Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 16 February 2017
The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations compared with the previous reporting period in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Petrivske and Zolote, but its access remained restricted.* Beyond the disengagement areas, too, the sides continued to restrict the Mission’s monitoring on numerous occasions through direct denials of access or other impediments, including by not removing mines.* The SMM noted weapons in violation of withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line and noted weapons missing from storage sites. It observed the blockade of railway crossings near Hirske. The SMM facilitated repair of a power line between Svitlodarsk and Horlivka. It visited two border areas currently not controlled by the Government. The Mission followed up on the situation at a camp for Crimean Tatar activists near Chonhar.
The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, including over 600 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (80 explosions). Most of the explosions recorded by the SMM occurred in Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area.
While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city on the evening and night of 15-16, in about six hours the SMM heard a total of 363 undetermined explosions 5-10km north-east and 45 undetermined explosions 5-10km north-west and north. Positioned at the Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of the city centre) during the day on 16 February the SMM heard a total of seven undetermined explosions 3-8km north and north-east, and one undetermined explosion 3-5km north-west.
Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) over about four hours on 16 February the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions, and five shots of small-arms fire, 3-5km north, north-west and west. During the night hours of 15 February, the SMM camera at the “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk city centre) recorded 52 tracer rounds in flight from west to east and 26 from east to west, two undetermined explosions of unknown weapon systems and two illumination flares, all from west to east, as well as four illumination flares in vertical flight, all 2-5km north-west, west-north-west and west-south-west. At 01:26 the camera recorded a large smoke cloud in the area of the coke plant in Avdiivka (government-controlled 17km north of Donetsk), 9km north-north-east. During the day on 16 February, within 30 minutes in the late afternoon, the camera recorded a total of 78 undetermined explosions, 40 projectiles of indirect fire in flight from west to east and seven projectiles of indirect fire in flight from east to west.
While in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), during the day the SMM heard a total of 13 explosions: six undetermined explosions, six explosions assessed as outgoing rounds (two of 82mm mortar, the remainder of unknown weapons systems) and one explosion assessed as an impact of unknown weapon, all 5-7 km north-east, south-east, south and north-north-east.
Positioned in Oleksandrivka (“DPR”-controlled, 20km south-west of Donetsk), in less than an hour before noon the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions 4-8km north, north-north-east and north-east.
On the evening of 15 February the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, within one minute, 30 tracer rounds (six in flight from north-east to south-west, 12 from south-west to north-east, and 12 from west to east) at undetermined distances north-north-east and north-east. After midnight on 15-16 February the camera recorded 16 tracer rounds from east to west, and one undetermined explosion. In the afternoon of 16 February, in four minutes the camera recorded two explosions assessed as impacts of rounds of unknown weapons 5-6km north followed by a one-minute exchange of anti-aircraft-gun (ZU-23, 23mm) tracer fire, 27 fired east to west, 61 fired from west to east, and one explosion assessed as an impact of unknown weapons round.
Positioned at the western edge of Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, “DPR”-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol), in less than an hour after noon the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions at an undetermined distance north. From the same position, the SMM heard six single small-arms shots at an undetermined distance south.
Positioned in Anadol (government-controlled, 39km north of Mariupol), in 20 minutes before noon the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions at an undetermined distance north-north-west, which the SMM assessed as live-fire exercise training.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including 16 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (14 explosions). Positioned in government-controlled Borovenky (77km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions within 20 minutes before noon, all 12-15 km south-south-east. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), in ten minutes, the SMM heard two explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds 2km south. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 5-10km north-west. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Zolote-5 (61km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard a single shot of small-arms fire 300m north-west assessed as outside the disengagement area.
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 there remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*
During the night of 15 February, the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded three undetermined explosions assessed as caused by artillery rounds of undetermined calibre at an undetermined distance north-west (all assessed as occurring outside the disengagement area) and 24 small arms shots 1.8km south-south-east (all assessed as occurring inside the disengagement area).
While present, the SMM observed that the Zolote disengagement area was calm.
Despite the joint statement of 1 February by the Trilateral Contact Group and the consent reached on 15 February, the sides have not yet provided the baseline information requested by the SMM related to weapons to be withdrawn and locations of units and formations.
The SMM nonetheless continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.
In government-controlled areas, in violation of the withdrawal lines, the SMM saw three anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) near Vodiane (42km south-west of Donetsk).
In violation of the withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas the SMM saw a cannon it assessed as belonging to an anti-tank gun (MT12) at a recently established “LPR” position 6km north of Metalist (7km north-west of Luhansk); 3km north of the same village, the SMM saw an anti-tank missile system (9K11 Fagot, 120mm) mounted on infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-1).
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, in government-controlled areas the SMM observed: three tanks (T-64) on stationary flatbed trucks near Novookhtyrka (55km north-west of Luhansk) and a mortar (M37, 82mm) on the trailer of a static military truck near Siversk (99km north 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 areas controlled by the Government beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw: 18 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm); 12 towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm), 12 anti-tank guns (MT-12); and 23 tanks (T-64) for the first time. The SMM noted as missing: 46 tanks (T-64); 44 anti-tank guns (40 MT-12, one 2A19/T-12, 100mm and three D-48, 85mm); 12 towed howitzers (six 2A36, two 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm and four D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm); four anti-aircraft systems (three 9K33 Osa, 210mm and one 9K35, Strela, 120mm); one self-propelled howitzer (2S1).
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw one stationary IFV (BMP-1) in Stanytsia Luhanska.
