Ukraine Liveblog Day 174: No Ceasefire Without ‘White Flags’

August 10, 2014
Ukrainian troops in Donetsk region on August 9. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/ Associated Press)

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

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For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

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

Artillery North of Donetsk

A video taken by a citizen reporter in Donetsk this morning shows continued fighting.

The author @djp3tros who runs Ukraine@War blog has geolocated the video for The Interpreter here:


It may be the pro-Russian separatists attacking the advancing Ukrainian army or it may be the army
advancing and attacking separatist positions.

But since the explosions happen at the same spots and in the middle of a
field, it appears to be heavy artillery from Ukraine firing at separatist

Another video posted today on YouTube which we were unable to geolocate is labeled “Donbass. Militia artillery working. Donetsk/Lugansk” and shows separatists shooting in a field.

Will There Be a Ceasefire?

Today the Associated Press is running the headline “Ukraine Rebel Leader Asks for Aid, Cease-Fire.”

Ukraine’s rebels are surrounded and ready to agree to a cease-fire to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe,” the insurgents’ new leader said Saturday as conditions deteriorated in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, artillery thundering through deserted streets.

There was no immediate government response to the cease-fire statement. Ukrainian troops have made steady advances against the rebels in recent weeks.

“We are prepared to stop firing to bar the spread of the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe in Donbass (eastern Ukraine),” Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the so-called prime minister of the Donetsk separatists, said in a statement on a rebel website.

His motive for offering a cease-fire was not clear but his comments could be aimed at increasing the pressure on Ukraine to allow in a Russian aid mission.

The general consensus is that the government’s anti-terror operation (ATO) has hammered the separatists into submission. It’s unclear, however, whether the separatists are really willing to accept an unconditional ceasefire. Yesterday we examined the exact words of the Zakharchenko, and it seemed clear that the Ukrainian government would have to stop its siege of Donetsk. Kiev appears to only be interested in a ceasefire if it involves an international team delivering aid to Lugansk. RFE/RL reports:

President Petro Poroshenko says Ukraine is ready to accept a humanitarian mission to the separatist-controlled city of Luhansk, but only if it is an unarmed international team entering the country through Kiev-controlled border checkpoints.

Poroshenko’s office said on August 9 that the president made the comments in a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Poroshenko said he was in discussions with Red Cross President Peter Maurer over such a possible mission.
Kyiv earlier said it prevented a Russian attempt to send troops across the border under the guise of a humanitarian mission.

Such a mission would almost certainly require Russia to be part of the negotiations since it is Russia’s border that any international relief effort would need to cross. Would Russia be interested in expanding the presence of international groups on the border? And how long would that take to negotiate? Despite setbacks, Ukraine continues to retake territory while Russia continues to arm the separatists and shell Ukrainian territory, so the timeline of any ceasefire it critical in understanding how it will impact eastern Ukraine.

Just moments ago, however, the prospects of a ceasefire grew dimmer, and a new piece of evidence has emerged that suggests that Kiev is holding out on a ceasefire because they think they are winning. RFE/RL reports:

The spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Andriy Lysenko, has confirmed that the only way authorities will accept a cease-fire in the torrid fighting in Donetsk is if the separatists “lay down their arms and give up,” AP reports. Lysenko added: “If white flags come up and they lay down their arms, nobody is going to shoot at them,” he said. “[But] we have not seen any practical steps yet, just a statement.”