Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 28 February 2017

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 28 February 2017
This report is for the media and the general public.

London. March 1, 2017. (mediap). Report by OSCE. The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including twice as many explosions, compared with the previous reporting period. It observed damage from gun fire and shelling on both sides of the contact line, in Yasynuvata, Talakivka, Novolaspa and Verhulivka. The SMM noted resumption of electricity in parts of Avdiivka. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas in Stanytsia Luhanska, Petrivske and Zolote, but its access remained restricted.* The SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska revealed one ceasefire violation inside the disengagement area on 27 February. The SMM noted weapons in violation on both sides of the contact line. It noted the presence of unexploded ordnance in Novooleksandrivka and of mines south of Shchastia. The SMM monitored the blockade of routes crossing the contact line. It visited a border area not under government control. In Kharkiv the SMM monitored a public gathering.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations [1], including about 900 explosions compared with about 450 in the previous reporting period.

On the night of 27 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 85 undetermined explosions, of which 70 were at locations 6-10km north-west and 15 were at locations 6-10km north-east. While at the central railway station (6km north-west of the city centre) on 28 February, the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions, mostly at locations 7-10km at points ranging from west to north.

On the evening of 27 February, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded ten undetermined explosions 4-7km east-south-east. The following day, the camera recorded 49 projectiles in flight from west to east and ten undetermined explosions, all 4-6km east-south-east. Positioned in Avdiivka on 28 February, the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions, of which 11 were 1-3km east-south-east and four were 3-5km south-west. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) on the same day, the SMM heard 118 undetermined explosions 1-3km at points ranging from south-west to north.

On the evening of 27 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 32 undetermined explosions 8-10km north-north-west. On the same evening while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard about 100 undetermined explosions 3-5km south-east and south-south-east. The following day in Svitlodarsk the SMM heard 19 undetermined explosions 3-5km in southerly directions. On 28 February, while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard about 200 undetermined explosions 8-10km south-west.

On the night of 27-28 February, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, beginning with two tracer rounds and one illumination flare in flight from east to west, a total of nine undetermined explosions and ten tracer rounds (three from west to east and seven from east to west) at unknown distances north. The following day, the camera recorded 59 airbursts 2-3km north-east, 25 bursts assessed as anti-aircraft (ZU-23, 23mm) cannon rounds, from west to east, one rocket-assisted projectile from south-south-west to north-north-east and two undetermined explosions 5km north of the camera.

Positioned in government-controlled Mariupol (102km south of Donetsk) on the evening of 27 February, the SMM heard 31 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of undetermined weapons 5-7km north-east. The next morning the SMM heard 20 explosions assessed as artillery rounds at unknown distances east.

On 28 February, positioned in areas east and north-east of Mariupol the SMM heard about 170 explosions, mainly south-east.

Positioned 3km north of government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard 22 undetermined explosions at unknown distances south-south-east, six explosions assessed as outgoing rounds and three as impacts of rounds from undetermined weapons 6km south-east. Positioned 1.5km north-east of Hnutove the SMM heard 16 explosions assessed as mortar rounds 2-3km east and six undetermined explosions 2-3km south-east and south.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (26km east of Mariupol) the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions, most of which were 3-4km west, one explosion as an impact and ten assessed as outgoing rounds from undetermined weapons 3-4km west. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Naberezhne (33km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard 30 undetermined explosions at unknown distances south-east.

Whilst 3km north-west of government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard two explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds, 12 as outgoing rounds of undetermined weapons and 16 undetermined explosions 3-4km east, 21 undetermined explosions 3-4km north-north-east, and two explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of undetermined weapons at unknown distances south-south-east.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 135 explosions compared with 60 recorded in the previous reporting period.

On the evening of 27 February, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard 65 explosions assessed as outgoing multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS, type unknown) rounds 10km west. Positioned in government-controlled Lopaskyne (23km north-west of Luhansk) on 28 February, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions 7-10km north-west. Positioned in government-controlled Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 5-7km south (assessed as outside the disengagement area). Positioned in “LPR”-controlled parts of Zolote the SMM heard four undetermined explosions 5km west.

Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk) on 28 February, the SMM heard two explosions assessed as impacts of 120mm mortar rounds over 10km east-north-east, one explosion assessed as the impact of an 82mm mortar round 150m south-west, as well as 21 bursts of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire 400m south-west and 30 rounds of heavy-machine-gun fire 400m east-north-east.

Positioned 1km east of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 3-5km south. When 2km south-east of “LPR”-controlled Molodizhne (63km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions 4-5km south. Positioned 1km north of government-controlled Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions about 20km south-south-west.

The SMM observed damages caused by shelling. On 27 February, in Yasynuvata the SMM, accompanied by a Russian officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and “DPR” members, observed that a broken window on the south-south-west-facing wall of a private house at Dnipropetrovska Street 42 had been covered with black fabric. Part of the window frame had been damaged by shrapnel. Inside and outside the house, the SMM found several small light brass fragments – consistent with small-calibre ammunition that had damaged the window (frame and glass) and caused small dents on the opposite wall. At a building at Mikroraion Street 3 the SMM saw a broken window with small damages to its frame. The SMM assessed the above damages to have been caused by 12.7mm ammunition.

At 40 Rokiv Zhovtnia Street in government-controlled Talakivka (17km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed 11 fresh impacts, of which three were inside an agricultural compound. The SMM saw a hole in the roof of one storage building for agricultural machines and shrapnel damage on the metal walls. A metal pole outside a covered parking lot had been hit, as had a parked truck which the SMM saw burning. Three other fresh impacts were in a field adjacent to the compound and another five at a nearby abandoned farm where the SMM saw that the outer fence had been hit and two of its metal plates destroyed. The roof, walls and interior of the premises had also been damaged. The SMM assessed all of the above impacts as caused by 122mm artillery rounds fired from an east-north-easterly direction.

In “DPR”-controlled Novolaspa (50km south of Donetsk), the SMM saw a crater on the right side of the road to “DPR”-controlled Bila Kamianka (51km south of Donetsk). The SMM assessed the crater to have been caused by 122mm artillery fire from the south-south-west.

The SMM observed two fresh impacts close to each-other, 250m from the main road 2km south-west of “LPR”-controlled Verhulivka (64km west of Luhansk), and six pieces of shrapnel 1-5m from the craters. The nearest house was 1km away. The SMM assessed the impacts to have been caused by 152mm artillery rounds fired from a northerly direction.

In Avdiivka, the SMM observed that shops (closed for the past four days due to lack of electric power) had reopened and noted in one of them a lack of running water. A Ukrainian officer of the JCCC told the SMM that both the old and new sections of Avdiivka were being supplied with potable water but only for reduced hours, adding that the repair work near the Donetsk water filtration station had not started.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas of Stanytsia Luhanska, 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.*

About two hours after midnight on 27 February, the SMM camera in Stanytsia Luhanska recorded one projectile in flight from south-south-east to north-north-west 1.5km south-south-east of the camera (assessed as inside the disengagement area) and one shot of small-arms fire 40m south-east of the camera (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

The SMM observed a fresh crater with the remnants of a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG-7) 100m south of the government checkpoint north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge. The SMM assessed that the projectile had been fired from a southerly direction.

In government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), inside the Zolote disengagement area, accompanied by Ukrainian officers of the JCCC, the SMM saw, in violation of the Framework Decision, an armed man in uniform exiting a house, and three military vehicles (HMWW and UAZ) parked next to it, where on 25 February the SMM had heard small-arms fire (see SMM Daily Report 27 February 2017). He said that he was the commander of a demining team that was clearing the backyards of houses inside the disengagement area. About 15m north of the house, the SMM was shown an impact assessed as caused by the explosion of a hand grenade.

The SMM noted a calm situation while near the Petrivske disengagement area.

