This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it observed a calm situation in all three. Its access remained restricted in all three areas and elsewhere, including in Kozatske, Voznesenivka and at two permanent storage sites and a heavy weapons holding area in non-government-controlled areas.* The Mission observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines in Mariupol. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to essential infrastructure near Krasnyi Lyman, Raivka and Artema. The Mission visited three border areas not under government control. The SMM observed gatherings in Kyiv and Odessa.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations[1], including, however, more explosions (about 210) compared with the previous reporting period (about 170 explosions).

On the evening and night of 11-12 February, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, six projectiles in flight from east to west, two projectiles from west to east and two projectiles from east to west, all 0.5-1km south. The following day, the camera recorded, in sequence, an illumination flare (trajectory undetermined), 12 projectiles in flight from east to west and ten undetermined explosions, all 0.5-1km south.

On the evening of 11 February, the SMM camera at the entry-exit checkpoint in Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north-east of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, two undetermined explosions, four projectiles in flight from west to east, an undetermined explosion, five projectiles from east to west, three projectiles from west to east, five projectiles from east to west and three undetermined explosions, all 2-4km south-east.

On the night of 11-12 February, the SMM camera 1km south-west of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded totals of two undetermined explosions, 23 projectiles in flight from east to west, 19 projectiles from west to east and two projectiles from south-west to north-east, all 5-8km north.

On the evening and night of 11-12 February, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 43 explosions (nine assessed as outgoing mortars rounds and 34 undetermined), about 115 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, ten shots of outgoing infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire and six shots of automatic-grenade-launcher fire, all 5-10km at directions ranging from east to south-south-east. The following day, while at the same location, the SMM heard 29 explosions (six assessed as outgoing mortar rounds and 23 undetermined), 11 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire and six shots of automatic-grenade-launcher fire, all 5-8km at directions ranging from east to south.

During the day on 12 February, positioned at the railway station in Yasynuvata (non-government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk) for about five hours, the SMM heard 47 explosions (24 assessed as outgoing IFV (BMP-1) cannon rounds (73mm) and 23 undetermined) and six bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-6km at directions ranging from south-east to north-west. The SMM also heard three undetermined explosions and three shots of small-arms fire assessed as live-fire training inside the security zone, in violation of the decision of the Trilateral Contact Group as of 3 March 2016 that prohibits the conduct of live-fire training (exercises) in the security zone.

Positioned on the south-western edge of Avdiivka (government-controlled, 17km north of Donetsk) for about five hours, the SMM heard 17 undetermined explosions 4-6km south-west as well as 31 undetermined explosions and 15 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 2-3km south-east.

Positioned in Zalizne (formerly Artemove, government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk) for about five hours, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions 4-5km south.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including six explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (two explosions).

During the day on 12 February, positioned in Kriakivka (government-controlled, 38km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard five undetermined explosions and about ten bursts and shots of small-arms fire, all 2-6km south and south-west.

Positioned 3km north of Pervomaisk (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 15-20km south-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), 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.*

Positioned near the Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote disengagement areas, the SMM observed calm situations.

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 withdrawal lines, in government-controlled areas on 11 February, the SMM observed four anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) being towed in Mariupol.

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in non-government-controlled areas, aerial imagery from 6 February revealed the presence of four tanks (T-72) and a probable tank (T-72) near Oleksandrivske (formerly Rozy Liuksemburh, 90km south-east of Donetsk).

In government-controlled areas, on 12 February the SMM observed 30 stationary towed howitzers (18 D-20, 152mm and 12 2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) in Khlibodarivka (65km south-west of Donetsk).

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 government-controlled areas, the SMM saw 17 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), two surface-to-air missile systems (9K33 Osa), four multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) and four anti-tank guns (MT-12) and noted that 49 towed howitzers (41 2A65 and eight 2A36), ten mortars (four 2B9 Vasilek, 82mm and six 2B11 Sani, 120mm) and 32 anti-tank guns (MT-12) continued to be missing, including a towed howitzer (2A65) for the first time.

In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM saw six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and noted that 12 towed mortars (PM-38, 120mm), a mortar (2B11) continued to be missing.

The SMM revisited a permanent storage site in a government-controlled area whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted that a mortar (M120-15 Molot, 120mm) was missing for the first time and that 20 tanks (T-72) continued to be missing.      

