Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 12 March 2017
This report is for the media and the general public.
In Donetsk region the SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations between the evenings of 10 and 11 March compared with the previous reporting period, and fewer on 12 March. In Luhansk region the Mission recorded fewer such violations between the evenings of 10 and 11 March compared with the previous period, and fewer on 12 March. The Mission observed damage from shelling on both sides of the contact line, including new impact sites at a building in Avdiivka housing an SMM camera. The Mission monitored the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Petrivske and Zolote but its access remained restricted.* The SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded ceasefire violations inside the disengagement area on 9 and 10 March. The Mission saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line. The SMM continued to monitor the situation of civilians at entry-exit checkpoints. It observed no changes with regards to the blockade of routes that lead across the contact line at three locations in government-controlled areas. The Mission visited one border area currently not under government control in Verkhnoharasymivka.
In Donetsk region the SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations between the evenings of 10 and 11 March as in the previous reporting period, including about 1,100 explosions (compared with about 1,260 explosions). On 12 March the SMM recorded about 320 explosions. Most of the explosions were recorded in areas around Donetsk city and Avdiivka, as well as around Horlivka and Svitlodarsk.
On the night of 10-11 March, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre the SMM heard about 350 undetermined explosions, almost all at distances 10-20km south-west. On the evening of 11 March, the Mission heard 132 undetermined explosions 8-10km north-west.
The SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded, on the night of 10-11 March, exchange of fire that continued from the previous day. Beginning with two undetermined explosions and 11 tracer rounds in flight from north-west to south-east followed immediately by ten tracer rounds from south-east to north-west, the exchange of fire continued. The camera recorded aggregated totals of 55 tracer rounds in flight (20 from north-west to south-east, 35 from south-easterly to north-westerly directions), 13 projectiles in flight (seven from south-east to north-west, two from north to south, two from north-west to south-west, two from south-west to north-east), four explosions assessed as impacts of unknown weapons and eight undetermined explosions, all 3-6km at locations ranging from east-north-east to south-south-east. During the day on 11 March, the camera recorded 29 undetermined explosions 3-4km at locations ranging from south-east to south and five explosions assessed as impacts of undetermined weapons, 5-10m east and south. These were followed in the evening by, in sequence, 15 tracer rounds from north-west to south-east, two undetermined explosions, two projectiles from west to east and five tracer rounds from east to west, all 4-6km south-south-east and east.
Positioned in Avdiivka for about five hours on 11 March, the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions 2-4km south-east and south. Positioned in government-controlled Kamianka (20km north of Donetsk) for four hours, the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions 5-10km south and south-west.
While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), on the evening of 10 March and early morning of 11 March, the SMM heard 57 undetermined explosions 5-20km south-west, and heard and saw 33 airbursts 8-15km at locations ranging from south-west to north-north-west. On the following evening, the SMM heard 131 undetermined explosions 10-15km south-west, and heard and saw five airbursts 9-11km north-north-west.
On the evening of 10 March, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 59 explosions of which 17 were assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar rounds, five of mortar rounds (calibre unknown), nine as outgoing fire from infantry-fighting-vehicle (IFV, BMP-1) cannon (73mm), ten as outgoing 82mm mortar fire, and 18 were undetermined, all 2-5km south-east and south-south-east.
During the evening of 10 March the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded four undetermined explosions, followed by two rocket-assisted projectiles and six tracer rounds from south to north, all at unknown distances north and north-east. In addition, the camera recorded another exchange including a total of 14 tracer rounds (five from east to west, seven from south-west to north-east and two from south to north) and one undetermined explosion at unknown distances north and north-east.
On the night of 11-12 March the same camera recorded, beginning with 65 undetermined explosions and 15 tracer rounds from south-east to north-west, at unknown distances north-east, an exchange of fire including, in total, 20 rocket-assisted projectiles in flight (19 from south-west to north-east and one from south-east to north-west), 147 tracer rounds (142 from south-east to north-west, three from south to north, and two from south-west to north-east), and 37 undetermined explosions, all at undetermined distances north-east.
While in Svitlodarsk, on the night of 11-12 March the Mission heard 159 undetermined explosions and about 350 shots of automatic-grenade-launcher fire 3-5km south-east. The following day the SMM heard about 160 undetermined explosions at locations ranging between 3 and 5km east-south-east to north-west.
On 12 March, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions 2-5km west and south-west. On 12 March, positioned in Avdiivka, the Mission heard 52 undetermined explosions and one explosion assessed as an impact of fire from an undetermined weapon 2-4km south-east and south. On 12 March, positioned at the Donetsk central railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 6km north-west of the city centre), the SMM heard 88 undetermined explosions at locations ranging between 3 and 5km north-west to north-east.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations between the evenings of 10 and 11 March, including 77 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (420 explosions) and 17 explosions on 12 March.
