Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 17 February 2019
This report is for the media and the general public.
- Compared with the previous reporting period, between the evenings of 15 and 16 February, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk regions.
- Compared with the previous 24 hours, between the evenings of 16 and 17 February, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region.
- The SMM saw gunfire damage to residential properties in Yasynuvata and a destroyed house in Novoluhanske.
- It saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas of Luhansk region.
- The Mission recorded ceasefire violations inside and near the Zolote disengagement area, and military hardware and personnel inside the Petrivske disengagement area.
- It heard small-arms fire assessed as aimed at an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle near non-government-controlled Zhovte, Luhansk region.
- The SMM saw an aircraft flying over non-government-controlled areas in the security zone.
- It facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to essential civilian infrastructure.
- Restrictions of the Mission’s access continued in all three disengagement areas. It was also restricted near Zaichenko and near Izvaryne, an area close to the border with the Russian Federation
- The Mission continued to observe hardship faced by civilians at checkpoints.
- The SMM observed a public gathering against parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church changing affiliation in Storozhynets, Chernivtsi region.
- It observed public gatherings in Kyiv, including commemorations of recent events in eastern Ukraine.
In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 15 and 16 February, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 190 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 160 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded at south-easterly directions of Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol); at south-easterly, south-westerly and north-easterly directions of Svitlodarsk; and at southerly directions of the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk).
Between the evenings of 16 and 17 February, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 110 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours. The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded at south-easterly directions of Chermalyk, near Lebedynske (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Mariupol) and at southerly directions of the DFS.
In Luhansk region, between the evenings of 15 and 16 February, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 130 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (210 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas east-south-east, south-south-east and north-west of Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk) and inside the disengagement area near Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk).
Between the evenings of 16 and 17 February, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 200 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours. The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas north-east and west of Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, non-government-controlled, 50km west of Luhansk), west-south-west of Molodizhne (non-government-controlled, 63km north-west of Luhansk), as well as east-south-east and south of Popasna.
Fresh gunfire damage in residential areas of Yasynuvata
On 16 February, in a residential area in north-western Yasynuvata (non-government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM, accompanied by two members of the armed formations, saw a fresh impact (6cm hole) in the west-facing wall of a single storey house at 18/3 Hoholia Street. The owner (woman, 60-70 years old) told the SMM that she had heard an impact on 15 February at about 14:00 while she had been inside the house with two other people, including her son who was at the door near to the impact. The SMM assessed that the above damage was caused by projectiles from a probable infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP variant) fired from a westerly direction. At 45 Hoholia Street, the SMM saw repairs (two 30-40cm patches of fresh roofing) on the west and east-facing sides on the roof of a single storey house. The owner (woman, 40-50 years old) told the SMM that she and two other adults were inside the house when she had heard an impact to the roof at about 14:20 on 15 February. Due to the repairs, the SMM could not assess the cause of the damage.
About 200m south-east of 45 Hoholia Street, at 29 Ivana Franka Street, the SMM saw a fresh impact (15-20cm hole) in the lower part of a west-south-west facing fence, 3-4m from a currently uninhabited two-storey house, assessed as caused by a projectile from an IFV (BMP-1) fired from a westerly direction. The SMM also saw a west-south-west facing window with partially broken glass on the second storey of the house, assessed as likely caused by shrapnel from the above-mentioned projectile.
Destroyed residential building in Novoluhanske
On 15 February, in a residential area of south-eastern Novoluhanske (government-controlled, 53km north-east of Donetsk), an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted a residential building in rubble, with the walls assessed as blown outwards in all directions. A broken triangular-shaped overhang was observed on the north-west corner of the roof of an adjacent non-residential building (damage to both buildings was not visible in imagery from 3 November 2018). The SMM could not assess the cause of the above-mentioned damage.
Small-arms fire assessed as aimed at an SMM mini-UAV near Zhovte
On 17 February, while stationary about 6km south-west of Zhovte (non-government-controlled, 17km north-west of Luhansk), conducting a mini-UAV flight, the SMM heard two bursts and one shot of small-arms fire at an assessed distance of 1.3km west-north-west of its position, assessed as aimed at the UAV. The SMM UAV received minor damage from the emergency landing and the patrol retrieved it and left the area immediately.
