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The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) has released their latest report from Ukraine dated last night, November 8, at 19:30. It contains several concerning details about the increasingly-broken ceasefire.
First, the OSCE SMM has new evidence which are consistent with claims made by the Russian-backed fighters that the Ukrainian military has begun to use Grad rockets once again:
Following up on information about a potential multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) attack in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM visited on 7 November the city’s Kuibyshevskyi district. The owner of the affected house described to the SMM the details of the attack and confirmed its timing. The SMM observed a 30cm hole on the roof and wall of the house’s patio, caused by a projectile that penetrated from a north-westerly direction. It found in the patio two pieces of a large tube, which were consistent with the remnants of an MLRS projectile, most likely a BM-21 (Grad, 122mm) type. Other remnants of the projectile, including an unexploded warhead, were found in the garden. The SMM assessed that the dust and the projectile residues were fresh – and the SMM could smell the odour left by a recent explosion.
The OSCE also heard explosions from Donetsk:
From the Donetsk railway station in “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM recorded on 7 November one explosion at a location 3 to 4km west of its position, and another explosion 5km to its north-west on 8 November. Also, the SMM heard on 8 November sporadic bursts of small-arms fire and two explosions some 3km south-west of “DPR”-controlled Shyroka Balka (33km north-east of Donetsk).
Beyond this, though, the OSCE is spotting a significant number of tanks, artillery pieces, and armored vehicles that are not in compliance with the latest ceasefire addendum:
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM visited three and revisited another five Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapons storage sites whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. Two of the visited sites were at locations that did not match the declared co-ordinates. At one of the sites, an 82mm mortar was missing. At the rest of the sites, the SMM noted that all declared weapons were present.
The SMM revisited three Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. An anti-tank gun (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) was missing from the second location, and, as recorded on 12 July, four self-propelled howitzers (2S1), and four towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) were also missing. At the third area, the SMM observed five self-propelled howitzers (2S3) missing, as recorded on 24 July.
The SMM revisited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. At the third site two self-propelled howitzers (2S1) were missing; the SMM recorded the serial numbers of another two 2S1 which it spotted for the first time.
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM spotted in the area of “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk), at least one and probably up to four (three were camouflaged under a canopy), self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) in a military-type compound. The SMM was refused access into the compound by armed “DPR” members*, but was able to see some of the military hardware inside. The SMM spotted in violation of the withdrawal lines one main battle tank (MBT) (T-64) loaded on a heavy transporter in the area of “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city. In the area of government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM spotted one anti-tank guided missile system (either 9K111 Fagot or 9M113 Konkurs type), mounted on an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2).
Beyond the respective withdrawal lines the SMM observed two self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) in government-controlled Popasne (59km north-west of Luhansk) and was prevented by Ukrainian Armed Forces officers to move further into the village*. The SMM also observed in the area of “DPR”-controlled Ilovaisk (31km south-east of Donetsk) four MBTs, and another 40 MBTs (T-64 and T-72) in the proximity of the firing range in the area of “DPR”-controlled Ternove (57km east of Donetsk). Similarly, it saw 20 MBTs (both T-64 and T-72) in the area of “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (32km south-west of Luhansk), as well as seven self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and five towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) in a training range in the area of “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).
In the area of government-controlled Hirske (62km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed the movement of 20 IFVs (BMP-2). In the vicinity of the “LPR”-controlled Yuvileine (10km east of Luhansk) the SMM spotted four stationary military-type trucks carrying armed personnel. It observed another ten military-type trucks in the area of “LPR”-controlled Bryanka (50km south-west of Luhansk), which cargo it could not see.
All of this would be concerning, but in context of the heavier fighting these are still more signs that the situation in eastern Ukraine is increasingly tense after a period of deescalation which started in early September.
— James Miller
As we have been reporting, there has been a significant amount of fighting in Ukraine over the weekend. Here is the latest map from the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council:
Luganks News has more details from today’s NSDC briefing:
In the last 24 hours the situation in ATO zone was not quiet. Terrorists violated cease-fire in all sectors. Starting from 6 pm last night they attacked Mayorsk, Zaitseve and Shumy in Donetsk Region using grenade launchers, high caliber machine guns and small fire arms. In Lugansk Region they attacked Ukrainian positions near Shchastya city using grenade launchers and small fire arms. Enemy sniper was shooting near Shyrokyne located not far from Mariupol. Terrorists also used armored vehicle BMP-2, grenade launchers, high caliber machine guns and small firearms at least six times attacking Ukrainian positions near Pisky, they also opened fire near Verhnyotoretske, Krasnohorivka and Opytne.
The weekend fighting follows more than a week of warnings from all sides of this conflict, including from the OSCE which is tasked with monitoring this crisis, that both fighting and the amount of heavy weapons inside the withdrawal zones has increased significantly recently.
With fighting reported near both Donetsk and Gorlovka over the weekend, Novosti Donbassa reports that Ukrainian troops have now taken control of all of the village of Zaytsevo.
A source in the ATO headquarters told the news site that Russian-backed forces had abandoned the village, northwest of Gorlovka, “without a fight.” The source refused to elaborate further.
Yesterday, the Ukrainian military reported that positions in Zaytsevo had been shelled with 82 mm mortars, while Russian-backed fighters had attempted an assault near Mayorsk, just to the west of the village.
Russia’s Argumenty i Fakty reported yesterday afternoon, citing a separatist military source, that “unidentified fighters” had taken control of an outlying neighbourhood of the village on Saturday.
The Interpreter translates:
According to an official in the army of the DNR [self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic], unidentified armed men entered the neighbourhood, consisting of around a dozen homes, in which live mostly elderly people. After this, several buildings were seized, residents were forced to leave their homes. It should be noted that the village is not controlled by the army of the Republic, because it is actually located in the officially-declared neutral zone.
“The soldiers’ uniforms were soviet models and they wore balaclavas. With the civilian population driven out of their homes, they have lodged themselves in some of the houses. We don’t now the number of people, approximately a platoon.”
The DNR source suggested that the ‘unidentified soldiers’ were planning to stage a provocation by posing as separatist fighters, however today’s reported confirmation from the Ukrainian military would put pay to such a theory.
The Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre claimed this morning that Russian-backed fighters had fired on positions near Zaytsevo, Mayorsk and Shumy with grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms last night.
Speaking at a briefing today, Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, announced that one soldier had been wounded in Mayorsk within the last 24 hours.
Meanwhile the ATO Press Centre reported that Ukrainian positions near Schastye, in the Lugansk region, had been attacked overnight with grenade launchers and small arms, and that Ukrainian troops in Shirokino, on the Azov coast, had come under sniper fire.
However the heaviest fighting, the report said, was seen in the Donetsk area.
According to the Ukrainian military, Ukrainian troops near Avdeyevka, Peski, Verkhnotoretskoye, Krasnogorovka and Opytnoye came under fire repeatedly from BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms.
In turn, the ‘defence ministry’ of the DNR claimed today that Ukrainian troops had shelled separatist-held territory 11 times within the last 24 hours.
According to the separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN), Ukrainian troops used 82 mm mortars to shell front-line areas of northern Donetsk and the southwestern outskirts of Gorlovka.
— Pierre Vaux