Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 6 March 2017
This report is for the media and the general public.
The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk region compared with the previous 24-hour period. The SMM heard more than 1,000 explosions in areas east and north-east of Mariupol and unidentified armed men restricted its freedom of movement on two occasions in villages not controlled by the Government in this area.* The Mission followed up on reports of civilian casualties in Dokuchaievsk, Marinka and Krasnohorivka. It observed impact sites from shelling in Zaitseve, Loskutivka, Horlivka, Donetskyi, Kadiivka and Pervomaisk. The Mission continued monitoring the three disengagement areas but its access remained restricted.* It observed impact sites inside the Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote disengagement areas. The Mission continued to monitor the blockade of railroad routes crossing the contact line. The SMM visited one border area currently not under government control. It monitored a court hearing in Kyiv.
In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations than during the previous 24-hour period, including more than 1,600 explosions. About two thirds of these explosions were recorded in areas east and north-east of government-controlled Mariupol (102km south of Donetsk).
Positioned 3km north-north-east of government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol) for about six hours on 6 March the SMM heard about 190 undetermined explosions (including more than 90 explosions in six minutes) and 20 minutes of intense heavy-machine-gun fire and infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-2, 30mm) cannon fire at unknown distances south-south-east and south-east. In addition the SMM heard four explosions assessed as outgoing 120mm mortar rounds, 21 explosions assessed as incoming 120mm mortar rounds and heard and saw seven airbursts 4-5km south and south-east, heard seven explosions assessed as outgoing 82mm mortar round at an unknown distance south-east and their impacts at an unknown distance south, and heard and saw 24 explosions assessed as outgoing 122mm artillery rounds 2-4km west and their impacts 5-7km south-east.
Positioned 1km north of “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol) for about two and a half hours the SMM heard more than 360 undetermined explosions (including more than 200 in about 30 minutes) and two episodes of about 30 minutes of intense heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at unknown distances ranging from south to west-south-west. In addition the SMM heard twenty minutes of continuous heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire at unknown distances south-south-west and west on one occasion, and nearly 30 minutes at unknown distances west-south-west and south-south-west on another occasion.
Positioned 1km north of government-controlled Sopyne (16km east of Mariupol) for more than three hours the SMM heard more than 230 explosions. This included, during one 30-minute episode, 50 undetermined explosions, 60 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds, and 37 assessed as mortar round impacts, all 2-5km east-north-east and more than 1,000 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire and more than 1,000 shots of small-arms fire 2-5km north-north-east. Thereafter the SMM heard 22 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds at an unknown distance east and their impacts at an unknown distance north-west, eight explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds 4-5km north-north-west and their impacts 4-5km north-north-east, eight more explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds more than 8km north-north-west and their impacts more than 8km north-north-east, 20 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds at an unknown distance east and their impacts at an unknown distance north-east, 17 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds at an unknown distance east-north-east and their impacts at an unknown distance east, and more than 300 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire at unknown distances ranging from the north to the east.
While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 5 March the SMM heard 103 undetermined explosions 15-20km south-south-west. On the evening of 6 March the SMM heard about 50 undetermined explosions 15-20km south-south-west.
While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east) on the evening and night of 5 March the SMM heard ten explosions assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar rounds, 70 outgoing shots assessed as IFV (BMP-1, 73mm) cannon rounds and 380 bursts of heavy-machine-gun, anti-aircraft-gun (ZU-23, 23mm) and small-arms fire, all at points ranging from 3-5km south-south-east to south-west. In addition to hearing isolated small-arms and light-weapons fire in the afternoon and early evening of 6 March, the SMM heard six explosions assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar rounds 4-5km south-east.
While in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) from the evening of 5 March through the afternoon of 6 March the SMM heard 118 undetermined explosions all 6-15km north-west and north-north-west.
Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about five hours on 6 March the SMM heard 31 undetermined explosions 1-5km south-west, west-south-west and west, and more than 600 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire and nearly 30 minutes of continuous heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire 2-4km south-east.
Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk) for about two hours on the morning of 6 March the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions 8-10km south and 56 undetermined explosions 6-8km west.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations compared with the previous 24-hour period, including 38 explosions.