Aircraft seen flying in the security zone over non-government-controlled areas
At 10:00 on 15 February, while positioned in the south-western outskirts of Starobesheve (non-government-controlled, 32km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw a flying object south-east of its location flying from south-west to north-east. Based on hand-held imagery, the SMM assessed it as a swept wing four-engine turbo-prop aircraft (likely a Tupolev TU-95 or Tupolev TU-142). From 10:50-11:10, positioned in an area north-west of Liubivka (formerly Leninske, non-government-controlled, 43km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw an aircraft (likely a Tupolev TU-95 or Tupolev TU-142) east of its location flying from north to south and back again.
On the evening of 15 February, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded 11 projectiles in flight (from north-east to south-west) at an assessed range of 2-4km south-east, assessed as inside the Zolote disengagement area. During the day on 16 February, positioned near the checkpoint of the armed formations on the southern edge of the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM heard 40 bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 2-3km west-north-west, assessed as inside the disengagement area.
On the evening of 16 February, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded a projectile in flight from east to west at an assessed range of 4-5km south-south-east, assessed as inside the Zolote disengagement area. During the day on 17 February, the same camera recorded an undetermined explosion at an assessed range of 2-4km east, assessed as outside the disengagement area.
During the day on 17 February, positioned on the western edge of Zolote-2/Karbonit (government-controlled, 62km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 2-4km south-south-west, assessed as outside the Zolote disengagement area.
The same day, positioned on the southern edge of Zolote-5/Mykhailivka (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 3-4km west-south-west, assessed as outside the Zolote disengagement area.
On 15 February, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an armoured combat vehicle (type undetermined) inside the disengagement area near Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk) about 1km north of its southern edge and about 2km east of its western edge. Also inside the disengagement area the same UAV spotted three people, assessed as soldiers, close to defensive positions and flags of the Ukrainian Armed Forces; one in the north-central part and one in the north-western part of the disengagement area.
During the day on 16 and 17 February, positioned inside the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk), and north of the disengagement area near Petrivske, 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.
Weapons in violation of withdrawal lines:
The SMM saw:
- nine self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) and
- three multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) near Verkhnobohdanivka (54km north of Luhansk).
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites:
An SMM long-range UAV spotted:
- five tanks (T-72) near Druzhne (63km south of Donetsk).
Weapons that the SMM could not verify as withdrawn:
At heavy weapons holding areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas of Luhansk region
The SMM observed that 40 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), 18 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) and 20 MLRS (BM-21) remained missing.
Indications of military and military-type presence in the security zone
An SMM mid-range UAV spotted:
- two armoured personnel carriers (APC) (BTR-80) south-east of Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol).
An SMM long-range UAV spotted:
- a probable IFV (BMP-1 or BMP-2) in Ocheretyne (31km north-west of Donetsk) and
- an APC (MT-LB S) ambulance, an armoured combat vehicle (type undetermined) and an IFV (BMP-1 or BMP-2) near Starohnativka (51km south of Donetsk).
The SMM saw:
- an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM variant) in Karlivka (25km north-west of Donetsk)
Presence of mines
On 15 February, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted at least seven anti-tank mines (TM-62) laid out across road M-14 near Shyrokyne (government-controlled, 20km east of Mariupol), as well as 12 anti-tank mines (TM-62) laid out on the same road south of Sakhanka, and west of Bezimenne (non-government-controlled, 30km east of Mariupol).
Hardship for civilians at entry-exit checkpoints
Between 8:30-9:30 on 16 February, at the checkpoint of the armed formations near Kreminets (non-government-controlled, 16km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw over 100 vehicles queuing to travel towards government-controlled areas, but only one processing booth for vehicles being open. A group of five men (40-70 years old) and one woman (30-40 years old) told the SMM that they had started queuing between 02:00 and 04:00 that morning.
On the same day, at the entry-exit checkpoint north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, medical staff at an emergency shelter of an international organization told the SMM that 35-40 people had been treated that day, mostly for high/low blood pressure and fainting while in the queue. At the checkpoint of the armed formations south of the bridge, a woman (50 years old) told the SMM that she travels once a month with her parents (both about 80 years old), with her father confined to a wheelchair, to collect their pensions.
