The SMM observed a simultaneous release of 68 people in Donetsk; and monitored the non-use of weapons regime established under the Minsk Protocol.
In the early hours of 12 September, the SMM observed the simultaneous release of 68 hostages/prisoners close to Avdeevka (18km north of Donetsk city). The Ukrainian side handed over 31 members of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”), whilst the “DPR” side handed over 37 Ukrainian servicemen. In addition, the SMM at 17:00 hrs that day observed the handover of six more prisoners by the Ukrainian side to the “DPR” at the same location, thereby balancing the figures. The releases followed a verbal agreement between the sides made the previous evening – as part of the implementation of the Protocol signed in Minsk on 5 September – at an SMM-facilitated session of the Tri-lateral Contact Group held in Kyiv.
The SMM – located close to Donetsk airport – heard what appeared to be a number of detonations, seemingly coming from the direction of the airport, at 11:00hrs. Local people told the SMM that sporadic fire of automatic weapons had been heard throughout the night in the same area.
The SMM observed a large crater near a bus-stop in the village of Gornikov (15 km northeast of Donetsk city). Four people in the village separately told the SMM that the crater was the result of shelling at 08:00 hrs that morning. They said three people had been wounded as a result. The SMM observed another crater in the neighbouring village of Khanjenkovo (26 km northeast of Donetsk city), also caused by shelling at around 08:00 hrs, according to a local man whose home had sustained some minor damage as a result of the shelling. No casualties were reported.
Mariupol appeared to have been calm during the reporting period, with various interlocutors in and around the city reporting no signs of fighting.
The SMM received numerous reports– from Ukrainian military personnel and local people in a number of towns in the vicinity of Pervomais’k (70 km west of Luhansk city) – that there had been small arms fire and shelling over the previous 24 hours in the area. The acting District Police Chief of one of the towns – Popasna – later outlined several alleged incidents spanning the period of 8 to 11 September, in which Popasna had been shelled. In another of the towns in the area – Zolotoye – local people told the SMM that four different separatist groups were engaged in a power struggle in the area.
Later in Luhansk city, a senior representative of the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) told the SMM that Pervomais’k was under the control of a Cossack commander unanswerable to the “LPR”. The SMM subsequently visited Pervomais’k, where they met the commander, the self-styled Colonel Pavel Dremov. He confirmed that he had been involved in shelling, saying he had done so because he had received information that there had been a substantial build-up of Ukrainian military forces around Pervomais’k, including at least 64 tanks. He said there were about 700 Cossack armed personnel in the town, equipped with three D-30 artillery pieces.
In Stanitsa-Luhanska (24 km northeast of Luhansk city), the SMM observed a civilian vehicle carrying at least half a dozen separatists, armed with a 122 m anti-tank weapon, moving in the direction of a Ukrainian military checkpoint.
The SMM, at around 09:30 hrs, observed Ukrainian military personnel laying 10 to 12 anti-tank mines, in two rows, on the road from Shchastye (24 km north of Luhansk city) to Metallist (9 km north of Luhansk city).
The situation remained calm in Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk.
The SMM observed on 11 September people in Tavriis'k (80 km east of Kherson city) digging trenches on the side of the main road connecting Kherson with Crimea. There is also a hydro-power plant and a bridge over the Dnepr River in the vicinity.
A high-ranking Ukrainian military official told the SMM in Odessa that there had been a significant recent build-up of Russian military forces in both Transdniestria and northern Crimea.
The situation remained clam in Chernivtsi.
The SMM in Ivano-Frankivsk city, observed 1,000 college students, wearing yellow and blue t-shirts, moving along the streets, singing Ukrainian patriotic songs and chanting slogans. The participants dispersed peacefully.