This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske and heard an explosion near the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska. Its access remained restricted there and elsewhere.* The Mission observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Bila Hora, Vodiane and Bohoiavlenka, as well as newly dug trenches near Zaitseve, Horlivka and Dokuchaievsk. The SMM continued to follow up on reports of an explosion at a building where the office of the Zakarpattia Hungarian Union is located. It facilitated discussions in the context of International Women’s Day in Odessa, Zaporizhzhia and Lviv.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including 19 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (42 explosions). On the evening and night of 6-7 March, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 6-7km south-south-east, two explosions more than 10km south-south-east, and about 80 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-3km south-south-east.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations (two explosions), compared with the previous reporting period (37 explosions).

A representative of the Voda Donbassa water company told the SMM by telephone that a truck delivering fuel had been shot while driving toward the Donetsk Filtration Station along road H20 from Yasynuvata (non-government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk). According to him, several bullets struck the cab of the truck forcing the driver to take cover under the vehicle for some time. The truck was able to reach the station.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 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.* During the day on 7 March, positioned near the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, the SMM heard an explosion assessed as the detonation of a mine 500m south-west (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area).

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, an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted four anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) near Bila Hora (54km north of Donetsk) on 6 March. The SMM saw five towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) near Vodiane (42km south-west of Donetsk) and nine self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near Bohoiavlenka (46km south-west of Donetsk) on 7 March.

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in non-government-controlled areas, aerial imagery revealed 15 pieces of towed artillery (type undetermined) near Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk) on 2 March. (For previous observations, see SMM Daily Report 21 November 2017.)

The SMM visited areas previously holding 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 of Donetsk region, the SMM noted as missing nine anti‑tank guns (MT‑12), seven towed howitzers (a 2A65 and six D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm), 28 mortars (12 M-120 Molot, 120mm; 15 2B11 Sani, 120mm; and a BM-37, 82mm) and, for the first time, three self-propelled howitzers (2S1).

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. Near Bila Hora (government-controlled), an SMM mini-UAV spotted four armoured personnel carriers (MT‑LB) on 6 March.

Aerial imagery revealed newly dug trenches in non-government-controlled areas: an approximately 150m-long trench south-west of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) on 27 February, a 300m-long trench connecting a checkpoint to an existing trench near a railroad line north of Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on 27 February, and a 95m-long trench north of Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk) on 2 March that was not seen in imagery taken on 1 February 2018.                                                                                     

Just south of Kuznetsy (non-government-controlled, 89km south-east of Donetsk), about 1km from the border with the Russian Federation, the SMM observed fresh tracks of heavy trucks in both directions on a road leading towards the border. There is no international border crossing point on this road.

On 7 March, the SMM followed up on media and police reports regarding the explosion of two hand grenades thrown at a vehicle in Kyiv. At the site of the alleged explosions near the Lisova metro station, the SMM saw metal debris covered with snow and mud in the centre divider of the adjacent roadway. According to public statements by police, a man was hospitalized with shrapnel wounds following the explosion.

The SMM continued to follow up on reports of an explosion at the building where the office of the Zakarpattia Hungarian Union is located. (See SMM Daily Report 6 March 2018.) In Uzhhorod (182km west of Ivano-Frankivsk), Zakarpattia region, the SMM monitored a pre-trial hearing on 6 March for one of the suspects accused of damaging the abovementioned building in which the court requalified the charges against the suspect from intentional damage to property (Ukrainian Criminal Code Art. 194.2) to an act of terrorism (Ukrainian Criminal Code Art. 258.2) and ruled that the suspect should remain in pre-trial arrest for 60 days.

On 6 and 7 March, the SMM facilitated discussions in Odessa, Zaporizhzhia and Lviv in the context of International Women’s Day. In Odessa, ten women and three men representing the media, academic and non-governmental sectors stressed that reducing gender stereotyping in media, providing gender-sensitive reporting and addressing the security of female journalists remain important issues. In Zaporizhzhia, 60 women and a man from academia and various non-governmental organizations emphasized the importance of gender equality in Ukraine. In Lviv, 23 women and a man (students and civil society representatives) discussed the importance of involving women in peacebuilding.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Kharkiv, 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, for example, SMM Daily Report 7 March 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:

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.[3]

[1] Please seethe 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.

[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. 

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