SMM facilitation of repair works to civilian infrastructure
On 16 February, the SMM monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable inspection and repair works of water transmission lines for the Petrivske water pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) and monitored the overall security situation in the area of the pumping station in Vasylivka (non-government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk). On 16 and 17 February, the Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the DFS.
Border areas outside of government control
On 17 February, while at a border crossing point near Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk) for about 25 minutes, the SMM saw eight pedestrians exiting Ukraine and two pedestrians entering Ukraine.
While at a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw 14 covered cargo trucks (eight with Ukrainian licence plates and six with “LPR” plates) and 22 cars (13 with Ukrainian and five with Russian Federation licence plates, and four with “LPR” plates) exiting Ukraine. During the same time, the SMM saw four vehicles (two with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates and one with “LPR” plates), a covered cargo truck (with Ukrainian licence plates), a bus with Ukrainian licence plates and eight pedestrians (five women and three men, 35-50 years old) entering Ukraine. After seven minutes, a member of the armed formations told the SMM to leave the area.*
While at a pedestrian border crossing point near Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk) for about 30 minutes, the SMM saw six pedestrians exiting Ukraine and four pedestrians entering Ukraine.
While at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about an hour and 15 minutes, the SMM saw 29 cars (six with Ukrainian, five with Russian Federation and four with Lithuanian licence plates, and 14 with “DPR” plates), eight pedestrians, two covered cargo trucks (one with Belarus licence plates and one with “DPR” plates), two tanker trucks (one with Russian Federation licence plates and one with “DPR” plates) and one bus with “DPR” plates entering Ukraine. During the same time, the SMM saw 31 cars (five with Ukrainian, 11 with Russian Federation, three with Georgian and one with Lithuanian licence plates, and 11 with “DPR” plates), 32 covered cargo trucks (20 with Ukrainian licence plates and 12 with “DPR” plates), a tanker truck with “DPR” plates and two buses with “DPR” plates exiting Ukraine.
Public gathering against Ukrainian Orthodox Church parishes changing affiliation
In Storozhynets (22km south-west of Chernivtsi), the SMM observed a gathering and prayer service of up to 600 people (20-60 years old, 60 per cent men and 40 per cent women), including 20 priests, in front of the Saint George Ukrainian Orthodox Church and in the central square of Storozhynets in front of the District State Administration building. Some participants held banners against the change of church affiliation to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The SMM saw about 50 police officers present and a calm situation (for similar observations in Chernivtsi see SMM Daily Report 8 February 2019).
Public gatherings in Kyiv
On 16 February, the SMM saw about 1,000 young people (65 per cent men and 35 per cent women) in Independence Square gathered for a march organized by Sokil, the youth wing of the Svoboda political party to mark its 125th anniversary of the organization. Most participants carried torches and some held Sokil flags. The SMM saw participants march from the square to Svyatoshin District Court of Kyiv at 142 Zhylianska Street, where some gave speeches and others held pictures of former members of Sokil deceased in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014 (mostly young men). The SMM saw about 44 dialogue police officers and six police officers present. No incidents were observed.
On 16 and 17 February, the SMM observed two gatherings in Kyiv commemorating battles in eastern Ukraine in 2015. On 16 February, the SMM saw 130 boys and men (16-60 years old) at Sofiyivska Square, commemorating 2015 events in Shyrokyne and other areas near Mariupol. Some participants wore military-style clothing with Natsionalny Druzhyny and Azov insignia and chanted “Azov” and “Glory to Ukraine”. The SMM saw five police officers present. The next day, the SMM saw about 90 people (30-50 years old, 95 per cent men) marching from Kyiv City Hall at 36 Kreshchatyk Street to Sofiyivska Square, in commemoration of Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers who had been killed and wounded in Debaltseve in February 2015. About half the participants wore military-style clothing, and some held banners and flags, including Ukrainian and red-and-black flags. The SMM saw two police officers accompanying the march. No incidents were observed at both gatherings.
The Mission continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv and Dnipro.