Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 7 March 2017

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 7 March 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

London. March 8, 2017 (mediap). The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous 24 hours. The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties in Bakhmut and Sentianivka, and observed damage caused by shelling on both sides of the contact line. The Mission continued monitoring the three disengagement areas, but its access remained restricted.* The SMM reviewed footage from its camera in Stanytsia Luhanska that revealed ceasefire violations inside the disengagement area on the night of 4-5 March, and it observed ceasefire violations near the Zolote disengagement area. The Mission monitored and facilitated repairs to power lines supplying electricity to Avdiivka and the Donetsk Water Filtration Station. The SMM continued to monitor the blockade of routes crossing the contact line.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1] than during the previous 24 hours, including 1,030 explosions compared with more than 1,600.

On the evening of 6 March, while in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 85 undetermined explosions 10-15km north-north-west. On 7 March, positioned at the Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of city centre), the SMM heard 14 explosions assessed as 82mm mortar rounds (seven outgoing and seven subsequent impacts), 22 undetermined explosions, one explosion assessed as the impact of a round of an undetermined weapon, 12 shots of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm), one burst of heavy-machine-gun fire, and ten bursts and 24 shots of small-arms fire, all 2-6km at directions ranging from north-west to north-east.

The same day, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 50 explosions (49 undetermined and one assessed as an impact), as well as heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-8km at directions ranging from south-west to north. Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard 41 undetermined explosions and four shots of small-arms fire 1-6km south and south-west. In the early evening, the SMM camera in Avdiivka recorded 25 undetermined explosions 4-6km south-east.

On the night of 6-7 March, while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 131 undetermined explosions 8-20km south-south-west and west. During 25 minutes in the early evening of 7 March, in the same location, the SMM heard 54 undetermined explosions and intense heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire 8-10km south-west.

On the evening of 6 March, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 63 explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds (30 120mm and 33 82mm), 70 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of IFV (BMP-1) cannon (73mm), 25 shots of anti-aircraft cannon (ZU-23, 23mm) and about 160 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-5km south-east, as well as 12 explosions assessed as impacts of 120mm mortar rounds and five bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 4-6km west. On 7 March, while in the same location, the SMM heard four explosions assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar rounds, three explosions assessed as impacts of recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm) rounds, five explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of IFV (BMP-1) cannon, eight undetermined explosions, 15 bursts of anti-aircraft cannon (ZU-23), and 35 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-6km south-east.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Novohryhorivka (61km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 210 undetermined explosions and intense small-arms fire 4-9km north-west and north.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasne (30km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard 28 undetermined explosions 2-4km north-north-west.

On the night of 6-7 March, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded one undetermined explosion at an unknown distance north-east of the camera, followed by a total of 27 undetermined explosions and a total of 285 tracer rounds in flight (109 from east to west, 92 from west to east, 79 from south to north, and five from south-east to north-west), all at unknown distances north-north-east and north-east of the camera.

In the early evening of 7 March, the same camera recorded, in sequence, one rocket-assisted projectile in flight from east to west, 15 rocket-assisted projectiles in flight from west to east, six explosions assessed as impacts of undetermined weapons, two rocket-assisted projectiles in flight from east to west, and another explosion assessed as an impact, all at unknown distances north-east of the camera.

During the day on 7 March, positioned north-west of government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions: six 4km east-north-east, two at an unknown distance east, and 15 at an unknown distance north-north-west.

Positioned 4km west-north-west of “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 24 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of undetermined weapons (20 6-7km north-north-west and four 2-7km east) and 24 explosions assessed as the subsequent impacts 2-6km west-south-west. The SMM also heard four undetermined explosions at unknown distances west and west-north-west, as well as 30 bursts of an unknown weapon and intense heavy-machine-gun fire at similar distances and directions.

Positioned north-north-east of “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions 6-10km north-north-west and 17 minutes of uncountable, overlapping bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire at an unknown distance west-south-west.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard and saw one explosion assessed as the impact of a 120mm mortar round 1-2km north. It also heard 29 undetermined explosions (25 3-5km north-north-west, four 2-4km south-south-east) and at least 60 bursts of small-arms fire (at least 50 1-2km north and ten 300m south-south-east).

