Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 5 August 2016

This report is for media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared to the previous day. The Mission recorded a significant level of fighting during the night of 5-6 August in Donetsk region. The SMM analysed craters in Krasnohorivka, Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove) and Sakhanka. It observed weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas. The Mission noted the absence of 12 towed howitzers from permanent storage sites in “LPR”-controlled areas. It faced four freedom-of-movement restrictions, all in areas not controlled by the Government. The SMM received concrete responses to recent incidents by the Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination, but no such information regarding incidents that took place in areas not controlled by the Government.

The SMM noted fewer ceasefire violations[1] in Donetsk region compared to the previous reporting period.

On the evening of 4 August, while in Donetsk city centre the SMM heard in two minutes 14 undetermined explosions 6-8km north-north-west of its position. On the night of 5-6 August, the SMM heard 42 undetermined explosions, including 30 assessed as anti-aircraft cannon rounds, 7-10km north of its position.

On night of 4-5 August, whilst in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 8-10km north-west of its location. Earlier that evening, the SMM had heard in one minute 20 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds, explosions assessed as automatic-grenade-launcher and recoilless-gun rounds as well as heavy-machine-gun bursts 700-1000m north of its position 7km north of Horlivka. While in Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard two explosions assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar rounds 4-5km south-east of its location.

The SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) between 21:39 and 21:48 on 4 August recorded 11 rocket-assisted projectiles fired from west to east and one undetermined explosion at unknown distance north-west of its position. During the night of 5-6 August, in about three hours, the camera recorded 118 undetermined explosions as well as bursts of tracer fire (in sequence) from south-west to north-east, west to east and east to west.

Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard within 50 minutes in the afternoon 94 undetermined explosions assessed as rounds of different weapons (82mm and 120mm mortar, automatic grenade launcher), as well as heavy-machine-gun fire 4-6km south-east of its position. In the course of the day, whilst positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions at locations ranging from 2 to 6km west, west-north-west and north-north-west of its position.

In one hour in the morning, whilst in Svitlodarsk, the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions 10-12km north-west, and four undetermined explosions 10-12km north-north-east of its position. In the night hours of 5-6 August, within just over two hours around midnight from the same location, the SMM heard 42 explosions, including 30, which it assessed as impacts of 120mm mortar rounds 4-5km south-east of its position. In Horlivka, on the same night, the SMM heard 43 explosions, including 27 it assessed as outgoing mortar rounds 7-9km north-west of its position.

In Luhansk region the SMM noted fewer ceasefire violations compared to the previous day, with no ceasefire violations recorded during the night of 4 August. Positioned 2km north of “LPR”-controlled Hannivka (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 5-15km west of its position. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (65km west of Luhansk), within about 20 minutes, the SMM heard over a dozen bursts of small arms 2km east of its position.

The SMM followed up on civilian casualties and conducted crater analysis. At the Kalinina hospital morgue in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM accompanied by Russian Federation Armed Forces officers at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), observed the body of a woman with extensive shrapnel injuries to her head, neck, limbs and torso. According to the autopsy report, she had succumbed to shrapnel injuries she had received due to triggering a booby trap while working in her garden in Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi district on 4 August.

On 4 August, in “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM saw four fresh craters, all of which it assessed as caused by 120mm mortar rounds. The SMM assessed the first crater near an abandoned house as caused by a round fired from a westerly direction. The second crater was in the backyard of a house inhabited by an elderly woman and the SMM assessed that the round had been fired from a south-westerly direction. The last two craters were located near a road in the same area and the SMM assessed that one round had been fired from a north-north-westerly direction and the other – from a north-westerly direction. According to residents, the shelling had taken place between 06:00-06:35 on 3 August. No casualties were reported.

In Sakhanka (“DPR”-controlled, 24km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM saw three fresh craters. The first crater was 20m away from an electricity sub-station and the SMM assessed it as caused by a projectile fired from a westerly direction. The SMM saw shrapnel damage to the sub-station. The SMM assessed the second crater, which was located in a field at the outskirts of the village, as caused by a 120mm mortar round fired from a north-westerly direction. The third crater was located in the backyard of a house inhabited by a middle-aged woman and the SMM saw two broken windows. The SMM assessed it as caused by a projectile fired from a north-north-westerly direction. Residents told the SMM that the shelling had occurred on 3 August at 22:30. No casualties were reported.

