Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 29 January 2017
This report is for the general public and the media.
In Donetsk and Luhansk regions the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations between the evenings of 27 and 28 January compared with the previous reporting period, and more between the evenings of 28 to 29 January, including an escalation of violence in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area. The SMM followed up on reports of damage in several residential areas due to shelling. The Mission continued monitoring the three disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske but its access remained restricted.* There were ceasefire violations inside the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area on 27 and 28 January. In violation of withdrawal lines the Mission observed tanks and howitzers near Avdiivka and a surface-to-air missile system near Hannivka. It visited two border areas currently outside of government control.
The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region between the evenings of 27 and 28 January compared with the previous reporting period (including about 330 explosions compared with about 520). In the following 24 hours, however, the SMM recorded over 2,300 explosions, primarily in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area.
On the night of 27-28 January, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre the SMM heard 102 undetermined explosions 2-12km west-north-west and north-west. An SMM camera at “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk) recorded one projectile in flight from north-west to south-east, 4-5km north-east, followed by 43 undetermined explosions, 84 projectiles in flight (50 south-east to north-west, 34 north-west to south-east), and 50 tracer rounds in flight from south-east to north-west, all 4-6km north-east of the camera.
The same night an SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded five projectiles in flight from north to south, 4-5km south-east, followed by 35 undetermined explosions, seven projectiles in flight from north to south and one illumination flare in vertical flight, all 1-5km south-east of the camera. During the day on 28 January, the camera recorded one undetermined explosion and five projectiles in flight from north to south, 3-6km south-east.
During the day on 28 January, positioned north-west of Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard
14 undetermined explosions, six bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, and 81 shots of small-arms fire, all 2-4km north-west and north-north-west.
During the night of 28-29 January, while in Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions 3-6km west-north-west and north-north-west, followed by nearly two hours of uncountable undetermined explosions 8-12km north-west. The SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine recorded an undetermined explosion 3-5km west-north-west, followed by 28 undetermined explosions, six illumination flares in vertical flight, six tracer rounds in flight from south to north, all 3-5km west-north-west. This was followed by nearly two hours of uncountable undetermined explosions, tracer rounds and projectiles in flight, all 6-9km north-east, followed by four undetermined explosions and one airburst, all 6-10km north-east.
During the same two hours of intense fighting recorded while in Donetsk city, the SMM camera in Avdiivka recorded uncountable undetermined explosions, tracer rounds, and projectiles in flight, 2-6km south-south-east, the first recorded being 15 projectiles in flight from north-west to south-east. This was followed by a period of over two hours when the camera recorded 28 undetermined explosions 4-6km east-south-east and south-east.
During the day on 29 January, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for over five hours, the SMM heard over 100 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of an undetermined weapon 1-5km at directions ranging from south-east to south-west, 116 undetermined explosions 2-7km at directions ranging from south-south-west to north-north-west, and 101 undetermined explosions 1-5km at directions ranging from south-east to south.
The same day, positioned 6km north-west of Donetsk city centre for over four hours, the SMM heard over 1,330 undetermined explosions 1-7km north, north-north-east and north-east, and 16 undetermined explosions 2-10km west, north-west, and north-north-west. The Mission also heard uncountable explosions assessed as impacts of automatic-grenade-launcher rounds, and intense heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire. Positioned in Avdiivka for over four hours, the SMM heard 416 undetermined explosions 2-5km east-south-east, as well as uncountable bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire.
While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 27 January, the SMM heard 16 undetermined explosions and seven bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 7-12km south-west.
The same evening, while in government-controlled Mariupol (102km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard more than 50 undetermined explosions at unknown distances to the north-east and east-north-east.
During the night of 27-28 January an SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded 20 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, at an unknown distance north-north-east, followed by 30 undetermined explosions; one explosion assessed as an outgoing round of an undetermined weapon, followed by a rocket-assisted projectile in flight from west to east; over 150 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, of which 59 were assessed to be from an anti-aircraft cannon (ZU-23, 23mm); and nine tracer rounds in flight from east to west, all at unknown distances to the north-north-east and north-east. On the following morning, positioned at the camera site, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions (one 4km north, one 2km west) and one explosion assessed as the outgoing round of a mortar (calibre unknown) 2km north-east. That evening the camera recorded 37 tracer rounds in flight (14 from east to west at an unknown distance north, 23 assessed to be anti-aircraft cannon fire over 6km north) followed by an exchange consisting of 66 undetermined explosions and over 240 tracer rounds in flight, mostly from east to west, all at unknown distances north and north-east.
In Luhansk region between the evenings of 27 and 28 January the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations compared with the previous reporting period, including no explosions. In the following 24 hours, however, the SMM recorded 168 explosions. On 29 January, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Raivka (16km north-west of Luhansk), the Mission heard 40 explosions assessed as artillery rounds 12-15km north-west. Positioned near government-controlled Staryi Aidar (20km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 42 undetermined explosions 12-15km south-south-west. Positioned near government-controlled Lopaskyne (23km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 85 explosions assessed as 120mm mortar rounds 10-15km south-south-west.
