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Ukraine – Latest Update From OSCE Special Monitoring Mission

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 2 March 2017

OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine (16544233870)

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded more ceasefire violations, including more than twice as many explosions compared with the previous reporting period. It followed up on casualties in Kurakhove and Popasna and observed damage from shelling on both sides of the contact line in Zolote. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Petrivske and Zolote but its access remained restricted.* The Mission heard artillery explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire near the Zolote disengagement area. The Mission monitored the blockade of routes crossing the contact line in four locations. It visited two border areas not under government control. The SMM monitored a protest in Chernivtsi.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including over 1,400 explosions compared with over 2,000 explosions in the previous reporting period.

On the night of 1 March, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre the SMM heard 398 undetermined explosions 10-15km north-west.

On the afternoon of 2 March, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded in ten minutes 21 undetermined explosions, 3-5km east and 2-5km east-south-east.

During the day on 2 March positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) in about four hours, the SMM heard 110 undetermined explosions, mostly 2-4km west and 2-5km north-west. The SMM also recorded four instances of uncountable, overlapping bursts and shots of small-arms fire from the same position one lasting for ten minutes, two lasting for four minutes and one lasting two minutes. Positioned in Avdiivka for about four hours, the SMM heard 110 undetermined explosions, mostly 2-7km south and south-south-west.

On the evening of 1 March while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 105 undetermined explosions, all 10-12km south-south-west. On the afternoon of 2 March, while in the same location, the SMM heard 50 explosions assessed as impacts of rounds from unknown weapons and two outgoing salvos (at least 12 rounds in total) from multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS), all 7km west-south-west. On the evening of 1 March while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the Mission heard two instances of continuous, overlapping undetermined explosions and bursts 3-5km east, one lasting about an hour and the other about 80 minutes, as well as 34 undetermined explosions, mostly 3-5km east. While at the same location, the SMM heard, on the following afternoon, ten undetermined explosions 3-5km south and south-south-east.

While in government-controlled Bakhmut (67km north of Donetsk), in the evening in half an hour, the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions assessed as caused by 120mm mortar rounds, 10-12 km south-east.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (32km south-west of Donetsk), in the morning, in less than ten minutes, the SMM heard 21 undetermined explosions assessed as caused by automatic-grenade-launcher rounds 3-4km west. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), in less than an hour, the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions 7-10km north-west.

On the evening and night of 1 March the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded three undetermined explosions and a total of 51 tracer rounds in flight from east to west, ten tracer rounds in flight from south-west to north-east, and 33 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, all beginning with one tracer round in flight from east to west at an unknown distance north-east and north.

Positioned 3km north-north-east of government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol), in half an hour before noon the SMM heard 111 undetermined explosions and 12 outgoing explosions at an undetermined distance west, from the same position a short while later the SMM heard 32 undetermined explosions 5-10km south-east, heard and saw three undetermined airburst explosions, heard two explosions assessed as outgoing automatic-grenade-launcher rounds and six bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 5km south-east. Later in the afternoon, the SMM heard 16 undetermined explosions 4-6km south-east and one undetermined explosion 4-8km south.

During the day, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the Mission heard 39 explosions assessed as impacts of rounds from unknown weapons systems south-east and 25 undetermined explosions at an undetermined distance south-west. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Khreshchatytske (formerly Krasnoarmiiske , 33km north-east of Mariupol), in less than an hour after noon, the SMM heard 22 explosions assessed as impacts 4-5km south-west, 12 outgoing explosions 4-5km south-east. Positioned 1.5km south-east of government-controlled Stepanivka (31km north-east of Mariupol), in less than 30 minutes after noon, the SMM heard 30 undetermined explosions assessed as caused by artillery rounds 7-10km south-south-east, ten outgoing explosions of unknown weapons systems at an undetermined distance south-west and 13 explosions assessed as impacts 7-10km south-south-east. Later, from the same position, the SMM heard five undetermined explosions at an undetermined distance west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including over 1,150 explosions compared with almost 500 explosions recorded in the previous reporting period.

On the afternoon and evening of 1 March, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 59 undetermined explosions, 10-15km west and west-south-west. During the following day, from the same location the SMM heard 116 undetermined explosions 10km west-north-west. Positioned 3.7km south-east of “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), in just over four hours, the SMM heard 530 undetermined explosions assessed as caused by artillery and mortar rounds of unknown calibre 1-10km south-east, and west-south-west. In 20 minutes, positioned 2km south of “LPR”-controlled Irmino (54km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 42 explosions assessed as impacts of artillery rounds (122mm and 152mm) 5km south-west. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Zolote-5 (61km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 90 undetermined explosions assessed as caused by artillery rounds (122mm and 152mm) 5-10km south-south-west. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove-Borshchuvate (61km west of Luhansk), in less than an hour, the SMM heard two outgoing salvos of 30 rounds each MLRS (BM-21) 5-10km south-south-west.

The SMM followed up on reports of casualties and damage caused by shelling. At the hospital in government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk), medical staff told the SMM that an elderly woman had been admitted with shrapnel wounds to her right arm sustained on the evening of 1 March. According to them, she had been transferred to the Kurakhove hospital where she had received treatment and had already been discharged. At a hospital in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw a military ambulance delivering a patient. Ambulance staff told the SMM that they had transported one Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier with non-life threatening injuries, which he had sustained during recent shelling in government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk).

In Zolote-5 the SMM saw a total of 33 fresh impacts distributed in the gardens of two neighbouring houses, located on the west side of Poshtova Street, next to a now-abandoned checkpoint. The SMM analysed one impact in each garden and assessed they had been caused by recoilless-gun (SPG) rounds fired from a northerly direction. The impacts were a few metres from the front of the north-facing entrances of the houses. The SMM also observed broken windows at one of the houses. The owners of the houses told the SMM the shelling had occurred in the evening hours of 1 March and they had heard around 60 impacts at the time.

In government-controlled Zolote-4 (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM, accompanied by a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) representative saw damage to four houses. At the first, on Nahimov Street, the SMM saw a fresh crater and visible shrapnel scarring on garden constructions, which the SMM assessed had been caused by an 82mm mortar round fired from an east-south-easterly direction. At a second house on the same street the SMM observed a fresh crater and shrapnel scarring on the west-facing walls and on a wooden construction inside the yard and broken windows; the SMM  assessed the damage had been caused by an 82mm mortar round fired from an east-east-southerly direction. At a third house, the SMM saw a hole one square metre in size in the roof of the entrance to the house with the tail-fin of an 82mm mortar round protruding from it. Neighbours told the SMM the shelling had taken place on the evening of 1 March and that a young man living in the house had suffered non-lethal injuries to his head, arm, and hands. They added that he had subsequently been transported to the hospital in government-controlled Lysychansk (75km north-west of Luhansk). At a house on Morozov Street, the SMM saw a fresh crater and shrapnel scarring on the wall and on wooden constructions inside the yard and broken windows. The SMM assessed the damage had been caused by an 82mm mortar round fired from an east-east-southerly direction.

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.*

Positioned for over an hour on the southern edge of the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM heard 100 undetermined explosions assessed as caused by 122mm and 152mm artillery rounds 5-10km south-south-west, outside the disengagement area.

Positioned inside the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, the SMM heard one small-arms shot 1km south-west, which it assessed had occurred inside the disengagement area.

Positioned in Petrivske for about one hour, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions and 56 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-8km south, all assessed as outside the disengagement area. Positioned in government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk) for about three hours, the SMM heard five bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, 4-5km south-east and two undetermined explosions and five bursts of small-arms fire at an undetermined distance south-east, assessed as occurring outside the disengagement 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[2].

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw in “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city two low-loading military-type trucks, each transporting a tank (a T-64 and a T-72). In government-controlled Tarasivka (43km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw eight self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and three more artillery pieces of unknown type, all stationary.

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. In government-controlled areas beyond respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw 26 tanks (T-64; including seven for the first time) and noted that 20 tanks (16 T-72 and four T-64) were missing, the latter four for the first time.

The SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapons storage sites and noted as missing: seven mortars (five 2B9M Vasilek, 82mm and two mortars PM-38, 120mm), 34 tanks (T64) and seven towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) were missing as previously observed). The SMM noted, for the first time, that one such site had been abandoned and 20 towed howitzers (2A65) missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[3] in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw: four armoured personnel carriers (BTR-80) moving north in Horlivka, and two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV; BMP-1) in Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk), stationary along a treeline. In Dokuchaievsk, an SMM mini unmanned aerial vehicle revealed the presence of two IFVs (BMP), heavy ground scarring from tracked vehicles and a series of trenches.

The SMM continued to note mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM again observed the improvised explosive device on the road leading from “LPR”-controlled areas north to the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (see SMM Daily Report 2 March 2017).

Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces officers of the JCCC assured the SMM that mines had been removed on both sides of the contact line in the area of the Donetsk Filtration Station and that the JCCC had facilitated open-ended, written security guarantees from both sides – for mine clearance, for repairs and for secure access for the Station’s staff as outlined in the 2 March Statement of after the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group.

The sides had also expressed a firm intention to publicly express their respect for SMM personnel and equipment. In response to an incident in Yasynuvata on 24 February, in which armed men had fired in the direction of SMM monitors and seized one of the Mission’s UAVs, a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer of the JCCC informed the SMM that perpetrators had been detained and would face disciplinary measures, but did not indicate what steps, if any, the “DPR” had taken in relation to any of those involved.  (See SMM Spot Report 25 February 2017.) The Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the JCCC informed the SMM of steps taken to verify no Ukrainian Armed Forces service members or military hardware was present within the disengagement area near Katerynivka (see SMM Daily Report 25 February 2017), but did not identify the individuals involved or what steps, if any, had been taken to hold them to account.

