Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 19 April 2017
This report is for the media and the general public.
The SMM observed a similar number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, and more in Luhansk region, compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission followed up on a report of damage to a house in Molodizhne from gunfire. The SMM monitored the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske, but its access there and elsewhere remained restricted.* It observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line. The Mission followed up on media reports of a gathering in Donetsk city centre. The SMM continued to note long queues at entry-exit checkpoints. The Mission monitored one border area currently not under government control. The SMM monitored a gathering at the Odessa regional court of appeals, as well as the continuation of protests at branches of the Sberbank of Russia in Kyiv, Odessa, Dnipro and Kharkiv.
On the evening of 18 April the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded five undetermined explosions 3-5km east-south-east. On 19 April, positioned in Avdiivka, the SMM heard 24 undetermined explosions, as well as heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-5km east-south-east and south-east. In the afternoon the SMM camera in Avdiivka recorded 14 undetermined explosions 4-6km east-south-east and south-east.
On 19 April, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 30 undetermined explosions, as well as heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1.5-5km west-south-west.
On the evening of 18 April, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions, as well as heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 3-6km south-east and south.
On the night of 18-19 April, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, 11 airbursts, 25 undetermined explosions, 15 tracer rounds in flight from east to west, two rocket-assisted projectiles in flight from south-east to north-west (as well as explosions assessed as the subsequent impacts of the projectiles), two more undetermined explosions, and three more tracer rounds in flight from east to west, all at unknown distances north.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including almost 40 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (27 explosions).
Positioned in government-controlled Koliadivka (58km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions 5-7km north-east. Later, positioned 2km south of the village, the SMM heard 30 undetermined explosions 5-7km south-west, assessed as part of a live-fire exercise. Positioned in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard almost 20 bursts of small-arms fire 1km south-east.
The SMM followed up on a report from an “LPR” member of damage to a house from gunfire in “LPR”-controlled Molodizhne (63km north-west of Luhansk) on the night of 18-19 April. At 4 Lisna Street, about 150m south of an “LPR” position, the SMM saw a fresh hole (1-2cm in diameter) in the north-west-facing wall of a kennel about 2m south-east of a house, and another of similar size in the north-west-facing side of a tree 5m north of the house, both assessed as caused by heavy-machine-gun rounds fired from a north-westerly 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 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*
On 19 April the SMM recorded ceasefire violations assessed as near but outside the disengagement area south of government-controlled Zolote: positioned 3km north of “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard seven shots of small-arms fire about 3km south-west; positioned in government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one burst of small-arms fire 500m north-east; positioned 1.5km north-east of the village, the SMM heard one burst of heavy-machine-gun fire 2km west; positioned 2.5km north-east of the village, the SMM heard two to three bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-3km south-west. Also while in Katerynivka, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion but was unable to assess whether it was inside or outside the disengagement area.
The SMM observed a calm situation in the disengagement areas near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska and “DPR”-controlled Petrivske.
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 government-controlled areas, the SMM saw one self-propelled howitzer (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) on a flatbed rail car at the railway station in Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk).
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas, the SMM again observed seven multiple-launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm), seven self-propelled howitzers (2S1), ten towed howitzers (five D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm; and five 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), and seven tanks (T-72) at an aerodrome in the south-eastern outskirts of Luhansk city. (See SMM Spot Report 6 April 2017.)
Beyond respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, in government-controlled areas the SMM observed two howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) near Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) and nine towed howitzers (2A65) near Koliadivka (58km north of Luhansk).
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 as present: three self-propelled howitzers (2S1), two towed howitzers (D-30) and four mortars (2S9 Nona, 120mm). The SMM noted as missing, as previously observed, 22 self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and two towed howitzers (D-30).
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACVs) and an anti-aircraft weapon, as well as convoys of armed persons, in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw an armoured personnel carrier (MT-LB) travelling north-west near Svitlodarsk, two infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) (BMP-1) near Mykhailivka (34km north of Luhansk), an IFV (BMP-1) on a flatbed trailer travelling west near Stepove (30km north-east of Luhansk), and an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) being towed by a truck travelling east near Petrivka (27km north of Luhansk). An SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle spotted an IFV (BMP-2) near Vodiane (94km south of Donetsk).
