Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 31 January 2017
This report is for the general public and the media.
The SMM noted a significant increase in ceasefire violations recorded in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions and recorded the widespread use of multiple-launch-rocket systems in Avdiivka, Yasynuvata and Horlivka. The number of explosions in Donetsk region was the highest yet recorded by the SMM. While the majority of violations were in the wider area of Avdiivka-Yasynuvata, the SMM recorded hundreds of explosions in different areas of the contact line. The Mission observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines and on the move on both sides of the contact line. The Mission monitored the humanitarian situation in Avdiivka, and followed up on reports of civilian casualties and saw damage caused by shelling in Troitske and Novooleksandrivka. The SMM continued monitoring the three disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske but its access remained restricted.* The SMM was denied access to Yasynuvata. The SMM visited border areas currently not under control of the Government. In Kyiv the SMM monitored a protest against the reported arrest in Crimea of a Crimean Tatar lawyer.
The SMM noted a significant increase in ceasefire violations recorded in Donetsk region, including over 10,330 explosions, compared with around 2,500 in the previous reporting period. The number of explosions was the highest yet recorded by the SMM. Over 9,250 of them were recorded in the area of Avdiivka and Yasynuvata.
While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre on the night of 30-31 January the SMM heard 410 undetermined explosions 5-10km north-west and 34 undetermined explosions 5-10km south-west.
On the night of 30 January and well into the afternoon of 31 January the SMM camera at Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk city centre) recorded almost 200 undetermined explosions 6-10km north-east, 104 undetermined explosions 4-6km north-east, 181 explosions 4-5km north-east and 45 undetermined explosions 6-8km north-east.
While in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 30 January the SMM heard over 286 undetermined explosions 5-8km west-north-west and a five-minute period of uncountable overlapping undetermined explosions.
While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 30 January, the SMM heard 106 explosions assessed as outgoing artillery fire and 28 explosions assessed as impacts of artillery rounds 3-5km east. On 31 January, the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions 3-5km north-east, 66 undetermined explosions 6km north-east, five undetermined explosions 2-4km north-east, four undetermined explosions 3-4km north-east and one explosion assessed as outgoing infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; 30mm) cannon fire and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-4km north-east.
On the night of 30 January, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded 23 tracer rounds, nine of which were in flight from west to east, 13 from east to west and one from south-west to north-east, and one undetermined explosion, all to the north-east.
While in government-controlled Mariupol (102km south of Donetsk) on the night of 30 January the SMM heard 44 undetermined explosions to the east. On 31 January the SMM heard 22 undetermined explosions east.
On the night of 30-31 January, while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM saw 62 airbursts 8-20km south-west and heard over 100 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire 4-10 km south-west, north-west and 10-15km south-south-east. On the morning of 31 January, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions 8-9km south and south-west. In the afternoon the SMM heard 190 undetermined explosions and approximately 1,800 outgoing explosions assessed as multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) (type unknown) fire and 50 undetermined explosions 20km south-west and south-south-east. Later the SMM heard 135 undetermined explosions and 2,640 explosions assessed as outgoing MLRS fire 20km south-west. In the early evening the SMM heard 120 explosions assessed as impacts of MLRS rounds 6km north-west.
On 31 January, positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) the SMM heard almost 2,250 undetermined explosions 1-5km east and east-south-east and almost 200 explosions assessed as impacts of MLRS rounds 3.4-4km east-south-east. On 31 January, the SMM camera in Avdiivka recorded 53 undetermined explosions all 2-4km south-east.
On 31 January, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 65-80 explosions assessed as outgoing MLRS fire in four distinct salvos 8-10km south and some of their impacts 8-12km west-south-west, and 621 undetermined explosions, 119 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds, 40 explosions assessed as impacts, five explosions assessed as impacts of automatic grenade launcher , all at distances 3-12km north, north-east, south-east, south, south-west, west and north-west.
Positioned in government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk) the SMM heard between 500 and 600 undetermined explosions and uncountable bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-15km east-north-east.
Positioned south-east of government-controlled Lomakyne (15km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard 30 explosions assessed as artillery fire 2km north-east. Positioned 1km north of government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 14 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds and 14 subsequent impact explosions and bursts of small-arms fire 2-5km east.
Positioned to the east of Mariupol and 5km west of government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard 25 undetermined explosions 5-10km east. Positioned in Lebedynske the SMM heard ten explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds 3-4km east-north-east and as many explosions assessed as their impacts 3km north; bursts of small-arms fire 3-4km north-north-east; four outgoing explosions of automatic-grenade-launcher-fire; five explosions assessed as outgoing mortar (120mm) rounds 2-3km north and five explosions assessed as 120mm mortar round impacts 5-6km north-east. Positioned 2km south-east of Lebedynske the SMM heard five explosions assessed as outgoing mortar (120mm) rounds 4-5km north-east, and five explosions assessed as their impacts 6-7km north.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations including over 730 explosions, compared with 48 explosions in the previous reporting period.
Positioned in government-controlled Staryi Aidar (20km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 318 undetermined explosions, assessed as mortar (82mm and 120mm) and automatic grenade launcher (AGS-17) fire 3-5km north-west. Positioned in government-controlled Lopaskyne (23km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard more than 100 undetermined explosions, 15-20km west-south-west. Positioned in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 100 undetermined explosions 10-15km south and south-west. Positioned in government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions: five assessed as artillery (122mm) fire 2-3km south-east, 11 assessed as artillery (152mm) fire 5-7km and seven undetermined 5-7km north-west. Positioned in government-controlled Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions 5-7km east.
Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Zhovte (17km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 60 undetermined explosions 15-30km west-south-west. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Pionerske (19km east of Luhansk) the SMM heard 57 undetermined explosions, 20km west-south-west of its position. Positioned near “LPR”-controlled Karpaty (35km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions 10-15km east and south-east (assessed as live-fire training). Positioned on the “LPR”-controlled side of the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 20-30km west.
On 29 January the SMM camera in Zolote recorded two explosions assessed as artillery fire 10-20km south, three explosions assessed as artillery fire 10-20km south-south-west. On 30 January, the camera recorded four explosions assessed as artillery fire 5-15km south-south-west, three undetermined explosions assessed as artillery fire 10-20km south-south-east and two undetermined explosions assessed as artillery fire 5-15km south-south-east.
The SMM continued to follow up on reports of civilian casualties. Medical staff at hospital no. 1 in “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk) gave an update on the condition of a 29-year-old man who was admitted on 30 January with multiple shrapnel injuries to the anterior thorax. (SMM Daily Report, 31 January.) They said he had been moved to specialist unit in the Kalinina hospital in Donetsk for surgery. Medical staff also said that a 50-year-old man had been transferred from hospital no. 5 with bruises on his head, caused when he was knocked over by the blast wave of an explosion. According to medical staff, the man had been released.
Medical staff at hospital no. 24 in Donetsk city told the SMM that a 48-year-old man had been admitted on 30 January and had been released following treatment for shrapnel wounds to his hand. Medical staff said he had told them he had been injured in Staromykhailivka.
The SMM monitored the humanitarian situation in Avdiivka following reports that utilities had been cut by shelling. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) told the SMM at the Avdiivka Coke Factory that it had lost power when shells had cut the remaining power lines. The SMM confirmed that the factory was not operational and had no water supply. According to the officer, this resulted in heating being cut to civilians in Avdiivka. He said they had been unable to locate the area where the power line was cut and that repair workers would in any case not be able to reach the area, due to the security situation. Workers at the Donetsk water filtration station told the SMM that the station was without power as a result of the shelling.
In Avdiivka the SMM saw five heating tents (provided by humanitarian organizations) set up for civilians by the State Emergency Service. Food, tea and medicine were being provided. Some civilians in the tent said that they were short of bread. The SMM heard generators and saw civilians charging mobile phones. An employee of the State Emergency Service told the SMM that there were six mobile kitchens and generators available in the city.
Civil-military administration staff in Avdiivka told the SMM that town’s main problem was lack of electricity. According to a member of the administration, much of the population has moved to the old town, where there are homes with private heating. According to him, the administration had been distributing medicine and food, and various government departments and NGOs were supplying information directly to civilians, in the absence of working telecommunications coverage. He said schoolchildren were staying at home due to lack of heating in schools and that the town’s hospital was operating on a generator and had water. The interlocutor said the administration had been gathering vulnerable people, including hospital patients, to be evacuated from the area on a voluntary basis. Many have already been moved, he said. He also said the administration has the capacity to evacuate 16,000 people to adjacent areas. According to him about three days before, the remaining population had been 22-25,000 people.
The SMM observed shelling damage in residential areas. In government-controlled Troitske (69km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed impact sites and damage to houses. Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC who accompanied the SMM and residents said the shelling had taken place on 29 January. The SMM saw three fresh impact sites, all within 50-200m of houses. One crater was about 50m from a house, which had damage to the south-facing wall and roof. The owner said she had been home during the shelling together with her two sons, and that no one had been injured. In Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk) the SMM saw a fresh crater assessed as caused by a mortar (120mm) round about 200m from a house, but could not assess the direction of fire. A resident told the SMM the crater was caused on the night of 30 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.*
Positioned 2km east of government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions, bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun (or 30mm cannon) fire to the east (assessed as outside the disengagement area).
On the early morning of 30 January the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) recorded one flash assessed as small-arms fire, assessed as inside the disengagement area at a location consistent with a Ukrainian Armed Forces position at the north end of the railway.
On 31 January the “LPR”-controlled side of the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska the SMM observed “LPR” members checking the area for mines. The SMM followed on foot 100m behind the “LPR” members from the Prince Ihor monument north towards the summer cottage area. The SMM travelled by vehicle on the unpaved road leading west from the Prince Ihor monument, leading to a summer cottage area north-west of the monument. The SMM was able to drive on some of the paths in this area. On paths next to the cottages west of the Prince Ihor Monument the SMM observed around 70 mine signs warning of suspected mines/UXO. The SMM travelled on all side roads/paths leading towards the “LPR”-controlled side of Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area and noted that the immediate surroundings of the “LPR” checkpoint were cleared or marked and were drivable or passable for the SMM.
