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For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission released its latest report dated yesterday, October 4.
Explosions heard in recent days around the Donetsk railway station are attributed to the detonation of ammunition in de-mining efforts.
The observers found that in Uspenka, controlled by the self-proclaimed “Lugansk People’s Republic,” 17 T-64 tanks were in a combat training area. They also saw a T-72 tank, truck and military support vehicle moving toward Mirnoye (Myrne), controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
In Ukrainian-controlled Krymsk, three MT-12 100 mm anti-tank cannons were found, and 4 self-propelled 152mm were seen.
In the latest round of the Minsk talks, the parties had agreed to withdraw all armor 100 mm and smaller.
The OSCE SMM continues to face blockages by the separatists, and report on the absence of heavy armor that was supposed to be withdrawn by now, and replacement of one earlier-observed artillery piece with a different item which did not match SMM records.
The observers also found some weapons absent at Ukrainian holding areas.
As we reported earlier, on October 3, the OSCE SMM found armor positioned near Mariupol at Komsomolskaya (74 km northeast of Mariupol). More was spotted on October 4 near Bezymyonnoye (Bezimenne) and Oktyabr:
On 4 October, the SMM UAV spotted 21 MBTs in “DPR”-controlled area of Sontseve (58km north-east of Mariupol), two towed artillery pieces in the area of Oktyabr (29km north-east of Mariupol) and in the area of Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol) – one self-propelled howitzer (Gvozdika, 122 mm) and one MBT.
The OSCE SMM noted that its observers were blocked at both Ukrainian and separatist checkpoints. On October 4, the OSCE SMM’s GPS was jammed while attempting to fly over DNR-controlled areas as well as Kiev-controlled areas around Mariupol.
Today October 5 there was a video uploaded that claimed to be of separatists shooting down an OSCE drone. We could find no confirmation of the story.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Yevhen Shevchenko, a representative of the Donbass Battalion, told Ukraine’s Channel 112:
“The soldiers who came to their rescue also got blown up by a landmine. Two or three soldiers from the 37th battalion were wounded. One of our soldiers and one of theirs died. In addition, five soldiers were injured, two of them are from the Donbass Battalion, and another three are soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
An enemy sabotage and reconnaissance group seems to have worked at our positions, directly behind the demarcation line.”
The soldiers are not seriously wounded, he added.
Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the presidential administration on ATO issues said two servicemen were wounded after stepping on a booby trap on Sunday, evidently in a separate incident.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Georgiy Tuka, the governor of the Lugansk region, has told Ukraine’s 112 television channel that the Ukrainian armed forces have begun withdrawing tanks from the front line in the region.
The Interpreter translates:
“The process has begun, as far as I know, on both sides. I’ve been told that it already began yesterday,” he said.
Meanwhile Tuka noted that he did not have reports on the number of vehicles.
“I have no such aggregate figures, I have figures on bases but, of course, this information is not for the public,” he added.
The Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre said that tanks were being pulled back to 15 kilometres from the Minsk demarcation line under the auspices of OSCE monitors and journalists. They released these pictures of Ukrainian tanks on the move.
Over the next 41 days, the Press Centre says, T-64 and T-72 tanks, anti-tank guns, and 85 and 82 mm mortars will be withdrawn.
Meanwhile, the latest report from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of October 4, says that SMM observers monitored the withdrawal of 30 tanks from three areas to storage areas in separatist-held areas of the Lugansk region.
However Russian-backed fighters in the south of the Donetsk region do not appear to be preparing to withdraw armour.
According to the report, an SMM drone spotted 21 tanks in the Sontsevo area, east of the river Kalmius and home to a large military base constructed earlier this year.
Through aerial surveillance, on 3 October the SMM also observed six main battle tanks (MBTs) and other military equipment in the “DPR”-controlled area of Komsomolske (74km north-east of Mariupol). On 4 October, the SMM UAV spotted 21 MBTs in “DPR”-controlled area of Sontseve (58km north-east of Mariupol), two towed artillery pieces in the area of Oktyabr (29km north-east of Mariupol) and in the area of Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol) – one self-propelled howitzer (Gvozdika, 122 mm) and one MBT.
Earlier this morning, the ATO Press Centre claimed that while the ceasefire had held everywhere else along the front, Russian-backed fighters had fired towards the village of Granitnoye, around 15 kilometres south-west of Sontsevo, with automatic grenade launchers at 10:45 on Sunday.
— Pierre Vaux
Russia’s Interfax news agency reports that the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics (DNR and LNR) are prepared to postpone their local elections to comply with Ukrainian law and the Minsk agreements in exchange for an amnesty from Kiev.
A source in the Contact Group discussions told Interfax (translated by The Interpreter):
“A draft agreement has been prepared. Neither we nor the LNR exclude the possibility of moving the date of the elections.
Before moving the date of the elections, two main issues with Ukrainian legislation have to be solved in order to make the corresponding changes that make this shift possible. Firstly, we need an amnesty for the participants in the events in the Donbass. Furthermore, under the current Ukrainian legislation only those parties in the electoral process which have been officially registered in Ukraine can nominate candidates, even while holding elections under the majority system. This rule blocks social organizations acting in Donetsk and Lugansk from nominating candidates to participate in the local elections.”
Interfax-Ukraine reports this afternoon that the Contact Group will meet in Minsk tomorrow to discuss the local elections in the Donbass.
— Pierre Vaux