In the evening of 10 March, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (50km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 17 explosions assessed as impacts of artillery rounds (two 2-5km south-west and west, six 2-3km south-east and south-south-east, and nine 10-22km south-south-west and west); 25 assessed as outgoing fire from multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS, BM-21 Grad, 122mm) 10-12km south-west; three assessed as impacts of MLRS (BM-21) rockets 20-22km west, and nine assessed as outgoing fire from other artillery (two 500m west, six 5-12km south-west, one 20-22km west).
On 10 March the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) recorded three explosions (two undetermined and one assessed as outgoing fire from recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm) 3-4km south and four projectiles from west to east, 0.5km south of the camera’s location, all assessed as outside the disengagement area.
Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city on 11 March, the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions at unknown distances north-east. Positioned in government-controlled Orikhove-Donetske (44km north-west of Luhansk) on 12 March, the SMM heard six explosions assessed as outgoing fire from IFV (BMP-1) cannon (73mm) 2-3km south-east and south.
The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure caused by shelling on both sides of the contact line. On 12 March the chief of police in government-controlled Vuhledar (48km south-west of Donetsk) told the Mission that a 12-year-old boy had been killed by an explosive device at 13 Desantnikov Street while returning from school on 11 March together with a friend. He said that the boy had found a device that, according to his 11-year old friend had looked like a cigarette lighter, and had removed the safety pin.
In “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (23km north-east of Mariupol), accompanied by Russian officers of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), the SMM followed up on impacts that it heard and felt on 10 March (See SMM Spot Report 11 March 2017). The SMM assessed the two fresh craters, 50m from the westernmost house located on Akhmatova Street, on the north-west edge of the village, as having been caused by 82mm mortar rounds fired from a west-north-westerly direction.
On 11 March, in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM assessed a fresh impact site in the back yard of 8 Kalinina Street. The Mission was not able to determine the type of weapon or direction of fire as it could not go near the impact site for security reasons. The SMM saw freshly broken tree branches to the north and south of the crater, several fresh holes in the northern wall of the house and one hole in the eastern wall of an uninhabited house about 4m away. The owner of the house said that the impact had occurred at 03:15 the same day. No casualties were reported.
On 11 March, accompanied by a Russian officer of the JCCC and an armed “LPR” member, the SMM assessed impact sites in Kadiivka, allegedly caused by shelling during the previous night. On 17-20 Mayskaia Street, the SMM saw two fresh craters in the middle of a dirt road, each about 50cm wide, and assessed them as having been caused by artillery (152mm) fire from a westerly direction. Four houses, two on each side of the street were also damaged. The SMM saw holes in the western parts of the roofs of two houses and shattered west-facing windows, while the concrete west-facing side of a wall had been completely destroyed. The metal fences of two other houses had sustained minor holes, while some of the east-facing windows had been shattered. No injuries were reported. The SMM saw five electricians repairing broken electrical lines, and another team of gas company workers repairing a ruptured gas pipe.
At 22/1 and 22/2 Nasosna Street in Kadiivka, the SMM observed a fresh 3m wide crater in a garden 5m west of two houses. The west-facing walls and the roofs of both houses had small holes, while five windows were shattered. The SMM assessed the impact as caused by 152mm artillery fire from a westerly direction. No injuries were reported.
On 11 March, about 3km north of government-controlled Sartana (15km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM saw 11 craters, two to three days old, in a large open field. The SMM assessed six of the craters as caused by 120mm mortar fire from an undetermined direction and five craters as caused by MLRS (BM-21) fire from an east-north-easterly direction. The SMM saw a nearby power line that had been recently damaged.
On 11 March, following reports of firing around the Donetsk Water Filtration Station, the SMM tried to access the area between Yasynuvata and Avdiivka. However, armed “DPR” members at a checkpoint in Yasynuvata denied the SMM access, citing ongoing shelling in the area.* While at the checkpoint, the SMM was informed by the JCCC that the workers had been evacuated successfully.
On the morning of 11 March in government-controlled Vyskryva (76km west of Luhansk) residents showed the SMM a fresh impact and some fresh shrapnel remnants that they had gathered. Vegetation, houses and some electric lines in a radius of about 50m from the impact had sustained shrapnel damage. Five houses had broken south-facing windows and two south-facing doors had small holes in them. Two houses were disconnected from the power line. The SMM assessed the impact as caused by an airburst (122mm artillery) fired from a south-south-easterly direction.
