Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 27 October …
This report is for media and the general public. The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with the previous reporting period, mostly in areas around Horlivka, Avdiivka -Yasynuvata and Svitlodarsk, as well as east and north-east of Mariupol. In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, mostly in Katerynivka and in areas around the Zolote-Pervomaisk disengagement area.
The Mission followed up on reports of civilian casualties and shelling in Popasna and Pikuzy. The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process in Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it was restricted in its freedom of movement in all three areas.* The SMM observed weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines. The Mission noted long queues of civilians at entry-exit checkpoints on both sides of the contact line.
It monitored a border area currently not under government control. The SMM continued to monitor the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Lviv and Kyiv. The SMM also continued to monitor the situation at the administrative boundary line between Kherson and Crimea.
The SMM observed more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, including almost 800 explosions compared with 280 in the previous reporting period, mostly in Horlivka, Avdiivka-Yasynuvata and Svitlodarsk as well as in areas east and north-east of Mariupol, particularly in Shyrokyne and Hnutove. On 27 October while travelling toward the last Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) before entering non-government controlled areas – and approximately 100 metres from that checkpoint – an SMM vehicle was struck by a 7.62mm bullet, which lodged in the engine block after piercing the left wheel arch (see SMM Spot Report 28 October 2016). While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 32 undetermined explosions 13-20km south-south-west on the evening of 26-27 October, and 250 undetermined explosions 10km north-east during the early morning of the following day.
During the night of 26-27 October, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 120 undetermined explosions at locations ranging 3-10km south-east. During the same night, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded 37 undetermined explosions 3-5km south-east, 26 undetermined explosions 4-6km east-south-east, ten explosions assessed as outgoing rounds from north to south-south-east, three airbursts 3-4km south-east and three illumination flares 3-5km south-east. Positioned in Avdiivka, during the day of 27 October, the SMM heard 27 undetermined explosions, 11 explosions assessed as impacts of recoilless gun (SPG-9) rounds, 16 explosions assessed as caused by infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-1), ten explosions assessed as impacts of mortar (82mm) rounds and nine explosions assessed as 125mm tank outgoing rounds, all at locations ranging 2-5km south and south-east.
Positioned in Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 51 undetermined explosions 4-6km west. While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, during the night of 26-27 October, the SMM heard 25 undetermined explosions 8-10km north-north-west. During the evening hours of 26 October the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), facing north-north-east, recorded 29 explosions and 35 airbursts, whose explosions were assessed as the result of bursting artillery or mortar shells probably containing white-phosphorous.
The camera also recorded a total of 17 rocket-assisted projectiles (six fired from east-south-east to west-north-west, one from south-east to north-west, four from east to west, six from west to east) and 33 bursts of tracers (18 bursts from east to west, nine from east-south-east to west-north-west, eight from south-east to north-west) all starting with six rocket-assisted projectiles fired from east-south-east to west-north-west. Positioned in government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 53 undetermined explosions south-east and south-south-east. Positioned in Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, “DPR”-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 23 explosions assessed as mortar rounds of an unknown calibre 1km east.
In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including 11 explosions compared with almost 300 explosions on 26 October. While in government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 10km south. Positioned at the “LPR” checkpoint on the edge of the Zolote-Pervomaisk disengagement area, the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 15km south-west.
The SMM followed up on reports of shelling and casualties. The SMM spoke with a 55-year-old male civilian at the Donetsk Central Hospital, who said he had sustained shrapnel injuries in his left knee during shelling on 25 October. A doctor at a hospital in “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk) told the SMM that a non-civilian male had been admitted on 24 October with severe injuries to the stomach, chest and legs, which the doctor said had been caused by an explosion and which had resulted in the amputation of his right leg.
In Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, “DPR”-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol), ten residents and four Russian Federation Armed Forces officers at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) informed the SMM that shelling had occurred during 23:40-23:50 the previous night. The SMM observed two fully destroyed houses, one of which had caught fire and burned down. The SMM also observed damage to ten additional homes, including collapsed walls and damaged roofs, broken windows and shrapnel damage at the outer walls; damage was all concentrated on the north-western sides of the houses.
