Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 12 April 2017
This report is for the media and the general public.
The SMM observed fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more ceasefire violations in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM heard and felt explosions within 500m near Molodizhne and Pervomaisk. It followed up on a report of a civilian casualty as the result of a detonation of an explosive device in Vesela Tarasivka. The SMM monitored the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske, but its access there and elsewhere remained restricted.* The Mission observed weapons in violation of withdrawal line in non-government-controlled areas. It visited one border area currently not controlled by the Government. The SMM continued to monitor the status of the blockade of railway routes, noting again that obstacles on the railroad tracks near Hirske were no longer present. The Mission monitored the continuation of protests outside banks in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa and Dnipro.
During the night of 11-12 April, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions 5-8km north-west.
On the evening of 11 April, the SMM camera at the “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk city centre) recorded eight undetermined explosions and one projectile in flight from south-east to north-west 3-6km.
On the night of 11-12 April, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded one projectile in flight from south-east to north-west and its subsequent impact, followed by totals of about 18 undetermined explosions, five flares in vertical flight and 97 projectiles in flight (67 from south to north and 30 from north to south), all 3-7km east-south-east. During the day on 12 April, positioned in Avdiivka, the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions and 11 shots of small-arms fire 2-3km south-east.
On 11 April, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions 2-5km west and north- west.
While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 11 April, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions 3-7km south-east and two undetermined explosions 3-5km west, six explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds, four bursts and three explosions assessed as impacts of automatic-grenade-launcher fire, two explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) cannon (73mm) fire, four explosions assessed as impacts of recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm) rounds, about 50 bursts and ten shots of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 2-5km in directions ranging from south-east to west. The following day the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 4-5km south.
On the night of 11-12 April, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded nine undetermined explosions and an exchange of fire that began with 22 tracer rounds in flight from east to west and was followed by, in total, 19 tracer rounds in flight from east to west and about 30 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, all at unknown distances north-north-east.
On 12 April, positioned 1km north-east of government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 24 undetermined explosions and heard and saw one explosion assessed as an impact and one airburst, all at unknown distances south-east and south-south-east.
Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions at unknown distances west.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 130 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 90 explosions).
During the night of 11-12 April, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 5km north-north-west of its position.
On the morning of 12 April, an SMM patrol was driving near government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) when it heard and felt a large explosion and saw black smoke 200-250 meters south of its position. Shortly after, from about 100m west it heard a second explosion at an undetermined distance and direction. The same morning at an “LPR” checkpoint 1.5km west of “LPR”-controlled Molodizhne (63km north-west of Luhansk), another SMM patrol heard four bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire and six to seven explosions of automatic-grenade-launcher fire between 500m-2km south. The SMM immediately relocated to “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk), where it heard three to four explosions 500m west and from the direction of the intended patrol route. (See 14 April Spot Report.)
Also during the morning hours, positioned on the south-western outskirts of “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk, the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 3km south-west of its position. From a different location in north-western Pervomaisk, the SMM heard 76 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of unknown weapon 3km south-west of its location.
The SMM followed up on reports of a civilian casualty. The SMM spoke with a 12-year-old boy at a hospital in Luhansk city, who told the SMM that he had been injured when an explosive device had detonated on 8 April while he had been fishing on the bank of the Olkhovaia River in “LPR”-controlled Vesela Tarasivka (17km west of Luhansk). The SMM could see a cast on the boy’s right hand. Medical staff at the hospital told the SMM that the boy was recovering from blast injuries and had lost three fingers on his right hand after touching an electric detonator with two wires.
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 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*
On 11 April, the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded one undetermined explosion 5km south-south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area). While present on the “LPR”-controlled side of the disengagement area on 12 April, the SMM heard one undermined explosion 2-3km north-west of its position (assessed as outside the disengagement area).
On 12 April, the SMM observed two “LPR” members placing vehicle tyres on top of the roof of a structure near the “LPR” position inside the disengagement area, on top of the hill before the bridge to Stanytsia Luhanska.
Positioned in Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), inside the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions 5-7km south (assessed as outside the disengagement area) followed by 11 undetermined explosions 10km north-west (assessed as 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 in non-government-controlled areas, the SMM continued to see seven tanks (T-72), seven self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), ten towed howitzers (five D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm and five 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), and seven multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21) at an aerodrome in the south-eastern outskirts of “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city. (See 5 April SMM Spot Report.)
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, on 11 April an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted eight self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and one mortar (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm), which was firing, along with ammunition crates, military vehicles and numerous military personnel, all assessed as live-fire exercise near government-controlled Rozdolivka (87km north of Donetsk) .
The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage does not comply with the criteria set in the 16 October 2015 notification. In government-controlled areas, the SMM noted nine self-propelled howitzers (2A65), nine tanks (T-64), and two surface-to-air missile systems (9K35/SA-13, Strela-10, 122mm) and, missing as previously observed, 44 towed howitzers (2A65), ten anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), and 37 tanks (16 T-72 and 15 T-64).
The SMM revisited one Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site whose location corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines and found additional weapons previously observed in a heavy weapons holding area, and noted as missing as previously observed 41 tanks (31 T-64 and 10 T-72) and three mortars (2B9M, 82mm) still absent.
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACV) and an anti-aircraft gun in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw, an IFV (BMP-1) near Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk), and a military convoy consisting of three trucks, including one loaded with military personnel, and an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) traveling north-west near Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk).
On 10 April, an SMM mini UAV spotted two probable armoured personnel carriers (APC) (MT-LB) near Staryi Aidar (20km north-west of Luhansk) before ten shots of small-arms fire were heard near the UAV. (See 11 April SMM Spot Report.)
In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw a convoy of Kamaz-type vehicles parked on the side of road H-21 facing south-east near Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk), two stationary military-type trucks and one APC (MT-LB) facing north near Brianka (46km south-west of Luhansk), and seven APCs (BTR-80) and nine more APCs (BRDM) all mounted with radars, around 30 military-type trucks, and 250-300 men practicing marching at an aerodrome in the south-eastern outskirts of Luhansk city.
The SMM monitored and facilitated adherence to the ceasefire, co-ordinated by the JCCC, to enable repairs of two electrical pylons and electricity cables near “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk). One of the pylons was located within 50m of a building that appeared to be a “DPR” position, where the SMM saw at least ten “DPR” members carrying small-arms in and around the building. The SMM could also see trenches around the building and large dug-out areas assessed as parking areas for heavy weapons or vehicles. The second pylon was located 100-150m south-west of the first. The SMM was accompanied by a Russian officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), 10-15 repair workers with two cranes and one minibus, and several “DPR” members including a demining team. The SMM observed the demining team remove anti-tank mines from near the first pylon. After almost 4.5 hours, repair workers told the SMM that repair work in the area had been completed. From both sides of the contact line, the SMM also observed electrical repairs in the area of government-controlled Luhanske. In Luhansk region, the SMM monitored repairs to a water pipeline in government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) that supplies water to both government- and non-government-controlled areas and demining in the area of and repairs to a power line near “LPR”-controlled Kalynove-Borshchuvate (61km west of Luhansk) that supplies power to Pervomaisk and surrounding villages.
The SMM visited one border area currently not controlled by the Government. During about 60 minutes at the border crossing point near Dovzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 20 vehicles (15 with Ukrainian licence plates, two with Russian Federation licence plates, one with Lithuanian licence plates, and two with “LPR” plates), one truck with a covered trailer (with Ukrainian licence plates), two passenger buses (one with Ukrainian licence plates and about 30 passengers on board, the other not visible) as well as ten pedestrians (five male, five female, 15–70 years old) exit Ukraine. Nine vehicles (seven with Ukrainian licence plates, two with Russian Federation licence plates), three trucks with closed trailers (all with Ukrainian licence plates), one bus (with Ukrainian licence plates, a Saint Petersburg-Donetsk sign in the window and about 30 passengers on board) and twelve pedestrians (six male, six female, 15–70 years old) entered Ukraine.
The SMM continued to monitor the status of the blockade of railway routes. In government-controlled Hirske (63km west of Luhansk), the SMM noted again that all obstacles on the railroad tracks and other items from the activist camp had been removed. (See SMM Daily Report 11 April 2017.) At the blockade site near government-controlled Bakhmut (67km north of Donetsk), a man who identified himself as a leader of the group told the SMM that the headquarters of the movement had relocated from government-controlled Lysychansk (75km north-west of Luhansk) to Bakhmut. In government-controlled Buhas (44km south-west of Donetsk), four activists (male, 40-60 years old) told the SMM that there had been fewer participants at the site.
The SMM monitored the continuation of protests in front of branches of the Sberbank of Russia in several cities. (See SMM Daily Report 11 April 2017.) In Kyiv and Odessa the SMM observed individuals (seven and about 15, respectively), mostly young men, wearing jackets with insignia of the National Corps standing outside a bank branch in each city. The SMM noted that the bank branches were open, with people entering and exiting, and the situation remained calm. In Kharkiv and Dnipro, the SMM monitored similar protests in front of one bank in each city. In Kharkiv the bank was closed, but in Dnipro the SMM observed that while access to the bank branch building was blocked by a large Ukrainian flag draped over the entire side of the building, the bank was still open.
The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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 still 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 on the edge of the Zolote disengagement area, armed men told the SMM that its safety still could not be guaranteed in the fields and side roads due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- In Katerynivka, a Ukrainian officer of the JCCC that no demining had taken place and therefore the SMM was unable to travel south-east into the Zolote disengagement area along the railroad track. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The presence of anti-tank obstacles and mine hazard signs on the road prevented the SMM from traveling between Katerynivka and government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk). Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel present told the SMM that the road was mined. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM still 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.
- While positioned near a “DPR” checkpoint near the entry-exit checkpoint in Olenivka (25km south-west of Donetsk) for a mirror patrol monitoring adherence to the ceasefire during repair work, an armed “DPR” “commander” told the SMM that they needed to reverse at least 300m from the checkpoint. The SMM informed the JCCC.
-While at the “DPR” checkpoint at the entry-exit checkpoint in Olenivka, “DPR” members insisted on opening an SMM trailer attached to one of the SMM vehicles, citing orders from superiors. They searched the trailer, after which the SMM was allowed to proceed. The SMM informed the JCCC.
 Following renewed commitment made at the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on 29 March 2017 according to which the sides agreed on full adherence to the ceasefire and the completion of the withdrawal of weapons by 1 April, in the course of 31 March Ukrainian authorities and “LPR” members provided the SMM with some information related to weapons which they declared as withdrawn. The SMM received some information from “DPR” members on some weapons which they declared that they intended to withdraw.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.