On 12 March, following reports of damage to the building in Avdiivka where the SMM camera was located, the SMM observed that part of the wall below the camera had collapsed. The SMM observed fresh direct impact sites to the south-east side of the building, holes in the walls and structural damage, as well as aluminium shrapnel on the spot. The SMM assessed the damage as having been caused by a 122mm artillery round or a 125mm tank round fired from a south-easterly direction. In Avdiivka the SMM noticed power generators were running and saw that a few shops were also running on generator power. According to the JCCC, Avdiivka had been without power since the afternoon of 11 March.
In government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM saw one fresh impact site and a damaged power line about 1km west of Bohdanivka. The SMM assessed the damage as caused by an undetermined projectile fired from an undetermined distance south-east.
On 12 March in government-controlled Mykolaivka (40km south of Donetsk) a Ukrainian officer of the JCCC showed the SMM 13 fresh impact sites on the northern edge of the village. The SMM assessed them as caused by artillery rounds (at least 122mm) fired from a south-easterly direction. Eleven were in an open field, the other two at two inhabited houses, on Gagarin Street 33 and 35. The east-facing windows of the first house were broken and the chimney had fallen. A small outhouse in the backyard of the second house had been completely destroyed by a direct hit.
At a summer houses area north-west of “LPR”-controlled Mykolaivka (15km east of Luhansk), a Russian officer of the JCCC showed the SMM four fresh impact sites. Armed “LPR” members and media were present. At the first site the SMM saw a fresh hole in the roof of a garage, damage to a car inside the garage and parts of the wall that had fallen down. A man told the SMM that he had heard 20-25 explosions during the previous evening. The second impact was in a nearby field. The third impact site was in a garden 30m from the damaged garage, where the SMM observed fresh damage to outdoor furniture and to a roof over the furniture. The SMM assessed all three impacts as caused by 120mm mortar rounds fired from a north-easterly direction. The fourth impact was near an apartment building in the village where the SMM saw a broken window on a north-facing wall, and fresh damage to trees about 15m north of the building. The SMM assessed the damage as caused by a mortar round that had exploded in the air near the trees, fired from a north-easterly direction.
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.*
On 9 March, the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded a single shot of small-arms fire 0.3km south-south-east, assessed as inside the disengagement area. On 10 March, the camera recorded two undetermined explosions 0.9-1.1km south, also assessed as inside the disengagement area.
The SMM observed a calm situation in the Zolote and Petrivske disengagement areas while present in areas inside and near them.
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, in areas currently not controlled by the Government, the SMM saw three tanks (T-64) on 11 March: one near Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk) and two transported by trucks near Brianka (46km south-west of Luhansk). On 12 March the Mission saw one tank (T-64) near Lozivskyi (32km west of Luhansk). Aerial imagery revealed the presence of one probable tank on 9 March, in “LPR”-controlled Khriashchivka (22km east of Luhansk)
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas the SMM saw, on 11 March, one towed howitzer (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) 1.8km north-east of Vyskryva.
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites the SMM saw, on 11 March, ten tanks at different locations in government-controlled areas west of Luhansk, namely three (T-64) and two (T-72) in areas east of Oknyne (53km north-west of Luhansk), three (type unknown) in a field near Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk), and two (T-64) heading west near Novookhtyrka (55km north-west of Luhansk).
In areas currently not controlled by the Government the SMM saw about 20 stationary tanks near Manuilivka (65km east of Donetsk) on 11 March, and three tanks (T-64) on flatbed trucks south of Luhansk city, heading south, on 12 March.
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 saw: 18 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), and ten tanks (T-64), one of which was present for the first time. The SMM observed as missing 15 anti-tank guns (12 MT-12; three D-48, 85mm), as previously noted. Seven other such sites remained abandoned with 46 towed howitzers (21 were 2A65, Msta-B, 152mm, and 25 were 2A36) and 11 MLRS (BM-21) missing.
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft guns in the security zone. In areas currently not under the control of the Government the SMM saw: two stationary IFVs (BMP-1) near Lyman, one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) mounted on a truck near an “LPR” checkpoint south of Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), and one anti-tank gun (ZU-23) mounted on an armoured personnel carrier (APC, MT-LB) near Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), heading north-west. On 12 March, an SMM mini unmanned aerial vehicle spotted an APC (BTR-80) south of Kalynove. Aerial imagery revealed, on 9 March, the presence of one armoured vehicle in Molodizhne (63km north-west of Luhansk)
In government-controlled areas the SMM saw, on 11 March: two APCs (BTR-80 and BRDM-2) static near Komyshuvakha (68km west of Luhansk). On 12 March the SMM saw three APCs (BTR-70) – one near Nyzhnoteple (26km north of Luhansk) and one near Plotyna (28km north-east of Luhansk), both heading east, and one near Nyzhnia Vilkhova (27km north-east of Luhansk), heading south.
