Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 17 January 2019

This report is for the media and the general public.

Summary

  • Compared with the previous reporting period, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The SMM saw damage from gunfire to a residential house in Zolote-4/Rodina.
  • The Mission recorded ceasefire violations inside the Zolote disengagement area.
  • The SMM saw weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line.
  • The Mission followed up on reports that a woman had died while waiting at a checkpoint near Horlivka.
  • Restrictions of the SMM’s access continued in all three disengagement areas. The SMM was also restricted at a border crossing point with the Russian Federation near Voznesenivka.*
  • In Kherson, the SMM monitored a court hearing at which the pre-trial detention of the former editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti Ukraine was extended.

Ceasefire violations

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 145 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 200 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations, including the majority of explosions, were recorded in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area, south-west of Kamianka (government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk) and in areas south-east and south-west of Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk).

In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded fewer ceasefire violations (no explosions), compared with the previous reporting period (about 100 explosions).

Damage from gunfire to a residential house in Zolote-4/Rodina

On 17 January, the SMM observed damage to a one-storey residential house in Zolote-4/Rodina (government-controlled, 59km west of Luhansk). At the location, the SMM saw a small hole in a windowpane in an east-facing wall. Inside the house, it saw a similar-sized hole in the curtain hanging in front of the window, corresponding with the location of the hole in the windowpane, as well as damage to a wall opposite the abovementioned window and pieces of plaster on the floor below. The SMM assessed the damage as caused by a 12.7mm heavy-machine-gun bullet fired from an easterly direction. A resident (woman, 80-90 years old), who said she was at home when gunfire occurred, told the SMM that on 8 January she had entered her living room and had found a broken window and a bullet on the floor.

Woman died while waiting at checkpoint near Horlivka

On 17 January, at an armed formations checkpoint near Horlivka, a member of the armed formations told the SMM that a woman (71 years old) had died on 16 January while waiting in a taxi to cross the checkpoint. Staff at a morgue in Horlivka said that the woman’s body had been brought to the morgue on 16 January and that she had died of natural causes.

Disengagement areas

On the evening of 16 January, the SMM camera in Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) recorded six projectiles in flight at an assessed range of 2-4km south-east, all assessed as inside the disengagement area. On the same evening, the camera recorded a projectile at an assessed range of 2-4km south and five projectiles at an assessed range of 2-4km east-south-east, all of which were not able to be assessed as inside or outside the disengagement area.

During the day on 17 January, positioned inside the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk) and near the disengagement area near Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk), the SMM observed calm situations.

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.

In violation of withdrawal lines

Government-controlled areas

16 January

An SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted:

  • four towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) at a railway station in Kostiantynivka (60km north of Donetsk).

17 January

The SMM observed:

  • 12 multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) on a stationary flatbed train at the railway station in Kostiantynivka

Non-government-controlled areas

16 January

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • three tanks (T-72) parked near residential houses in Zaichenko (93km south of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites

Government-controlled areas

16 January

An SMM mid-range UAV spotted:

  • 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and a surface-to-air missile system (9K35 Strela-10) near Novoolenivka (48km north-west of Donetsk) and
  • a probable surface-to-air missile system (9K35) in Oleksandropil (43km north of Donetsk).

17 January

The SMM observed:

  • seven tanks (T-64) on a stationary flatbed train at the railway station in Bakhmut (67km north of Donetsk).

Non-government-controlled areas

17 January

Aerial imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence of:

  • 20 tanks (type undetermined) and nine self-propelled and 18 towed artillery or mortars in a training area near Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

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

Government-controlled areas

16 January

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • two armoured personnel carriers (APC) (BTR-80) in Vodiane (94km south of Donetsk);
  • an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) and an armoured recovery vehicle (BTS-4A) in Trudivske (47km south of Donetsk);
  • four armoured reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM-2) and two IFVs (BMP-1) south-west of Mykolaivka (40km south of Donetsk); and
  • an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) in Nevelske (18km north-west of Donetsk).

17 January

The SMM observed:

  • an armoured recovery vehicle (BREM-2) in Orikhove-Donetske (44km north-west of Luhansk)
  • an IFV (BMP-1) in Zolote-3/Stakhanovets (61km west of Luhansk)
  • an IFV (BMP-1) in Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk); and
  • an IFV (BMP-2) and two APCs (MT-LB) at a military compound in Zaitseve (62km north-east Donetsk)

Non-government-controlled areas

16 January

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • an IFV (BMP-1) in Pikuzy (92km south of Donetsk).

An SMM mini-UAV spotted:

  • two IFVs (one BMP-1 and one BMP-2) and an APC (BTR-70) in Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk).

SMM facilitation of repair works to civilian infrastructure

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to a water pipeline in Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk), to phenol sludge ponds near Zalizne (government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk) and to an electrical powerline near the entry-exit checkpoint in Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north-east of Donetsk). The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station.

Border area not under government control

While at a border crossing point near Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw two pedestrians entering Ukraine. After about five minutes, two members of the armed formations told the SMM to leave the area.*

Kherson court extends pre-trial detention of former editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti

In Kherson, the SMM monitored a court hearing on the extension of pre-trial detention of the former editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti Ukraine, arrested in Kyiv on 15 May 2018 on charges of high treason under Article 111.1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The court ruled that the defendant would remain in custody for pre-trial detention until 16 February 2019. (See SMM Daily 28 December 2018.)

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

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, unexploded ordnance (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 Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination 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 Voznesenivka, two members of the armed formations 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

  • On the morning of 17 January, an SMM long-range UAV temporarily lost its GPS signal, assessed as due to jamming, while flying near Kostiantynivka as well as near Chasiv Yar (government-controlled, 62km north of Donetsk) and Bakhmut.