Ukraine Live Day 289: Blast In Odessa

December 3, 2014
Aftermath of the blast in Odessa. Photo:

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Below we will be making regular updates so check back often.

Did Russian-Backed Separatists In Donetsk Even Agree To a ‘Truce’?

We’re watching the live video feed from a camera locked on Donetsk International Airport, and once again occasional shelling can be heard. In fact, shelling has been reported for much of the last few hours or so.

As we’ve been reporting since the ‘truce’ was supposed to go into effect yesterday, there hasn’t been anything that resembles a truce in the last two days.

Earlier the Ukrainian government said that the ceasefire was immediately violated by the Russian-backed separatists. Gulliver Cragg, who is in Donetsk, reports that the separatist leadership is making the opposite claim.

Kristina Jovanovski reports:

The separatist leaders didn’t know who negotiated the truce? Yesterday, news reports said that the truce was negotiated between Russian representatives and Ukrainian ones. Does this mean that the separatists were not part of the negotiations?

And just now, yet more rumbling in the distance can be heard on the live feed.
US Ambassador To Ukraine Says Russia Gave Separatists ‘Several Hundred’ Pieces Of Military Gear Since Minsk
The US Ambassador to Ukraine has clearly spelled out a position today: Russia has supplied “several hundred pieces” of military hardware to the Russian-backed separatists since the “ceasefire” was agreed upon at Minsk at the start of September.
Four Civilians Wounded By Shelling In Orlovka

Interfax-Ukraine reports that the Donetsk regional branch of the Interior Ministry has announced that four civilians, amongst them a 6-year-old child, have been wounded after the village of Orlovka was shelled today.

One man was wounded by shrapnel on his 52nd birthday. A 27-year-old woman suffered eye injuries.

The report says that the wounded were taken from the village, in the Yasinovataya district, to a hospital in Avdeyevka.

The Interior Ministry said that the shelling was conducted by Russian-backed militants.

— Pierre Vaux

BBC Reports From The Front Lines Of The Broken Ceasefire At Donetsk Airport

In a daring piece of journalism, the BBC’s Fergal Keane has visited the front lines of fighting at the Donetsk International Airport. The minute his vehicle arrived, shelling could be heard and the crew scrambled out of the vehicle. Keane turns to the camera, the sound of shelling in the background, and says “there is no ceasefire, it’s an illusion.”

The BBC then shows video of the shelling from a residential neighborhood which we reported earlier this week, and a hospital where civilians injured in the fighting are being treated. Near the front lines, residents are living in basements to avoid the near-constant shelling.

The entire video can be viewed here and covers the economic realities in Donetsk as well.

One other interesting note — the BBC saw tanks parked against residential buildings, but were not allowed to film them. They did snap this picture, however:

— James Miller

Stanitsa Luganskaya Cut Off From Power And Gas Following Continued Fighting

UNIAN reports that the press office of Hennadiy Moskal, the governor of the Lugansk region, has announced that the government-held town of Stanitsa Luganskaya, to the north-east of separatist-held Lugansk, is now without electricity or gas following shelling. 

According to Moskal’s office, Russian-backed forces shelled the town and the neighbouring village of Valuyskoye last night with Grad rockets.

The Interpreter translates:

In Valuyskoye, five houses were damaged by shells. The militants stole into Stanitsa Luganskaya and fired on a number of administrative buildings with automatic weapons. Several windows at the district administration building were smashed, including that of the office of the chairman of the district administration, Yevgeniy Bidashko.

In addition, a gas pipeline was damaged by the fighting. There is now no central gas supply in a large part of Schastye and also the villages of Valuyskoye, Malinovoye and Pshenichnoye (affecting a population of around 10 thousand in total). Due to the low gas pressure, heating boilers are not turning on.

Meanwhile, the ATO Press Centre reported this morning that attacks had been launched on Ukrainian positions at several locations in the Lugansk region, including Schastye, and Verkhnaya Olkhovaya.


— Pierre Vaux

No Truce — Shelling Continuing In Donetsk. Russian Drone Reportedly Shot Down

As we’ve been reporting, the truce at Donetsk airport which was supposed to go into effect yesterday has never gone into effect. In fact in the lead-up to the truce deadline yesterday, shelling intensified significantly, a trend which carried through even after the deadline had passed.

All day today there has been regular, but not constant, heavy shelling. In the last few minutes the tell-tale heavy thuds could be heard on a video feed near the airport. Shelling has resumed.

At today’s briefing of the National Security and Defense Council, NSDC spokesman Colonel Andriy Lysenko said that the Russian-backed fighters have not stopped their offensive against the airport.

The NSDC also reports several other incidents, one involving a Russian helicopter:

Beyond this, Ukraine is again reporting that a Russian drone has been shot down in its territory:


— James Miller

SBU Uncover Theft Of Aircraft Engines In Zaporozhye

Late last night, Gordon reported that the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) had announced that they had uncovered the theft of an enormous amount of aviation equipment from the state-owned Ukrainian Air-transport Company in Zaporozhye.

According to the announcement, on November 25, SBU officers prevented the theft of aviation equipment by a local criminal gang. During a series of raids, targeting affiliates of an individual they arrested while attempting to steal over 800,000 hryvnia worth of equipment (US $52,664), officers discovered a haul of stolen equipment worth over 5 million hryvnia (US $330,884).

The stolen items included one Il-76 transport jet engine, two engines for L-29 jet trainers, and also equipment for An-2, L-29 and Mi-2 aircraft.

The SBU announced that criminal proceedings on charges of sabotage had been launched against the perpetrators. The maximum penalty for such a charge is 15 years in prison.

Investigations are under way to establish the identities of their accomplices.

— Pierre Vaux

Nuclear Power Plant’s Block Shutdown Adds To Ukraine’s Energy Woes

The Guardian, in an article which explores Ukraine’s energy woes, reports that according to Ukraine’s energy minister the problems at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant have nothing to do with the reactor:

“The accident happened in the third block of the Zaporizhya nuclear power plant in the power output section. This is in no way associated with the reactor,” energy minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn said on Wednesday.

The plant was forced to shut down the affected generator, causing electricity shortages in the surrounding region.

The original report also stated that there was a failure in power block 3. Block no. 1 is also under repair at the plant, but block no. 4 is still working.

The article goes on to report on Ukraine’s larger problem — lack of coal, leading to periodic losses of power, made worse by the lack of power from the Zaporozhyestation.

The Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Station (NPS) published the following news brief on November 29 (translation by The Interpreter):

On 28 November at 19:24, through the action of the power system protection, power block No. 3 of the Zaporozhye NPS was shut down from the network and removed for ongoing repair until 5 December 2014.

There were no violations of the limits or safety standards. The radiation situation in the zone of the Zaporozhye NPS is without changes.

Power block no. 4 is working as of November 29 at the Zaporozhye NPS.

With careful monitoring of the schedule, a planned moderate repair of power block no. 1 is being done, and work is being done on reconstruction and modernizaiton.

There are no [adverse] observations to make on the work of the basic equipment of the active power blocks. The total capacity of the generators is 4,010 megawatts.

The Zaporozhye NPS is an important component of the fuel and energy complex of Ukraine, and deservedly occupies one of the leading roles in the electrical power of our country.

— James Miller

Regular Shelling In Donetsk

Despite yesterday’s announcement of a new ceasefire around Donetsk Airport (a ceasefire that was heralded by a dramatic escalation of fire), shelling continues, almost incessantly, to the north of the city.

Early this morning, the ATO Press Centre had announced that the night had eventually passed quietly around the airport. 

However right now, regular, loud thuds can be heard on the Ruptly live stream overlooking Donetsk Airport. The fighting appears to have been carrying on all day.

Earlier today, a pro-separatist YouTube channel uploaded a video titled The airport – what the “truce” sounds like:

— Pierre Vaux

Ukraine’s Energy Minister Says ‘No Problem’ at Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Station

The independent Hromadske TV has covered a press conference today with Vladimir Demchyshyn, Ukraine’s minister of energy regarding the nuclear plant in Zaporozhye (Zaporizhe). The Interpreter has a translation:


“There are no problems with the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Station. The block will resume service on Friday, he emphasized.”

He emphasized that there was no threat. The first trial start-ups will be conducted today.

The Zaporozhye NPS shut off energy block no. 3 from the energy system on November 28. The emergency state of the energy block with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts increased the power shortage in Ukraine’s energy system.

Earlier we reported that the Ukrainian news site Vesti reported,  based on a press statement by OdessaOblEnergo (Odessa Regional Power), that power block No. 3 had “failed,” which then led to a scheduled emergency shut-down of electricity. No further clarification has been given regarding the original report regarding the failure.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Further on Nuclear Power Station in Zaporozhye

As there is a lot of attention to the announcement made by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of an “accident” at a nuclear power station in Zaporozhye (Zaporizhe), we’ll provide more detail.

The word used by the prime minister and the OdessaOblEnergo (Odessa Regional Power) is avariya which can mean “emergency,” “accident” or “breakdown”.

The incident was not a routine “shutdown for maintenance” as some have been saying, but an unexpected occurrence — which is why people used the word “accident.”

The news article quoting from the OdessaOblEnergo describes a failure in a power block which led to a shutdown.

The original Russian says the power block dal sboi which means “failed” or “was interrupted.”

The failure in the power block then led to what was described as a “scheduled emergency shutdowns” of electricity in the region.

Now judging from this tweet the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy has made a statement saying “there is no problem,” yet the original breakdown of power block No. 3 is not explained.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Outskirts Of Mariupol Shelled

Mariupol news site reports that Ukrainian positions on the city’s north-eastern outskirts were shelled by Russian-backed forces at around 12:30 (10:30 GMT).

According to the Mariupol Defence Headquarters, Ukrainian forces returned fire. There are no details yet on any casualties.

0629 reports (translated by The Interpreter):

Grad salvoes were heard in a number of the city’s districts. In particular, windows were shaken in the Vostochniy area and the ground was felt rumbling in the Zhovtneviy district.

According to Mariupol residents, writing on social media, smoke could be seen in the fields adjacent to the Vostochniy neighbourhood from the windows of high-rises.

The head of the village of Sartana, Stepan Makhsma, told 0629 that they had a noise morning due to shells flying over the village, but that all was quiet there by lunchtime.  

Meanwhile, at the Talakovka village council, 0629 was told that, at around 12:20 [10:20 GMT], there had been clearly audible shelling from territory controlled by the ‘DNR’ [‘Donetsk People’s Republic’]. “They didn’t fire at the village, but closer to the city. The shells were most likely flying from the village of Sakhanka,” said a source in the village council.

The morning’s shelling had also bypassed Talakovka. “We toured the Ukrainian military positions and learned that several shells had fallen between checkpoints. There were casualties,” added the source.

The head of the press service for Sector M [Mariupol within the ATO zone], Dmitry Gorbunov, announced that Ukrainian military positions to the north-east of Mariupol had come under fire at 12:20 [10:20 GMT] and that what Mariupol residents had heard later on was the work of Ukrainian artillery crews, who were returning fire. 

No-one was killed during the shelling. Information on wounded is yet to be confirmed. 

Here is a map highlighting the locations referred to in the report: 


— Pierre Vaux

Blast In Odessa

Odessa news site reports that there was an explosion outside a shop selling Ukrainian patriotic merchandise last night in the port city.


According to the report, the explosion took place at around 12:30 am (22:30 GMT) outside the Patriot store on Malaya Arnautskaya boulevard.

Image from reports that specialists believe the blast was called by an explosive device placed under a window. The device, they say, was likely an:

unjacketed explosive device with a capacity of around 200 grams of TNT (by all appearances, a block of trinitrotoluene).

The blast damaged destroyed an area of wall the windows of the shop. The walls of nearby buildings and a car parked nearby were also damages, reports.




Fortunately, there were no casualties.

Investigators are currently working on the scene. notes that a sign in one of the windows indicated that the store had surveillance cameras fitted, raising hopes that the perpetrators can be identified.


— Pierre Vaux

Unit At Nuclear Power Station in Zaporozhye Shut Down After Accident

Greg White, Moscow bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, has reported on a statement made by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk about the closure of power block at a nuclear plant in Zaporozhye (Zaporizhe in Ukrainian).

On December 1, Vesti of Ukraine reported that there was a shut-down at the plant involving one of the power blocks. The Interpreter has provided a translation:

The emergency turn-off of electricity that occurred yesterday, November 30 in the Kiev District of Odessa may continue until the end of the week throughout the city.

As the Odessaoblenergo [Odessa Regional Energy] press service reports, power went down due to an accident at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Station, where power block No. 3 failed.

An shortage of power occurred in the Unified Energy System of Ukraine which was not backed up.

In order to preserve the integrity of the UES of Ukraine, the dispatcher of the Southern Energy System gave the command to make scheduled emergency shut-downs.

Odessians were urged to save energy and warned that the power outages may repeat in the coming days. 

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick