Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 15 November 2018
This report is for the media and the general public.
The SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk region, compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM observed military-type presence in the Zolote disengagement area. The SMM’s access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas as well as near Verkhnoshyrokivske and again near Novoazovsk, near the border with the Russian Federation.* The SMM observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas of Luhansk region. The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to houses and essential civilian infrastructure on both sides of the contact line, as well as to enable demining near Nyzhnoteple. The SMM followed up on reports of vandalism to crosses commemorating Polish prisoners in Kolomiya during World War I. In Kyiv, the Mission followed up on an attack on St. Andrew’s Church and a ceremony in honour of political prisoners. The SMM observed the first meeting of the temporary parliamentary commission charged with investigating the death of Kateryna Handziuk. In Kherson, the SMM observed a court hearing related to the detained Mekhanik Pogodin tanker.
In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations, including, however, more explosions (about 285), compared with the previous reporting period (about 265 explosions).
On the evening of 14 November, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 37 undetermined explosions, ten bursts of anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) fire, about 225 bursts of heavy-machine gun fire and at least six minutes of uncountable heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 1-4km at directions ranging from south-east to south-west. The following day, from the same location, the SMM heard 43 undetermined explosions and about 40 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all at an assessed range of 2-4km south-south-east.
During the day on 15 November, while in Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 4-6km south-west and 27 undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 6-12km south-east. Positioned on the north-western edge of Horlivka the same day, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 3-6km east-north-east and six undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 4-6km in south-westerly directions.
During the evening of 14 November, the SMM camera at the entry-exit checkpoint in Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north-east of Donetsk) recorded ten undetermined explosions, an airburst, a muzzle flash and 40 projectiles in flight (mostly from south-easterly to north-westerly directions), including two projectiles fired from the south-east that subsequently exploded, impacting inside the entry-exit checkpoint area near the processing booths for civilians crossing the contact line, all at an assessed range of 0.1km-4km east-north-east, east and east-south-east.
In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 18 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 180 explosions).
On the morning of 15 November, positioned on the eastern edge of Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 6-10km south-south-east.
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 (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 14 November, an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted about 100m of trenches and at least two firing positions, all seen for the first time (not visible in imagery from 15 October 2018), north of the railway line north-east of Molodizhne (non-government-controlled, 63km north-west of Luhansk), between 10-70m west of the western edge of the Zolote disengagement area.
On 15 November, along road T1316 inside the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM observed about 1km north-west of a checkpoint of the armed formations on the southern edge of the disengagement area, the SMM saw a portable rocket launcher (RPO-A Shmel, 93mm). (See SMM Daily Report 14 November 2018.)
Positioned at the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge and north of Petrivske, the SMM observed calm situations in the Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrivske disengagement areas.
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 non-government-controlled areas, on 14 November, an SMM long-range UAV spotted three towed howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near Zarichne (44km west of Luhansk), a surface-to-air missile system (9K35 Strela-10) in a compound near Katerynivka (formerly Yuvileine, 8km west of Luhansk), seven self-propelled howitzers (2S1) in a training area near Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk) and 14 self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and ten towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) in a training area near Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk).
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in a government-controlled area, the SMM observed eight towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) at a military compound in Dianivka (38km north-west of Mariupol).
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in non-government-controlled areas, on 14 November, an SMM long-range UAV spotted ten tanks (T-72) in a training area near Shymshynivka; 21 tanks (type undetermined), eight self-propelled howitzers (2S1), 12 towed howitzers (D-30) and eight towed mortars (2B11 Sani, 120mm) near Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk); and 20 tanks (type undetermined), eight towed mortars (2B11) and three surface-to-air missile systems (9K35) in a training area near Buhaivka.
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACV) and other indications of military presence in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 14 November, an SMM long-range UAV spotted four infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (three BMP-1 and one BMP-2) near Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk), an ACV (type undetermined) near Zolote 4/Rodina (59km west of Luhansk), an ACV (type undetermined) near Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk) and two ACVs (type undetermined) near Bila Hora (54km north of Donetsk). On 15 November, the SMM saw two armoured personnel carriers (APC) (BTR-70 and BTR-80) near Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) and one APC (BTR-70) near Novobakhmutivka (28km north of Donetsk).
On 14 November, the SMM saw about 100 spent assault rifle (AK-74) shell casings (5.45mm) and two casings of rocket-propelled grenades (RPG-22), all assessed to be one or two months old, scattered on the edge of a road next to residential houses in Kriakivka (government-controlled, 38km north-west of Luhansk).
