The SMM continued to focus its observation on the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum. In Donetsk the SMM observed an armoured truck carrying an antiaircraft machine.
On 16 November the SMM met the commander of the irregular armed group of the Cossack-controlled Pervomaisk (72km west of Luhansk) who said the city had been shelled on 15 November resulting in two civilian casualties (female and male). The SMM could not verify the origin and whether the shelling occurred at the mentioned date. However, the SMM went to multiple locations within the city where there was evidence of shelling. The SMM noted that all locations of severe damage were either individual houses or civilian apartment buildings and an Orthodox church. The SMM saw the maternity hospital which had been seemingly damaged by shelling. The SMM observed that the civilian locations where the damage was observed were in the range of one to 2.5km away from the Cossack military headquarters.
The situation in Donetsk city and its suburbs was volatile. During the day of 17 November the SMM observed unspecified intermittent shelling impacting north-west of the city centre.
On 17 November the SMM continued to monitor the removal of the aircraft wreckage from the MH17 crash site in Hrabove (80km north-east of Donetsk city), as well as transfer of the wreckage via truck to rail cars in Torez (69km east of Donetsk city) (see SMM Daily Report 17 November). The Dutch MH17 recovery team was escorted by 30 personnel from “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) “special police unit Berkut”, who collected wreckage, unloaded trucks and assisted with crane operations. Approximately 6km away from the crash site at 09:50hrs, the SMM heard two intervals of outgoing artillery and rocket fire from a southern direction. Throughout the morning, sporadic shelling was also heard from the north. The SMM could not ascertain the origin of the shelling.
At 13:47hrs, while driving on “DPR”-controlled Leninskyi Prospekt (6.8km south-westof Donetsk city centre), the SMM saw an armoured truck (model unknown) painted in green and brown, with plate number K001 (written in white on a black background) and a Russian flag on it. Behind, on the platform of the truck, the SMM observed antiaircraft machine-gun with twin canons. There were also two men wearing camouflage clothes without insignia and helmets. The SMM was unable to ascertain the affiliation of the trucks and the men.
The SMM patrolled the villages of Hranitne (57 km south of Donetsk) and Starohnativka (48 km south of Donetsk), both controlled by Ukrainian forces. In Hranitne local residents told the SMM that the village had been repeatedly shelled during night and day, over the three days from 12 to 14 November. According to them, shelling caused damage to the post office, the village cultural house, and two shops. The SMM observed extensive external damage to all four buildings. Most of the damage had already been observed during the last SMM patrol to Hranitne on 8 November. The SMM observed new damage caused by a direct hit to the roof of the cultural house.
The Ukrainian and Russian Federation members of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in Mariupol told the SMM that a ceasefire on 16 November between Ukrainian forces and the “DPR” was negotiated, which reportedly took effect at 16:00hrs the same day. According to the Ukrainian head of the JCCC Mariupol, there were several immediately reported violations of the ceasefire, beginning at 16:10hrs.
The Ukrainian JCCC officers in Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk) told the SMM that within the last 24hrs there had been 82 violations of the ceasefire while the Russian Federation officers stated that 74 violations within the same time period took place – twice as many as on the previous day. These reported ceasefire violations were not jointly confirmed and verified by both sides in the JCCC HQ.
In Soledar (77km north-east of Donetsk) the Ukrainian JCCC member announced that patrolling in the Soledar area of responsibility is to be launched as of 18 November, although details have not been fully worked out.
In Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk the situation was calm.
The SMM visited the administrative boundary line (ABL) crossing point Stavky (91km south-east of Kherson) and saw 214 civilian trucks and 6 private cars waiting in a 5km-long queue. The SMM spoke to a truck driver at the top of the queue who said he had waited 48 hours but assessed this as a “normal” procedure.
In Odesa and Chernivtsi the situation was calm.
In Ivano-Frankivsk the SMM observed a demonstration in the city centre in support of the official recognition of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) as defenders of Ukrainian independence. Comment: UPA was a Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary and later partisan army, formed in 1943. About 100 individuals, mainly men, attended the demonstration, amongst others representatives from the “Azov” and “Aidar” battalions, “Batkivshchyna” and “Svoboda” party and four UPA veterans. The SMM saw five police officers observing the event. After one hour the crowd dispersed and no incidents were reported.