The SMM assessed that the impacts were caused by 152mm artillery shells, fired from a north-westerly direction. According to interlocutors, there were no casualties but they claimed that due to the shelling, electricity and gas supply had been interrupted temporarily but that gas supply had been fully and electricity supply almost fully restored. In government-controlled Zolote-4 (60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed damage to the building and windows on the southern side of the cultural centre.
The SMM also observed fresh shrapnel impacts on a fence of a house and a nearby tree, as well broken windows on the house. Just opposite this house, the SMM saw one piece of shrapnel in the wooden fence around a school, assessed as caused by an automatic-grenade launcher (AGS-17). The SMM assessed that in all cases fire came from a southerly and south-easterly direction.
Several local residents on site told the SMM that the shelling had taken place on 26 October between 15:30-17:00 while humanitarian aid was being distributed in the cultural club and that at least 30 people had taken cover. In government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed seven impacts in residential areas. The SMM spoke with a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the JCCC in Popasna who informed the SMM that the shelling had taken place between 22:30 and 23:00 on 25 October.
At the first site, the SMM saw one fresh impact and shrapnel, which it assessed as caused by a high calibre shell (122mm or higher) fired from an easterly direction. The impact was located 30m away from a five-storey civilian building and the SMM observed several shattered windows. At the second site, the SMM observed a burned down wooden home, which the SMM assessed to be recent.
At the third site, the SMM observed severe damaged to the roof of a garage. The neighbouring inhabited house, which was located only 5m away, had sustained 30-40 shrapnel hits. At the fourth site, the SMM observed that the roof of a house had completely collapsed.
A resident of the damaged home told the SMM that another resident of the house had sustained head wounds and had been admitted to the hospital. The fifth impact, approximately 1m in diameter and 0.5m deep, was located in the middle of Gagarina Street and the SMM assessed it to have been caused by a shell fired from an easterly direction. The SMM observed a sixth impact – 3m wide and 1.5m deep – in a garden as well as shrapnel, approximately 40m away from a house.
The SMM assessed that it was caused by a shell 122m or higher fired from an easterly direction. The seventh impact was located approximately 5m away from a residential building and the SMM observed many shrapnel marks on the nearby building wall. The impact was approximately 1.5m wide and 0.5m deep, and the SMM assessed that it was caused by a shell 122mm or higher fired from an easterly 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 (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 Armed Forces and armed formations, obliged under the Decision to remove or fence off explosive objects and ensure safety and secure access for the SMM to the disengagement areas, have yet to complete this in any of the three areas. The JCCC, tasked by the Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group on mine action of 3 March 2016 to carry out the overall co-ordination of demining work and repeatedly tasked to contribute to rapid response to impediments to monitoring by the SMM, during the reporting period was not observed doing so in any of the three areas.
The SMM’s access remained restricted in all three areas,* but the Mission was able to partially monitor them. On the “LPR” side of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM was restricted from proceeding down two different roads toward the summer cottage area due to the presence of mine hazard signs on the road. On two separate occasions (two in government-controlled areas and one in “LPR”-controlled areas) the SMM could not proceed further from each side of the contact line on the closed crossing route between Zolote and Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk).
An “LPR” member told the SMM that he could not guarantee its security in the disengagement area due to the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). At the government checkpoint at the Zolote-Pervomaisk disengagement area, the SMM attempted to proceed towards Pervomaisk but a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the JCCC said there had been no progress in demining. Attempting to access the disengagement area from government-controlled Zolote-4, the SMM observed that the road was blocked by several concrete blocks and barbed-wire.
In “DPR”-controlled Petrivske (40km south of Donetsk) the SMM proceeded to the disengagement area, however, a “DPR” member could not provide the SMM any information on demining activities. 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 line the SMM observed six stationary towed howitzers (D-20, 152mm) at the railway station in government-controlled Kostiantynivka (60km north of Donetsk) on 26 October.
The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. The SMM saw one stationary armoured personnel carrier (APC; BTR-80) near Popasna and one stationary IFV (BMP-1) covered with camouflage net near Stanytsia Luhanska (outside the disengagement area). The SMM continued to observe long queues at entry-exit checkpoints along the contact line.