In areas outside of government control, the SMM saw two armoured personnel carriers (APCs; MTLB) in Khoroshe (36km west of Luhansk); a stationary IFV (BMP-1) 3km south-east of Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk); two stationary APCs (MTLB); and three stationary IFVs (BMP) by the edge of a forest near Vyshnevyi Dil (13km east of Luhansk).
The SMM continued to monitor two blockades of railway tracks across the contact line (see SMM Daily Report 14 February 2017). In government-controlled Hirske (63km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed that the railway track was still blocked with wooden barriers and barbed wire, and a train was still present. In Pleshchiivka (government-controlled, 51km north of Donetsk) an employee in charge of the railroad crossing at the entrance to the village told the SMM that cargo trains on that line had been rerouted and therefore no such trains had passed the crossing due to the blockade at a railway crossing on the southern edge of the Kryvyi Torets. She added that the blockade did not affect local passenger trains which regularly travelled in both directions.
The SMM noted the presence of mines along the side of the road outside the Donetsk Water Filtration station. In addition to the three previously observed mines, only one of which was marked (see SMM Report 9 February 2017), the SMM saw for the first time a directional type of anti-personnel mine (assessed as MON-100) located across the road outside the Filtration station.
The SMM saw a dead civilian on the government-controlled side of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge. The SMM saw a police officer next to the body who told the SMM that the deceased man (about 65 years old) had been living in “LPR”-controlled areas and had been on his way back from government-controlled areas and had likely died due to natural causes. On the road leading to the bridge on the non-government-controlled side the SMM noted an unusually high number of armed men (about ten) with dogs, conducting checks of civilian vehicles.
The SMM continued monitoring adherence to the ceasefire to facilitate repair on both sides of the contact line. In “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy, the SMM monitored the repair of a gas pipeline section in an open field between “DPR” and Ukrainian Armed Forces positions (30m from a “DPR” checkpoint on the western side of the main village street and 100m from the first village houses). A resident told the SMM that the damage to the gas network had occurred in several sections of the pipeline on 13-14 February. The SMM continued monitoring repairs to a high-voltage power line between government-controlled areas of Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) and Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk; see SMM Daily Report 11 February 2017). A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) told the SMM that no further repairs were envisaged for the time being. In the area of government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) the SMM monitored repairs to a water pipe line. In the area of government-controlled Zolote/Karbonit (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM monitored repairs to a 1200mm water pipe and saw a team of nine workers repair the pipe.
The SMM visited two border areas currently not controlled by the Government. Over an hour at the Dovzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point the SMM saw: four civilian cars with no passengers inside (all with Ukrainian licence plates) at the adjacent parking lot; a total of 30 civilian cars (19 with Ukrainian, ten with Russian Federation and one with Georgian licence plates) and a civilian bus (bearing a “Stakhanov-Rostov” sign and Ukrainian licence plates) in a queue to exit Ukraine; 14 civilian cars (nine with Ukrainian, four with the Russian Federation licence plates and one with “LPR” plates) enter Ukraine. The SMM also saw three women (about 40 years old) and three men (about 50 years old) enter Ukraine on foot. At the pedestrian border crossing point near Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk) while present for an hour the SMM saw six civilian vehicles (three with Ukrainian, two with Russian Federation licence plates and one with an “LPR” sticker) at the adjacent parking lot. During the SMM’s presence no pedestrians crossed in either direction. A shopkeeper in the shop nearest to the crossing told the SMM that people crossed on a daily basis.
In Kherson the SMM followed up on the security situation at a camp for Crimean Tatar activists observing a crossing point to the Crimean peninsula near Chonhar (163km south-east of Kherson). (See SMM Daily Report 14 February 2017.) At the camp, the SMM saw that the entrance had been blocked with an improvised fence (1- 1.5m high, some concrete tubes had been placed where the gate used to be) and there were two people inside. The SMM noted a calm situation in the area.
The SMM continued monitoring in Kharkiv, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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:
- 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.
- Armed men did not provide the SMM with security guarantees to access fields and side roads south of the Zolote disengagement area. The SMM saw mine hazard signs, but no fencing of the area. Due to the possible presence of mines and UXO the SMM did not proceed and informed the JCCC.
- The possible presence of mines and UXO prevented the SMM from travelling further south-east into the Zolote disengagement area from government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk). The Mission informed the JCCC.
- The SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia as Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- Armed men denied the SMM access to Kirov Street in Pikuzy and told the SMM it could only use the main street in the village. On 12 February, the SMM had heard small-arms shots in its proximity while on Kirov Street (see SMM Daily Report 13 February 2017). The SMM informed the JCCC.
- Five armed men prevented the SMM from travelling from Irmino (“LPR”-controlled, 54km west of Luhansk) towards Kalynove. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- Armed men denied the SMM access to an area of Kalynove. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The sides failed to provide security guarantees for the SMM to monitor the situation in the area between Betmanove (formerly Krasnyi Partizan, “DPR”-controlled, 23km north-east of Donetsk) and government-controlled Verkhnotoretske (23km north-east of Donetsk).
- The SMM was again allowed to pass through a checkpoint not controlled by the Government near Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk, see SMM Daily Report 11 February 2017) only after an armed man had searched the SMM vehicles. He cited orders not to allow the SMM to pass without its vehicles being searched. The Mission informed the JCCC.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel prevented the SMM from accessing a weapons holding area. The SMM informed the JCCC and after a 20-minute delay access was granted.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.