In non-government-controlled areas, on 14 November, an SMM long-range UAV spotted two ACVs (type undetermined) near Kalynove-Borshchuvate (61km west of Luhansk), five ACVs (type undetermined) and an APC (BTR variant) near Khoroshe (36km west of Luhansk), three ACVs near Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk), two APCs (BTR variant) on the western outskirts of Luhansk city, four APCs (MT-LB) near Katerynivka, four ACVs (type undetermined) near Lobacheve (13km east of Luhansk) and two ACVs (type undetermined) near Nadarivka (64km west of Luhansk). On 15 November, the SMM saw two IFVs (BMP-1) in Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) and an APC (BTR variant) near Vasylivka (47km south of Donetsk).
On 14 November, an SMM long-range UAV spotted new defensive positions about 30m in length about 1km south-east of Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk).
The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to the Petrivske water pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk), the phenol sludge reservoir near Zalizne (government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk) and damaged houses in Marinka and Krasnohorivka (government-controlled, 21km west of Donetsk), as well as to enable demining activities near Nyzhnoteple (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk). The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station.
The SMM monitored a border area not under government control. While at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for over an hour, the SMM observed 32 cars (six with Ukrainian and 11 with Russian Federation licence plates, and 15 with “DPR” plates) and 22 cargo trucks (seven with Ukrainian, one with Russian Federation and six with Belarusian licence plates, and eight with “DPR” plates, all cargo not visible) exiting Ukraine. The SMM also observed 21 vehicles (four with Ukrainian license plates, nine with Russian Federation, two with Georgian and one with Lithuanian licence plates, and five with “DPR” plates), a cargo truck (with Ukrainian licence plates, cargo not visible) and a bus (with Russian Federation licence plates) entering Ukraine.
In Kolomyia (Ivano-Frankivsk region), on 12 November, the SMM followed up on reports of vandalism to crosses at a cemetery commemorating Polish prisoners in Kolomiya during World War I. The head of a Polish civil society organization responsible for maintaining the cemetery told the SMM that on the night of 4-5 November, 94 crosses commemorating Polish prisoners to Kolomyia had been uprooted from the ground. A police representative told the SMM that they had found nearly 100 crosses on the ground, had identified suspects and an investigation had been launched under article 296 (hooliganism). The SMM visited the cemetery and saw that the crosses were in place and freshly dug and moved soil had been placed around the base of the crosses.
In Kyiv, the SMM followed up on media reports of an attack on St. Andrew’s Church. Around 10:00 on 15 November at the church located at 23 Andriivskyi Descent in Kyiv, the SMM saw pieces of a shattered brown glass bottle and a bottle cork scattered around the doorstep of a side door to the church, and noted a strong gasoline smell in the vicinity of the area. The SMM saw ten police officers present at the scene and that the area around the door was blocked off by tape. Two men (both 60-70 years old), who identified themselves as security guards of the church, told the SMM that between 07:00-07:15 on the same day, they had been standing outside the church when they had heard a “crashing sound” and then seen two men (age unknown) in civilian clothing. One of the security guards added that he had unsuccessfully tried to stop the two men and was sprayed with pepper gas in his eyes.
In Kyiv, the SMM observed a ceremony in support of Ukrainian political prisoners. At Mykhailivska Square, the SMM saw senior Ukrainian officials and family members of Ukrainian political prisoners reportedly held in the Russian Federation, on the Crimean peninsula and in non-government-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine. The SMM saw empty chairs with the names of Ukrainian political prisoners written on them, including Stanislav Aseev, a blogger being held in a non-government-controlled part of Donetsk region.
In Kyiv, the SMM monitored the first meeting of the temporary parliamentary commission charged with investigating the death of Kateryna Handziuk, an anti-corruption activist and Kherson city council official who died after having been attacked with sulphuric acid on 31 July 2018 (see SMM Daily Report 5 November 2018). Sixteen Members of Parliament serving on the commission as well as representatives of civil society, the State Security Service of Ukraine, the General Prosecutor's Office and the National Police attended the meeting.
On 14 November, in Kherson, the SMM attended a court hearing at the Kherson Administrative Court related to the detained Mekhanik Pogodin tanker by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine in the port of Kherson. The court ruled that the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine should provide it with copies of communication related to the detention of the tanker ship within seven days and the next hearing was scheduled for 3 December 2018. (See SMM Daily Report 9 November 2018.)
The SMM continued monitoring in Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Chernivtsi.