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations compared with the previous 24-hour period, including 270 explosions compared with 38.

On the evening of 6 March, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 69 explosions assessed as artillery rounds, 20 undetermined explosions, 100 bursts of IFV (BMP-2) cannon (30mm), and 15 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 10-20km west and west-north-west, as well as 35 undetermined explosions at unknown distances and directions. On the afternoon of 7 March, in the same location, the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions 10-15km west.

On 7 March, positioned on the northern outskirts of government-controlled Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one explosion assessed as a 120mm mortar round and over 100 explosions assessed as rounds of recoilless gun (SPG-9) and IFV (BMP-1) cannon, all 3km south-west. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove-Borshchuvate (61km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions and ten shots of heavy-machine-gun fire 4km south.

The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties and damage caused by shelling. In the hospital in government-controlled Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk), a woman (aged 24) with a bandage on her leg told the SMM that at 10:30 on 4 March, while on Manuilskoho Street (near buildings 43 and 44) in the government-controlled neighbourhood of Zhovanka in Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk), she had been struck by shrapnel from a 120mm mortar shell that had landed 300-400m from her, an assessment that corresponded with SMM observations on 6 March (see SMM Daily Report 7 March 2017). The hospital’s head doctor said the woman would be hospitalized for ten more days.

At 19 Yaltynska Street in “LPR”-controlled Sentianivka (formerly Frunze, 44km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed minor injuries on the head and hand of a man (in his early twenties) who said he was hit by a projectile during shelling at about 12:30 on 4 March. An unexploded 152mm artillery round lay 3m from where the man said he was struck, about 50m from his house, and there was fresh damage to foliage consistent with that from shrapnel.

A Russian officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and “DPR” members led the SMM to four sites in Yasne that they said were shelled the previous night. The officer of the JCCC said that the “DPR” members had already collected fragments and shrapnel from each of the sites; as a result the SMM was unable to assess types of weapons possibly used. The SMM was also unable to assess direction of fire.

At 8 Zaliznychna Street, the SMM saw minor damage to the south-west-facing roof of a house, and broken windows on the same side. The house’s owner said the damage had occurred from shelling the previous evening between 21:00 and 21:50. At 5 Zaliznychna Street, the SMM saw broken south-west-facing windows on a house, a damaged fence in the yard, and a crater 6-7m from the house. The SMM was unable to assess the direction of fire or whether the crater was fresh. The house’s owner said the damage had occurred from shelling between 21:00 and 21:50 the previous evening.

At 33 Shchorsa Street, the SMM observed a small impact on the balcony of a first-floor apartment on the south-western side of a building. Inside the apartment, the SMM saw minor scratches on the walls and furniture. The apartment’s owners, a couple, said the damage had occurred from shelling the night before. At 46 Shchorsa Street, the SMM saw broken south-west-facing windows of a house, minor damage to nearby gates and a kennel, and a crater in the yard. The SMM was unable to assess the direction of fire or whether the crater was fresh. A woman living at the house said the damage had occurred from shelling the previous night between 20:30 and 21:30.

The SMM observed two fresh impact sites 100-200m east of an abandoned house at 3 Suvorova Street in government-controlled Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk) but was unable to assess the type of weapon used or direction of fire. A man living nearby said shelling had occurred the night of 5 March.

In the yard of a house at 39 Stepova Street in “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (49km west of Luhansk) the SMM assessed a fresh crater as caused by an artillery round fired from a north-westerly direction. The west-facing side of the house’s roof had two holes (around 30cm in diameter), and trees nearby were damaged by shrapnel. The SMM assessed a fresh impact at 56 Stepova Street as caused by a 30mm round (weapon type undetermined) fired from a westerly direction. The SMM also assessed two lines of copper wire in the area (one aligned north to south and one aligned north-west to south-east), assessed to be those of wire-guided anti-tank missiles.

