Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 8 February 2017
This report is for the general public and the media.
The SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions as in the previous reporting period, mostly in areas north of Donetsk and west of Luhansk. The SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded ceasefire violations inside the disengagement area on the night of 3-4 February, while the situation remained calm there from 5 to 7 February. The Mission monitored the situation of civilians close to the contact line and at entry-exit checkpoints. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske, but its access remained restricted.* The SMM lost communication with a mini unmanned aerial vehicle near Chernenko.* The Mission visited four border areas currently not under the control of the Government. The blockade of a railway track in Hirske continued.
The SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, including about 700 explosions, as in the previous reporting period.
While in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 7-8 February, the SMM heard 143 undetermined explosions 8-12km north-west. While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) in the evening hours of 7 February the SMM heard 314 explosions (144 assessed as outgoing artillery rounds, 107 assessed as impacts of artillery rounds (likely the impacts of the same outgoing explosions) and 63 undetermined) 5-7km south-south-east, as well as more than 200 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-3km south-east. While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) in the evening hours of 7 February the SMM heard 60 undetermined explosions 12-15km west-south-west.
While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre on the night of 7-8 February the SMM heard 47 undetermined explosions 6-10km north-west. Positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of the city centre) for over three hours, the SMM heard 39 undetermined explosions (36 of which 3-8km north-east and three north-west).
On the evening and night hours of 7-8 February the SMM camera at Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk city centre) recorded, in sequence: one illumination flare from south to north, six projectiles in flight from north-west to south-east, 14 tracer rounds and four projectiles from south-east to north-west, two projectiles and 55 tracer rounds from north-west to south-east and seven projectiles and 40 tracer rounds from south-east to north-west, all 6-8km north-east of the camera location. In addition, the camera recorded 26 undetermined explosions spread throughout the observation period, also 6-8km north-east of the camera. In the afternoon of 8 February, the same camera recorded about 50 undetermined explosions, as well as an exchange of fire starting with six tracer rounds from south to north, 2-4km north-north-east of the camera location, followed by a total of 157 tracer rounds fired from east to west, west to east, north to south and south to north, 2-8km north-north-east of the camera location.
On 8 February, positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) for over four hours the SMM heard 62 undetermined explosions 1-5km south-east. Aerial imagery available to the SMM recorded on 30 January revealed trenches east and south-east near the industrial zone in Avdiivka, and trenches east of the highway H20.
The SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded on 8 February two rocket-assisted projectiles from north-north-east to west-south-west followed by another 15 undetermined rocket-assisted projectiles from west to east, 5-10km north. This was followed by an exchange of tracer rounds in sequence: 13 from east to west, 55 from west to east and 23 from east to west, at an undetermined distance north of the camera location.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations compared with the previous 24-hour period, including 210 explosions (227 in the previous reporting period). In addition the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded on the night of 3-4 February about 85 explosions and more than 100 projectiles (see below).
On the evening of 7 February, while in government-controlled Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 50-60 undetermined explosions 15-20km east. On the same night, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard, over three hours, 70 undetermined explosions 10km north-north-west and 58 assessed as artillery rounds 10-15km at points ranging from north to west.
On 8 February, positioned in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 20 explosions assessed as artillery rounds 10-12km south. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk) for over twenty minutes the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions 5-10km south-south-west.
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 camera in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska recorded on the night of 3 February an exchange of fire starting with two projectiles in flight from south-east to north-west, followed by 21 from north-west to south-east. The exchange continued with a total of at least 85 projectiles in flight from various directions, including 62 from north-west to south-east, as well as 95 explosions assessed as impacts of fire from various types of weapons, including 18 of mortar rounds. Almost all the ceasefire violations were assessed as inside the disengagement area, at locations 0.8-2.3km ranging from south-east to south-west of the camera.
The camera did not record ceasefire violations from the day of 4 February to 7 February.
In the early morning hours of 7 February, the SMM camera in Petrivske recorded two undetermined projectiles, one of which from south-south-west to north-north-east and one from an undetermined direction, and one undetermined explosion at points 1-4km ranging from east-south-east to south of the camera, assessed as outside the disengagement area.
Inside the Zolote disengagement area in violation of the Framework Decision the SMM observed one stationary high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle and two Ukrainian Armed Forces officers who told the SMM that they were sappers. At another location within the disengagement area the SMM observed three Ukrainian Armed Forces officers.
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 the SMM observed in government-controlled areas: 12 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS; 9P140 Uragan, 220mm) in Dobropillia (75km north-west of Donetsk), 12 MLRS (9P140) in Kulykivske (232km south-east of Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia region) and four towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) near Pryvilne (31km north of Mariupol) as well as 11 military trucks and two ambulances, heading north near Pryvilne.
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, in government-controlled areas the SMM observed two surface-to-air missile systems (9K33 Osa, likely 210mm) near Rozdolivka (87km north of Donetsk) and one such system (type unknown) south of Verkhnokamianka (84km north-west of Luhansk).
Also beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, an SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted on 7 February two surface-to-air missile systems (9K33) in government-controlled Novookhtyrka (55km north-west of Luhansk).
