Ukraine LiveBlog Day 194: ‘Humanitarian Corridor’ Uncertain for Evacuation of Ukrainian Soldiers

August 30, 2014
Donbass Battalion in Ilovaisk August 10, 2014. Press TV.

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Reports Suggest Ukraine Has Made Gains In Komsomolskoye And Volnovakha

Earlier today freelance journalist Paul Brennan tweeted the following images while travelling from the Novoazovsk area towards Komsomolskoye, to the north:

The military vehicles in the first tweet appear, based on the white lines painted on their hulls, to be Ukrainian. 

This is also suggested by reports that Ukrainian forces are in control of the area today. 

Komsomolskoye and Volnovakha are under our control. We’re digging in!

Yesterday reported (translated by The Interpreter):

Anti-Terrorism Operation forces have taken control of Komsomolskoye in the Starobeshevo district of the Donetsk region. This is being reported by the press office of the Ukrainian National Guard on Friday, August 29.

It is stated that the first operational brigade of the National Guard has successfully completed its march and reinforced the fortifications and defences in the city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region and taken control of Komsomolskoye.

“During combat operations, detachments from the brigade took control of the settlement of Komsomolskoye in the Donetsk region. As a result of the fighting, three servicemen were wounded,” said the statement.

The wounded have already received the necessary medical assistance. 

It is noteworthy that, on August 27, the ATO press centre reported that a large column of Russian military vehicles, including tanks, armoured personnel carriers and rocket artillery, were headed south along the road from Starobeshevo (which reportedly fell to Russian or Russian-backed forces that same day) to Telmanovo

Komsomolskoye lies along this route, to the north of Telmanovo. Could the evidence of recent fighting described by Brennan have been left by a battle between Ukrainian forces and this column?


If this is the case, then a significant threat to Mariupol may have been neutralised, leaving only forces to the east to threaten the city. 

Russian Media Reports Return of Russian POWs by Ukraine

The pro-Kremlin propaganda outlet reported as follows:

All Russian paratroopers who were detained earlier in the week in
eastern Ukraine have been handed over to the Russian side, deputy
commander of the Airborne Forces, Major-General Aleksey Ragozin has

“The negotiations were very difficult. However, common sense
prevailed, and all ended well,” Ragozin said on Saturday
night, cited by RIA.

“The most important thing – all the guys are now back with
us, in Russia. I want to emphasize that we never abandon our
own,” he added.

From the very first minute the patrol was caught after
accidentally crossing the border the Russian side was doing
everything possible to secure their release, Ragozin said.

“Our guys feel sorry that this happened,” he said,
adding that they will be provided with all necessary
“psychological and other assistance.”

“I consider it unacceptable that for so many days our
soldiers were held by the Ukrainian side and, moreover, were
transferred to Kiev,” he stated. “At the same time, hundreds of
Ukrainian soldiers who found themselves on the territory of
Russia, after the provision of comprehensive care by the relevant
authorities were immediately transferred back to Ukraine.”

The independent TV Rain has also reported the return of the POWs, citing the state media:

Late on the evening of 31 August, the news broke that the paratroopers from the 98th Svirsk Division of the Airborne Troops had been returned to Russia, RIA Novosti reported, citing Deputy Commander Aleksei Ragozin of the Airborne Troops.


Nine of the paratroopers were returned tonight; early a 10th had been medically evacuated to a St. Petersburg burn unit.

It is not know if Ukrainian POWs were released in return.

Reports That Novosvetlovka Has Been Left In Ruins

Reuters reports that the Andrei Lysenko, the spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (SNBO), has told reporters today that the town of Novosvetlovka near the border in the Lugansk region has been virtually destroyed.

Here is an excerpt from the report:

But Ukraine military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told journalists in Kiev that Russian tanks had entered the small Ukrainian town of Novosvitlivka on the border with Russia and fired on every house.

“We have information that virtually every house has been destroyed,” Lysenko added, without giving details on when the reported attack took place. Ukraine’s daily military briefings typically cover the previous 24 hours.

Lysenko said the rebels had made new gains just east of the border city of Luhansk, one of the rebels’ main strongholds, after opening up a new front in another area last week.

“Direct military aggression by the Russian Federation in the east of Ukraine is continuing. The Russians are continuing to send military equipment and ‘mercenaries’,” Ukraine’s defence and security council said in a separate Twitter post.

Kiev and Western countries say recent rebel gains were the result of the arrival of armoured columns of Russian troops, sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin to prop up a separatist rebellion that would otherwise have been near collapse.

There were further reports of destruction in the area:

Tanks are going and destroying house after house. A tank shot – a destroyed house. Khryashchevatoye and Novosvetlovka are completely destroyed. – Aidar.

Meanwhile separatist media claimed that the town had been demolished by Ukrainian National Guard forces.

The following video was apparently filmed in Novosvetlovka and uploaded today by the pro-separatist The description says:

After withdrawing from the village of Novosvetlovka, the punitive forces from the Aidar battalion and the Ukrainian National Guard left it behind in ruins. The people gladly greeted their liberators from the people’s army of the LNR.