At 80 Second Vilna Street in government-controlled Zolote-4 (60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw a house with four broken north-facing windows covered with plastic film. The owner (man, aged 40-50) said the damage had resulted from shelling on 1 March. The SMM did not observe an impact site in the area.

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.*

On the night of 4-5 March, the SMM camera in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska  recorded ceasefire violations assessed as inside the disengagement area, beginning with one explosion assessed as the impact of a mortar round 900m south of the camera, followed by a total of eight explosions assessed as mortar rounds (seven impacts and one airburst), a total of 13 explosions assessed as impacts of projectiles recorded in flight (seven from north-north-east to south-south-west and assessed as automatic-grenade-launcher (AGS-17, 30mm) rounds, and six from north to south and assessed as rounds of undetermined weapons), 51 explosions assessed as impacts of undetermined weapons, 15 projectiles in flight from north-north-west to south-south-east and assessed as AGS-17 (30mm) rounds, two projectiles in flight from north to south and assessed as rocket-propelled grenades, three rocket-assisted projectiles in flight (one from south-south-east to north-north-west, one from north-west to south-east, and one from south to north), 14 undetermined projectiles in flight (11 from south-east to north-west, two from north-east to south-east, and one from north to south), and two shots of an undetermined weapon, all 0.3-1.7km at directions ranging from south-east to south-west of the camera.

During the above exchange, the camera also recorded one explosion assessed as an outgoing mortar round at an unknown distance east-south-east and two shots of an undetermined weapon 400m east-south-east, all assessed to be outside the disengagement area.

On the morning of 7 March, the SMM observed about 15 armed “LPR” members on the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (inside the disengagement area) dressed in military-style clothes in new condition and without insignia, and armed with a heavy machine-gun in new condition. At 10:11 the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 500m north-east, assessed as inside the disengagement area, and departed due to security concerns. Just over an hour later, the SMM returned to the “LPR”-controlled side of the disengagement area, where a Russian officer of the JCCC and a senior “LPR” member told the SMM that, during its absence, “LPR” members had fired a white signal flare to signal readiness to disengage. SMM patrols positioned during the entire period on the government-controlled side of the disengagement area had not observed any flare. The SMM did not observe disengagement on either side of the contact line.

Just before noon, positioned 400m north of the pedestrian bridge, the SMM heard one shot of small-arms fire at an undetermined distance south-east, assessed to be outside the disengagement area.

On 7 March, the SMM observed ceasefire violations assessed to be near but outside the disengagement area south of government-controlled Zolote. Positioned near government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one shot assessed as automatic-grenade-launcher fire 2-3km south-east. Positioned inside the disengagement area, the SMM heard nine explosions assessed as both impacts (two) and outgoing rounds (seven) of undetermined weapons and two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 5km west. Positioned in Zolote-4, the SMM heard three explosions assessed as 82mm mortar rounds 3km south-west and three undetermined explosions 6-8km south-east.

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.[2]

Aerial imagery revealed the presence on 6 March, in violation of withdrawal lines, of at least 16 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) near “LPR”-controlled Khrustalnyi (formerly Krasnyi Luch, 54km south-west of Luhansk).

Aerial imagery also revealed the presence on the same day, beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, of three tanks near Khrustalnyi and five tanks at a known training area near “LPR”-controlled Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM revisited a weapons permanent storage site in “LPR”-controlled areas whose location corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines and noted one tank as missing for the first time.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACVs) and an anti-aircraft gun,[3] as well as tracks of military-type vehicles, in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas the SMM saw one armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BTR-70) traveling north-west near Yasynuvata, one IFV (BMP-1) being towed by a truck heading east in Luhansk city, one IFV (BMP-variant) south of the Prince Ihor monument near Stanytsia Luhanska, and one APC (MT-LB) heading south-east near Lomuvatka (57km south-west of Luhansk). The SMM also saw tracks assessed as those of at least three ACVs west of Starobesheve (32km south-east of Donetsk).

