SMM vehicle hit by bullet, and SMM threatened at gunpoint in Smile
On 7 April at 9:45hrs, while an SMM patrol, comprised of four SMM members in two armoured vehicles, was 3.5km north-east of Snizhne (“DPR”-controlled, 72km east of Donetsk) near the administrative boundary between Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the driver of the front SMM vehicle heard the trunk window crackling. After stopping to inspect the vehicle, the SMM noted on the lower right part of the trunk window a hole, 5mm in diameter, assessed to be caused by a bullet. This window was not bullet-proof, whereas a bullet-proof glass divides the trunk and the passenger cabin of the car. On the latter the SMM noted a small chip, 3mm in diameter, possibly caused by the same bullet. The SMM further observed a bullet exit point on the left side of the trunk window, a hole 15mm in diameter. No bullet or projectile was recovered from inside the vehicle. No SMM members were hurt and the patrol returned safely to its base in Luhansk city at 12:30hrs. Due to the fact that no shot was heard, the SMM cannot ascertain at what time and location it was hit.
In a separate incident at 14:22hrs on the same day, a different SMM patrol, comprised of five SMM members in two armoured vehicles, was stopped on the P-66 highway at a checkpoint north of Smile (“LPR”-controlled, 32km north-west of Luhansk) by a senior member of a local “LPR” armed formation known to the SMM, wearing military-type clothes. The same patrol had passed through the checkpoint earlier in the day without problems. The SMM patrol leader got out of the car to speak with the man. Angrily addressing the SMM patrol leader, the man insisted that the SMM had no right to be in the area. After the SMM explained its freedom of movement as provided by its mandate, upon the interlocutor’s order, another man charged his weapon and pointed it at the patrol leader from a distance of 7m. The patrol leader then immediately got into the vehicle and the SMM patrol left the area. It returned safely to its base in Stakhanov at 16:15hrs.
SMM patrol comes under fire, no one hurt
On 9 April, an SMM patrol, comprised of five members in two armoured vehicles, was in Zhovanka, a government-controlled part of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk). The patrol was accompanied by the Ukrainian Armed Forces head of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) office in Toretsk.
At 12:52hrs, the SMM heard an explosion assessed as caused either by an 82mm mortar or a recoilless gun round impacting at a distance of approximately 100–200m south-east of its position. Within the next two seconds, small-arms shots were fired towards the SMM position coming approximately from the same direction of the impact. The SMM heard at least three–four bullets flying one–two metres above their heads. The SMM immediately took cover behind the vehicles, and then got inside them and left the location. No SMM members were hurt or vehicles damaged. The patrol returned safely to its base in Svitlodarsk at 16:00.
In violation of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, armed “DPR” members stopped the work of the SMM’s remote monitoring equipment in the area of the Donetsk airport.* The SMM learned that they had disconnected the power supply to related SMM equipment in Donetsk city, claiming they had an order to do so by Mr. Alexander Zakharchenko. The armed “DPR” members asked the SMM to remove the equipment and threatened to forcefully remove it themselves otherwise. The Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination and the “DPR” points of contact were informed of the incident. The placement of the equipment had been co-ordinated with the sides prior to its installation. The actions of the armed “DPR” members effectively disabled the SMM’s cameras in the Donetsk airport area.
SMM patrol comes under small-arms fire near Yasynuvata
On 27 May an SMM foot patrol comprised of ten members (including a paramedic) was near “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) to follow up on a reported incident involving a “DPR” member injured by sniper fire. The SMM was accompanied by the Russian Federation Armed Forces Major General at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and seven armed “DPR” members. The incident had allegedly occurred during a period for which the SMM jointly with the Ukrainian and Russian Generals at the JCCC had facilitated adherence to the ceasefire, in order to enable “DPR” members to recover the bodies of three armed “DPR” members reportedly killed in action the previous day.
