Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 18 July 2016

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations [1] in Donetsk region compared to 17 July, including more than 200 explosions.

On the night of 17 July, positioned in Donetsk city centre the SMM heard four undetermined explosions 5-7km north-west of its position. During the same night, whilst in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions 4-7km south-west and 6-7km north of its position.

The following day, positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of the city centre), the SMM, between 07:55 and 08:19 heard 62 undetermined explosions 3-7km south-south-west, and later that day, heard and saw 25 airbursts, and heard 21 explosions including three explosions caused by 120mm mortar round impacts, all at locations 2-5km ranging from north-north-west to north-north-east of its position.

Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions 2-6km south-west and west of its position. Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard 58 undetermined explosions 5-6km south-east of its position.

In government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard two explosions caused by incoming recoilless gun (SPG-9) rounds and one undetermined explosion 2-3km north-east of its location.

In Luhansk region, for the second consecutive day, all of the ceasefire violations observed by the SMM occurred near government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) during the night, and the number of ceasefire violations recorded was lower compared to 16 July. On the night of 17 July, whilst in Shchastia, the SMM heard at least 16 undetermined explosions and 20 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun fire 4-6km south-west and one explosion caused by outgoing round of recoilless gun (SPG-9) fire 2-3km south of its position.

The SMM followed up on reports of shelling and conducted crater analysis. On 17 July, in a residential area of government-controlled Marinka (23km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM analysed one fresh crater on a concrete driveway close to a house and assessed it as caused by an 82mm mortar round fired from a north-easterly direction. The SMM saw a hole (1m diameter) on its north-facing roof, and assessed it as caused by an 82mm mortar round fired from a north-easterly direction. It saw also shattered hinges of the east-facing door of an outhouse, a hole on the north-facing brick wall of a house and a hole on the north-facing brick wall of an outhouse and assessed them as caused by rocket-propelled grenade rounds fired from a north-easterly direction.

On 17 July, in “DPR”-controlled Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed four fresh craters in close proximity to houses and assessed them as caused by 73mm cannon rounds (recoilless gun SPG-9 or infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-1) cannon), fired from a south-westerly (three craters) and a north-westerly (one crater) direction. The SMM saw a hole on the south-west facing wall of a garage, a smashed south-facing window and a collapsed south-facing roof of a house.

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

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed in government-controlled areas the SMM 12 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm): six near Novozhelanne (33km north-west of Donetsk) and six near Zhelanne (36km north-west of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside assigned areas, the SMM observed one self-propelled howitzer (2S1 Gvozdika 122mm) loaded on a flatbed heading west in government-controlled Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk), and nine tanks (T-64) at a known training site near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed weapons in areas known to the SMM, which it could not verify as withdrawn as they do not comply with the criteria set in the 16 October 2015 notification. In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed 21 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm). The SMM noted, as observed previously, that one anti-tank gun (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and ten tanks (T-64) were missing.

The SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. The SMM noted, as observed previously, that 33 tanks (32 T-72 and one T-64), 12 mortars (seven 2B9 Vasilek 82mm and five BM-37, 82mm) and one anti-tank gun (D-44, 85mm) were missing; noted for the first time that eight tanks (T-64) were missing; and recorded the presence of new weapons. The SMM also noted one site which continued to be abandoned as first observed on 9 December 2015 (see SMM Daily Report 9 December 2015).

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM observed: one light-armoured vehicle (Kraz Cougar) mounted with a heavy machine-gun stationary near Zolote (60km west of Luhansk); two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV; BMP-2) stationary near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk). Aerial surveillance available to the SMM on 13 July revealed the presence of three armoured vehicles near Novooleksandrivka (64km west of Luhansk).

At the office of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata, the Russian Federation Armed Forces officers again refused to share with the SMM their record of ceasefire violations from the previous night, stating they had orders not to do so (see SMM Daily Report 18 July 2016). The SMM informed the JCCC.

The SMM, following up on media reports about an SMM national staff member based in Luhansk region allegedly detained in the Russian Federation, confirmed that he had been temporarily out of reach while on leave and was now back in Ukraine.

The SMM observed mine hazard signs north of government-controlled Kamianka (20km north of Donetsk). The SMM saw numerous wooden boards (with the words “mines” written with green letters on white ground in the Russian language located 30-50m apart of each other) on both sides of a detour (hardened gravel track), which enables vehicles to bypass a demolished bridge on the highway H20, connecting the Yasynuvata junction and government-controlled Kostiantynivka (60km north of Donetsk). The SMM noted that numerous signs had fallen over or been knocked down by wind.

The SMM followed up on an incident in government-controlled parts of Zolote on 15 July, involving a woman wounded by a booby trap. At a hospital in government-controlled Lysychansk (75km north-west of Luhansk), a woman (aged 61) told the SMM that when crossing the contact line towards “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk), she had touched what she thought was a fishing line with her foot and an explosion had occurred. The SMM saw that her legs, arms, face and thorax were bandaged.

In “DPR”-controlled Rozsypne (60km east of Donetsk), the SMM followed up on the situation of the unexploded remnants of a multiple-launch rocket system (BM-30 Smerch, 300mm) rocket, which it had previously observed (see SMM Daily Report 12 May 2016). A male resident (aged 61) told the SMM that two days prior a demining team had defused the rocket and pulled it up from his yard. The demining team told that a larger part of the rocket still remained in the ground.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable the exchange of the bodies of deceased persons across the contact line in Shchastia. On the bridge at the contact line between a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Shchastia and an “LPR” checkpoint south-east of Shchastia, the SMM observed while the body of a deceased man, which according to the JCCC was from the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was transferred by representatives of a civil society organization based in “LPR”-controlled areas to representatives of the civil-military administration, and while two bodies of deceased men, which according to the JCCC were “LPR” members, were transferred in the opposite direction.

At 15:20, the SMM observed that the northernmost government checkpoint near the bridge in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska was closed, while a queue of some 100 pedestrians were waiting to leave government-controlled areas. The border guard commander present told the SMM that the checkpoint had been temporarily closed from 14:30 due to a fire caused by high temperatures in areas close to checkpoint. The SMM observed the undergrowth immediately north-west of the government- checkpoint was burning and rising smoke and a fire brigade with one fire truck fighting a fire. At 18:15, the SMM observed that the checkpoint was still closed and 150 pedestrians were waiting in a queue to leave government-controlled areas.

The SMM attempted to monitor border areas not controlled by the Government and encountered two restrictions.* At the border crossing point near “DPR”-controlled Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 40 civilian cars, one truck, and two buses (a vast majority of the vehicles had Ukrainian licence plates) waiting in a queue to cross into the Russian Federation. At the crossing point, “DPR” members did not allow the SMM to access the area where the screening of documents was carried out. At the pedestrian crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Novoborovytsi (79km south of Luhansk), the SMM did not observe any pedestrians passing from either side. At the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Dovzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed seven civilian cars (five with Ukrainian licence plates and two with Russian Federation licence plates), one bus and one cargo truck (both with Ukrainian licence plates) queuing to leave Ukraine, all of which, during its 35-minute observation, crossed into the Russian Federation. At the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), an “LPR” member demanded that the SMM leave the area.

At the Hoptivka border crossing point (33km north of Kharkiv city), the SMM monitored as 11 Russian Federation Armed Forces personnel entered Ukraine for the latest JCCC rotation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The SMM observed that the border crossing procedure went smoothly.

Source: OSCE

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