Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 18 January 2019

This report is for the media and the general public.

Summary

  • Compared with the previous reporting period, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The SMM recorded ceasefire violations inside the Zolote disengagement area.
  • The Mission saw weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line.
  • The Mission saw the body of a deceased man near the entry-exit checkpoint at Stanytsia Luhanska.
  • Restrictions of the SMM’s access continued in all three disengagement areas and elsewhere.
  • The SMM followed up on reports of a confrontation at a church in Zhytomyr region.

Ceasefire violations

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including, however, fewer explosions (about 100), compared with the previous reporting period (about 145 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations, including the majority of explosions, were recorded in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area as well as in areas south-west and north-west of Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk).

In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded more ceasefire violations, including three explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (no explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas west of Trokhizbenka (government-controlled, 32km north-west of Luhansk).

Disengagement areas

On the evening of 17 January, the SMM camera in Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) recorded two projectiles in flight at an assessed range of 3-4km south-east (assessed as inside the disengagement area) and two projectiles at an assessed range of 4-5km east-south-east (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 18 January, positioned close to the disengament areas near Zolote and 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.

In violation of the withdrawal lines

Government-controlled areas

17 January

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

  • six multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) at a railway station in Kostiantynivka (60km north of Donetsk); and
  • three self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) within a residential area of Vidrodzhennia (66km north-east of Donetsk).

18 January

The SMM saw:

  • two self-propelled howitzers (2S1) on road M03 near Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk), heading south-east.

Non-government-controlled areas

17 January

An SMM mini-UAV spotted:

  • three tanks (T-72) about 1km west of Kalynove-Borshchuvate (61km west of Luhansk).

An SMM mid-range UAV spotted:

  • two anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) at a compound in Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites

Government-controlled areas

17 January

An SMM mid-range UAV spotted:

  • seven tanks (T-64) and one surface-to-air missile system (9K35 Strela-10) at a railway station in Bakhmut; and
  • ten tanks (T-64) at a military compound on the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut.

Weapons storage sites:

At heavy weapons holding areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk region

18 January

The SMM observed that:

  • six towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) were present and
  • four MLRS (BM-21) and two towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) were again missing.

At a permanent storage site beyond the respective withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk region

18 January

The SMM observed that:

  • 13 tanks (nine T-72 and four T-64) were again missing.

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

Government-controlled areas

17 January

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • 16 infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (eight BMP-2 and eight BTR-3E), four armoured personnel carriers (APC) (MT-LB) and four anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23, 23mm), as well as two armoured ambulances (an MT-LB S and a BMM-4S) on the north-western edge of Zaitseve (62km north-east of Donetsk);
  • two IFVs (BMP-2) and an IFV (BMP variant) loaded on a heavy-equipment transport truck south-west of Klynove (68km north-east of Donetsk);
  • an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Vershyna (63km north-east of Donetsk);
  • an IFV (BMP-2) near Myronivka (64km north-east of Donetsk); and
  • an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) near Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk).

18 January

The SMM saw:

  • four IFVs (three BMP-2 and one BMP-1) near Zaitseve.

Non-government-controlled areas

17 January

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • an IFV (BMP-2) and an APC (BTR-80) near Novohryhorivka (61km north-east of Donetsk) and
  • two APCs (MT-LB) and an IFV (BMP-1) in Debaltseve.

Positioned about 2km south-east of Kamianka (government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk), the SMM saw a mini-UAV flying south to north at an altitude at about 20m and approximately 50-100m north of its position.

Mine hazard signs in Druzhne

The SMM saw for the first time two mine hazard signs in a field about 2km south of Druzhne (non-government-controlled, 37km south-east of Luhansk), one of which was a white board with “Mines” written on it in Russian (the second sign was not visible).

Body of a deceased man observed near the entry-exit checkpoint at Stanytsia Luhanska

About 50m north of the Ukrainian Armed Forces forward position north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw the body of a deceased man (aged 70-80) lying on the asphalt. The SMM saw two police officers and the deceased man’s two daughters standing next to the body. The daughters told the SMM that their father had been walking towards non-government-controlled areas when he had likely suffered a heart attack and passed away.

SMM facilitation of repair works to civilian infrastructure

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to water pipelines in Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) and to a 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 (15km north of Donetsk).

Border area not under government control

On 17 January, while at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about 45 minutes, the SMM saw 64 covered cargo trucks with trailers (40 with Ukrainian, four with Russian Federation, six with Belarusian, one with Azerbaijani and one with Lithuanian licence plates, as well as 12 with “DPR” plates), and five trucks with liquid-tanks (with markings indicating the transport of gas) with “DPR” plates exiting Ukraine. The SMM also saw a truck (licence plate unreadable), 15 cars (seven with Russian Federation and one with Georgian licence plates as well as seven with “DPR” plates) and 20 pedestrians (mixed ages and genders) entering Ukraine.

On 18 January, while at a border crossing point near Uspenka for about an hour, the SMM saw 52 cars (ten with Ukrainian and 11 with Russian Federation licence plates as well as 31 with “DPR” plates) entering Ukraine. The SMM saw a bus (with destination signs “Donetsk-Moscow”) with Russian Federation licence plates and 81 covered cargo trucks (46 with Ukrainian, 14 with Russian Federation and two with Belarusian licence plates, as well as 19 with “DPR” plates) in a queue to exit Ukraine.

SMM followed up on reports of a confrontation at a church in Zhytomyr region

On 15 January, in Malyn (Zhytomry region, 94km north-west of Kyiv), a man who introduced himself as a member of the Svoboda party told the SMM that, on 11 January, he had helped organize a vote among residents of the nearby village of Vorsivka to change its community’s affiliation from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine; he added that everyone (about 60 people) had voted in favour. He also said that, on 13 January, in Vorsivka, together with some of his friends from Malyn, including ATO veterans, and other residents of Vorsivka, he had prevented representatives of the UOC from entering St. Nicholas Church. On 15 January, a UOC priest told the SMM that, after the vote to change the community’s affiliation (see above), representatives of the Vorsivka village council had sealed St. Nicholas Church and had forbidden UOC priests to enter its premises. He also said that, on 13 January, a cordon of about 15-20 men (aged 30-50) wearing uniforms with symbols of former “volunteer battalions” prevented him and a group of some 25 parishioners from accessing the yard of the church. The Svoboda party representative and the UOC priest separately told the SMM that the two groups had engaged in a verbal confrontation in the church’s yard, but police officers present on the scene had prevented it from escalating.

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