Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 5 January 2017
The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with the previous reporting period, but fewer of these were explosions. In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded fewer ceasefire violations compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM followed up on an explosion in Donetsk city. The Mission observed unexploded ordnance in Pikuzy and impact sites near Svitlodarsk. The SMM continued monitoring the three disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske, but its access remained restricted.* The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. The SMM monitored the removal of a roadblock between Lopaskyne and Lobacheve. The Mission monitored two border crossing points currently not under government control.
The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with the previous reporting period, but fewer of these (109 compared with about 140) were explosions. Most violations recorded were in the areas of Svitlodarsk and Debaltseve.
On the evening of 4 January, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 66 explosions assessed as rounds of 152mm artillery, five assessed as impacts and the rest undetermined, all 8-12km south-east. The Mission also heard 15 shots of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-2) cannon (30mm), eight bursts of anti-aircraft cannon (ZU-23, 23mm), and seven bursts of automatic-grenade-launcher fire, all 3-8km south-east or south-south-east. On 5 January, in the same location, the SMM heard five explosions assessed as 120mm mortar rounds, two explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of an undetermined weapon, 20 shots of IFV (BMP-2) cannon, four bursts of anti-aircraft cannon (ZU-23) and intense heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 4-8km south-south-east. The Mission also heard two undetermined explosions, 35 shots of IFV (BMP-2) cannon and intense heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 4-12km east-south-east.
On the evening of 4 January, while in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 16 undetermined explosions 10-12km east.
On the evening of 4 January, while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions, two bursts of anti-aircraft cannon fire, and five bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 4-5km south-west.
On the evening of 4 January, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, during a period of almost two hours, an engagement beginning with one tracer round in flight from west to east at an unknown distance north of the camera, followed by two undetermined explosions and intense bursts of tracer rounds in flight (trajectories undetermined), all at unknown distances north or north-east of the camera.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations compared with the previous reporting period, including 22 (compared with 48) explosions. Positioned in government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), the Mission heard one explosion assessed as the impact of a 152mm artillery round 2.5km west. Sixteen minutes later, positioned north-west of the town, the SMM heard another explosion assessed as a 152mm artillery round impact, 5.5km south-west. Positioned north of “LPR”-controlled Khoroshe (36km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard six undetermined explosions assessed as mortar rounds and six shots of IFV (BMP-2) cannon fire, all more than 10km west-north-west. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Zhovte (17km north-west of Luhansk), the Mission heard seven undetermined explosions 10-15km west.
The SMM followed up on an explosion that it heard 1km south of its position at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) early in the afternoon of 4 January (see SMM Daily Report 5 January). The SMM observed a black spot with a 6-7m radius on the ground in a vehicle parking space. The Mission noted dents and holes in the metal fence of a market, and minor damage to the roof and walls of a small shop. Small pieces of plastic and metal were present on the parking space and the SMM observed the remains of the upper part of a Mercedes minibus nearby. Five people who said they were working at the market when the explosion occurred told the Mission that the minibus had been parked on the side of the road next to a house. Immediately after the explosion, the minibus driver told them he had heard a “click” while opening the passenger-side door, after which the door blew off the vehicle and knocked him to the ground. The five people said the driver had not suffered any serious injuries and had not sought medical assistance. No other injuries were reported.
The SMM observed unexploded ordnance (UXO) and assessed impact sites. In “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed two unexploded 120mm mortar rounds in the middle of a road, five metres from the nearest house, assessed as fired from a westerly direction. Tyres had been placed on either side of the rounds. A woman (aged 60-70) told the Mission she had heard shelling the night of 31 December–1 January. Two “DPR” members told the SMM the unexploded rounds landed during that shelling.
Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence of about 250 impact sites about 5km south-east of Svitlodarsk on 4 January. The craters were not observed in imagery from November 2016.
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. The SMM’s access to all three areas remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*
At the “LPR” checkpoint south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM heard one burst of small-arms fire about 1km north-north-west of its position. The Mission was unable to assess if the burst was inside or outside of the disengagement area.
The SMM noted no demining or fencing-off of mines at the Zolote disengagement area. The Mission crossed from government-controlled areas and back again, noting a calm situation.