On 26 October at a checkpoint near government-controlled Maiorsk (44 km northeast of Donetsk), the SMM saw 206 civilian vehicles waiting to travel toward non-government-controlled areas and six buses with approximately 210 civilians waiting to travel in the opposite direction. The SMM also observed traffic jams near the checkpoints, caused by drivers trying to skip ahead in the queue. On 27 October, the civilian crossing area between government-controlled Maiorsk and “DPR”-controlled Horlivka was closed due to shelling during the night and early morning.
During the morning hours at the “LPR” checkpoint near the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM observed approximately 1,600-1,800 people queuing to travel toward government-controlled areas and no people waiting in the opposite direction. At the government checkpoint in Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM observed approximately 600-700 people queuing to travel toward government-controlled areas and approximately 300-400 people queuing in the other direction. At the government checkpoint, the SMM observed emergency services personnel carrying a 50-year-old male civilian on a stretcher, who they said had died suddenly while waiting in line.
The SMM noted that the damaged wooden footbridge and handrails appeared to be worse and bowed considerably as civilians, many elderly, walked on the broken structure. The SMM monitored a border area currently not under government control. At the border crossing point in Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed a humanitarian aid convoy, consisting of 18 cargo trucks with black Russian Federation licence plates and large signs hanging on each of the trucks identifying the cargo as humanitarian assistance from the Russian Federation, leaving Ukraine.
The SMM also observed 51 cars (35 with Ukrainian, 15 with Russian Federation and one with German licence plates), two buses (with Ukrainian licence plates) and 27 cargo trucks (15 with Ukrainian, nine with Belarusian and three with Russian Federation licence plates) waiting to leave Ukraine. The SMM continued to monitor the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) throughout Ukraine. In Lviv region, the SMM met with the deputy head of the Department of Social Protection in Staryi Sambir (86km north-west of Lviv), who told the SMM that unemployment remained the primary issue facing the 106 IDPs (half women, half men) living in the town.
In Strilky (94km north-west of Lviv) SMM met with five IDPs from Luhansk and Donetsk regions and Crimea (four women, one man), of whom only one had found employment in a local school. All of them said they had received IDP benefits on schedule. In Kyiv, the SMM attended a UN conference on local practices for solving challenges housing and employment for IDPs, at which a female Member of Parliament from Donetsk described unemployment as one of the most pressing problems for IDPs.
The SMM continued to observe the activities of the civil formation Asker at crossing points at the administrative boundary line between Kherson and Crimea. At the Asker tent encampment in the village of Chonhar (162km south-east of Kherson), an Asker member, who introduced himself as the head of the civil formation, told the SMM that the group continued to track the situation along the administrative boundary line as well as Crimea through personal contacts, as it has been doing since November 2015. At the crossing point near Chonhar (166km south-east of Kherson), the SMM observed three Asker members, in addition to more than 15 Ukrainian Border Guards.
The SMM continued monitoring in Odessa, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi, and Ivano-Frankivsk.
- Restrictions to 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, 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.
Denial of access:
- The SMM could not proceed further from each side of the contact line on the closed crossing route between government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk) due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the JCCC told the SMM that demining had not yet been conducted in the area. At a checkpoint at the southern edge of the Zolote-Pervomaisk disengagement area, an “LPR” member told the SMM its safety was not guaranteed due to the possible presence of mines/UXO.
The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM attempted to access the road between Zolote and Pervomaisk from government-controlled Zolote-4. The entire width of the road was blocked by several concrete blocks and barbed-wire layers obstructing the traffic both ways. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- While near the “LPR” checkpoint on the south side of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM attempted to access two different roads towards the summer cottage area but could not proceed due to mines signs and improvised mine markings on both roads.
The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM was not able to proceed on the road between government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk) to government-controlled Popasna (69km north-west of Luhansk) as a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer told the SMM that the area is contaminated by mines. The SMM informed the JCCC.
- The SMM could not proceed across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) from either side. Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel and armed “LPR” member present at the respective checkpoints on both sides told the SMM that the bridge was still mined.
The SMM informed the JCCC.
 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.  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/277966
- ^ the annexed table (www.osce.org)
- ^ http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/277966 (www.osce.org)
- ^ [email protected] (reliefweb.int)
- ^ [email protected] (reliefweb.int)