Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 9 December 2016
The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission continued to monitor the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske and was restricted in its movement.* The SMM observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines and others missing from assigned areas. It monitored repair works to electric power lines between Avdiivka and Yasynuvata. It monitored the situation of civilians at entry-exit crossing points. The SMM monitored one border area currently outside government control.
The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region including about 230 explosions compared with 659 in the previous reporting period.
During the night of 8-9 December, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded 14 undetermined explosions 4-6km east-south-east and east. Past midnight on 9 December the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk city centre) recorded one illumination flare 5-7km north-east.
Positioned 4km north-west of “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard five explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds 2km west followed by five impacts of the same weapon rounds 2-3km north, and seven explosions assessed as mortar rounds 1-2km west. In addition the SMM heard 160 explosions (158 undetermined and two assessed as impacts of automatic-grenade-launcher rounds), as well as uncountable, overlapping bursts and shots of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-2) cannon (30mm), heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 0.5-3km south-south-west, south-west and west. Most of the ceasefire violations occurred within one hour. SMM patrols present in Avdiivka and near “DPR”-controlled Kruta Balka (16km north of Donetsk) also heard several of the above ceasefire violations.
Positioned on the north-eastern edge of government-controlled Kamianka (20km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard 16 explosions (eight undetermined and eight assessed as outgoing rounds of undetermined weapons), and more than 200 shots of small-arms fire, all 1-3km south-west and west.
Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard and saw 1-2km west of its position an IFV (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) firing at least 20 bursts to the west. Positioned 1km south of government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard 11 explosions (nine assessed as impacts of rounds from undetermined weapons and two undetermined), as well as seven airbursts, all at undetermined distances north-east, east-north-east and east. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions at an undetermined distance south-west and west.
In Luhansk region the SMM observed more ceasefire violations, including at least 62 explosions compared with one in the previous reporting period. Positioned in government-controlled Lobacheve (17km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard, within forty minutes, about 50 explosions (20 assessed as automatic-grenade-launcher fire 1km south and about 30 assessed as IFV (BMP) cannon fire 2km south-west). Positioned south of “LPR”-controlled Novyi (54km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions at an unknown distance north-east.
The SMM followed up on reports from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) about shelling in “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk) on 6 and 7 December. In a residential area of Dokuchaievsk, a female resident showed the SMM her apartment on the third floor of a building, facing west. A 12.7mm projectile had pierced one of the windows from a south-westerly direction.
The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement areas of Stanytsia Luhanska, 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. As a result of non-compliance with the provisions of the TCG’s decision, the SMM’s access remained restricted in all three areas,* but the Mission was able to partially monitor them. The SMM noted no demining or fencing off of mines in any of the three areas during the reporting period.
In government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer told the SMM that the disengagement process had not started as the required seven-day period without ceasefire violations had not been reached. No demining activities were conducted either.
Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC at the checkpoint in Zolote said that the Ukrainian Armed Forces were ready to open the entry-exit checkpoint.
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.
In violation of the withdrawal lines, in government-controlled areas the SMM noted nine self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) and six towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) near Bohoiavlenka (46km south-west of Donetsk). In “DPR”-controlled areas the SMM observed one tank 1km south of Sakhanka.
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside assigned sites, in government-controlled areas the SMM observed: two surface-to-air missile systems (9K33 Osa, 120mm), one near Pokrovsk (55km north-west of Donetsk) on 8 December and one north of Berestove (90km north-east of Donetsk; and a surface-to-air-missile system (9K37) west of Mariupol (102km south of Donetsk).
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 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and 24 towed howitzers: 18 (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) and six (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm). The SMM noted as absent 22 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), as first noted absent on 24 April 2016 (one) and 3 November 2016 (21); and eight towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), as previously noted absent.
The SMM revisited permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces site the SMM noted that 19 tanks (T-64) were absent, as previously noted. The SMM also observed one weapon present for the first time. At an “LPR” permanent storage site, the SMM noted that all weapons previously recorded as withdrawn to that site were present.
