Ukraine Liveblog Day 167: Ukrainian Military Closes In On Donetsk And Lugansk

August 3, 2014
Ukrainian military closes in on Donetsk | AFP

Yesterday’s liveblog can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

Please help The Interpreter to continue providing this valuable information service by making a donation towards our costs.

View Ukraine: April, 2014 in a larger map
For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?

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

More Russian Armor Reported Today In and Around Ukraine

About five hours ago a video labelled as “Russian Military Vehicles Moving Toward Ukraine. August 3, 2014. Bryansk” was uploaded to YouTube, with a note that it was about noon local time.

We have confirmed that it was taken in Bryansk, a Russian city about 4-5 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

The city name “Bryansk” is stenciled on a local taxi and the local landmarks Pokrovskaya Gora, built in honor of Bryansk’s 1,000th anniversary and a Russian Orthodox church are visible in the skyline.



There’s also a report from the local Svetich TV station of a Russian convoy already in Lugansk Region, although no video footage has been obtained.

Svetich said a Russian Federation military convoy entered Lugansk Region over last night (2-3 August), citing a statement from Acting Governor Irina Verigina. She also said fighting continued around the village of Zolotoye and civilians were being evacuated via Lugansk or Lisichansk. The situation in the city was characterized as “critical” with only sporadic electric power and mobile phone outages.

And finally there was a video uploaded with a sighting of what was described as a Russian military convoy in Belarus ferrying self-propelled mortar launchers.

Translation: RF military vehicles moving toward Ukraine 03.08.24 with the help of YouTube.
Ukrainian Military Closes In On Donetsk And Lugansk

The self declared ‘People’s Republics’ of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR, respectively) may now be completely geographically divided as the Ukrainian military works to take the territory in between the two and ultimately recapture the ‘capital’ cities. The heaviest fighting has been south of the MH17 crash site, on the road between Shakhtyorsk and Torez, the roads that have connected the DPR to the LPR (and the DPR to Russia).

But now the cities of Lugansk and Donetsk themselves are in the crosshairs. AP reports on the situation in Donetsk:

Fighting raged Sunday on the western outskirts of Donetsk as the advancing Ukrainian army tried to seize control of the rebel stronghold. In danger of being encircled, the separatists renewed their calls for Russia to send troops to their aid.

To support their operations, the pro-Russian fighters have been confiscating vehicles and food from residents and businesses in Donetsk. The centre of the major industrial city is all but deserted, with few people or cars on the streets and most stores and restaurants closed.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation, Alexei Dmitrashkovsky, told The Associated Press that government soldiers were fighting Sunday to hold positions they had taken on the edge of Donetsk, but were meeting resistance.

In the part of the city closest to the fighting, an artillery shell hit a school overnight, but no one was reported hurt.

AP also reports that Pavel Gubarev, the self-appointed governor of the DPR, has requested Russian troops to support the separatists.

The BBC reports that civilian casualties have been reported in both cities today:

The situation is most extreme in Luhansk, where three civilians have been killed and eight wounded in the past 24 hours, reports say.

Several residential buildings, a school and a supermarket were damaged by permanent shelling, local TV reported.

Almost 50,000 households in Luhansk still have no electricity, 5,000 households have no water and more than 4,000 households have no gas, Kiev-based Kanal 5 said.

In Donetsk, a reporter for the AFP news agency saw the body of a dead woman lying in a quiet residential street after mortar explosions.

Trains to Moscow are still running to and from Donetsk, however, and it’s far from certain that the Ukrainian military will be able to permanently divide the DPR from the LPR and resist separatist counterattacks.