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 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 the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw three towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) towed by military trucks in government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) and an SMM mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted three towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) about 3km north-east of “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km east of Mariupol).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites the SMM saw one tank (T-72) near government-controlled Kramatorsk (83km north of 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 under government control beyond respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw nine anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), including three for the first time. The SMM noted that 22 anti-tank guns (MT-12) and ten tanks (T-64) were missing, as previously noted.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft weapons [2] in the security zone. On 27 February in government-controlled areas the SMM: saw 18 static IFVs (BMP-2), a military truck carrying ammunition boxes, as well as fresh vehicle tracks on the road near Popasna; one (covered) static anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23-2) near Hirske (63km west of Luhansk); and one static armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BRDM-2) near Vrubivka (72km west of Luhansk). On 28 February the SMM saw eight APCs (MTLB), one with a mounted anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23), in Talakivka.

In areas not under government control, the SMM saw three static IFVs (BMP-1), two near the north-eastern outskirts of Luhansk city, one 3km south-east of Stanytsia Luhanska (outside the disengagement area) and two IFVs (BMP-1) north of Lyman (12km north-west of Luhansk). In Khreshchatytske (formerly Krasnoarmiiske, 33km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM observed tracks consistent with those of an APC (MT-LB).

The SMM continued to note the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). On 27 February, the SMM observed at least one UXO (rocket-propelled grenade) and remnants of other exploded ordnance in Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk). The four anti-tank mines in “LPR”-controlled areas south of Shchastia (see SMM Daily Report 27 February 2017) continued to be present.

On the southern edge of government-controlled Raihorodka (34km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed that a checkpoint (last observed operational at the end of January) was abandoned and the mine hazard signs previously present had been removed.

The SMM continued to monitor the blockade of routes crossing the contact line (see SMM Daily Report 27 February 2017). The SMM noted that railway tracks remained blocked by wooden barriers and barbed wire in government-controlled Hirske, and a train was still on the rails. Four men in camouflage fatigues were under the bridge. One police car was 25m from the protesters. At the government checkpoint near the road junction in Karbonit (part of Zolote), the SMM saw three men in camouflage clothing and one woman in civilian clothing present. At the Kryvyi Torets train station in government-controlled Shcherbynivka (44km north of Donetsk) and in “DPR”-controlled Yenakiieve (41km north-east of Donetsk) several people separately told the SMM that protests had taken place against the blockade of the railway. While present in both areas the SMM noted a calm situation.

The SMM visited a border area currently outside government control. The SMM noted an increased presence of “LPR” members inside “police” cars on the crossroads and main junctions of the road to Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk). At the border crossing point in Izvaryne around 170 people, 50 cars and ten trucks (most of the vehicles with Ukrainian licence plates, and two with “LPR” plates) were queuing to leave Ukraine. During its almost three-hour stay, the SMM observed two black jeeps escorted by two “police” cars, as well as five cars, two trucks and ten pedestrians enter Ukraine. Ten cars, two trucks and a convoy (marked “humanitarian aid”) consisting of five trucks, two caravan trucks, a civilian black car (with a driver wearing a military-style uniform) and two “police” cars left Ukraine.

In Kharkiv, the SMM monitored a gathering of around 100 people (men and women, different ages) in front of the regional state administration building protesting against the refusal, on 23 February, of the National Council on TV and Radio Transmission to renew the licence of Radio Vesti. Some 20 police officers were present. The protest ended peacefully.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, 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, 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.
The possible presence of mines and UXO prevented the SMM from travelling further south-east into the Zolote disengagement area from government-controlled Katerynivka. The Mission 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 not able to travel from government-controlled Popasna to Katerynivka as the road was blocked. In addition Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel present said that the road was mined and permission from senior authorities was required to pass. The Mission 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.
At a checkpoint in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove, armed men prevented the SMM from proceeding further, without any explanation. The SMM informed the JCCC.
At the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne, “LPR” members denied the SMM access to a certain part of the area.  The Mission informed the JCCC.
Conditional access:

The SMM was again allowed to pass through a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (see SMM Daily Report 28 February 2017) only after an unarmed man had searched the SMM vehicles. The Mission informed the JCCC.
Delay:

-At a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Novolaspa (50km south of Donetsk), five armed men refused to allow the SMM to proceed further to “DPR”-controlled Bila Kamianka (51km south of Donetsk), stating that mines had been put on the road. The SMM informed the JCCC and about 30 minutes later was granted permission.

[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] 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/302366

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