Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 31 July 2016
This report is for the media and the general public.
The SMM recorded a significant increase in the number of ceasefire violations recorded in Donetsk region on 30 July compared to 29 July. A decrease in the number of recorded violations was noted on 31 July, though this figure was still higher than that recorded on 29 July. The SMM recorded a decrease in the number of ceasefire violations observed in Luhansk on 30 July compared to the day before. No violations were recorded on 31 July. Two SMM unmanned aerial vehicles came under small-arms fire on 30 July. The SMM analysed craters on both sides of the contact line. It continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. The SMM monitored border areas not controlled by the Government on five occasions, and faced conditional access on two occasions. It faced freedom-of-movement restrictions, the majority of which were in areas not under government control.
The SMM recorded an increased number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared to 29 July. Fewer ceasefire violations were recorded on 31 July compared to the day before but the number of recorded ceasefire violations remained high.
Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) throughout the night of 29 July, the SMM recorded at least 50 undetermined explosions approximately 10km north.
On the evening of 29 July, while in government-controlled Sartana (15km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard nine explosions 1-2km east-south-east and three undetermined explosions (one assessed as from a mortar) 2-3km south-south-east and east-north-east of its position.
On 30 July positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) throughout the day, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions and uncountable, overlapping bursts of heavy machine gun-fire 1-7km west and north-west of its position over a 40-minute period. Later, in the afternoon, the SMM recorded a salvo of approximately 20 outgoing Grad rockets, 51 undetermined explosions, approximately 40 mortar impacts; uncountable, overlapping heavy-machine gun and small-arms bursts in areas 2-6km west-south-west, west-north-west, west, and north-west of its position over approximately two and a half hours.
Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) throughout the day on 30 July, the SMM heard, over a two and a half-hour period, four undetermined explosions, two mortar impacts (one 120mm and one 82mm) and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-5km south and south-east of its position. Two outgoing explosions caused by 122mm artillery were also heard 3-4km south-east of the SMM’s position in Avdiivka.
While at Maiorsk checkpoint (45km north-east of Donetsk) on 30 July, the SMM saw and heard four airbursts assessed as recoilless-gun (SPG-9) fire, heard 10 outgoing explosions of armoured personnel carrier (BMP-1, 73mm) cannon fire and bursts of heavy-machine gun and small-arms fire all 2-3km east and east-south-east of its position.
On 30 July, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north of Donetsk) the SMM heard two 82mm mortar impacts 3-4km north-west. The SMM also saw one 120mm mortar airburst, heard five undetermined explosions, 14 shots of automatic-grenade-launcher (AGL) fire and bursts of small-arms fire, all 1–3km north-west, north-north-west and north of its position. A short time later the SMM heard 39 undetermined explosions, 20 shots of automatic-grenade-launcher fire and heavy machine gun-fire, all 7–10km west and north-east of its position.
Positioned at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) on the morning of 30 July, the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions 4-8km north, north-west and north-north-east of its position. In the afternoon the SMM heard 171 undetermined explosions and bursts of heavy machine-gun and small-arms fire 2-5km north-north-east of its position.
Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city on the night of 30-31 July, the SMM heard 138 explosions (47 assessed as outgoing artillery explosions, 91 undetermined) all 5-15km west, west-north-west, north-west, north and north-north-east of its position.
On the same night the SMM camera in Shyrokyne recorded multiple bursts of tracer fire in areas to the north-east. At 21:10 the camera recorded 25-27 tracer rounds fired from south-south-west to north-north-east; two undetermined explosions; 23-25 tracer rounds fired from south-west to north-east, and 17-19 tracer rounds fired from north-west to north-east.
Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata throughout the day of 31 July the SMM heard 241 undetermined explosions, many bursts of heavy machine gun-fire and small-arms fire, all 1-6km west-south-west and west.
Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka on 31 July the SMM heard five undetermined explosions south-south-east.
While conducting monitoring with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) on 30 July, the SMM heard two shots of small-arms fire immediately followed by two bursts of small-arms fire 300-400m north-east of the SMM’s position.* The SMM assessed the fire as likely directed at its UAV, which was immediately landed. No damage was observed.
Positioned at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station throughout the day of 31 July the SMM heard 44 undetermined explosions and uncountable bursts of small-arms fire all 1-8km south-south-west, north, north-north-east and north-east of its position.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations on 30 July compared to 29 July. The SMM recorded no ceasefire violations in Luhansk region on 31 July.
Positioned in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) on the night of 30 July, the SMM heard a total of 15 outgoing rounds followed by 15 impacts assessed as automatic-grenade-launcher (AGS-17) fire. The rounds were fired from 3.5-4km south (from the direction of the disused railway bridge and/or pedestrian bridge) and impacted 4-5.7km south of the SMM’s position.