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM noted one IFV (BMP) in Stanytsia Luhanska on 8 December. On 9 December the SMM noted one IFV (BMP-1) in Kamianka, and three armoured personnel carriers (APC; BTR-80) near Lebedynske. In “LPR”-controlled areas the SMM saw one IFV (BMP-1) static in Smile (31km north-west of Luhansk). An SMM mini-UAV spotted on 5 December, two APCs (BTRs) and one IFV (BMP) in Stanytsia Luhanska (outside the disengagement area).
In “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM was approached by a civilian vehicle with Russian Federation licence plates and four men armed with assault rifles (AK-47) who engaged in conversation with the SMM. They were wearing military-type clothes. Two of them introduced themselves as Russian citizens.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation of civilians at entry-exit checkpoints. On 8 December at a government checkpoint in Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM noted around 150 pedestrians and 270 passenger cars queuing to enter government-controlled areas. There was no queue formed in the opposite direction. The border guards’ commander at a government checkpoint in Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk) said that the maximum authorized weight of goods per person to be transported into non-government-controlled areas had been increased from 50 to 75kg.
The SMM noted no repairs to the wooden ramps connecting the broken parts of the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska. People were struggling while carrying heavy bags and boxes up and down on the wooden ramps, sometimes falling down as the wooden ramps were slippery.
The SMM continued to monitor repairs to essential infrastructure, co-ordinated by the JCCC. The SMM observed repairs to the electric power line between government-controlled Avdiivka and “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata that supplies with power the Donetsk Water Filtration Station (4km north-west of Yasynuvata). Later the repair team informed the SMM that the work had been completed successfully and that power would be supplied to the water filtration station. While in the area the SMM heard ceasefire violations (see above). In the afternoon, the SMM informed the JCCC to facilitate adherence to the ceasefire for the SMM to safely leave the area. The JCCC intervened successfully to restore adherence to the ceasefire.
The SMM monitored the Ukraine-Russian Federation border in areas currently not controlled by the Government. During its 90-minute visit at the border crossing point in Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed a generally calm situation. Five pedestrians entered Ukraine. Forty-three cars (30 with Ukrainian and 12 with Russian Federation licence plates, as well as one with “LPR” plates), and one truck (with Ukrainian licence plates) were queuing to leave Ukraine.
The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi, and Kyiv.
*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, 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:
- In “DPR”-controlled Petrivske the SMM noted that no demining had taken place on the road west towards the disengagement area. Thus, the threat of mines and the absence of security guarantees prevented the SMM from using the road. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- A roadblock south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge prevented the SMM from proceeding east towards a summer residential area. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM was unable to access secondary routes in the Zolote-Pervomaisk disengagement area from the “LPR” side. Armed “LPR” members said they could not guarantee the SMM’s safety due to the threat from mines and UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- Several concrete blocks and barbed wire blocked the road between government-controlled Zolote-3 (60km west of Luhansk) and the disengagement area, preventing the SMM from travelling on the road. The SMM also observed several mine hazard signs on both sides of the road. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) in either direction. Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said the bridge was mined. Armed “LPR” members told the SMM that they could not guarantee its safety due to the threat of mines. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- At a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site the entrance was blocked by a freshly cut tree and there was no personnel at or around the site.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at a heavy weapon holding areas prevented the SMM from accessing part of the site, saying that it belonged to another unit whose commander was not present. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- A Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier prevented the SMM from proceeding further east at a checkpoint near Lebedynske. He said that the personnel at the checkpoint had not been informed about the SMM’s movement in the area. The SMM informed the JCCC, but access was not facilitated during 90 minutes, after which the SMM decided to leave.
- The SMM could not proceed further at an “LPR” checkpoint in Zhovte (17km north-west of Luhansk), as the road was blocked by tree branches and mine hazard signs. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- In Petrivske the SMM had to wait for thirty minutes for an armed “DPR” member to arrive and allow the SMM access into the village. He added that any questions had to be addressed to “DPR” “leadership”. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at a heavy weapon holding area gave the SMM access after learning that there were no Russian monitors in the patrol. They also allowed the SMM to access the site only on foot. (The site was about 500 metres from where the SMM had to park the vehicles.) The SMM informed the JCCC.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.