Positioned in government-controlled Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) on 6 March the Mission heard 11 undetermined explosions 5-13km south-south-east. Positioned 2.5km south-west of “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 12 explosions 5km north-east, assessed as caused by artillery rounds as part of a live-fire exercise near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).
The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties and damage caused by shelling. In “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM met a 52-year-old man who said that he had been knocked down by the blast from an explosion on Vatutina Street on the night of 1-2 March. He told the SMM that he had been hospitalized for a fractured collarbone. The SMM saw that the man’s shoulder and hand were bandaged.
In government-controlled Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk) the Chief of Police told the SMM that a woman (born in 1969) had received minor shrapnel injuries in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) on 1 March. According to him, another woman (about 65 years old) had suffered a shrapnel injury to her shoulder on 3 March in government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk). Medical staff in Kurakhove confirmed that both of the women were treated for injuries before being discharged.
In the government-controlled neighbourhood of Zhovanka in Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed 12 fresh craters, the closest within 15m of civilian houses, assessed as caused by 120mm mortar rounds fired from a easterly and south-easterly direction. The SMM noted that two houses had broken windows and shrapnel damage to their walls. A woman told the SMM that the damage had been caused by shelling on 4 and 5 March, and another woman told the SMM that the village had been shelled on the night of 5 March. She went on to say that the village had been without electricity for eight months, that there was no gas and that the water in the wells had become undrinkable. The SMM has repeatedly noted the lack of electricity and the presence of generators in the neighbourhood. She told the Mission that while electricity generators had been provided by a humanitarian organization there was no fuel to keep them running. Three elderly women later also complained to the SMM about the lack of water and electricity.
On 5 March in government-controlled Loskutivka (72km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed two craters about 120m from an emergency services facility and assessed them as caused by 152mm artillery rounds fired from a south-easterly direction. A representative from the emergency services facility told the Mission that the shelling had occurred on the night of 2 March.
The SMM saw five fresh craters in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka’s Mykytivka district. The craters were located within 10-25m of houses on Cherniakhivskoho and Botkina streets. The SMM noted broken windows on at least four houses and shrapnel damage to the walls of one of the houses. The north-facing wall of another house had been completely destroyed by an explosion assessed as caused by a 122mm artillery shell fired from an unknown direction. One of the impact sites was assessed as having been caused by a 122mm artillery round fired from a northerly direction, one by an unknown round fired from a northerly direction and a third as by a 122mm artillery round fired from an undetermined direction. Three groups of residents and Russian officers of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) told the SMM that the shelling had taken place before midnight on 4 March.
In “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (49km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed two fresh impact sites assessed as caused by 122mm artillery rounds fired from a northerly direction. The craters were located about 80m from the closest houses.
On 5 March in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed a fresh crater on a dirt road assessed as caused by a 122mm artillery round fired from a westerly direction.
On 5 March in “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed two fresh craters about 70m from civilian houses on Shaumian Street. The Mission assessed the impact sites as caused by 122mm artillery rounds fired from a westerly direction. The SMM met two Russian officers of the JCCC at the site, where a member of “LPR”-affiliated media was also present. Two groups of residents told the SMM that the town had been shelled on the night of 4 March.
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 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 remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*
Inside the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area the SMM observed a fresh crater about 8-10m from a heating shelter for civilians and 40-50m from the “LPR” checkpoint south of the bridge. The Mission assessed it as having been caused by an unknown round fired from a northerly direction.
Accompanied by Russian officers of the JCCC the SMM observed two 82mm mortar tailfins protruding from the asphalt on the main road inside the Zolote disengagement area. The JCCC officers marked the remnants with spray-paint. The SMM also observed six craters inside the disengagement area (less than a week old) assessed as caused by a recoilless gun (SPG-9) and grenade rounds (automatic grenade launcher) fired from a north-easterly direction.
The SMM noted a calm situation inside the Petrivske disengagement area while present in the 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.
In violation of withdrawal lines, aerial imagery revealed the presence of at least 12 tanks near “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city on 5 March and two possible tanks or self-propelled howitzers near “DPR”-controlled Sofiivka (formerly Karlo-Marksove, 40km north-east of Donetsk).
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, aerial imagery revealed the presence of 64 tanks in “DPR”-controlled Ternove (57km east of Donetsk) on 5 March.
