Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 9 March 2017
This report is for the media and the general public.
The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. Most of the explosions were recorded around Svitlodarsk and Horlivka. The Mission corroborated reports of civilian casualties in Pikuzy and Avdiivka. It observed damage to homes on both sides of the contact line in Luhanske, Verkhnotoretske, Pikuzy, Donetskyi and Yasynuvata (where it also observed tracks consistent with a tank). It continued to monitor the disengagement areas but its access remained restricted.* The SMM observed weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line. On two separate occasions, interlocutors dealing with public matters in areas not controlled by the Government refused to speak with the SMM, citing the need for written permission from senior “LPR” members. In Lviv region a local city council member spoke with the SMM about work to conserve historical Jewish sites.
In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 680 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period. About three quarters of the explosions were recorded near Svitlodarsk and Horlivka.
While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 8 March, the SMM heard 271 undetermined explosions and saw 240 tracer rounds, all 8-12km south-west.
While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening and night of 8-9 March, the SMM heard about 180 explosions: 50 assessed as outgoing 122mm artillery rounds, 35 assessed as outgoing 82mm mortar rounds, 54 assessed as impacts of mortar rounds (34 assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar rounds, 20 as impacts of mortar rounds of undetermined calibre), 40 assessed as the impacts of recoilless gun (SPG-9,73mm) and automatic-grenade-launcher rounds, four undetermined explosions, and about 850 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and anti-aircraft-gun fire (ZU-23, 23mm), all at points ranging from 2-7km east-south-east to south-west. In the afternoon and evening of 9 March the Mission heard 20 explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds and ten assessed as outgoing mortar rounds 4-7km south-east and 34 undetermined explosions 5-7km south-east and 4km south.
While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre on the night of 8-9 March the SMM heard 125 undetermined explosions 8-10km north-north-west.
Positioned in government-controlled Kamianka (20km north of Donetsk) for about four and a half hours on 9 March, the SMM heard six explosions assessed as impacts of 82 and 120mm mortar rounds and three undetermined explosions ranging from 5-7km south to south-south-west, followed by two explosions assessed as impacts of 122 and 152mm artillery rounds 5km south-south-east and south, and one explosion assessed as an outgoing 122mm artillery round 5km south-south-west.
During the evening and night of 8-9 March the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in addition to intermittent tracer rounds in flight from east to west and west to east, in sequence, two rocket-assisted projectiles in flight from west to east and five undetermined explosions, all at unknown distances north.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violation, including 30 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period. Nearly all of the explosions were recorded in western parts of Luhansk region.
On the morning of 9 March, positioned in a government-controlled part of Zolote (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 22 explosions assessed as impacts of artillery rounds 5-8km south. Positioned in government-controlled Komyshuvakha (68km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard eight explosions assessed as 120mm mortar rounds 8-10km east-south-east.
The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties and damage caused by shelling. In government-controlled Pokrovsk (formerly Krasnoarmiisk, 55km north-west of Donetsk) the SMM spoke with a man (36 years old) who had a bandage on the back of his head. He said that he had sustained a shrapnel injury to his head near his home in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk). Medical personnel at a hospital in Avdiivka told the SMM that the man had been treated for an injury before being transferred to a hospital in Pokrovsk.
In “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol) the SMM spoke with medical personnel at a hospital who said that a man (20 years old) had been treated for a shrapnel injury to his back on 6 March following shelling in “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol). Residents in Pikuzy had informed the Mission about the man’s injury on 8 March.
In “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed a hole caused by a direct impact from a projectile on the southern side of the roof of a house at 4 Kastanova Street. The Mission assessed that the projectile had not exploded and noted that three windows of the house were shattered. Inside the house the SMM observed a hole in the ceiling and cracks in the southern exterior wall of the house. The Mission assessed that the projectile was fired from a west-north-westerly direction. The owner of the house (an elderly woman) told the SMM that the shelling had occurred in the afternoon on 8 March. The Mission observed tracks from a military vehicle consistent with a T-64 tank along Kastanova Street, about 300m from the damaged house. The SMM, as previously arranged, met a Russian officer of the Joint Centre for Co-ordination and Control (JCCC) near the impact site. A media team from a Russian Federation television channel was present when the Mission arrived.
In “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy the SMM observed several bullet impacts on the north-north-western side of a house at 1 Kirova Street assessed as caused by heavy-machine-gun fire. The owner (female) said that the damage had occurred at about 16:00 on 8 March.
On 8 March in “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (49km west of Luhansk), the Mission observed a hole in the north-west-north facing side of the roof of a house and noted that a wooden plank on the fence of the same side of the house had been knocked off. The SMM assessed the damage to be fresh and caused by infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire from a north-westerly direction. An “LPR” member told the SMM that the damage had been caused on the evening of 7 March.
In government-controlled Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed three fresh impact sites at 102 Kalynove Street, all assessed as caused by 82mm mortar rounds fired from a southerly direction. One of the rounds had impacted on the roof of a house, partly destroying it; a second had left a hole in the south-east facing wall of that house and a third had impacted in the yard. The SMM was accompanied by a Ukrainian officer of the JCCC.