The SMM followed up on reports of damage in residential areas due to shelling. On 27 January the SMM observed six fresh impact sites about 100m south of an armed formation position on the northern edge of “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (49km west of Luhansk): two on a street about 10m from the nearest houses, and four in the backyards of two houses that had slight shrapnel damage and charring on their southern-facing walls. The SMM assessed that the impacts were caused by rounds from a recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm), one fired from a northerly direction (impacting in the street) and the other five fired from a west-south-westerly direction.
On the northern edge of Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed a hole in the east-facing door of a house assessed as caused by a bullet, and shrapnel damage assessed as caused by a recoilless gun (SPG-9) round on the west-facing side of a fence on the other side of the house. Two men (aged about 35 and 45) told the SMM that the house was hit on 23 January. Nearer the centre of the village, the SMM observed a house with shrapnel damage to the north-western corner of its roof. Traces in the nearby snow and dirt indicated a blast had occurred. A resident of the house (male, aged about 55) showed the SMM fragments of 82mm mortar rounds and said that on 26 January the house was hit by mortar fire.
On 28 January the SMM observed a fresh crater in the backyard of a house on Zelena Street in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), along with cracks in and broken bricks by the house’s south-south-east-facing walls, broken windows, and a car with a hole in the front windshield, a smashed rear windshield, and a broken right-rear window. The SMM assessed the crater as caused by a 122mm mortar round fired from a south-south-easterly direction. The house’s owner said that impact occurred in the early morning of 27 January. On Kosmitsheska Street the SMM observed a fresh crater 20m from a house with broken windows, minor damage to its walls, and missing roof tiles, all on its south-facing side. A house across the street had similar damage on its south-facing side. The SMM assessed the crater was caused by a 122mm mortar round fired from a southerly direction.
In “LPR”-controlled Brianka (46km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed a fresh crater about 25m from two houses with blown-out windows and shrapnel damage in the south-facing walls. The SMM could not assess the type of weapon or direction of fire.
In “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw a house with a damaged roof and a wall with broken bricks near a fresh impact site that the SMM assessed as caused by a 120mm mortar round fired a west-south-westerly direction. Three nearby houses had broken windows and holes in fences, and one had a hole in its roof. A woman (aged about 80) said the impact occurred at 03:00 on 27 January.
On 29 January, about 6m from a checkpoint in “LPR”-controlled Sentianivka (formerly Frunze, 44km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed two fresh impact sites, assessed as caused by mortar rounds. An armed man at a checkpoint in “LPR”-controlled Holubivka (formerly Kirovsk, 51km west of Luhansk) told the SMM the second crater was caused by the controlled detonation of a piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO). In Donetskyi and Sentianivka, the SMM spoke with eight residents in three different locations who reported hearing shots and explosions in the vicinity over a four-hour period on the night of 28-29 January.
In “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol), accompanied by a “DPR” member and a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), the SMM observed a house with a large hole in the roof and several shattered south-west-facing windows, assessed as caused by a 73mm round from an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-1) cannon. The SMM could not assess the direction of fire. A man (aged about 35) residing in the house said the impact had occurred on the evening of 28 January.
In “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed a house with shattered windows and shrapnel marks on the roof and wall, all on the house’s south-western side. Nearby, four electricity lines were down. Residents showed the SMM a location said to be an impact site, but it was covered by snow. A man (aged about 65) said the village had been shelled on the evening of 28 January.
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.* The SMM observed no de-mining activities or disengagement in the three areas.
On the morning of 27 January, the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded three shots of an undetermined weapon about 750m south-south-west. On the morning of 28 January, the same camera recorded one projectile in flight from south to north, almost 2km south-south-east. All violations were assessed as inside the disengagement area. On 28 January, a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no disengagement or de-mining activities would take place that day.
On the evening of 26 January, the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote recorded three explosions assessed as artillery rounds 6-15km south-east, followed by six explosions assessed as artillery rounds 5-15km south-south-east and two projectiles in flight from north to south, 5km east. All violations were assessed as outside the disengagement area. Positioned in government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) on 28 January, the SMM heard three bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-5km north-east, assessed as outside the disengagement area.
On 28 January, positioned east of government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk) near the Petrivske disengagement area, the SMM heard five undetermined explosions at an unknown distance to the north-east, assessed to be outside the disengagement area.
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.
On 29 January, in violation of withdrawal lines, the SMM observed: in government-controlled areas, four tanks (T-64) west of Avdiivka travelling east and three howitzers (2A18, 122mm) towed by trucks travelling east near Mykhailivka (37km north-west of Donetsk); and in “LPR”-controlled areas, a stationary surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa, 210mm) near Hannivka (58km west of Luhansk).