At a checkpoint 2km south-east of “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve ( 58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw for the first time a new improvised mine sign (small black board with white letters reading ‘Mines’ in Russian)  that had been erected at the side of the road.

The SMM continued to monitor the blockade of routes that lead across the contact line. (See SMM Daily Report 27 February 2017). At the blockade site in government-controlled Bakhmut (67km north of Donetsk), the SMM saw a freight train pass. The Mission saw three men in camouflage clothes who identified themselves as blockade participants. At the camp near the train tracks, the SMM saw 30-40 individuals (mostly middle-aged men), most of them wearing camouflage clothes; two military tents, nine cars and several Ukrainian flags together with Right Sector and former volunteer battalion flags. The SMM noted that the situation in the camp was calm. At the blockade site in Shcherbynivka (44km north of Donetsk), the SMM noted a calm situation and saw one passenger train pass through the blockade point. At the railway crossing in government-controlled Hirske (63km west of Luhansk), the SMM noted there was no police presence. At the road junction in Karbonit (part of Zolote) the SMM noted there were no protesters or flags around the previously occupied building (see SMM Daily Report 1 March 2017).

In Horlivka, an “UkrteleKom” office staff member told the SMM that as of 1 March, the landline phone connection and internet to government-controlled areas had been switched off and as of 2 March, the landline phone and radio transmission were operational only inside “DPR”-controlled areas, while internet connectivity had not been restored. He added that until 1 March, the company, which was privately owned, had been registered according to Ukrainian legislation and paid taxes to Ukraine’s budget, but would be taken over.

A representative of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation told the SMM (see SMM Daily Report 2 March 2017) that activities only in non-government-controlled areas had been suspended.

The SMM visited two border areas currently outside government control. At the Uspenka border crossing point (73km south-east of Donetsk), present for under 30 minutes, the SMM saw 25 civilian cars (18 with Ukrainian licence plates, five with Russian Federation ones, one with Georgian licence plates, one with “DPR” plates). The SMM also saw 28 civilian trucks (24 with Ukrainian licence plates, two with Russian Federation ones, one with Lithuanian licence plates and one with “DPR” plates) as well as ten blue Kamaz trucks with covered trailers, all with “DPR” plates. All vehicles were in a queue to exit Ukraine. The driver (a middle-aged man) of one of the blue trucks told the SMM that the ten trucks were transporting wheat and he had faced no problems exiting Ukraine with the plates he had and his “DPR” “passport”. At the Novoazovsk (101km south-east of Donetsk) border crossing point, in less than an hour, the SMM saw: four covered trucks (with Ukrainian licence plates) transporting wheat and ten civilian cars (nine with Ukrainian licence plates, one with “DPR” plates) exit Ukraine. The driver of one of the trucks told the SMM that they were transporting wheat. The SMM also saw three civilian cars (two with Ukrainian licence plates, one with Russian Federation ones) enter Ukraine and three large covered trucks parked near the border crossing point.

In Chernivtsi city, the SMM monitored a protest in front of the office of Sberbank of Russia. The SMM saw about 20 protesters dressed in Azov National Corps jackets (mostly men, about 20 years old), all wearing half balaclavas on their faces. An equal number of passers-by stopped to watch the protest. The SMM saw the protesters put up posters on the façade of the bank. One of them told the SMM that the goal of the protest was to prevent the bank from doing business and to demand its closure. Stationed at the entrance to the bank were some 20 law enforcement officers. Twenty officers were in buses behind the bank. According to a police officer, the actions of the protestors had not been stopped because they were considered peaceful. The protest ended in about an hour without incidents.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnipro, Kharkiv 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 JCCC should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance.

 

Denial of access:

  • In the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers told the SMM that its safety could not be guaranteed in the surrounding areas due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • At an “LPR” checkpoint at the edge of 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 SMM was unable to travel west from “DPR”-controlled Petrivske due to the lack of security guarantees, a road block and the potential mine threat, as indicated by mine hazard signs present. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at the bridge in Shchastia told the SMM that no demining activities had taken place and that the road south of the bridge was still mined. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • In “DPR”-controlled Molochnyi (on the northern edge of Vuhlehirsk, 49km north-east of Donetsk) armed men again stopped the SMM and prevented it from proceeding further (see SMM Daily Report 2 March 2017). The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel denied the SMM access through a checkpoint in Nyzhnoteple. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM was unable to proceed along a road near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) to Nyzhnoteple as a barrier was blocking the way. The SMM was accompanied by Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC who clarified with the local commander that the road had been blocked due to the presence of mines in the area.

[1] Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

[2] Despite the joint statement of 1 February by the Trilateral Contact Group and the consent reached on 15 February 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.

[3] 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/ukraine-smm/302791

[Source: OSCE-Media Relations]

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