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 respective withdrawal lines, in government-controlled areas the SMM observed: three MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) in a convoy of seven military trucks travelling east, north-west of Memryk (33km north-west of Donetsk); two self-propelled howitzers (2S3, Akatsiya 152mm) heading south near government-controlled Novookhtyrka (55km north-west of Luhansk); four anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) heading east near Novookhtyrka; one stationary anti-tank gun (MT-12) west of Novoaidar; two tanks (T-64) moving towards Avdiivka from the north of the town and one tank (T-64) travelling away from the contact line in Avdiivka; two tanks (T-64) moving from Novobakhmutivka (28km north of Donetsk) in the direction of Avdiivka and two tanks (T-72) travelling east towards Karlivka (25km north-west of Donetsk). Aerial imagery available to the SMM revealed an MLRS near Spirne (96km north of Donetsk) and one possible MLRS (BM-21) near government-controlled Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk).
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas, the SMM observed a truck carrying a covered artillery piece travelling east towards “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata. Aerial imagery revealed a number of weapons in violation of the respective lines: 42 MLRS at a known training area near “LPR”-controlled Miusynsk (62km south-west of Luhansk) on 29 January and 20 towed howitzers at a known training area near “LPR”-controlled Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk) on 28 January.
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside assigned areas the SMM saw four tanks (T-64) manoeuvring in tactical formation at a known training area near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk). Also beyond withdrawal lines, aerial imagery available to the SMM revealed at least 38 tanks near “DPR”-controlled Manuilivka (65km east of Donetsk), five tanks at a known training area near Buhaivka on 28 January, and 15 towed howitzers at a known training area near Miusynsk on 30 January. The imagery also revealed the presence of 66 armoured vehicles and 122 military trucks at the training site near Miusynsk.
In government-controlled areas the SMM observed a surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa, 120mm) near Novookhtyrka. Aerial imagery available revealed about 12 tanks near government-controlled Spirne.
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 beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed three MLRS (BM-21), one of which was loaded; two self-propelled mortars (2S9, 120mm), two towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm), four self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and saw that 18 self-propelled howitzers (2S1) were missing, four for the first time.
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles, anti-aircraft weapons and military aircraft in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw: one infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-1) next to a house in Stanytsia Luhanska; one armoured personnel carrier (BTR) in Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk). Aerial imagery available to the SMM revealed three armoured vehicles near Syze (23km north-east of Luhansk), five armoured-vehicles near Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol), three probable armoured vehicles near government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), one armoured vehicle west of government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) and four armoured vehicles south of government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Donetsk). Near Novobakhmutivka (28km north of Donetsk) the SMM saw two airborne military helicopters.
In areas not under government control, aerial imagery available to the SMM revealed three armoured vehicles near “DPR”-controlled Styla (34km south of Donetsk), five armoured vehicles parked next to a road near “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk, one armoured vehicle east of “DPR”-controlled Vuhlehirsk (49km north-east of Donetsk), one armoured vehicle north-east of Novooleksandrivka and one covered armoured combat vehicle (MTLB) close to an “LPR”-controlled checkpoint nearby.
The SMM visited border areas currently not under control of the Government. At the pedestrian border crossing point near Krasnodarskyi-1 (58km south-east of Luhansk) the SMM saw, over the course of 45 minutes, 11 people (seven men and four women, aged between 40 and 60 years old) enter Ukraine. At the pedestrian border crossing point near Krasnodarskyi-2 (59km south-east of Luhansk) for 35 minutes the SMM saw two women (aged about 70 years-old) enter Ukraine, before crossing back carrying shopping.
In Kyiv the SMM monitored a protest in support of Emil Kurbedinov, a Crimean Tatar lawyer, who organizers (Krym SOS) said had been arrested in Crimea on 26 January having been accused of extremism. A Ukrainian Member of Parliament and a leader of the Crimean Mejlis, addressing a crowd of about 75 people, spoke against what they said was persecution of defence lawyers in Crimea. Representatives of two international organizations also addressed the crowd.
The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Chernivtsi.
*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 (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 could not travel on the road between government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk) and Viktorivka (42km south-west of Donetsk) as Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC said they could not assist in ensuring security for the SMM as they did not control the road. Mines were visible on the road. The Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC said they did not know when mines would be removed.
- The SMM could not travel west from Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk) due to a lack of security guarantees.
- 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.
- Armed “LPR” members on the south side of the Zolote-Pervomaisk disengagement area (58km west of Luhansk) told the SMM that they could not guarantee the SMM’s safety in adjacent fields and side roads due to the possible presence of mines and/or UXO. The SMM also observed mine signs in the area. The SMM was unable to proceed and informed the JCCC.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel denied the SMM from travelling between government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk). The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) as Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said no demining had taken place. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- Armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM on the eastern side of Yasynuvata and denied access to the city.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces denied the SMM access to a military compound near Shevchenko (59km south of Donetsk).
- Ukrainian Armed Forces denied the SMM access to a weapons holding area.
- An armed “DPR” member escorted the SMM while it retrieved video data from the SMM camera in Petrivske. The SMM informed the JCCC.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.