In government-controlled areas, the SMM saw one stationary IFV (BMP-1) on a flatbed trailer near Plotyna (28km north-east of Luhansk), one IFV (BMP-1) heading east near Bolotene (22km north-east of Luhansk), one IFV (BMP-1) on a flatbed trailer heading west near Teple (31km north of Luhansk), three APCs (MT-LB) heading south-east near Raihorodka (34km north-west of Luhansk), one military truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) heading south near Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), and three stationary APCs (MT-LB) north of Shchastia. On 6 March, an SMM mini unmanned aerial vehicle spotted two IFVs (BMP-2) and four APCs (three BRDM variants and one MT-LB) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk). The SMM also saw tracks assessed as those of a vehicle with an APC (MT-LB) chassis near Zoria (22km north-east of Mariupol) and tracks assessed as those of two vehicles with APC chassis (one MT-LB, one BTR-D) and a tank (T-64) near Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol).

The SMM noted the presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM saw for the first time a grenade launcher round (PG-7L) lying in tyre tracks on the northern shoulder of the road leading west from a checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk). The round was pointing in a northerly direction and had been marked off by glass bottles.

During a period of seven hours, the SMM monitored adherence to the ceasefire in Avdiivka and Yasynuvata to facilitate repairs, co-ordinated by the JCCC, to power lines supplying electricity to Avdiivka and the Donetsk Water Filtration Station. The SMM observed a “DPR” de-mining team inspect an area next to the highway west of Yasynuvata, after which a team from the DTEK energy company repaired a damaged power line. By early afternoon, the SMM noted that power supply had returned to several buildings and service machines in Avdiivka, and lights later appeared in several apartment buildings. The SMM heard emergency generators being turned off.

The SMM continued to monitor the blockade of routes crossing the contact line from government-controlled areas. In Hirske (63km west of Luhansk) the SMM saw that the railway tracks remained blocked by wooden barriers and barbed wire. No people were present at the junction in Karbonit (part of Zolote). At the blockade site in Shcherbynivka (44km north of Donetsk), a man whom other participants identified as a leader told the SMM he was in communication with participants at other blockade points, and that of eight railroads that could be blocked, three had been blocked thus far. At the blockade site in Bakhmut, the SMM saw about 60 participants. One group (mostly male, aged 30 to 65) told the SMM that the participants work in four shifts. At the camp by a highway near government-controlled Buhas (46km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw five-six people in military-style clothes but did not see any traffic being blocked.

Two employees (men, aged about 30 and 50) of a coal mine in “LPR”-controlled Brianka (46km south-west of Luhansk) told the SMM that the mine had stopped production on 21 February due to the blockade.

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

 

Denial of access:

At the checkpoint north of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, a Ukrainian officer of the JCCC told the SMM that its safety could not be guaranteed in areas surrounding the main road due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. 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 SMM was stopped twice by Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel on the road to Popasna from Katerynivka and told that permission to pass must 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.
The SMM was unable to travel east from government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk) due to the possible presence of mines. The Mission informed the JCCC.
The SMM could not travel across the bridge in Shchastia as Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.
An armed “DPR” member at a checkpoint stopped the SMM from proceeding to Oleksandrivka. The SMM observed that the road was blocked by wooden barriers and a concrete block.
In “DPR”-controlled Kozatske (36km north-east of Mariupol), armed men in military-style clothes denied the SMM access to a compound. The SMM informed the JCCC.
At a checkpoint north-east of Kozatske, armed men in military-style clothes stopped the SMM at a checkpoint and said the road was unsafe due to mines. The SMM informed the JCCC.
The SMM was again unable to proceed along a road between government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) and Nyzhnoteple (26km north of Luhansk) as an unstaffed barrier was blocking the way (see SMM Daily Report 3 March 2017).

 

Conditional access:

Armed “DPR” members at an entry-exit checkpoint near Horlivka allowed the SMM to pass only after it showed vehicle registration documents and OSCE identification documents.

 

Delay:

Armed “DPR” members delayed the SMM for 1 hour and 45 minutes at a checkpoint at the eastern entrance to Yasynuvata. The SMM informed the JCCC.
Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers at a checkpoint south of Lebedynske stopped the SMM until the JCCC was able to facilitate passage after 30 minutes.

 

[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.

* 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] 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.

[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/node/303666

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