Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine-20 March 2018

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM observed damage near residential areas as a result of shelling in Sakhanka and Dovhe. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. Its access remained restricted there and elsewhere, including in Izvaryne at a border crossing point near the border with the Russian Federation.* The Mission observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to a pumping station near Artema, power lines near Svitlodarsk and continued to facilitate access for workers to and from the Donetsk Filtration Station. The SMM visited a border area outside of government control.*

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations[1], including about 80 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 65 explosions).

On the evening and night of 19-20 March, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, a projectile in flight from west to east, three undetermined explosions, a projectile from west to east, two undetermined explosions, and six projectiles from east to west, followed by totals of 15 undetermined explosions, nine projectiles west to east and two projectiles east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south.

On the evening and night of 19-20 March, the SMM camera 1km south-west of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, an undetermined explosion and 90 projectiles in flight from west to east, all 1-4km north.

On the evening and night of 19-20 March, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM recorded four undetermined explosions and about 25 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 6-10km south-east, south and south-west.

During the day on 20 March, positioned about 2km east-south-east of Kurdiumivka (government-controlled, 54km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard ten explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of an undetermined weapon, five explosions assessed as impacts of mortar (82mm) rounds, seven undetermined explosions, and over 100 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-5km south.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including 64 explosions, compared to the previous reporting period (no ceasefire violations).

Positioned about 1.5km north-east of Muratove (government-controlled, 51km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 33 undetermined explosions, about 350 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and 60 shots of small-arms fire 2-3km west and 200 shots of small-arms fire 5-6km north-west.

The SMM observed damage due to shelling near civilian properties in residential areas. In Sakhanka (non-government-controlled, 24km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed four fresh impact sites near a house at 13 Lenina Street where it had previously observed damage (see SMM Daily Report 20 March 2018). The first impact site, a crater, was located 50m north of the house in a field. The second impact site, also a crater, was 30m west of the first crater. The SMM also saw shrapnel damage to a wooden fence less than 3m south of the crater. The third impact site was 15m north of the house in the courtyard: a tree in the courtyard had been damaged and branches of up to 4cm in diameter were broken. The SMM saw more than 20 holes in the soil around the tree up to 5cm in diameter. The SMM assessed that this damage was caused by a round exploding in the tree above ground level. The fourth impact site was 20m west from the third impact site in the courtyard. The SMM saw holes on the ground up to 5cm in diameter and shrapnel damage to a nearby metal shipping container and a concrete pole. The SMM assessed that all of the damage was caused by explosions of 120mm mortar rounds fired from a south-south-westerly direction.

Approximately 250m north of the house, the SMM saw a “DPR” compound with an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) parked inside and an armed “DPR” member on guard.

In Dovhe (non-government-controlled, 22km north-west of Luhansk), a member of the armed formations showed the SMM a fresh impact in a snowy field, which the SMM assessed as approximately 3m wide and caused by a round fired from a north-westerly direction. A residential building was approximately 100m away. The SMM was not able to make further assessments due to security considerations.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 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 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted, but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

Positioned near the Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske disengagement areas the SMM observed calm situations.

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 in a government-controlled area, an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted, on 20 March, a mortar (2B11 Sani, 120mm) facing north-east and partially covered by camouflage on the north-western side of Mykolaivka (40km south of Donetsk).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, in government-controlled areas, the SMM saw nine self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) stationary at a train station in Rubizhne (84km north-west of Luhansk), seven multiple launch rocket systems (BM-27 Uragan, 220mm) and supporting vehicles loaded on a train facing south-east in Sosnove (121km north of Donetsk), two surface-to-air missile systems (S-300) near Nikolske (formerly Volodarske, 21km north-west of Mariupol), a surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) near Lysychansk (77km north-west of Luhansk) mounted on a military truck and traveling north-east, and two surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10) near Selidove (41km north-west of Donetsk) traveling east.

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, in non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw six towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) and six tanks (five T-64 and one T-72) near Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) and five tanks (four T-64 and one undetermined) near Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. The SMM revisited four heavy weapons holding areas in government-controlled areas and found them all abandoned and that 64 towed howitzers (58 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm and six 2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) and 11 MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) continued to be missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft gun[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, an SMM mini-UAV spotted, on 20 March, five IFVs (BMP-2) near Mykolaivka, and two IFVs (BMP-2) near Novohnativka (40km south of Donetsk). The SMM saw a military truck towing an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) covered by tarpaulin near Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk)

In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM observed two armoured personnel carriers (APC) (MT-LB) and two IFVs (BMP variants) parked inside a compound and three APCs (MT-LB) parked outside the compound near Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk) and an APC (MT-LBu) in Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to a pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk). From both sides of the contact line, the SMM monitored repairs to power lines near Svitlodarsk. The SMM continued to facilitate access of Voda Donbassa water company employees to and from the Donetsk Filtration Station to keep the station operational and monitored the security situation about 1km south-from the station, on road H20. (See SMM Daily Report 20 March 2018.)

The SMM visited a border area not under government control. While at a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed a bus entering Ukraine. Again, the SMM was told to leave the area by a member of the armed formations.*

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 Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government, citing orders to do so (see below). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

  • While present at a border crossing point in Izvaryne, an “LPR” member demanded that the SMM leave the area.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing parts of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, with the exception of the main road, due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that he had no information regarding demining activities over the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.[3]
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM by phone that he had no information regarding demining in the area during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.4
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. An armed formation member positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed.

[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.

[2] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

[3] The SMM informed Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC. Russian Federation Armed Forces officers of the JCCC have withdrawn from the JCCC as of 18 December 2017.

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