The SMM noted fresh tracks of armoured vehicles in Yasynuvata, Shyrokyne and “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol) where the SMM also saw about 50 empty cartridge cases of IFV (BMP-2) rounds. In “DPR”-controlled Vesele (28km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM saw tank (T-64) tracks and two empty cases of howitzer (D-30 or 2S1) ammunition.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation of civilians at entry-exit checkpoints. At the “DPR” entry-exit checkpoint near Horlivka the SMM observed about 150 vehicles and more than 100 pedestrians waiting to cross towards government-controlled areas, and about 80 vehicles waiting to cross towards non-government controlled areas. In the area between the “DPR” checkpoint and a government checkpoint in Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM noted about 60 vehicles and more than 3,000 pedestrians queuing to cross towards government-controlled areas.
At 08:20, at the “LPR” checkpoint south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM observed around 2,500 people waiting to walk towards government-controlled areas. At 10:15, the SMM estimated that the queue had increased to around 2,700 people, while 100 people were queuing to leave government-controlled areas. At 13:00, the SMM observed that there were still 1,500 people waiting to walk through to government-controlled areas.
The wooden rail on the broken part of the bridge continued to be in very bad condition. The SMM noted that it had gotten even more slippery and bouncy. “LPR” ambulance personnel present near the checkpoint told the SMM that they had treated one woman with a broken arm and another with a head injury in the morning as they had fallen down on the wooden rail.
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 that the railway tracks were blocked and activists were present at the blockade sites. In Shcherbynivka the leader of the blockade told the SMM that they were letting through passenger trains, as well as cargo trains that operated within government-controlled areas. The SMM observed, during its stay, one cargo train with about 20 cars allowed to pass through the blockade. The SMM noted at two checkpoints about 30 police officers at each as compared to the usual 4-5 officers.
The SMM monitored one border area currently outside government control. During one hour at the pedestrian border crossing point in Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM noted that 23 pedestrians exited and 15 entered Ukraine.
The SMM continued monitoring in Odessa, Kherson, 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 the JCCC should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance.
Denial of access:
- On both 11 and 12 March, 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.
- On both 11 and 12 March, 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.
- On both 11 and 12 March, Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel stopped the SMM on the road from government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) to Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) and told the Mission that the road was mined that it could not proceed without authorization from senior Ukrainian Armed Forces officers. The Mission informed the JCCC.
- On 11 March, 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.
- On both 11 and 12 March, the SMM could not travel south of the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia as Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- On 11 March, at a checkpoint in Yasynuvata “DPR” members prevented the SMM from proceeding towards the area of the Donetsk Water Filtration Station, citing lack of safety for the SMM due to ongoing shelling in the area. While present the SMM did not hear any ceasefire violations.The SMM informed the JCCC.
- On 11 March, a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer denied SMM access to a weapons storage area, saying that the SMM needed a written permission. The SMM informed the JCCC and 30 minutes later was told that the JCCC would address the issue on 13 March.
- On 11 March, the SMM could not proceed from “LPR”-controlled Hannivka (58km west of Luhansk) to “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk) because the road was blocked by a lying pole. “LPR” people present said that it was temporary. Mine signs were visible on both sides of the road. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- On 11 March, at the entrance of “LPR”-controlled Yuzhna-Lomuvatka (60km west of Luhansk), two armed men denied the SMM access to the village. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- On 12 March, at a checkpoint between “LPR”-controlled Zhovte (17km north-west of Luhansk) to “LPR”-controlled Oleksandrivk (10km west of Luhansk), four armed men again denied the SMM (since several weeks) passage east, citing de-mining activities taking place in the area. The Mission informed the JCCC.
- On 12 March, at a “DPR” checkpoint in Kargil (17km south-west of Donetsk) unarmed “DPR” members stopped the SMM saying that it would not be allowed to pass without permission from the “customs headquarters” due to the diplomatic mail boxes being transported by the SMM. They demanded to count and see the content of the boxes, as well as to receive a copy of the list of packages. The SMM refused to comply with the last two requests. After about 90 minutes of waiting at the checkpoint, the “DPR” members allowed the SMM to pass.
- On 11 March, following reports of a civilian casualty, the SMM visited a hospital in Horlivka. Medical staff refused to talk to the SMM, suggesting it to address the “mayor” of Horlivka for further questions.
 Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report. * 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.