Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 16 March 2017
The SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more ceasefire violations in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission followed up on a civilian casualty in Pokrovsk and observed damage to civilian property and infrastructure in Zolote, Kruta Hora, Irmino and Luhanske. The SMM monitored the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske, but its access remained restricted.* The SMM camera recorded ceasefire violations inside the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. The Mission directly observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas. The SMM observed increased military and police presence at seven checkpoints in government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The SMM, in co-ordination with the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), facilitated demining efforts and repair works at and around the Donetsk Water Filtration Station. The Mission continued to monitor the blockade of routes crossing the contact line. It continued monitoring a protest outside a bank office in Kyiv.
In Donetsk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, but a similar number of explosions (about 700), as in the previous reporting period.
On the night of 15-16 March, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 57 undetermined explosions 3-8km west and north-west. The same night, the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk city centre) recorded an exchange of 34 projectiles (in sequence, three from west to east, one east to west, 21 west to east and nine east to west), followed by a total of seven undetermined explosions, 59 projectiles in flight from west to east and six east to west, all 6-10km north-east of the camera’s location.
During the day on 16 March, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about five hours, the SMM heard 57 undetermined explosions and 46 bursts of small arms fire 1-7km at points ranging from south-west to north-north-west. Positioned 5km south of government-controlled Kamianka (20km north of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard 15 explosions (four assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar rounds, three as impacts of 120mm mortar rounds and eight undetermined) 2-3km south. In the afternoon, the SMM camera in Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, five projectiles in flight from east to west and one west to east, followed by a total of 22 projectiles in flight east to west and one west to east, all at 4-6km east-south-east of the camera’s location.
Positioned in government-controlled Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard 40 undetermined explosions and five bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-5km east.
On the night of 15-16 March, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard at least 30 undetermined explosions 8-12km east-north-east, seven undetermined explosions 6-7km south-east and 50 explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds 6-10km south-west. On the same night, while in government-controlled Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk), the Mission heard 150 explosions assessed as having been caused by outgoing artillery rounds (152mm) 5-7km south-west.
During the day on 16 March, positioned in government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions 4-6km south-east. Positioned in government-controlled Druzhba (45km north-east of Donetsk), the Mission heard 20 undetermined explosions and 29 explosions assessed as having been caused by outgoing artillery rounds 5-7 km east.
Positioned in two locations in government-controlled areas north-east of Mariupol, the SMM heard: 40 explosions assessed as having been caused by artillery rounds and ten undetermined explosions 2-7km east-north-east and north-east of Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol) and nine undetermined explosions 4km south-east of Lomakyne (15km north-east of Mariupol).
Positioned near government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol) within half an hour around noon, the SMM heard and saw 60 explosions assessed as outgoing 122mm artillery rounds 3km west-north-west and heard their impacts 3km south-east. (See below section of weapons in violation of withdrawal lines).
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including almost three times as many explosions (about 360) as in the previous reporting period (130).
On the night of 15-16 March, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 160 explosions assessed as impacts having been caused by four salvos of multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) 10km west-north-west and 162 explosions assessed as having been caused by artillery rounds (out of which 19 were 3.5-4km west, 120 were 10km west and west-north-west, and 23 were 20km north and north-north-east).
The next day, positioned 2km south of “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 14 explosions assessed as having been caused by artillery rounds (eight outgoing and six undetermined) 3-5km north-north-east and one undetermined explosion 10km west.
The SMM followed up on reports of a civilian casualty and observed damage to civilian property and infrastructure caused by shelling. The SMM continued to follow up reports of a civilian casualty allegedly wounded in shelling in the industrial zone in Avdiivka on 13 March (see SMM Daily report 16 March). The SMM visited the military mobile hospital No. 66 in government-controlled Pokrovsk (55km north-west of Donetsk) where the patient had been transferred, according to medical staff at the hospital in Avdiivka. Medical staff at the military hospital told the SMM that a woman who had sustained shrapnel injuries (described as soft-tissue injuries to the front of the abdomen) had been admitted on 13 March 2017. The local police in Pokrovsk told the SMM that the woman had been discharged from the hospital on her request.
