Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 21 November 2016
The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with 20 November, most of them concentrated in the Avdiivka-Donetsk airport area. In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations compared with 20 November. The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process in Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske, and faced restrictions of its freedom of movement in all three areas.* It observed queues at entry-exit checkpoints near Stanytsia Luhanska during the morning hours. The SMM monitored the withdrawal of weapons. It monitored repairs to essential infrastructure in Krasnyi Lyman. In Kyiv, Kharkiv and Ivano-Frankivsk the Mission observed two peaceful public gatherings.
The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, including 118 explosions, compared with about 470 explosions on 20 November; 72 of these explosions were recorded in the Avdiivka-Donetsk airport area.
During the night of 20 November, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM heard 24 undetermined explosions 5-10km north-north-west and another 11 undetermined explosions 10-15km north-west. While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 4-10km south-west and seven bursts of heavy machine-gun 3-4km south-west. While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 186 bursts of heavy machine-gun, 119 bursts of automatic grenade launcher and 133 bursts of automatic cannon (ZU-23 or 30mm) all 1.5-3km south-south-east.
On that same evening the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded in sequence two bursts of direct tracer fire from north-west to south-east, one direct rocket-assisted projectile in flight from north-west to south-east, one direct rocket-assisted projectile in flight from south to north, three bursts of direct tracer fire from east to west, three bursts of direct tracer fire from south-east to north-west of anti-aircraft cannon and one indirect rocket-assisted projectile in flight from south-south-west to north-north-east, all from north-east and an unknown distance. The SMM camera in Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded three undetermined explosions 3-5km south-east. On 21 November the same camera recorded two undetermined explosions 4-8km south-east and four undetermined projectiles 4-8km south-east in flight from north-east to south-east. The SMM camera in Oktiabr (9km north-west of Donetsk) recorded on the same day three undetermined projectiles in flight from south-west to north-east, and four in flight from north-east to south-west and one undetermined explosion all 7-9km north-east.
On 21 November, positioned in Avdiivka the SMM heard four undetermined explosions assessed as impacts 4km east, three explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of 82mm mortar 3-4km south-east, one explosion assessed as an outgoing round from an undetermined weapon 3km south-east, two undetermined explosions 5-8km south-east, one explosion assessed as an impact of a round from an undetermined weapon 4km south-east and four explosions 8km south-east assessed as outgoing IFV (BMP-1) cannon (73mm) fire. The SMM also heard 15 explosions 5-8km south and south-east assessed as outgoing tank (type unknown) fire.
On 21 November while in government-controlled Volodymyrivka (59km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions 10km south. While in government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions at an undetermined distance north-east. While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 1-2km south-east assessed as recoilless gun (SPG-9) fire and four explosions 1km south-east assessed as outgoing IFV (BMP-1) cannon (73mm) fire.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations with only one explosion, compared with eight explosions on 20 November. While in “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (65km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 5km north.
The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the areas near 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 (TCG) relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016. The Mission’s access to most of these areas remained restricted, although it was able to travel along the road between Zolote and “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk). The SMM noted that the situation was calm in all three disengagement areas during its visits. Contrary to the TCG’s decision, the SMM did not note any signs of the required disengagement nor any demining activity in the three areas during the reporting period.
In Petrivske, the SMM observed outside the disengagement area seven “DPR” members in military-style clothes walking eastward. One of them carried a 7.62mm machine-gun (PK) and one an automatic grenade launcher. Four others had assault rifles (AK-47 type) whereas one carried a tripod for an automatic grenade launcher.
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in accordance with the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines the SMM observed six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) in government-controlled Novozhelanne (33km north-west of Donetsk) and six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) in government-controlled Mykolaivka (37km north-west of Donetsk). Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence of six multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) in “LPR”-controlled Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk) on 19 November.
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. At Ukrainian Armed Forces holding areas, the SMM observed 16 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm). The SMM observed three towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) missing for the first time and all four anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) missing since 16 October 2016.
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. The SMM observed one infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-1) at the Ukrainian Armed Forces bunker on the bridge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk). In Stanytsia Luhanska town the SMM also observed one infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-1) in Barbashova Street and one BTR in Lenina Street.
The SMM observed a booby trap and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM observed a booby trap (a hand grenade fuse “UZRG” connected to a tripwire) approximately 3m off the road at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint between government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk). The SMM also saw a fresh piece of an anti-tank mine on the southern edge of Popasna and four artillery shells (122mm) 2m off the road in government-controlled Vyskryva (75km west of Luhansk). The SMM also observed a rocket propelled grenade on a pile of rubber tires at the Ukrainian Armed Forced checkpoint of the bridge of Stanytsia Luhanska.
