The situation in Donetsk and Luhansk continues to be tense. The main power plant in the Luhansk region was severely damaged as a result of shelling.
In Kharkiv the SMM visited the site of an incident that occurred during the night of 16-17 September at the military recruitment centre in Lozova (120 km south of Kharkiv) when two explosions in the yard next to the building, likely caused by RGD-5 hand grenades, left two windows shattered. The SMM observed a hole in the asphalt, which could have been caused by an explosion, as well as broken glass on the ground. The head of the centre described the incident as an act of terror, while the prosecutor’s office in Kharkiv confirmed to the SMM that a criminal investigation has been launched on that basis.
In Luhansk while patrolling the Ukrainian Army checkpoint at Shchastya (23 km north of Luhansk) the SMM between 11:35 and 14:25 hrs heard intermittent artillery mortar and small arms fire from the direction of the main power plant, north-east of the checkpoint. The power plant was severely damaged leaving the entire northern region of Luhansk without electricity, water and landline communications from around 16.30 hrs onwards. The situation in Luhansk city was calm.
The SMM in Luhansk city met the Don Cossack commander from Stakhanov (64 km west of Luhansk), who stated that the declaration of the “independent republic of Stakhanov” (see Daily Report of 17 September) was a lie fabricated by a journalist. He added that as a result of the mass gathering that took place in the main square of Stakhanov on 14 September, more than 12,000 Cossacks have volunteered to join the forces of the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ (‘LPR’).
In Donetsk the SMM patrolled Novoazovzk (45 km east of Mariupol) for the first time and met the so-called deputy interior minister of the ‘Donestk People’s Republic’ (‘DPR’) who said that the situation was calm. Upon returning, the SMM was stopped at a ‘DPR’ checkpoint that was not aware of the role of the SMM. The team was allowed to proceed 30 minutes later after their identity was confirmed.
The situation in the city of Mariupol continued to be calm with people working and most shops open. The SMM monitored the checkpoints of “Vostochny” (500 metres east of Mariupol), “Staryi Shlyakh” (2 km north-east), “Talakivka” 1 & 2 (8 and 9 km north-east), “Gnutove” (10 km north-east), “checkpoint 12” (3 km north-east), and “Vinohrady” (3 km east). The SMM observed mostly calm situations but several checkpoint personnel reported anti-aircraft shooting from the directions of Shyrokyne and Kominternove and night tracer rounds from Shyrokyne and Zayichenko. “Vinohrady”, “checkpoint 12” and “Talakivka 1” appeared to be reinforcing their positions.
On the evening of 16 September, near Mariupol airport, the SMM heard anti-aircraft fire; the Ukrainian National Guard told the SMM that it had targeted a UAV.
In Kramatorsk town the SMM found the situation to be calm with businesses open. The SMM monitored the roadblock on the T0513 road, towards Maiersk (70 km south-east of Kramatorsk). No incidents were reported, but the situation was tense. The Ukrainian Commander of the Debaltseve area informed the SMM that his positions on the road to Rostov-on-Don (E-50; M03) were attacked on the evening of 16 September.
In Dnipropetrovsk and Kherson the situation remained calm.
In Odessa the SMM met village council representatives in Velikoploske and Slavenoserbski (90 km north-west of Odessa) in the vicinity of the Transdniestrian segment of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. Local residents confirmed the existence of several infantry trenches and positions in the area (the SMM discovered an infantry trench system of 500 metres at 5 km east of Velikoploske on 9 September).
In Chernivtsi the pickets in front of the military barracks came to an end. The SMM for the first time since July did not spot any tents or protestors at the site. On the evening of 16 September, returning Airborne Troops from the ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’ (‘ATO’) zone disassembled all tents.
In Ivano-Frankivsk the SMM monitored a protest in front of the district police headquarters in Kolomyya (60km south-east of Ivano-Frankivsk), on 16 September, with approximately 100 representatives of Kolomyya Self Defence, the Right Sector and the Afghan Veteran Association protesting against the removal of the acting chief of police and the appointment of a new one. Participants voiced their concern that the newly-appointed police chief was involved in corruption. The Self Defence group parked their APC at the entrance of the police building and piled up tyres. The protest lasted until the acting chief of police returned from Ivano-Frankivsk late afternoon and announced that he would stay in office and the newly-appointed one would continue to work in his current function within the police.
In Lviv the SMM was notified by the local police that the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine), at 15:50hrs, had received information about a bomb alert at Lviv railway station. No explosive device was found. The station was closed from 15:30 hrs to 17:15 hrs. About 100 employees and 700 passengers were evacuated.
The SMM attended the opening of the new logistical centre of the People’s Self Defence Group in Lviv. The head of the centre explained that it was the fourth facility in the city collecting support for the military assigned to the ‘ATO’ zone and said that military activities could be resumed any time despite the ceasefire in place.
In Kyiv the SMM monitored a small protest in front of the ministers’ cabinet building where around 20 people protested against corruption and called for the removal of political actors linked to the former regime. The SMM monitored another protest in front of the presidential administration building where around 50 Right Sector activists protested against the recently-passed law on special status. Both demonstrations were monitored by the police and ended peacefully.
The SMM met the mayor of Bucha (37 km north-west of Kyiv), who voiced his concern that election security would be provided by Ukrainian Self Defence groups and volunteer battalions instead of regular police forces. The SMM also attended an event organized by Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko, who provided an account of his first 100 days in office highlighting anti-corruption and facilitation measures for internally displaced persons (IDPs).