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles, anti-aircraft guns[2] and indications of military-type presence in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas, an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on 7 February spotted eight IFVs (BMP-1), two armoured personnel carriers (APCs) (MT-LB), an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) mounted on a truck and new stretches of trenches near Lobacheve (13km east of Luhansk). On 11 February, an SMM mini-UAV spotted three IFVs (two BMP-2 and a BMP-1) and two anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23) mounted on trucks near Obozne (18km north of Luhansk).

In government-controlled areas, on 12 February, the SMM observed an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) in Mariupol, as well as two APCs (a BTR-60 and a BTR variant) near Volnovakha (53km south of Donetsk).

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to water wells near Krasnyi Lyman (non-government-controlled, 30km north-west of Luhansk), to the Petrivske water pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) and to a civilian communication tower near Raivka (non-government-controlled, 16km north-west of Luhansk).

The SMM visited three border areas not under government control. While at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about half an hour, the SMM saw eight cars (five with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates, and two with “DPR” plates), a bus (with Ukrainian licence plates) and four cargo trucks (all with Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine, and six cars (three with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates, and two with “DPR” plates) and four cargo trucks (one with Ukrainian and three with Russian Federation licence plates) entering Ukraine.

While at a border crossing point near Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk) for about ten minutes, the SMM observed no traffic entering or exiting Ukraine.

While at a border crossing point near Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk) for about 30 minutes, the SMM saw four cars with Ukrainian licence plates exiting Ukraine.

On the evening of 11 February, the SMM monitored a gathering in Odessa. The SMM observed some 250 people (mostly men in their late teens to twenties), many of whom had concealed their faces and were carrying torches along Oleksandrivskyi Avenue. At the beginning of the march, one of the demonstrators announced that the gathering was intended to commemorate the 124th anniversary of the founding of the youth movement Sokil. The SMM saw about 50 participants carrying Sokil flags and about five had red-and-black flags without other insignia as well as a few Svoboda flags. One group of around 40 participants was dressed in camouflage and carried a large banner reading “Carpathian Contingent” in Ukrainian.  The SMM observed approximately 25 police officers and five patrol cars; no incidents were observed while the SMM was present.

The SMM monitored two gatherings in Kyiv.  On 12 February, the SMM observed 80-100 men and women (mixed ages) gathered at Independence Square in Kyiv carrying banners with messages against corruption. Four police officers were present; the gathering ended without incidents.

The SMM also observed around 100 people (70 men and 30 women, mixed ages) holding banners with messages critical of the Government gathered on Bankova Street in Kyiv. Participants were protesting the arrest and subsequent readmission to Poland of Mikheil Saakashvili. Among the participants, the SMM saw 30 men (in their late teens to twenties) with balaclavas and black or camouflage uniforms, some with insignia of the Donbas Battalion. The SMM observed about 200 police and National Guard officers; the gathering ended without incidents.

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

*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 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, citing orders to do so. (See below). 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:

  • On the morning of 12 February, at a permanent storage site in a non-government-controlled area, an armed “DPR” member in military-style clothes denied the SMM access, citing orders from his superior.
  • At a heavy weapons holding area in a non-government-controlled area, an unarmed “DPR” member in military-style clothes denied access to an SMM patrol, citing orders from his superior.
  • The SMM was unable to access a third permanent storage site in a non-government-controlled area in Donetsk region as its gate was locked and no guards were present to open it.
  • In Kozatske (non-government-controlled, 36km north-east of Mariupol), armed “DPR” members in military-style clothes denied the SMM access to the town, saying that there were mines present.
  • At the border crossing point near Voznesenivka, an “LPR” member asked to see the passports of patrol members. The SMM did not comply and, thirty minutes later, the same “LPR” member told the SMM to depart, citing orders from his superior. The SMM left the location.

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 that he had no information regarding demining activities over the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC on both occasions.[3]
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. An armed formation member 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.
  • 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 phone that he had no information regarding de-mining in the area during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC on both occasions.
  • The SMM did not travel across the bridge in Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk) due to the presence of mines. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC on both occasions.

[1] 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. Two SMM cameras continue to be tested until the end of February 2018.

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

[3] 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.

For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/special-monitoring-mission-to-ukraine/371806