMM heard two bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 3-4km south-south-east, assessed as outside the disengagement area. On 4 November, at the same location, the Mission observed 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 the withdrawal lines in a government-controlled area, on 2 November, an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted again a towed howitzer (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152 mm) near Druzhba (76km west of Luhansk).

In violation of the withdrawal lines in a non-government-controlled area, on 2 November, an SMM long-range UAV spotted a surface-to-air missile system (9K31, Strela-1) and a probable mortar south of Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk).

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in a government-controlled area, on 2 November, an SMM mini-UAV spotted ten towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) near Novomaiorske (64km south-west of Donetsk).

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. On 4 November, in government-controlled areas of Donetsk region, the SMM saw a surface-to-air missile system (9K35 Strela-10), eight multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) and two tanks (T-64), and noted that two surface-to-air missile systems (9K35), 27 MLRS (BM-21) and a self-propelled howitzer (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) were again missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles, anti-aircraft guns as well as new trenches and firing positions in the security zone.[4] In government‑controlled areas, on 2 November, an SMM mini-UAV spotted an IFV (BMP variant) and an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) parked near houses, as well as in total 100m of trenches (not seen in imagery from 29 August 2018) in Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk). On the same day, an SMM long-range UAV spotted two IFVs (BMP variants) near Hladosove (51km north-east of Donetsk), three IFVs (BMP-2) near Novotoshkivske (53km west of Luhansk), two IFVs (BMP variants) near Katerynivka, three IFVs (BMP-1) near Vershyna (63km north-east of Donetsk) and two IFVs (BMP-1) east of Bila Hora (54km north of Donetsk). On 3 November, the SMM saw three armoured personnel carriers (APC) (BTR-70) in Novoselivka Druha (36km north-east of Mariupol).

In non-government-controlled areas, on 2 November, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an IFV (BMP-1) near Lozove (52km north-east of Donetsk); an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRM-1K), an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) mounted atop an APC (MT-LB) and three probable IFVs (BMP-1) south of Kalynove (at the same location as the above-mentioned probable mortar and surface-to-air missile system) and six APCs (MT-LB), one with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23), and four probable IFVs (BMP variants) near Kalynove-Borshchuvate (61km west of Luhansk). The same day, an SMM long-range UAV spotted new trenches totalling 400m on the eastern side of the road between Dolomitne (53km north-east of Donetsk) and Novoluhanske (government-controlled, 53km north-east of Donetsk) (not seen in imagery from 29 August 2018) about 500m south from previously observed trenches (see SMM Daily Report 5 July 2018) and a 50m-long trench extension about 2.5km north-west from Nyzhnie Lozove (59km north-east of Donetsk). The same day, the SMM saw a probable IFV (BMP variant) in Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk). On 4 November, the Mission saw an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) loaded on the back of a military-type truck in Donetsk city.

On 3 November, an SMM mini-UAV spotted ten new firing positions next to previously observed trenches on the eastern edge of Zolote-4/Rodina (government-controlled, 59km west of Luhansk). The mini-UAV also spotted ongoing upgrades of previously spotted trenches on the north-eastern edge of Zolote-5/Mykhailivka, broken cupboards and closets used to fortify and cover them and six armed persons in camouflage clothes nearby. (For previous observations, see SMM Daily Report 1 November 2018).

On 2 November, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted at least 38 craters assessed as caused by artillery rounds: 18 on the western edge of Zholobok and 20 about 1km south-east of Zholobok (all not seen in imagery from 15 October 2018). The Mission assessed that the rounds had been fired from north-north-westerly and north-westerly directions.

The SMM saw demining activities. On 4 November, the Mission saw 12 people (six men, six women) wearing clothing bearing the logo of an international demining organization conducting demining activities in a field east of road T1309 3km north of Shyrokyi (government-controlled, 38km north-east of Luhansk). A representative of the demining team told the SMM that the area being cleared of mines was about 28,000m2 in size and that it would take up to five months to complete mine clearance (for previous observations from this area, see SMM Daily Report 17 October 2018). The Mission also saw people wearing clothing bearing the logo of an international demining organization conducting demining activities in a forested area and an agricultural field about 4km north-east of Krasna Talivka (government-controlled, 51km north-east of Luhansk).

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable demining activities in Zolote-2/Karbonit (government-controlled, 62km west of Luhansk) and Nyzhnoteple (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk). The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the DFS.

On 4 November, the SMM saw heavy engineering equipment and about 20 Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers conducting repair works at a bridge on road T0504 south-west of Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk) (for previous observations, see SMM Daily Report 12 September 2018).

The SMM continued to monitor the situation of civilians living near the contact line. On 3 November, two women (in their sixties) in Zolote-4/Rodina told the SMM that the security situation in the village was very tense and heavy shelling and shooting occurred on a daily basis. According to the women, about 40 people remain in Volnyi Hutor, the neighbourhood of Zolote-4/Rodina closest to the contact line, which, they said, was completely without electricity.

On 2 and 3 November, the SMM saw a billboard on the northern side of the entry-exit checkpoint in Stanytsia Luhansk reading in Ukrainian: “The SBU warns: participating in the CALO elections constitutes a high treason”.

The SMM visited two border areas outside government control. On 3 November, while at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about 60 minutes, the SMM saw 44 cars (eight with Ukrainian, 18 with Russian Federation and two with Georgian license plates, and 16 with “DPR” plates) exiting Ukraine. During the same time, the Mission saw three minivans (one with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation license plates, and one with “DPR” plates) entering Ukraine. The same day, while at a pedestrian border crossing point in Novoborovytsi (79km south of Luhansk) for about 30 minutes, the SMM saw no cross-border traffic.

On 4 November, in Kyiv, the SMM monitored a public gathering organized in commemoration of Kateryna Handziuk, a 33-year-old Kherson city council official and civil society activist who died on 4 November. She had suffered severe injuries in a 31 July acid attack (see SMM Daily Report 2 August 2018). The Mission saw about 400 people (60 per cent men, 40 per cent women, 20-60 years old), including representatives of political parties and civil society, attending the commemoration in front of the building of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Ukraine at 10 Akademika Bohomoltsia Street. It observed at least 20 people (ten men, ten women, 25-45 years old) holding banners with messages “She was killed!” and “Who killed Kateryna Handziuk” written in Ukrainian. The participants paid tribute by observing a minute of silence and laying flowers and candles. The SMM observed police officers in riot gear standing around the corner of Pylypa Orlyka Street and that Akademika Bohomoltsia Street was blocked off at both ends by three police cars.

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