At 12:14, whilst at the edge of a bridge overlooking the incident site, the SMM patrol heard a whistling sound of a bullet flying at a distance of 5–10 metres above their heads and shortly after—the sound of a gunshot. The SMM could not determine the direction of fire or the weapon used. The SMM members and all others present lay immediately on the ground to take cover. The SMM contacted the Ukrainian Armed Forces General at the JCCC to facilitate adherence to the ceasefire. At 12:33, while SMM members were about to leave the site, they heard another shot from an undetermined location. No one was hurt. The SMM waited for another 10–15 minutes, then left the site and returned safely to Yasynuvata.
Before coming under fire, the SMM had observed what it assessed as a frontline position 500m to the west, from where a group of several men shouted insults. After the SMM’s arrival on the scene, the men had put up a red and black flag on a nearby electricity pylon at the southern end of their position.
SMM unmanned aerial vehicle downed near Horlivka
At 09:28, the SMM lost all communication with its long-range unmanned aerial vehicle flying over “DPR”-controlled Ozerianivka (35km north-east of Donetsk), on the south-western outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk). Emergency procedures were activated but the UAV did not respond. Shortly before communications were lost, the UAV had spotted a multi-purpose tracked vehicle (MTLB) with a surface-to-air missile system (9K35 Strela-10, 120mm) mounted on top.
An SMM patrol based in nearby Horlivka, heard—at approximately the same time—an explosion 4–5km south-west (in the area where contact was lost with the UAV). An SMM patrol went to Ozerianivka, where residents told the SMM that they heard an explosion to the north-west of the village at the approximate time communication was lost with the UAV. The SMM could not reach the presumed crash site as both the Ukrainian Armed Forces and “DPR” members told the SMM that the area was mined.
SMM loses unmanned aerial vehicle over Korsun
At 18:16 (EET) on 2 June the SMM lost all communication with an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) while it was flying at an altitude of 9,000ft in the area between “DPR”-controlled Korsun (31km north-east of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Shevchenko (28km north-east of Donetsk).
While flying 2km south of Korsun village, 12.5km south-east of the contact line, the UAV experienced dual jamming of its Global Positioning System, causing loss of all communications and the video link. Seconds later, it experienced simultaneous system failures. At approximately 18:44 the Ukrainian Armed Forces liaison officer reported that they had lost the UAV from their radar, approximately 2km south of Korsun at the same time when the SMM had also lost communication with the UAV. The SMM informed the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), who, as per established procedure, had been informed in advance of the UAV flight plan.
Simultaneous loss of all communication with the UAV strongly suggests that it was caused by an impact to the tail section of the UAV, where the anti-jamming system and the antennas are located, which in turn triggered the other system failures. According to the SMM’s preliminary assessment, these events likely caused the UAV to crash. At the time of reporting, the SMM, together with the JCCC, is going to the presumed crash site to recover possible UAV debris and the anti-jamming device in the tail section, and collect any other relevant information.
An SMM national staff member based in Luhansk region has been missing since 7 June. The police were informed. The Mission has been working through all relevant channels to verify his whereabouts and ensure his safe return.
An SMM national staff member held in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk was released, and was subsequently brought to government-controlled areas.
SMM caught in mortar shelling in Vodiane
The SMM travelled to government-controlled Vodiane (94km south of Donetsk) in a visit that had been co-ordinated with representatives of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). At 11:18 the SMM was conducting a foot patrol and speaking with a couple at their house when the village was hit by seven mortar rounds assessed as 82mm calibre.
The SMM and Ukrainian Armed Forces, including a Ukrainian representative from the JCCC, took cover in a house. The SMM immediately contacted members of an SMM mirror patrol in “DPR”-controlled Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), which was escorted by a Russian Federation Armed Forces representative to the JCCC, to try to facilitate a ceasefire. After 15 minutes, when the situation was assessed as safe, the patrol members left the house and proceeded to the two SMM armoured vehicles, parked approximately 70 metres west of the house. At this time, the patrol heard two more explosions assessed as mortar rounds impacting in the village, which caused the patrol members to lie on the ground before reaching the vehicles safely.
During the entire time the SMM patrol drivers remained in the vehicles. From there, they observed one impact at an approximate distance of 100–150 metres north and another at a similar distance to the south-east. One round caused a house in the south-west part of the village to catch fire; the house was burning fiercely when the patrol left the village. The patrol returned safely to its base in Mariupol at approximately 13:00.