In Molodizhne (“DPR”-controlled, 20km south of Donetsk) the SMM saw nine fresh impact sites in a “detention” facility guarded by armed “DPR” members. One impact had caused the south-east part of the flat roof of an administrative building to partially collapse. The remainder of the impacts had struck the hard surface of the yard. The SMM assessed four of the craters as caused by 122mm or 152mm artillery rounds fired from a south or south-westerly direction, while a fifth had been caused by a projectile of unknown calibre fired from a northerly direction. The SMM was unable to analyse the remainder of the craters as they had been tampered with. According to the “head” of the facility, the shelling had occurred around midnight on 4 August. He also told the SMM that two “detainees” had sustained minor injuries. Medical personnel at the Dokuchaievsk hospital who treated them told the SMM that one had a shrapnel injury to his ankle and the other – to his chest and jaw. Both had been released back to the facility less than two hours after their arrival to the hospital. Near the facility, the SMM saw a two-storey house with a shattered window and spoke to a resident living in the house who stated that the window had been shattered by shrapnel around midnight on 4 August.

In government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk) the SMM visited two residential properties reportedly shelled on the night of 4-5 August. At the first, the SMM saw a crater in the asphalt surface on the yard of the house, and minor shrapnel damage to the nearby east-facing wall. The SMM saw the tail fin of an 82mm mortar round stuck in the asphalt and assessed that the round had been fired from an east-south-easterly direction. At the second location, a five-storey apartment building, the SMM saw a direct impact on the east-facing wall and assessed it as caused by an 82mm mortar round fired from an east-north-easterly direction. No casualties were reported at either location.

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

In violation of the respective withdrawal line, the SMM observed in government-controlled areas: one surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa, 120mm) westbound on the M04 (E50) road near government-controlled Selidove (41km north-west of Donetsk), and two tanks of unknown type in “LPR”-controlled areas of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk). 

Beyond the respective withdrawal line but outside assigned areas, the SMM observed 13 stationary tanks (T-64) at the training area near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

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 a government-controlled area beyond the respective withdrawal lines the SMM saw 11 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS; BM21 Grad 122mm). The SMM also observed that one area continued to be abandoned, as it had been since 26 February, with 12 MLRS (BM21 Grad 122mm) and two surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10, 120mm) missing. In “DPR”-controlled areas, the SMM noted the presence of eight anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm).*

The SMM revisited permanent storage sites, whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. At “LPR”-controlled sites the SMM noted that 12 towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) were missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. In “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed one armoured personnel carrier (BTR-80) with 12 armed “LPR” members on board travelling west and one stationary combat engineering vehicle (IMR-2) on a tank (T-72) chassis.

The SMM continued to insist on accountability and responsibility for violations related to impediments to SMM monitoring and verification. The SMM continued to follow up on the incident of 2 August when SMM monitors were threatened at gunpoint at a known Ukrainian Armed Forces position near Lobacheve (17km north-west of Luhansk) (see: SMM Spot Report, 3 August 2016). At the JCCC in government-controlled Soledar (79km north of Donetsk), the Ukrainian Armed Forces representative presented the SMM with details of the investigations and disciplinary measures taken against the perpetrators. With regard to the shots fired at the SMM mini unmanned aerial vehicle near Lobacheve on 30 July (see SMM Daily Report 1 August 2016), the representative informed the SMM that the person responsible had been identified and he had disobeyed direct orders.

In relation to the violation near Lukove (72km south of Donetsk) (see: SMM Spot Report, 29 July 2016) in which armed individuals had threatened the SMM at gunpoint, Mr. Zakharchenko continued to refuse to meet the SMM in order to indicate effective steps taken in response.*

The SMM reminded the JCCC of continued restrictions and impediments to monitoring and verification, including in the areas near Zolote and Petrivske, and reminded the JCCC of its obligations under the Addendum to help ensure these and other violations were remedied as a matter of urgency. The SMM likewise reminded the JCCC that many of these restrictions were caused by mines, which the signatories of the Memorandum of September 2014 had insisted should be removed, and the Trilateral Contact Group’s decision of 3 March, stipulating that the JCCC should be responsible for overall co-ordination of mine action, with the support of the SMM.