While flying a UAV over government-controlled Lobacheve (17km north-west of Luhansk) on 30 July the SMM heard small-arms fire and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire approximately 600-700 metres north-east of its position, in the area of the UAV. The SMM landed the UAV, which had not sustained damage. The SMM phoned a Ukrainian officer at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) who said that Ukrainian Armed Forces had fired at the UAV.
On 29 July the SMM conducted crater analysis in Donetsk city’s Kuibyshevskyi district in the presence of the Russian Federation Armed Forces officers from the JCCC. Five metres in front of a house the SMM saw one large crater that had been filled in with debris, making analysis impossible. The SMM saw shrapnel damage to nearby fences and a gas pipeline, which was undergoing repair. Residents reported that a shell had hit at 1:20 on 29 July and that no one had been injured. A second crater was in the garden within two metres of a house. The SMM saw that the walls surrounding the crater had been penetrated with shrapnel and that the south-west facing wall near the crater was demolished. Based on size, and the presence of shrapnel, the SMM assessed the crater as caused by an artillery round of at least 122mm; the direction of fire could not be assessed. According to residents, the impact occurred at approximately 2:00 on 29 July and no one was injured.
The SMM, accompanied by Russian Federation officers from the JCCC, observed two fresh craters in a residential street in “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (15km north-west of Donetsk). Based on analysis and a tail fin found at the site, the SMM assessed the craters as caused by 120mm mortars fired from a north-north-westerly direction. The SMM observed shrapnel damage to walls and shattered windows. Residents said that shells had struck at 1:30 on 29 July and that no one was injured.
The SMM observed two houses damaged by shelling in Avdiivka that an accompanying Ukrainian Armed Forces JCCC representative said had taken place on 30 July. A fresh crater was seen a few meters from a house. The walls, roofs and windows of two nearby houses were badly damaged by shrapnel. An electricity pole had been snapped in half and had fallen into a yard of one of the houses. No injuries were reported. The residents of the house - a couple aged in their 70s - said that this was the second time their house had been shelled since May. They added that shelling starts every day at 17:00 and lasts until 5:00.
The SMM, following up on JCCC reports of shelling in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) observed four fresh craters and damage to houses in a residential area. One crater was situated in the middle of the street and another in the garden of a house, with shrapnel damage evident to the wall and fence of two houses. One house had broken windows. Two shells had landed away from houses, causing little damage. The SMM were told of another shell that had landed in tall grass which the SMM could not observe because of security concerns. Based on analysis of four craters the SMM assessed that they were caused by 82mm mortars fired from an easterly direction. Residents told the SMM that the shelling happened on 29 July and that no one was injured.
On 31 July in the Zhovanka neighbourhood of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed a wounded man being taken by ambulance to Horlivka general hospital. According to ambulance personnel, he had been struck by shrapnel from an automatic grenade launcher while in his garden.
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Minsk Memorandum.
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines an SMM UAV observed two tanks and other military-type vehicles in a compound near the railway station in the centre of “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk). Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 26 July of a multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) in the south-western suburbs of “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk).
The SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites and observed that three continued to be abandoned as of 11 February, 14 and 17 March 2016 respectively, with 27 tanks (16 T-72, 11 T-64) and 19 mortars (13 2B9 Vasilek, 82mm, and six 2B11 Sani, 120mm) missing. Thirty tanks (T-64), missing from one site as of 19 March 2016, continued to be absent. Additional weapons were observed at this site.
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 a government-controlled area beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and nine MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm). Six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) first observed missing on 1 May 2016 continued to be absent from one area. Another area was abandoned as it had been since 1 May 2016 with all six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) missing. Two MLRS (BM 21 Grad, 122mm) continued to be missing from one site, as first reported on 5 April 2015. One site continued to be observed as abandoned as of 22 April 2016, with all previously recorded 18 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) missing. The SMM was unable to visit one site as a newly constructed earth barrier blocked the road.*
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside assigned areas the SMM saw three tanks (T-64s) in a known training area near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk). Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 26 July of: 34 tanks, 20 artillery pieces (two self-propelled, 18 towed) in areas near “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk).
Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 28 July of a jamming communication station, assessed as an R-330ZH Zhytel system, hidden among trees in “DPR”-controlled Novohryhorivka (61km north-east of Donetsk).
The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles (ACV) and anti-aircraft weapons in the security zone. The SMM saw an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) in government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk); three infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs, BMP-2) near government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk); two IFVs (one BMP-2, one BMP-1-Ksh) in government-controlled Svitlychne (48km north-west of Luhansk); one stationary armoured personnel carrier (BTR-60) near government-controlled Komyshuvakha (68km west of Luhansk); two BMP-2 parked between houses near government-controlled Stanytsia-Luhanska and one stationary BMP-2 near government-controlled Bolotene (21km east of Luhansk). An SMM UAV observed at least eight BMP, three armoured tracked vehicles (MT-LB), one MT-LB engineering variant and one BTR in a compound close to the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve.