In government-controlled Verkhnotoretske (23km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed a fresh crater in the yard of a house at 39 Kolhospna Street. The Mission observed that windows had been shattered and noted a destroyed water well, broken windows and shrapnel damage to the roofs of two neighbouring houses. The SMM assessed that the damage was caused by a round fired from an east-south-easterly direction. In an open field about 200m away the SMM observed five fresh craters between two farm buildings. The head of the Village Council said that the shelling had taken place on the evening of 8 March and had damaged two power lines, leaving the village without electricity. Two workers from an electrical company confirmed that the village was without electricity.
The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas of Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk), as foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*
The SMM noted a calm situation within the disengagement areas while present in and around all three areas.
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures, its Addendum, and the Memorandum.
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw three towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) and four self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near government-controlled Aslanove (16km north of Mariupol). In areas not controlled by the Government the Mission observed a tank or a self-propelled mortar (2S9 Nona-S, 120mm) in “LPR”-controlled Stare (formerly Chervonyi Prapor, 58km west of Luhansk). Aerial imagery revealed the presence of two tanks in violation of withdrawal lines near “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk).
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, aerial imagery revealed the presence of seven tanks near “LPR”-controlled Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk).
In areas controlled by the Government beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed three self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) near Zolotyi Kolodiaz (72km north-west of Donetsk) and an SMM mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted 15 tanks (assessed as T-64) near government-controlled Soledar (79km north of Donetsk).
The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage does not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification. In government-controlled areas beyond respective withdrawal lines the SMM observed that 24 self-propelled howitzers (2S19 Msta-S, 152mm) and six mortars (M120-15, 120mm) were present and noted that 12 towed howitzers (D-20, 152mm), 18 self-propelled howitzers (2S3), six anti-tank guns (D-48, 85mm), and six mortars (2B11 Sani, 120mm) were missing.
In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the withdrawal lines, the SMM saw eight towed howitzers (six 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm and two D-30) and noted that two self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) were missing. Three of the anti-tank guns were noted as missing for the first time.
The SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces weapons permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines and saw that 14 mortars (2B11) and 13 tanks (T-64) were missing. Three of the tanks were noted as missing for the first time.
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft guns in the security zone. In areas controlled by the Government the SMM saw three IFVs (BMP-1), two armoured personnel carriers (APC; BTR-60) and one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) near Luhanske and three IFVs (BMP-1) near Stanytsia Luhanska. An SMM mini UAV spotted three IFVs (assessed as BMP-2s) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk).
In areas not controlled by the Government the Mission observed one IFV (BMP-1) near Styla (34km south of Donetsk), one APC (BTR-60) in Luhansk city, and one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Molodizhne (63km north-west of Luhansk). On 8 March the SMM observed tracks consistent with an IFV (BMP-2) visible on an asphalt road near Sentianivka (formerly Frunze, 44km west of Luhansk).
Aerial imagery revealed the presence of six armoured vehicles near government-controlled Lopaskyne (23km north-west of Luhansk) and two armoured vehicles near “DPR”-controlled Makiivka on 9 March.
The SMM continued to monitor the blockade of railway routes that lead across the contact line. At railway crossings near the government-controlled towns of Hirske (63km west of Luhansk), Shcherbynivka (44km north of Donetsk) and Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk), the SMM continued to observe activists present at the blockade sites.
In Lviv city, on 7 March, the head of a Jewish cultural organization told the SMM that his organization and local authorities in Lviv and Staryi Sambir had agreed to establish a working group on the conservation of historical Jewish sites. On 9 March, a representative of the Staryi Sambir (86km south-west of Lviv) city council told the Mission that a synagogue in the town would be renovated and would also serve as a museum of Judaism.
The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, 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 the JCCC should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance.
Denial of access:
- At the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, a Ukrainian officer of the JCCC told the SMM that its safety could not be guaranteed in the areas surrounding the main road due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- At an "LPR" checkpoint at the edge of the Zolote disengagement area, armed men told the SMM that its safety could not be guaranteed in the fields and side roads due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM could not travel south of the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) as Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel stopped the SMM on the road between Popasna and government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) and told the Mission that it could not proceed without authorization from senior Ukrainian Armed Forces authorities. On the road ahead the SMM observed anti-tank barriers ("Czech hedgehogs") and mine warning signs. The JCCC was informed.
- The SMM was unable to travel west from "DPR"-controlled Petrivske due to a lack of security guarantees and the possible presence of mines and UXO. The Mission informed the JCCC.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel did not allow the SMM to enter a military compound near Aslanove, citing orders not to allow the Mission to enter. The Mission informed the JCCC.
- Two armed men stopped the SMM from proceeding on a road north-east of Yuzhna-Lomuvatka (60km west of Luhansk). The SMM observed the men allowing civilian vehicles to cross in both directions. The Mission informed the JCCC.
In "LPR"-controlled Buran (formerly Enhelsove, 37km south-east of Luhansk) local "LPR" members involved in public affairs told the SMM that they could only speak with the SMM with written permission from senior "LPR" members.
In "LPR"-controlled Dovzhansk (formerly Sverdlovsk, 60km south-east of Luhansk) a representative of an "LPR"-affiliated newspaper told the SMM that she could only speak with the Mission with written permission from senior "LPR" members.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate”.
 Despite the joint statement of 1 February by the Trilateral Contact Group and the consent reached on 15 February, the sides have not yet provided the baseline information requested by the SMM related to weapons to be withdrawn and locations of units and formations.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.