Mon. Oct 15th, 2018

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 25 July 2018

25 July 2018/Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 25 July 2018

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske and recorded ceasefire violations inside the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas, as well as in Starolaspa.* The SMM observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Vesele, Svobodne, Khrustalnyi, Novoamvrosiivske and Starolaspa. The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station, including through monitoring the security situation around the station, as well as repairs and maintenance works to critical civilian infrastructure near Zalizne, Stanytsia Luhanska and Novotoshkivske, as well as in Popasna.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations[1], including about 100 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 50 explosions).

On the evening and night of 24-25 July, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk) recorded 12 explosions (seven assessed as impacts and the remainder undetermined) 600-800m south and south-south-west, as well as three bursts from west to east 5-7km south.

On the night of 24-25 July, the SMM camera in Krasnohorivka (government-controlled, 21km west of Donetsk) recorded 38 undetermined explosions 5-7km south-east.

On the evening of 24 July, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard two explosions assessed as impacts of artillery rounds, seven undetermined explosions and about 100 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-7km south-east. During the day on 25 July, while at the same location, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions 4-5km south-east.

During the day on 25 July, positioned about 2km north of Debaltseve (non-government-controlled, 58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions, about 180 shots and bursts of small-arms fire and about ten minutes of uncountable and overlapping shots of undetermined weapons, all 1-7km at directions ranging from south-west to north-north-east.

Positioned about 1km north-north-west of the entry-exit checkpoint in Pyshchevyk (government-controlled, 25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 17 explosions (13 assessed as outgoing and the remainder undetermined) at undetermined distances at directions ranging from north-east to south-east.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, compared with the previous reporting period.

During the day on 25 July, positioned on the southern edge of Muratove (government-controlled, 51km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard about 60 shots of small-arms fire 1-2km south-west.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk)[2], 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 evening of 24 July, while on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard three bursts of small-arms fire 3-4km south-south-west, assessed as inside the disengagement area.

During the day on 25 July, positioned near the Zolote disengagement area and in Bohdanivka (government-controlled, 41km south-west of Donetsk), west of the Petrivske disengagement area, the SMM did not observe ceasefire violations.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons in implementation of the Memorandum and the Package of Measures and its Addendum.

In violation of withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled-areas, on 24 July, an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted a towed howitzer (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) near Vesele (28km north-east of Mariupol) and two self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122m) and 13 tanks (T-72) about 1.5km north of Svobodne (73km south of Donetsk), all were located in a zone within which deployment of heavy armaments and military equipment is further proscribed according to Point 5 of the Memorandum of 19 September 2014. On 25 July, the SMM saw four multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122m) near Novoamvrosiivske (56km east of Donetsk), ten MLRS (BM-21) near Khrustalnyi (formerly Krasnyi Luch, 56km south-west of Luhansk) and a towed howitzer (D-30) being towed by a truck on the eastern edge of Starolaspa (51km south of Donetsk).*

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in non-government-controlled-areas, on 24 July, aerial imagery from 23 July revealed the presence of 30 tanks (type undetermined) near Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk) (for previous observations see SMM Daily Report 8 June 2018).

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 from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In non-government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines in Donetsk region, the SMM observed six towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) and five self-propelled howitzers (2S1), and noted that seven towed howitzers (2A65) and four self-propelled howitzers (2S1) remained missing.

The SMM revisited a heavy weapons permanent storage site in an area of Luhansk region outside government control whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted that six towed howitzers (one 2A65 and five D-30), four MLRS (BM-21) and three self-propelled howitzers (2S1) remained missing. The SMM revisited a permanent storage site in an area of Donetsk region outside government control whose location was beyond the withdrawal lines and noted that 11 tanks (four T-64 and seven T-72) remained missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACV)[3] and other indications of military-type presence in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 24 July, an SMM mini-UAV spotted three armoured personnel carriers (APC) (two BTR-70 and an MT-LB) near Artema (26km north of Luhansk), and an SMM mid-range UAV spotted two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-2) near Novhorodske (35km north of Donetsk). An SMM mid-range UAV also spotted two 200m-long trenches and an 80m-long trench in areas south and south-east of Zalizne (formerly Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk) (not visible in imagery from 1 June 2018). On the same day, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted an APC (MT-LB), an ACV (BMP variant), a 50m-long trench and multiple positions near Novotoshkivske (53km west of Luhansk) (not visible in imagery from 30 May 2018), as well as shelling marks around a position along a tree line about 2km south-east of Novotoshkivske, the pattern of which indicates the use of cluster munition assessed as fired from a south-easterly direction between 7 and 18 June 2018.

In non-government-controlled areas, on 24 July, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted trenches about 250m in length in the north-western outskirts of Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) (not visible in imagery from 23 May 2018) and an SMM mini-UAV spotted two armoured recovery vehicles (a BTS-4A and a BREM-1) about 1.5km north of Svobodne.

The SMM continued to observe mines. On 24 July, an SMM mid-range UAV again spotted about 350 anti-tank mines laid out in two rows about 2.5km north of Novhorodske (see SMM Daily Report 19 July 2018).

The SMM continued to facilitate the operation of the DFS, including through monitoring adherence to the ceasefire. Positioned in areas near the DFS, the SMM heard ceasefire violations, despite explicit security guarantees (see above and the table below).

The SMM also continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance works at the phenol sludge reservoir near Zalizne, the railway station in Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk), the water channel near Stanytsia Luhanska and to water pipelines near Novotoshkivske.

The SMM visited two border areas outside government control. While at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about 45 minutes, the SMM saw 47 cars (18 with Ukrainian, 15 with Russian Federation and one with Georgian licence plates, and 13 with “DPR” plates), three covered cargo trucks (two with Ukrainian and one with Belarusian licence plates) and a van (with Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine and two cars (with “DPR” plates) entering Ukraine. While at a border crossing point near Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk) for about 20 minutes, the SMM observed no traffic or pedestrians entering or exiting Ukraine.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

*Restrictions of the 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 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 (for example, see SMM Daily Report 19 July 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:

  • At a checkpoint on the eastern edge of Starolaspa, two armed members of the armed formations prevented the SMM from proceeding, saying that “a census is being conducted in the village”. The SMM saw a towed howitzer (D-30) in violation of withdrawal lines (see above).

Regular restrictions 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 by telephone that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.[4]
  • 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 telephone that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.5
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A member of the armed formations 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.

[1] Please see Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as a 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] Due to presence of mines, including those on a road between Bohdanivka and Petrivske, the SMM’s access to its camera in Petrivske remained limited; therefore, the review of the camera footage may take place days later.

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

[4] The SMM informed Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC. Russian Federation Armed Forces officers of the JCCC have withdrawn from the JCCC as of 18 December 2017.

Sources:

OSCE

 

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