The SMM observed a calm situation in the Petrivske disengagement area but no demining or fencing off of mines. Armed “DPR” members insisted on escorting the Mission to the SMM camera location.*
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.
Aerial imagery available to the SMM, recorded on 4 January, revealed in violation of the withdrawal lines the following weapons in areas not controlled by the Government: 21 towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm; and probably 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) and more than 200 fresh weapons impacts from artillery and smaller-calibre weaponry at a training area near Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk) as well as 15 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) and 33 probable MLRS at a training area near Miusynsk (62km south-west of Luhansk).
The imagery also revealed the following weapons beyond withdrawal lines but outside of assigned sites: 33 tanks at the training area near Buhaivka; 11 tanks, 18 towed howitzers or mortars, nine probable self-propelled howitzers or mortars and vehicle tracks in the snow indicating recent movement at the training area near Miusynsk; and about 55 tanks as well as tracks in the snow indicating recent movement at a compound near “DPR”-controlled Manuilivka (65km east of Donetsk). (In total the imagery revealed 238 pieces of equipment and weaponry at the training area near Miusynsk, nearly 60 more than observed in July 2016.)
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 government-controlled areas, the SMM observed six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm). The SMM noted as missing 22 anti-tank guns (MT-12, 21 missing as of November 2016 and one missing as of April 2016).
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACVs) and an anti-aircraft gun in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the Mission observed four IFVs (BMP-2) near Avdiivka and an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) on a truck travelling east near Troitske. Aerial imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence of one ACV near Dolomitne (53km north-east of Donetsk) on 4 January.
The SMM observed a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), in response to an SMM request, ask Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel to remove a roadblock between government-controlled Lopaskyne (23km north-west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Lobacheve (17km north-west of Luhansk) that had previously restricted SMM freedom of movement (see SMM Daily Report 4 January 2016). The personnel removed the roadblock.
At the western edge of “LPR”-controlled Verhulivka (64km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed 11 workers repairing railway tracks on the Popasna–Debaltseve line.
The SMM visited border crossing points, including two currently not under control of the Government. At the border crossing point in “DPR”-controlled Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 70 private vehicles (three with Georgian licence plates, one with Lithuanian licence plates, and the remainder with an approximately even proportion of Ukrainian and Russian Federation licence plates), two covered trucks (both with Ukrainian licence plates) and three buses (licence plates not visible) queuing to exit Ukraine. A bus driver told the Mission he had been in the queue for over 90 minutes, and the driver of a private vehicle said he had been in the queue for over six hours. During the SMM’s 20-minute stay, no vehicles passed the crossing point in either direction. At the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk), during more than an hour, the SMM observed two pedestrians enter Ukraine and two pedestrians leave in the opposite direction. Six passenger vehicles were parked near the crossing (three with Ukrainian licence plates and three with Russian Federation licence plates).
During one hour at the border crossing point in government-controlled Milove (108km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 25 private vehicles (20 with Ukrainian licence plates, five with Russian Federation licence plates) enter Ukraine and 21 civilian vehicles (all with Ukrainian licence plates) travel in the opposite direction. Twenty pedestrians entered Ukraine and ten travelled in the opposite direction.
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, 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:
- The SMM was unable to access areas other than the main road in the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, as a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC present said he could not assist in ensuring the security of the Mission due to the possible presence of mines or UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- Due to the residual threat of mines and UXO, the SMM was unable to access secondary routes in the Zolote-Pervomaisk disengagement area from the “LPR”-controlled side. An armed “LPR” member said there had been no further demining activities on these routes. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- In “DPR”-controlled Petrivske, the SMM was unable to travel west toward the disengagement area, as an armed man was unable to tell the Mission whether demining had been conducted. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM was unable to travel from government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) to government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) due to anti-tank obstacles on the road. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM could not travel south from the Shchastia bridge, as Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said they could not guarantee the Mission’s safety due to the possible presence of mines or UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- In Petrivske, an armed “DPR” member stopped the SMM. After 19 minutes, another armed member escorted the Mission while it accessed the SMM camera.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.