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 a government-controlled area beyond respective withdrawal lines the SMM observed that 13 tanks (T-64) were present and 29 (T-64) were missing, one for the first time.
The SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapons storage site, whose location corresponded to the respective withdrawal lines, and noted that 20 tanks (T-64) and three mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm) were missing. One of the tanks was recorded as missing for the first time.
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and an anti-aircraft gun in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas the SMM saw two anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23, 23mm) near Molodizhne (63km north-west of Luhansk) on 5 March. On 6 March the SMM observed two command and control armoured vehicles in an “LPR”-controlled part of Zolote and two IFVs (BMP-1) near Luhansk city. Aerial imagery revealed the presence of one armoured vehicle near Boikivske (formerly Telmanove, 67km south-east of Donetsk), 12 armoured vehicles near Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol) and 40 armoured vehicles near Donetsk city on 5 March.
In government-controlled areas the SMM saw six IFVs (BMP-2) near Novotoshkivske (53km west of Luhansk) on 5 March and three armoured personnel carrier (APC; MT-LB) near Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) on 6 March. An SMM UAV spotted an armoured amphibious transport vehicle near Orikhove-Donetske (44km north-west of Luhansk). Aerial imagery revealed the presence of one armoured vehicle near Verkhnotoretske (23km north-east of Donetsk) on 4 March.
In “LPR”-controlled areas south of the bridge near government-controlled Shchastia, the SMM noted that an improvised explosive device last observed on 2 March (see SMM Daily Report 3 March 2017) was no longer there.
The SMM continued to monitor the blockade of railway routes across the contact line in government-controlled areas. In Hirske (63km west of Luhansk) the SMM saw that the railway tracks remained blocked by wooden logs and barbed wire. Seven men and two women told the SMM that they were farmers from Poltava region who were participating in the blockade “to bring down the oligarchs and stop monopolies” and to achieve the release of detainees in areas not controlled by the Government.
In Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk) the Mission observed more than 20 railway wagons transporting clay through the blockade. Four men in military-style clothes told the Mission that the leadership of the blockade had agreed with a local business to allow trains to carry clay from Kurdiumivka (54km north of Donetsk) to Bakhmut. The men said they were also allowing passenger trains operating only in government-controlled areas to pass through. One of the men said he lived and worked in Bakhmut and volunteered at the blockade on his days off.
The SMM observed about 50 men wearing military-style clothing at the blockade site in Shcherbynivka (44km north of Donetsk).
In Horlivka the SMM noted that an aid distribution point of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation remained closed (see SMM Daily Report 3 March 2017). A poster was on the door with the words “humanitarian aid is temporarily interrupted”.
The SMM visited one border area currently not controlled by the Government. The SMM noted a calm situation while at the border crossing point near Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk) for nearly an hour.
In Kyiv the SMM monitored a court hearing of the Head of the State Fiscal Service on charges of abuse of authority or office that resulted in grave consequences. The SMM observed about 30 protesters (young men) outside of the court building. Vehicles with Automaidan and National Corps flags were blocking the entrances of the building, according to media reports to stop the defendant from leaving the court room. Five police officers were patrolling the perimeter of the building. Later that night the judge ruled to detain the suspect pending trial for a period of 60 days.
The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnipro and Chernivtsi and Kharkiv.
*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:
- At the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area a Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel told the SMM that its safety in the area could not be guaranteed. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- At an “LPR” checkpoint inside the Zolote disengagement area, armed men told the SMM that its safety could not be guaranteed in the fields and side roads due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The Mission was stopped by Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel on the road from government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) to government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) and told that that permission to pass should be granted by the higher Ukrainian Armed Forces command. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM was unable to travel west from “DPR”-controlled Petrivske due to a lack of security guarantees and the possible presence of mines. The Mission informed the JCCC.
- A “DPR” member stopped the SMM after it had walked about 100m south of a checkpoint in Petrivske and did not allow the SMM to walk further south.
- The SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) as Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- In “DPR”-controlled Sosnivske (25km north-east of Mariupol) an armed man demanded that the SMM leave the village. The SMM informed the JCCC.
In “DPR”-controlled Tavrycheske (35km north-east of Mariupol) two armed men stopped the SMM and ordered it to leave the area. The SMM informed the JCCC.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate”.
 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.
 This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.