On 15 March, the SMM saw three impact sites in government-controlled Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk). At 121 Kalinina Street, the SMM observed an impact on the south-facing wall of a brick house, and major damages to it, including destroyed external doorway, a partially collapsed roof and blown out windows. The SMM saw three more craters approximately 70m east-north-east of the house. On the same street, at numbers 115/1 and 119, the SMM saw other six fresh craters, 50 to 100m east-north-east of the line of houses. The SMM assessed that all impacts had been caused by 152mm artillery rounds fired from a south-south-easterly direction. Residents told the SMM that the shelling had occurred on 14 March. All three houses were close to Ukrainian Armed Forces positions.
On 16 March, in “LPR”-controlled Zolote-5 (61km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed three fresh craters on open fields, assessed as having been caused by cannon fire of infantry fighting vehicles (IFV; BMP-1, 73mm). At the nearby “Pervomaisk” coal mine, the SMM saw a fresh impact as well as shattered windows on the north-facing wall of a building of the mine. According to the employees of the mine, the shelling had occurred on the evening of 15 March. The line of contact is less than 0.5km away from the coal mine.
In “LPR”-controlled Kruta Hora (16km north-west of Luhansk), following up on reports of shelling on 15 March, the SMM observed three fresh impacts and one piece of shrapnel next to a paved road leading towards military positions, about 100m north of the nearest house. The Mission assessed the craters as having been caused by 82mm mortar rounds fired from a north-north-westerly direction.
In “LPR”-controlled Irmino (54km west of Luhansk), following up on reports of shelling on the early morning hours of 16 March, the SMM saw three fresh impacts near 2 Yahidnyi Lane. The first impact site was 60m south of a house and the SMM assessed it as an impact of a 122mm artillery round fired from a south-westerly direction. It had caused shrapnel damage to the house. The second impact, next to the first one, which the SMM assessed as having been caused by an unknown calibre artillery round, had caused damage to some nearby trees. The SMM assessed that the third crater, about 120m west of another house opposite the first one, had been caused by a 120mm mortar round fired from a south-westerly direction. The SMM observed damage to nearby gas pipelines and cut power lines.
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 the evening of 14 March, in about 15 minutes, the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded 17 ceasefire violations assessed as occurring inside the disengagement area, including five explosions assessed as outgoing rocket-propelled grenade rounds with incendiary warheads (RPO-A Shmel, type Z), of which three were 0.3km south-south-west and south-west and two 1.7km south; two explosions assessed as having been caused by outgoing rounds of unknown weapons, of which one was 0.3km north-west and the other 1.6km south; four as impacts of rounds from unknown weapons 0.3-1.7km south-south-east, south and south-south-west; one projectile in flight north to south 0.3km south-west, as well as two from north-east to south-west and their subsequent impacts at a distance of 1.7km south.
On 15 March, an SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted a stationary excavator with three men in military-type clothes on the western edge of Petrivske disengagement area and, as previously observed, about 40 anti-tank mines on and near the road leading west to Viktorivka (42km south-west of Donetsk). Further west, the UAV spotted more than 70 anti-tank mines, as previously observed, on and alongside the road leading to government-controlled Bohdanivka (60km south-east of Donetsk), as well as a stationary IFV (BMP). All of the images show locations close to, but outside, the disengagement area.
On 16 March, the SMM found that its camera in Petrivske was running on backup batteries. An armed “DPR” member, who followed the SMM to the camera location, said that the electricity supply in the village had stopped shortly before the SMM had arrived.
Positioned in government-controlled parts of Zolote, the SMM heard one burst of heavy-machine-gun fire and four bursts of small-arms fire, 2km north-east, all assessed as occurring outside the disengagement area.
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 in government-controlled areas: 12 MLRS (9P140 Uragan, 220mm) near Dobropillia (75km north-west of Donetsk) and three towed howitzers (likely D-30, Lyagushka, 122mm) firing in a south-easterly direction in the north-eastern outskirts of Hnutove.
