Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine-18 April 2018

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM followed up on reports of a boy who had been injured by an ordnance explosion in Kostiantynivka. The Mission facilitated the access of Voda Donbassa water company employees to and from the Donetsk Filtration Station – after employees came under small-arms fire and were wounded by it the day before – resulting in the suspension of the DFS operations. The SMM saw damage caused by shelling in residential areas of Dokuchaievsk. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas and elsewhere.* The SMM observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Novoaidar and Oknyne. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to the Petrivske pumping station, a high-voltage powerline near Yuzhna-Lomuvatka, a water pipeline near Maiorsk and a water pumping station near Berezove. It visited two border areas not under government control. In Odessa, the SMM saw that a monument had been vandalized.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including about 180 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 240).

On the evening and night of 17-18 April, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, five projectiles in flight from west to east, two undetermined explosions and two projectiles from east to west, followed by totals of three undetermined explosions and 16 projectiles (13 from east to west and three from west to east), all 0.5-3km south.

On the evening of 17 April, while in Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard about 50 undetermined explosions and seven minutes of uncountable overlapping bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 5-8km south-west and west. On the following day, positioned on the northern edge of Horlivka, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 5-6km west.

On the evening of 17 April, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions 5-7km south-west. On the following day, while at the same location, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions 4-7km south-west.

During the day on 18 April, positioned at the railway station in Yasynuvata (non-government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk) for over eight hours, the SMM heard 16 undetermined explosions, about 75 bursts and shots and three minutes of uncountable overlapping small-arms fire, all 1.5-5km at directions ranging from west-south-west to north-north-west.

Positioned on the south-western edge of Avdiivka (government-controlled, 17km north of Donetsk) for over eight hours, the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions and small-arms fire, all 1-3km south and south-south-west.

Positioned about 2km south-south-east of Olenivka (non-government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions and small-arms fire, all 2-6km south and south-west.

Positioned on the eastern edge of Berezove (government-controlled, 31km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions and small-arms fire, all at unknown distances at south-easterly directions.

Positioned in Bunhe (formerly Yunokomunarivsk, non-government-controlled, 43km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions 4-5km west, assessed as a live-fire training inside the security zone, in violation of the decision of the Trilateral Contact Group as of 3 March 2016 that prohibits the conduct of live-fire training (exercises) in the security zone.

Positioned about 1km south of Kamianka (government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk) for over two hours, the SMM heard four explosions assessed as mortar rounds and two shots of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire, all 3km south-east.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including eight explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 60 explosions).

Positioned in Vrubivskyi (non-government-controlled, 22km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds 7km south-west and their subsequent impacts.

The SMM followed up on reports of a boy who had been injured by an ordnance explosion in Kostiantynivka (government-controlled, 60km north of Donetsk). Medical staff at Kostiantynivka Hospital No.5 told the SMM that a boy (aged 16) had been admitted on 17 April with an open fracture in his thumb, shrapnel in his middle finger and second and third degree burns on his palm, all in his right hand. At the hospital, the boy’s mother (aged 30-40) told the SMM that her son had been with a friend (boy, aged 18) when they had found seven pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Police in Kostiantynivka told the SMM that two boys (aged 16 and 18) had found a dark yellow cylindrical device in a wooded area west of Kostiantynivka Hospital No. 1. They said that the 16-year-old boy had been injured when he lit the wick of the device and it exploded as he attempted to throw it.

The Mission facilitated the access of Voda Donbassa water company employees to and from the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS). (Voda Donbassa employees had come under gunfire and been wounded by it on 17 April, see SMM Daily Report 18 April 2018). On 18 April, despite the fact that security guarantees had been provided, on the way to the DFS, positioned about 1km east of the junction of roads H20 and M04 (300m west of the western edge of Yasynuvata) between about 14:50 and 15:00, the SMM heard and saw four explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds and heard an undetermined explosion and 16 bursts of small-arms fire, all 2km south-west. After 40 minutes, “DPR” members collected UXO from the vicinity of H20 south-west of the junction, assessed as an under-barrel grenade launcher (VOG-25), a 7.62mm bullet and the disposable tube of a rocket-propelled-grenade. The SMM again saw an anti-tank mine (TM-62M) 1.5m east of the paved road about 400m from the same junction between the two roads (see SMM Daily Report 31 March 2018). The SMM and the employees then continued to the DFS and arrived there at about 16:00. At 17:20, all employees left the DFS (about 65 in total, both men and women) and a Voda Donbassa representative told the SMM that the station had suspended its operations.