The SMM observed the presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM revisited an area in Debaltseve (“DPR”-controlled, 58km north-east of Donetsk) where it had seen UXO assessed as an MLRS round (BM27 Uragan, 220mm; see SMM Daily Report 5 August 2016). A local farmer stated that “emergency services” had visited the site on 4 August and declared the rocket safe. He also showed the SMM another UXO on a footpath in the area, which the SMM assessed to be a 122mm artillery shell. The SMM informed the JCCC of the location of both pieces of UXO.

The SMM observed a new mine hazard sign 2km west of government-controlled Lobacheve (18km north-west of Luhansk) on the side of the road, which connects Lobacheve to government-controlled Lopaskyne (24km north-west of Luhansk). The sign read “Mines” in Russian and was hand-written on white cloth, which was hung on a movable wooden barrier.

The SMM continued to observe queues of pedestrians at the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge. In the morning between 09:09 and 10:09 the SMM saw 203 people (mixed gender and age) leaving government-controlled areas through the government checkpoint. In the same time period, the SMM saw 265 people (mixed gender and age) entering government-controlled areas through the same checkpoint. At 10:22, the SMM saw some 450 people still queuing to leave government-controlled areas. The SMM saw no traffic in the opposite direction. Between 15:45 and 16:15 the SMM observed 115 people (mixed gender and age) enter government-controlled areas through the government checkpoint. Within the same time frame, the SMM saw 132 people (mixed gender and age) proceed in the opposite direction.

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement 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:

  • An armed “DPR” member stopped the SMM east of Oleksandrivske (formerly Rozy Lyuksemburg, “DPR”-controlled, 82km south of Donetsk), and prevented the SMM from proceeding further east. The SMM took an alternative route to Novoazovsk (“DPR”-controlled, 40km east of Mariupol). The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • Four armed “LPR” members in two vehicles stopped the SMM in “LPR”-controlled areas of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk). An armed “LPR” member threatened one of SMM’s monitors with “arrest”, unless the SMM complied with their instruction not to stop at a pedestrian path leading to the railway tracks. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Conditional access:

  • Armed men limited the SMM’s access to a weapons holding area. The gate was locked and the SMM was informed that the guard with the key was unavailable. The armed “DPR” members present only allowed two monitors and a language assistant to climb the wall (1.2m) in order to record the serial numbers of the designated weapons. The JCCC was informed.
  • An armed “LPR” member stopped the SMM at the “LPR” checkpoint south of the bridge at government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk). He informed his superior and only allowed the SMM to proceed after noting down monitors’ names and IDs.

[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.

Related Stories

Spot Report by OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine: Explosion in Luhansk city

This report is for media and the general public.

On 6 August at 07:51hrs the SMM heard an explosion approximately 3.9km east of its location in Luhansk city.

The SMM went to the site from where it had heard the explosion located at the intersection of Karpynsky and Vatutyn Street in Luhansk city, 500m north-east of SMM’s accommodation. The site was cordoned off, by so-called “LPR” “police” and the SMM could assess from a distance of approximately 15-30 meters, that an explosion had likely been caused by an improvised explosive device (assessed as approximately 1kg of high explosives) placed next to or in, a lamp post about two meters away from the vehicle, which was damaged and downed, at the side of the road. The SMM saw a black sport utility vehicle “Toyota Landcruiser Prado” severely damaged with windows shattered and front and side airbags deployed.

“LPR” “police” members at the site told the SMM that there were two casualties, without giving further details. Mr Vladislav Deynego, “LPR” member, told the SMM that Mr Plotnitsky was “in a bad condition and not able to receive visitors.”  At the time of writing, the SMM could not reach personnel at either of the two hospitals in Luhansk city for confirmation.

The SMM will continue following up to confirm the information, and observe further developments.

Related Stories