Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 14 January 2019

Report
from Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Published on 15 Jan 2019

This report is for the media and the general public.

Summary

Compared with the previous 24 hours, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Small arms were fired in the direction of an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle near Chermalyk, Donetsk region and close to SMM patrols in Popasna and Kriakivka, Luhansk region.

The SMM recorded ceasefire violations inside the Zolote disengagement area and an armoured combat vehicle in the Petrivske disengagement area.

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to essential civilian infrastructure in Donetsk and Luhansk regions as well as to enable the removal of an unexploded ordnance in Kriakivka, Luhansk region.

Restrictions of the Mission’s access continued in all three disengagement areas. The SMM was also restricted at two border crossing points with the Russian Federation near Izvaryne and Sievernyi.

Ceasefire violations

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including, however, a similar number of explosions (about 75), compared with the previous 24 hours. The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded mainly at south-easterly and south-westerly directions of Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk) and in areas south-south-west, south-west and west of the railway station in Yasynuvata (non-government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk).

On the morning of 14 January, positioned on the eastern edge of Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol) while conducting a mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight across the contact line, the SMM heard twice in the span of five minutes uncountable bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 1-2km south-south-east. The Mission assessed the fire as aimed at the UAV, which at the time was flying about 1.2km south-south-east of the SMM's position. The Mission recalled and safely landed the mini-UAV (for a similar incident, see SMM Daily Report 14 January 2019).

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 30 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours (one explosion). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded inside and close to the disengagement area near Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) (see disengagement areas section below).

On the morning of 14 January, positioned at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint on road T0504 near Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard a burst of heavy-machine-gun fire about 200m east of its position. The Mission left the area.

On the same morning, positioned on the western edge of Kriakivka (government-controlled, 38km north-west of Luhansk) to facilitate and monitor the adherence to the ceasefire to enable the removal of an unexploded ordnance (UXO), the SMM heard a burst of small-arms fire, assessed as originating from the direction of a house used by military personnel, about 40m east of its position. The Mission left the area.

Disengagement areas

On the evening and night of 13-14 January, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded 18 projectiles in flight at an assessed range of 2-4km east-south-east and south-east (assessed as inside the disengagement area) and six projectiles in flight at an assessed range of 3-5km east-south-east and east (assessed as outside the disengagement area). It also recorded 18 projectiles in flight and an illumination flare, all at an assessed range of 1-5.5km east-south-east and south-east (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 14 January, positioned about 1km south of Molodizhne (non-government-controlled, 63km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard four undetermined explosions and 16 shots of small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 2-3km south and west-south-west (assessed as outside the Zolote disengagement area). Positioned on the western edge of Pervomaisk (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard three undetermined explosions and 41 bursts and shots of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, all at an assessed range of 2-3km north, south-south-west and west-south-west (assessed as outside the Zolote disengagement area). Positioned on the northern edge of Kalynove-Borshchuvate (non-government-controlled, 61km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions as well as 26 shots of small-arms fire and 70 bursts of undetermined weapons, all at an assessed range of 2-3km west-south-west (assessed as outside the Zolote disengagement area).

On the same day, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) inside the disengagement area near Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk), about 1.2km from its western and northern edges (assessed as belonging to the Ukrainian Armed Forces).

Positioned inside the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed a calm situation.

Withdrawal of weapons

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

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites.

Non-government-controlled areas

13 January

An SMM long-range UAV spotted: 21 tanks (13 T-72 and eight T-64) in a training area near Ternove (57km east of Donetsk).

Indications of military and military-type presence in the security zone

Government-controlled areas

13 January

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BTR-70) in Pisky (11km north-west of Donetsk);
  • an IFV (BMP-2) in Slavne (26km south-west of Donetsk);
  • an IFV (BMP-2) in Taramchuk (29km south-west of Donetsk);
  • an IFV (BMP-2) in Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk);
  • an IFV(BMP-1) about 200m north of the disengagement area near Petrivske; and
  • two IFVs (BMP-1) 700m south of the disengagement area near Petrivske.

14 January

  • an IFV (BMP variant) parked near an abandoned house in Svitlodarsk
  • an IFV (BMP-2) near Halytsynivka (29km north-west of Donetsk)

Non-government-controlled areas

13 January

An SMM mini-UAV spotted:

  • an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRM-1K) and an APC (BTR-80) in Luhansk city.

Presence of mines

The SMM saw for the first time two dark green square wooden boxes (with wires connected) attached to the metal gates of a sluice on the northern side of the Myronivskyi reservoir and close to a checkpoint of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Roty (government-controlled, 66km north-east of Donetsk). An unarmed soldier told the SMM about the presence of explosives on the sluice.

SMM facilitation of repair works to civilian infrastructure

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to a water pipeline in Pivdenne (government-controlled, 40km north-east of Donetsk), to the Krasnohorivka gas distribution station between Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk) and Oleksandrivka (non-government-controlled, 20km south-west of Donetsk) as well as to water wells in Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk). The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station.

The SMM also facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable the removal of an UXO (a 125mm tank projectile), reportedly located in the front yard of a residential house at 4 Naberezhna Street in Kriakivka. After about two hours, a representative of the Ukrainian Armed Forces told the SMM that the UXO had been removed (see above).

Border areas not under government control

While at a border crossing point near Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk) for about 30 minutes, the SMM saw two pedestrians exiting Ukraine as well as five pedestrians entering Ukraine.

While at a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw two buses with Russian Federation licence plates exiting Ukraine. The Mission also observed seven cars (four with Ukrainian and two Russian Federation licence plates, and one with “LPR” plates), 12 covered cargo trucks (four with Ukrainian and two Russian Federation licence plates, and six with “LPR” plates) as well as a bus with Russian Federation licence plates and six pedestrians entering Ukraine. After about ten minutes, an unarmed member of the armed formations told the SMM to leave the area.

While at a border crossing point near Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw three pedestrians exiting Ukraine. After about ten minutes, an unarmed member of the armed formations told the SMM to leave the area.

Fire at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

In Kyiv, in the late afternoon hours of 14 January, the SMM saw a fire on the territory of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. The Mission observed that a two-storey building located at 23 Lavrska Street was on fire. The SMM saw 20 firefighters and 30 representatives of the State Emergency Services on the building’s roof extinguishing the fire and seven fire brigade trucks parked at the site. A female representative of the State Emergency Services told the SMM that the building had been on fire since the afternoon hours and that firefighters had difficulties in accessing the construction due to the risks posed by the blaze. The main engineer at the complex stated that the building had not been used for the past six years. The SMM observed that the fire was extinguished in the early evening hours. A police officer stated that an individual had been detained on suspicion of arson.

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

Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, UXO and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations. They have also agreed that the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government (for example, see below). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access

  • At a border crossing point near Izvaryne, a member of the armed formations again told the SMM to leave the area.
  • At a border crossing point near Sievernyi, a member of the armed formations again told the SMM to leave the area.

Regular restrictions related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO

The sides continued to deny the SMM full access to the three disengagement areas, as well as the ability to travel certain roads previously identified as important for effective monitoring by the Mission and for civilians’ movement, through failure to conduct comprehensive clearance of mines and UXO.

Other impediments:

  • While conducting a mini-UAV flight in areas south-east of Chermalyk, the SMM heard twice in the span of five minutes uncountable bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 1-2km south-south-east, assessed as aimed at the UAV, which landed safely.
  • While positioned at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near Popasna, the SMM heard a burst of heavy-machine-gun fire about 200m east of its position.
  • While positioned on the western edge of Kriakivka, the SMM heard a burst of small-arms fire about 40m east of its position.