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside assigned sites, the SMM observed on 28 January three tanks (T-64) on stationary transporters near government-controlled Druzhkivka (72km north of Donetsk) and, on 29 January, one tank (T-64) on a stationary transporter near government-controlled Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk).
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 beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed nine anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm). The SMM observed that the following weapons were again absent: 12 anti-tank guns (MT-12) and six towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), four of which were missing for the first time. One holding area continued to be abandoned, with 29 anti-tank guns (28 MT-12; one T-12, 100mm) having been previously observed at the site.
The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles and military-type trucks in the security zone, as well as other hardware outside the security zone. In government-controlled areas on 28 January the SMM saw a stationary armoured personnel carrier (APC; BRDM-2) near Vrubivka (72km west of Luhansk), a stationary IFV (BMP-1) near Stanytsia Luhanska (outside the disengagement area), nine stationary IFVs (BMP-2) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), an APC (MT-LB) with a probable anti-aircraft cannon (ZU-23) travelling north-east near Talakivka (17km north-east of Mariupol). In “LPR”-controlled areas on 29 January, the SMM saw two APCs (MT-LB), one towed IFV (BMP), and one covered vehicle (possibly a BMP) travelling south-east near Brianka (49km west of Luhansk), and a covered APC (MT-LB) stationary near Molodizhne (63km north-west of Luhansk). Near “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed two stationary APCs (one BTR-70, one BTR-80).
Near Yasynuvata, the SMM observed a Ural truck with armed persons in white clothing and four other military-type trucks (at least one with armed persons), all travelling west-north-west. Near government-controlled Vodiane (42km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed three trucks, each with a mine-laying device containing 128 anti-tank mines.
The SMM continued to observe the presence of UXO and mine hazard signs. On 28 January, three armed “LPR” members stopped the SMM and showed it an object on a road north-east of Sentianivka, marked by twigs, that the SMM assessed was an unexploded 82mm mortar round. The “LPR” members said a demining team would likely remove it within two days. On the edge of “DPR”-controlled Styla (34km south of Donetsk), the SMM observed a new mine hazard sign affixed to a tree along the highway. The sign was red, emblazoned with a white skull-and-crossbones symbol, and read “Stop, Mines!” in Russian and “Danger, Mines!” in English.
The SMM continued to note the difficult situation of civilians walking across the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, observing on 29 January that the wooden ramps at the broken section of the bridge were slippery, and that the boards shook with as few as two people stepping on them, even when they were not carrying bags or boxes.
On 28 and 29 January, the SMM observed that the blockade of a railway track near government-controlled Hirske (63km west of Luhansk) remained in place, with eight unarmed men in camouflage present at the site, along with logs placed on the tracks. (See SMM Daily Report 27 January 2017.)
The SMM visited two border areas currently not under the control of the Government. On 28 January during 45 minutes at the border crossing point in Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw ten private vehicles (eight with Ukrainian licence plates, one with Russian Federation licence plates, and one with “LPR” plates), one van (Ukrainian licence plates, van contents not visible), and one bus (Russian Federation licence plates) leaving Ukraine, and nine private vehicles (one with Ukrainian licence plates, the others with plates not visible to the SMM) entering. During 45 minutes the SMM saw four pedestrians enter Ukraine, nine private vehicles (with Ukrainian licence plates) join the queue to leave Ukraine, and 16 private vehicles (13 with Ukrainian and three with Russian Federation licence plates) enter Ukraine.
On 29 January, during more than an hour at the border crossing point in Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 14 cars (two with Russian Federation licence plates, one with a Lithuanian licence plate, and 11 with Ukrainian licence plates), two covered trucks (one with a Ukrainian licence plate and one with an “LPR” plate) and three buses (all with Ukrainian licence plates) leaving Ukraine. The SMM saw 38 pedestrians leave Ukraine and 25 enter. Three private vehicles (two with Ukrainian licence plates and one with Russian Federation licence plates) entered 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, 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:
- On 28 January, a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no demining activities had taken place during the previous 24 hours in the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area and that, with the exception of the main road, the SMM’s safety could not be guaranteed in the surrounding areas due to the possible presence of mines and/or UXO. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
- On 28 and 29 January an armed “LPR” member told the SMM that no demining activities had taken place during the previous 24 hours in the Zolote disengagement area. Due to the danger of mines the SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
- On 28 and 29 January, due to the lack of security guarantees and possible threat from mines, the SMM could not travel west from “DPR”-controlled Petrivske. The SMM informed the JCCC both times.
- On 28 and 29 January, on the road between Popasna and Katerynivka, the SMM could not proceed due to the presence of anti-tank obstacles. Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel told the SMM that the area was mined. The SMM informed the JCCC both times.
- On 29 January, armed “DPR” members at a checkpoint in Yasynuvata did not allow the SMM to proceed, saying that due to fighting in the area the SMM would need an escort approved both by “DPR” members and the JCCC. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- On 28 and 29 January, an armed “DPR” member in Petrivske escorted the SMM while it retrieved data from the SMM camera. The SMM informed the JCCC both times.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.