Medical staff at the hospital in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) told the SMM that the third floor of the hospital had been occupied by “DPR” members until two weeks ago. They said the hospital was trying to refurbish the third floor to return it to use for patients. According to staff, the hospital has the capacity to hold 110 beds but until the third floor is refurbished, only 45 beds are available.
The SMM continued to observe entry-exit checkpoints along the contact line. Just before the opening at 08:00 of the “LPR” checkpoint on the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM observed a queue of about 800-900 people waiting to proceed towards government-controlled areas. At 08:50 the SMM observed 50 people waiting to enter “LPR”-controlled areas and later at 09:55 approximately 450-500 people were waiting to proceed in the same direction. At 10:00 about 800-1,000 people were waiting to proceed towards government-controlled areas. At the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at 07:50 the SMM observed 300-400 people waiting for the opening of the checkpoint in order to proceed towards “LPR”-controlled areas and around 100 were still waiting at 09:20. At 10:24 approximately 500 people were waiting to enter government-controlled areas while approximately 350-400 were waiting to proceed towards “LPR”-controlled areas. At 12:30 there was nobody waiting to enter government-controlled areas.
The SMM monitored one border area currently not under government control. While the SMM was present at the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk) for 35 minutes, it observed 40 civilian cars (14 with Russian licence plates and 26 with Ukrainian licence plates), five passenger buses (licence plates not observed) and three trucks with Ukrainian licence plates.
The SMM visited the border crossing point in government-controlled Novobila (134km north of Luhansk). The border guard told the SMM that the border crossing point had been closed since the beginning of the conflict. The SMM did not observe any movement.
The SMM monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure, co-ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). In the area of “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM monitored ongoing water pipeline repair works. The SMM facilitated a window of silence to enable repairs to the Donetsk water filtration station near “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata.
The SMM monitored public gatherings marking the third anniversary of Maidan (the Day of Dignity and Freedom) in Kharkiv, Kyiv and Ivano-Frankivsk. In Kyiv, the SMM observed a number of gatherings marking the day. The largest gathering involved approximately 1,000 people (80 per cent male, 30 per cent of whom were minors and the rest mostly young adults) who had gathered on Independence Square. The group walked up to the Presidential Administration building, where some gave speeches against what they called abuse of power, the increase of salaries for Members of Parliament and the measures adopted under directions from the International Monetary Fund. The premises were protected by about 100 law enforcement officers. After 15 minutes the march continued to the General Prosecutor’s Office where protesters demanded that the current General Prosecutor comply with what they called the ‘Euro Maidan’ spirit. Three police cars escorted the march. The protest was peaceful during the SMM’s observation; the SMM left the location at 19:30.
In Kharkiv the SMM observed about 500 people (men and women, mostly young and middle-aged) gathered at the Shevchenko monument. In Ivano-Frankivsk the SMM observed about 200 people gathered at the Ivano-Frankivsk city administration building. In Kharkiv and Ivano-Frankivsk, both events passed off peacefully.
In Kyiv, the SMM also monitored a peaceful public gathering outside the National Bank of Ukraine. About 800 people (60 per cent female, 40 per cent male and mostly aged over 50 years-old) waved flags of the political party Za Zhyttia (For Life), demanded that their deposits are returned and asked the head of the National Bank to come out and face them. The SMM observed about ten young men (dressed in orange vests) encouraging some of the protesters who had left the main group to re-join the protest.
The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Dnipro, and Chernivtsi.
*Restrictions to 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, 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:
- The SMM was not able to proceed further to a summer cottage area (adjacent to the railway bridge south of Stanytsia Luhanska) from the parking lot east of an “LPR” checkpoint south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, as an armed “LPR” member present at the checkpoint told the SMM that no demining had taken place in the area. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- At an “LPR” checkpoint at the southern edge of the Zolote-Pervomaisk disengagement area, an armed “LPR” member told the SMM he could not guarantee the SMM’s safety in the adjacent fields and side roads due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. The SMM did not proceed and informed the JCCC.
- In “DPR”-controlled Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk) a “DPR” member present did not provide safety and security guarantees to enable the SMM to move westwards of Petrivske.
- The SMM could not proceed to the bridge south of government-controlled Shchastia from either side as Ukrainian Armed Forces and “LPR” armed members told the SMM the bridge was still mined. The JCCC was informed.
- On two occasions the SMM could not travel on the road leading from government-controlled Popasna to government-controlled Katerynivka (69 and 64km west of Luhansk, respectively) because of a barrier on the road. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM was stopped in “LPR”-controlled Irmino (54km west of Luhansk) near the hydro plant by armed “LPR” members and was not allowed to proceed further. The JCCC was informed and the SMM was allowed to proceed after 85 minutes.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.