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 the SMM saw: four MLRS (BM-21), 22 self-propelled howitzers (12 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm and ten 2S3, Akatsiya, 152mm). The SMM noted that six towed howitzers (D-20, 152mm) and six self-propelled howitzers (five 2S1 and one 2S3) were missing, as previously observed.
The SMM also observed an armoured combat vehicle and an anti-aircraft gun in the security zone. On 15 March the SMM saw an IFV (BMP-1) near the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Stanytsia Luhanska. On 16 March, the SMM saw one light wheeled armoured vehicle and one armoured personnel carrier (APC) under a camouflage net near government-controlled Myronivka (64km north-east of Donetsk), as well as one APC (MT-LB) in “DPR”-controlled Kalmiuske (formerly Komsomolske, 42km south-east of Donetsk).
In “LPR-controlled Oleksandrivsk (10km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw eight empty tubes it assessed as from anti-tank wired-guided missiles, fresh tracks of military vehicles and crushed trees in the area. Near “LPR”-controlled Novohryhorivka (33km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw an armoured trencher machine (PZM-3). About 2km south-west of government-controlled Bilohorivka (88km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw two stationary trucks loaded with ammunition boxes (around 220cm long).
The SMM, in co-ordination with the JCCC, facilitated demining efforts and repair works at and around the Donetsk Water Filtration Station. The SMM saw a demining team and a crew of DTEK workers approaching the area of filtration station. Later on in the day, the Mission saw a truck transporting a wooden box, inside which, according to a Russian officer of the JCCC, was a tank round removed by the demining team. The SMM also spoke to a DTEK engineer, who said that they had connected two power cables. In the afternoon, a Ukrainian officer of the JCCC informed the SMM that electricity had been restored in Avdiivka.
The SMM observed increased military and police presence at checkpoints in government-controlled areas. Near Zaitseve (62km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw at least 15 police officers in camouflage fatigues, some of them wearing balaclavas, and checking vehicles. At a junction in Bakhmut the SMM noted an increased police presence at a checkpoint. North of Druzhba, the SMM noted that a new police checkpoint had been established. At a checkpoint around 2km south of Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw at least seven well-equipped soldiers, one wearing a balaclava. The SMM saw a new checkpoint 3km north of Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk), staffed by at least six soldiers and an armoured vehicle mounted with a heavy machine gun. On the road between Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk) and Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM noted for the first time police armoured vehicles at two previously-observed temporary checkpoints.
The SMM continued to monitor the blockade of railway routes across the contact line. In government-controlled Hirske (63km west of Luhansk) and in government-controlled Buhas (44km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM noticed no changes and a calm situation. At the blockade site in Bakhmut the SMM saw 25 activists, a significantly lower number compared to previous days.
In Kyiv the SMM continued to monitor a protest outside a bank. (See SMM Daily Report 15 March 2017.) The Mission saw about a dozen activists (all young men), two tents and a table in front of the bank, and noted that the vehicle entrance remained blocked with sandbags and razor wire. The SMM did not see any law enforcement presence.
In front of the Kyiv City Hall the SMM saw 100-130 protestors (mostly middle-aged men) holding Ukrainian flags, flags with the inscription “Equality” and one Self-Reliance (Samopomich) party flag. The SMM saw 12 law enforcement officers near the building as well as several police cars on the street. The protest lasted about two hours and ended without incidents.
The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Dnipro, Lviv, Ivano Frankivsk, Kharkiv, 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 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 still 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 still not be guaranteed in the fields and side roads due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel again stopped the SMM on the road between Katerynivka and Popasna and told the Mission that the road was mined and it could not proceed without authorization from senior Ukrainian Armed Forces officers. The Mission again 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.
- The SMM was again 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 again informed the JCCC.
- In “LPR”-controlled Irmino, armed “LPR” members prevented the SMM to proceed towards Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk) stating that there were mines on the road. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- In government-controlled Starohnativka (51km south of Donetsk), the SMM was denied access to a Ukrainian Armed Forces compound by a local commander who said he had been specifically told by his superiors not to allow the SMM to enter. The Mission informed the JCCC.
 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.