The SMM saw damage caused by shelling in residential areas of Dokuchaievsk (non-government-controlled, 30km south-west of Donetsk). At a fuel station on Vatutina Street, the SMM saw recent shrapnel scarring to the west-facing side of the main building and shrapnel fragments in a metal fence extending westwards from the wall, as well as on the ground next to the metal fence, assessed as from a 73mm round. The Mission was unable to assess the type of weapon used or the direction of fire. Three employees of the fuel station (two men and a woman, aged 30-40) told the SMM that the damage had happened around 14:00 on 16 April and that nobody had been injured.

At a supermarket at 96 Lenina Street in Dokuchaievsk, the SMM saw shrapnel damage to a refrigeration unit fan on the west-facing wall of the building. The supermarket supervisor (man, aged 25-30), told the SMM that the damage had occurred two weeks ago and resulted in the store being closed for several days while repairs were being completed.

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.*

On the night of 17-18 April, the SMM camera near the Prince Ihor monument south-east of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk) recorded an undetermined explosion 300m east-north-east (assessed as outside the disengagement area). The same explosion was recorded by the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska.

On the evening and night of 17-18 April, while on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard six shots of small-arms fire 4km south and an undetermined explosion 3km west (all assessed as outside the disengagement area). The following day, while at the same location, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 4km south (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

Positioned near the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM observed a calm situation.

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 government-controlled areas, the SMM saw three stationary anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) on the south-western edge of Novoaidar  (49km north-west of Luhansk) and a truck towing an anti-tank gun (MT-12) travelling east near Oknyne (53km north-west of Luhansk).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in government-controlled areas, on 17 April the SMM saw three stationary surface-to-air missile systems (9K37) at the railway station in Rubizhne (84km north-west of Luhansk) (see SMM Daily Report 18 April 2018) and on 18 April the SMM saw three self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) on trucks travelling south-east near Sloviansk (95km north of Donetsk).

In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw seven self-propelled howitzers (2S1), nine towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) and nine tanks (type undetermined) near Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM revisited a permanent storage site beyond respective withdrawal lines in a non-government-controlled area of Luhansk region and noted that 11 tanks (three T-64 and eight T-72) were again missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2], an anti-aircraft gun and indications of military-type presence in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 17 April an SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted four armoured personnel carriers (APC) (one BTR-82A and three BTR variants) and a fire control vehicle (1VXX variant) close to residential buildings near Verkhnotoretske (23km north-east of Donetsk). An SMM mini-UAV spotted two IFVs (BMP variants) less than 20m from the nearest civilian house near Mykolaivka (57km north of Donetsk). On 18 April, the SMM saw three IFVs (two BMP-2 and a BMP-1) in Chermalyk (31km north-east of Mariupol)*.

In non-government-controlled areas, on 18 April the SMM saw an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) mounted on an APC (MT-LB) near Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk). On 17 April, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted recently dug trenches across a road near two civilian houses on the northern edge of Betmanove (formerly Krasnyi Partyzan, 23km north-east of Donetsk) (not seen in imagery on 11 January 2018).

The SMM observed mine hazard signs and demining activities. The SMM saw seven “DPR” members demining a field on the northern edge of Nikishyne (non-government-controlled, 60km north-east of Donetsk).

The SMM saw four mine hazard signs for the first time along the road from Mykolaivka (government-controlled, 57km north of Donetsk) and the junction towards Mykolaivka Druha (government-controlled, 55km north of Donetsk). The signs were all red squares with a white skull-and-crossbones and the words “Danger Mines” in Russian language.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to Olenivka water pumping station Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk), a water pipeline near Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north-east of Donetsk), the Petrivske pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) and a high-voltage powerline near Yuzhna-Lomuvatka (non-government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk).

The SMM visited two border areas not under government control. While at a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk) for about half an hour, the SMM saw 120 cars (78 with Ukrainian, 38 with Russian Federation and one with Georgian licence plates, and three with “LPR” plates) as well as 60 pedestrians (men and women, aged 40-60) in a queue to exit Ukraine and two buses (with Ukrainian licence plates) and about 65 pedestrians (men and women, aged 35-55) entering Ukraine.

While at a border crossing point near Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk) for 15 minutes, the SMM saw six pedestrians (three women and three men, mixed ages) entering Ukraine and three pedestrians (women, aged 30-50) exiting Ukraine.

The SMM followed up on reports of vandalism to a monument in Odessa dedicated to the Soviet Army in World War II. In Shevchenko Park, the SMM saw fresh red paint covering the names of “Hero Cities” located in the Russian Federation associated with World War II and black writing spray-painted in Ukrainian language naming cities in non-government-controlled parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, 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, 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 Co-ordination (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 (see SMM Daily Report 14 April 2018). 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:

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

 

Delay:

  • At a compound in Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol), a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier told the SMM that it was not allowed to enter without permission from his commander. After 30 minutes, the SMM was allowed inside.

 


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

* 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”.

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

For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/node/378391

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