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 21 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), five towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) and six mortars (M120-15, 120mm) as present. The SMM noted that 26 self-propelled howitzers (2S1), 11 towed howitzers (ten 2A65 and one 2A36) and six mortars (2B11, 120mm) were missing, including three (2S1) for the first time.
Despite the joint statement of 1 February by the Trilateral Contact Group the SMM received no information in relation to withdrawal of weapons from the area between Donetsk airport, Avdiivka and Yasynuvata.
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw one armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) in Zolote.
In areas not under government control the SMM observed: one infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-1) in Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk); three IFVs (BMP-1), one parked by a house and one on the road in Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol) and one stationary in Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk); two IFVs (BMP-1) 100m east of the main road in “LPR”-controlled areas south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, where later the SMM saw armed men digging trenches; two multi-purpose armoured tracked vehicles (MTLB) in Khoroshe (36km west of Luhansk) and one in Sentianivka (formerly Frunze, 44km west of Luhansk); and one IFV (BMP-2) parked on the road in Smile (31km north-west of Luhansk).
Aerial imagery revealed on 8 February the presence of one armoured vehicle near government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol) and about 30 new (since at least 29 January) craters in the area between Pyshchevyk and “DPR”-controlled Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, 28km north-east of Mariupol).
In “LPR”-controlled areas west of Luhansk region, including Kadiivka, Brianka and Krynychanske (formerly Chervonohvardiiske, 42km west of Luhansk) the SMM noted movement of “LPR” members in military-type trucks. Near “LPR”-controlled Pryvitne (11km north of Luhansk), on the road leading to government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed 10-13 armed “LPR” members digging out trenches facing Shchastia bridge.
The SMM monitored the situation of civilians living close to the contact line. In government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), in “LPR”-controlled Smile and in “LPR”-controlled parts of Zolote, the SMM saw humanitarian organizations distributing aid to residents.
With regards to the situation of civilians at entry-exit checkpoints the SMM noted routine traffic. The SMM noted that the temperatures were almost -20 degree Celsius.
At the Donetsk Water Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) the SMM noted a relatively calm situation, with employees continuing their tasks.
The SMM asked the JCCC for an update on its co-ordination of mine clearance along several roads with a view to removing long-standing restrictions to the freedom of movement of SMM monitors and other civilians (See SMM Daily Report 19 January). The JCCC gave no updates on demining the disengagement areas or priority roads.
The SMM noted two anti-personnel mines still present near the Donetsk Water Filtration Station. One of them (POM-2) was about 10m from the main gate, north of the entry-exit road, and marked with a mine hazard sign. The other (MON-50/90) was west of the H20 highway and about 100m from a Ukrainian Armed Forces bunker.
The SMM visited four border areas currently not under government control. For about one hour at each of the border crossing points in Marynivka (78km east of Donetsk) and Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) the SMM noted a calm situation with no traffic.
Over one hour at the border crossing point in Dovzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk) the SMM observed nine passenger cars, one bus, two trucks with covered cargo trailers and one mini-van with Ukrainian and ten passenger cars with Russian Federation licence plates leave Ukraine. Ten passenger cars, one bus, one truck with a covered cargo trailer and one minivan with Ukrainian and six passenger cars with Russian Federation licence plates entered Ukraine. During a one-hour stay at each of the two pedestrian border crossing points in Krasnodarskyi (58km south-east of Luhansk) the SMM observed several pedestrians enter and others leave Ukraine. Two of them at Krasnodarskyi 2 said that they were allowed by those staffing the border crossing point to carry up to 5kg of products, except for fuel, into Ukraine and no meat products were allowed when leaving Ukraine. Until before January 2017, pedestrians had reported to the SMM that it was allowed to carry over ten litres of fuel. Other pedestrians said that restrictions applied at the border crossing points differed based on who was on duty.
The SMM observed that the blockade of a railway track in government-controlled Hirske (63km west of Luhansk) remained unchanged (see SMM Daily Report 27 January 2017). The SMM saw two men standing near the barrier.
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 (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:
- Armed “LPR” members told the SMM that they could not guarantee the safety of the SMM in fields and side roads of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM did not proceed and informed the JCCC.
- A Ukrainian 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 UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM was unable to travel west from “DPR”-controlled Petrivske due to the lack of security guarantees and possible threat from mines. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM could not proceed eastward on the road to Viktorivka (42km south-west of Donetsk) from government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk) as Ukrainian officers of the JCCC said that there were still mines on the road.
- Anti-tank obstacles on the road and the presence of a mine hazard sign prevented the SMM from travelling between government-controlled Katerynivka and Popasna. Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel told the Mission that the area had not been demined and that further permission from their headquarters would be required for the SMM to pass. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia. Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said there were mines on the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces denied the SMM further access at a checkpoint 1.4km north of Berdianske (18km east of Mariupol) unless escorted by the JCCC. The SMM informed the JCCC and 30 minutes later access was granted without an escort.
-While flying a mini-UAV near government-controlled Chernenko (86km south of Donetsk) the SMM noted that the GPS signal was lost. The mini-UAV was flying south-west, about 2km from the launching point, 90 metres high. The SMM assessed the signal loss to have been caused by interference. The SMM informed the JCCC.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.