In non-government-controlled areas the SMM observed 12 Kamaz trucks and three buses with armed persons heading south-east near Alchevsk (40km west of Luhansk) and two Kamaz trucks with armed persons heading south-east near Irmino (54km west of Luhansk). Aerial imagery revealed the presence on 16 April of two ACVs near Uzhivka (formerly Leninske, 24km north-east of Mariupol) and one ACV near Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol).
The SMM followed up on media reports that miners were planning to hold a protest on Lenin Square in Donetsk city centre. At the reported start time of the protest, the SMM saw about 300 people (mostly young men) in the square, of whom about 250 were demonstrating various sports, as well as about 50 men in blue uniforms observing the event. Two women (in their thirties) told the SMM that the event was a sports festival.
The SMM continued to note long queues at entry-exit checkpoints. At an “LPR” checkpoint south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, prior to the checkpoint’s opening time, the SMM saw about 250 people queuing to walk toward government-controlled areas. Later in the morning, at the government checkpoint north of the bridge, the SMM saw about 600 people queuing to enter government-controlled areas and about 200 people queuing in the opposite direction. At the entry-exit checkpoint near government-controlled Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed about 90 civilian cars and about 100 pedestrians queuing to enter government-controlled areas and over 100 civilian cars and about 200 pedestrians queuing in the opposite direction. At a checkpoint near government-controlled Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed about 75 civilian cars and about 500 pedestrians waiting to enter government-controlled areas and no cars or pedestrians travelling in the opposite direction.
The SMM monitored a border area currently not under government control. During one hour at a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw 105 civilian cars (83 with Ukrainian, 13 with Russian Federation, and seven with Latvian licence plates, as well as two with “LPR” plates) and 11 trucks with covered cargo areas (five with Russian Federation, three with Ukrainian, and three with Belarusian licence plates) in queues to exit Ukraine. During the SMM’s presence, ten of the cars crossed. The SMM saw one bus (with Ukrainian licence plates) with about 40 passengers enter Ukraine.
The SMM monitored a court session at the Odessa regional court of appeals in the case of a man charged in connection with events in Odessa in early May 2014. (See SMM Daily Report 5 May 2014.) At the courthouse, police officers told the SMM that the building was closed due to a bomb alert. A group of 30 men (aged 25-50), most dressed in black, were waiting outside with the defendant. Seven police officers and a two-man explosive ordnance disposal unit, with two dogs, were present. The court opened two hours after the scheduled start of the session. Twenty of the 30 men who had been waiting with the defendant entered the courtroom, where no police were present. The judge postponed the session, due to the absence of the prosecutor. After less than 15 minutes, the session ended and the public dispersed. The event remained peaceful during the SMM’s presence.
The SMM monitored the continuation of protests in front of branches of the Sberbank of Russia in Kyiv, Odessa, Dnipro and Kharkiv. (See SMM Daily Report 18 April 2017.) On 18 April, at the main branch in Kharkiv (1 Donets-Zakharzhevskoho Street), the SMM saw 15 protestors removing camping equipment from the sidewalk, one of whom said that the group would allow bank customers to enter for several days to pay bills and withdraw funds. The SMM noted that the branch was still closed.
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 a 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 adjacent to 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.
- The SMM could not travel west from “DPR”-controlled Petrivske through the disengagement area due to a lack of security guarantees and the possible presence of mines. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM could not travel east from government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk) as Ukrainian officers of the JCCC said that anti-tank mines were still present on the road. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- An armed “DPR” member at a checkpoint south-east of “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (15km west of Donetsk) did not allow the SMM to enter the village. The Mission 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 Mission informed the JCCC.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers denied the SMM access to a heavy weapons holding area. The Mission informed the JCCC.
- An armed “DPR” member at a checkpoint south of “DPR”-controlled Nova Marivka (64km south of Donetsk) did not allow the SMM to enter the village. Following intervention by the JCCC, the SMM was allowed to enter the village after a delay of about 35 minutes.
 Following a 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 they intended to withdraw.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.