In government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk), the SMM saw a parade of five military-style and 12 civilian vehicles, all of which carried Ukrainian flags while the lead vehicle also carried a red and black flag. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the JCCC told the SMM the parade marked the anniversary of the “liberation of Krasnohorivka from the “DPR””.
The SMM monitored four border areas not controlled by the Government, visiting one area twice. At the border crossing point near “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (53km south-east of Luhansk) for a total of 30 minutes on 29 July, the SMM observed 36 vehicles and three buses with Ukrainian number plates, a covered commercial truck with Belarus plates and five vehicles with Russian plates waiting to cross into the Russian Federation. Two covered trucks and a bus, all with Ukrainian number plates, entered Ukraine. The SMM returned to the border crossing point on 31 July and had their names, ID numbers taken by an “LPR” member.* Over 50 minutes of monitoring the SMM saw 52 cars, six with Russian Federation number plates, 46 with Ukrainian plates and four covered commercial trucks with Ukrainian plates waiting to cross into the Russian Federation. Four cars were observed entering Ukraine in this period. At the border crossing point near “LPR”-controlled Dovzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk) the SMM observed the following over a 25-minute period: three covered trucks and 28 cars with Ukrainian number plates, one minibus with Russian plates (travelling from Luhansk to Rostov) and one minibus (travelling from Rovenky to Rostov); two buses with Ukrainian plates leaving Ukraine; and eight cars with Ukrainian and two with Russian Federation plates entering Ukraine. At the border crossing point near “LPR”-controlled Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk) an “LPR” member took the names and ID numbers of SMM monitors and the plate numbers of vehicles. Over a total of 20 minutes of observation, the SMM saw 29 vehicles (all had Ukrainian plates bar one with a Russian plate) and five motorbikes, all with Ukrainian plates, crossing into the Russian Federation. Four pedestrians were seen entering the Russian Federation while one entered Ukraine. At the border crossing point near “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol), the SMM saw two trucks and six cars waiting to cross east into the Russian Federation during ten minutes of monitoring.
*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate
The SMM’s monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement 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.
Denial of access:
- On 29 July, armed “LPR” members at the “LPR” forward position on the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge denied the SMM passage from government-controlled to “LPR”-controlled areas. The JCCC was informed.
- On 29 July, an armed “LPR” member stopped the SMM at the “LPR” checkpoint south of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge and took the names and ID numbers of SMM monitors. The SMM was allowed to proceed. Passing the “LPR” forward position on the bridge, an armed “LPR” member told the SMM that they could not travel from government-controlled areas towards “LPR”-controlled areas .
- On 31 July armed “LPR” members at the same position on Stanytsia Luhanska bridge denied the SMM further passage from government-controlled to “LPR”-controlled areas. The JCCC was informed.
- On 31 July armed “DPR” members - citing security concerns - turned the SMM away from a checkpoint close to Horlivka after a detonation was heard in the area.
- On 31 July a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier stopped the SMM near government-controlled Mykolaivka (57km north of Donetsk) and prevented the SMM from proceeding to Svitlodarsk. The JCCC was informed.
- On 31 July Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers prevented the SMM from monitoring the area along the railway line near Lomonosova Street in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), citing demining work in the area.
- On 31 July a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier told the SMM that he would shoot down an SMM UAV if it was launched near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk). He claimed not to have received the information the SMM had passed to the JCCC regarding the flight. The JCCC was informed.
- On 31 July the SMM was unable to visit a Ukrainian Armed Forces weapons storage site as a newly constructed earth barrier blocked the road.
- On 30 July an armed “DPR” member at a weapons storage site told the SMM to retreat ten steps while he sought approval for the SMM’s access. While saying this, he loaded his rifle and refused SMM requests to use their mobile phones, return to their vehicles, or to return later. After 15 minutes, another “DPR” member arrived and confirmed the SMM’s access.
- On 30 July at a checkpoint near Horlivka, armed “DPR” members searched two SMM vehicles.
- On 30 July an armed “LPR” member at the border crossing point near Sievernyi took the names and ID numbers of SMM monitors.
- On 31 July an armed “LPR” member at the border crossing point near “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne took the names and ID numbers of SMM monitors.
- On 30 July, an SMM UAV was targeted with small-arms fire over government-controlled Lobacheve.
- On 30 July, an SMM UAV was targeted with small-arms fire over “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve.