Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 21 January 2019

This report is for the media and the general public.


  • Compared with the previous 24 hours, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk region.
  • Small-arms fire damaged a functioning school in Zolote-5/Mykhailivka.
  • The SMM recorded ceasefire violations and continued to observe an armoured combat vehicle and anti-aircraft guns inside the Zolote disengagement area.
  • The Mission saw weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • Restrictions of the SMM’s access continued in all three disengagement areas. The SMM was also restricted at a permanent storage site in a non-government-controlled area of Donetsk region and near a border crossing point in a non-government-controlled area of Luhansk region.*
  • The SMM observed a gathering related to LGBTI rights.

Ceasefire violations

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 110 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours (25 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations, including the majority of explosions, were recorded in areas south-west and west of Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk) and in areas south-east of Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk).

In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including two explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours (one explosion). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas west of Holubivske (non-government-controlled, 51km west of Luhansk).

Small-arms fire damaged school in Zolote-5/Mykhailivka

Inside a functioning school building on Myru Street, in the south-western area of Zolote-5/Mykhailivka (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw a fresh hole in a first-floor west-facing window pane and a scratch to the inner pane of another adjacent west-facing window. The SMM also saw minor damage (a chip) to the wall opposite the two windows. The SMM assessed the damage as caused by a small-arms round (7.62mm). (The SMM assessed that the round had penetrated the first window pane, ricocheted on the opposite wall and then either the round or shrapnel from the wall chipped the inside of the second window pane.) A school representative told the SMM that the school had sustained damage on 17 January around 06:00, but no children were present inside the building at that time. She added that the school had been damaged by gunfire three times since 25 December 2018 (see SMM Daily Report 8 January 2019).

Disengagement areas

On the evening of 20 January, the SMM camera in Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) recorded an undetermined explosion at an assessed range of 1.5-3km south-south-east (assessed as inside the disengagement area).

On 20 January, inside the Zolote disengagement area, an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) again spotted two anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23, 23mm) (both assessed as belonging to the armed formations). The same UAV spotted again an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) about 30m east of the road bridge, assessed as inside the disengagement area and belonging to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

During the night of 20-21 January, while on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM heard six bursts of small-arms fire 2km south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

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

20 January

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • a surface-to-air missile system (9K35 Strela-10) near Troitske (69km west of Luhansk).

21 January

The SMM saw:

  • 12 multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) at the railway station in Kostiantynivka (60km north of Donetsk) and
  • three anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira) at the railway station in Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites

Government-controlled areas

20 January

An SMM mid-range UAV spotted:

  • a surface-to-air missile system (9K35) in a residential area of Oleksandropil (43km north of Donetsk) and
  • eight tanks (T-72) and a surface-to-air missile system (9K35) near Yablunivka (49km north of Donetsk).

21 January

The SMM saw:

  • 28 tanks (27 T-64 and one T-72), two surface-to-air missile systems (9K35) and two self-propelled anti-aircraft systems (2K22 Tunguska) at the railway station in Bakhmut and
  • four self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) in Zachativka (74km south-west of Donetsk).

An SMM mini-UAV spotted:

  • four towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) in Azovske (121km south of Donetsk).

Weapons that the SMM could not verify as withdrawn:

At a heavy weapons holding area beyond the respective withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk region 18 January

The SMM observed that:

  • seven self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) were again missing.

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

Government-controlled areas:

20 January

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • an armoured combat vehicle (ACV) (type undetermined) near Troitske;
  • an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BTR variant) near Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk);
  • an APC (MT-LB) near Zolote-4/Rodina (60km west of Luhansk);
  • an IFV (BMP-2) and a probable IFV (BMP-2) near Novotoshkivske (53km west of Luhansk);
  • an APC (MT-LB) near Krymske (42km north-west of Luhansk);
  • an IFV (BMP-1) and an APC (MT-LB) near Lopaskyne (23km north-west of Luhansk);
  • two IFVs (BMP variants) and an ACV (type undetermined) near Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk);
  • an ACV (type undetermined) near Taramchuk (29km south-west of Donetsk); and
  • two IFVs (BMP-1 and BMP-2) near Slavne (26km south-west of Donetsk).

21 January

The SMM saw:

  • an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) in Zolote-1/Soniachnyi (60km west of Luhansk) and
  • an APC (BTR-70) near Novobakhmutivka (28km north of Donetsk).

Non-government-controlled areas:

21 January

The SMM saw:

  • an APC (BTR-70) and an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) in Luhansk city.

Man died of heart attack at the entry-exit checkpoint at Stanytsia Luhanska

On 21 January, a representative of an international organization present near the entry-exit checkpoint north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk) told the SMM that at around 08:00, a man (aged 73) had been walking towards non-government-controlled areas when he had suffered a heart attack and passed away. Medical staff at a hospital in Stanytsia Luhanska confirmed that the body of the man had been brought to the hospital’s morgue the same day.

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), Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk) and near Horlivka, as well as to a powerline near the entry-exit checkpoint near 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 areas not under government control

While at a border crossing point near Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk) for about an hour, the SMM saw 12 pedestrians (nine females and three males, aged 20-25) entering Ukraine and 12 pedestrians (nine females and three males, aged 30-65) exiting Ukraine. At a border crossing point near Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw seven pedestrians (five females and two males, aged 20-45) entering Ukraine. After about 35 minutes, a member of the armed formations told the SMM to leave the area.*

While at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about 40 minutes, the SMM saw four covered cargo trucks (one with Ukrainian licence plates and three with “DPR” plates) and 17 cars (four with Ukrainian and three with Georgian licence plates, as well as ten with “DPR” plates) exiting Ukraine.

SMM observed a gathering related to LGBTI rights

On 19 January, the SMM saw a group of about 40 young people (mixed genders) gathered at a commemoration event at Mykhailivska Square in Kyiv. The SMM observed that the participants were also expressing their support to LGBTI rights. The SMM saw another group of 50 young men gathered nearby, some of whom were making critical remarks against participants in the other group. There were about 200 law enforcement officers in riot gear onsite. The SMM saw the participants of the former group being escorted away from the site by the law enforcement officers. It did not observe further incidents.

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, 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 (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 Sievernyi, a member of the armed formations told the SMM to leave the area.
  • At a permanent storage site in a non-government-controlled area of Donetsk region, the SMM found the gates of the compound locked and was told over the phone that no one was present at that moment to allow the SMM inside.

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.