Another separatist Twitter account posted this image, claiming that a Ukrainian T-64M Bulat had been seized as a trophy there:

An earlier report on the events there came on August 27 from Dmytro Tymchuk of Information Resistance, who wrote on his Facebook page that:

Our troops are holding their positions near Khryashchevatoye, Novosvetlovka and Saur-Mogila.

It seems likely that Ukrainian forces attempted to hold the town and that the destruction occurred during the battle for control of the strategic position.


With Ukrainian forces forced to retreat from Khryashchevatoye and Novosvetlovka towards Lugansk Airport, the M4 highway from Lugansk to Krasndon has been freed up for Russian convoys travelling from the Izvarino border crossing.

The Interpreter in Kiev

The Interpreter’s editor-in-chief Michael Weiss and managing editor James Miller are in Kiev this week.

The rest of our team will continue to post updates, so keep following The Interpreter.
‘Novorossiya’ Conference In Yalta This Weekend With European Neo-Nazi Speakers

A conference is being held this weekend in Yalta, Russian-occupied Crimea, titled “Russia, Ukraine, Novorossia: Global Problems and Challenges.”

The conference is due to be attended by numerous separatist leaders, including Aleksandr Boroday.

It had been reported that Igor Girkin, aka Strelkov, had been due to speak. However Anatoly El Murid, a Russian political theorist, posted a photo of himself in Russia with Girkin today on his blog, saying that the Russian separatist leader had only found out that his name had been connected to the event today. He says that Strelkov’s name had been used by the organisers for their own purposes.


Interestingly, according to Anton Shekhovstov, an expert on Europe’s extreme right, the conference is due to be attended by a number of prominent European far right figures.

He lists them thus:

Frank Creyelman (far right Vlaams Belang, Belgium)

Luc Michel (neo-Nazi Parti Communautaire National-Européen, Belgium)

Pavel Chernev (far right Ataka, Bulgaria)

Angel Djambazki (far right Bulgarsko Natsionalno Dvizhenie, Bulgaria)

Erkki Johan Bäckman (neo-Stalinist, Finland) 

Márton Gyöngyösi (fascist Jobbik, Hungary)

Giovanni Maria Camillacci (far right Lega Nord, Italy)

Roberto Fiore (fascist Forza Nuova, Italy)

Mateusz Piskorski (far right Samooborona, Poland) 

Konrad Rękas (far right Samooborona, Poland)

Bartosz Bekier (neo-Nazi Falanga, Poland)

Nick Griffin (fascist British National Party, UK)

Earlier today, the Russian state-owned ITAR-TASS news agency reported that the hotel where the conference was being hosted had been evacuated following a phoned-in bomb threat.

No explosives were found and the conference was due to continue. 

Reports That 200 Ukrainian Volunteers Forced To Surrender In Ilovaisk

Russia’s independent TV Rain (Dozhd) reports that 200 members of the volunteer Donbass battalion have been taken into captivity after being forced to surrender in the town of Ilovaisk.

They report (translated by The Interpreter):

Ukrainian army soldiers, who are encircled just outside Ilovaisk, told TV Rain that around 200 men from the Donbass battalion had surrendered to their armed enemies.

According to them, the encircled group of troops from the regular army and the National guard couldn’t leave the encirclement, despite agreements on a humanitarian corridor. They were fired upon with artillery, which forced the Donbass fighters to surrender, said the Ukrainian soldiers.

“They kept up the fight as long as they could. We have many wounded. We’re surrendering so we can at least somehow survive,” said one of the soldiers from the second company of the Donbass battalion to

Earlier, the commander of the Donbass battalion, Semyon Semyonchenko, who has been outside Ilovaisk since being evacuated after injury in a mortar attack on August 19, wrote on his Facebook page that he had been told by his men that the soldiers facing them were Russian airborne forces, supported by a tank force. 

Mariupol Not Surrounded, But Situation Tense

The situation remains tense in Mariupol today, with Russian forces lying only 20 km away to the east, having seized Novoazovsk and the village of Bezymyonnoye. 

Anti-tank barricades have been erected on the road from the east:

Peace protests against Russia’s invasion took place at the military checkpoint on the road to Novoazovsk:



Ukrainian troops also set off down the road (with what aim we do not know yet):

Meanwhile there was evidence of panic spreading inside the port city as supermarkets were filled with people buying up supplies and others packed the roads fleeing to the west:

Despite reports from separatist and Russian media yesterday that Mariupol had been surrounded from the north and west, journalists were able to travel around those areas freely, without encountering Russian or separatist fighters.

The road from Mariupol to Volnovakha is (still) empty and free. So much for “encircled Mariupol.” We’re travelling further.

Outside Olyonovka, checkpoint with a Ukrainian flag. Not allowed to drive up or through, or to take photos. In general, the road is clear, as it was before the coastal invasion.

This means that the road is clear almost all the way to besieged Donetsk.  

28 Ukrainian Troops Reportedly Break Out of Ilovaisk

Interfax-Ukraine reported at 8:59 GMT that the Ukrainian interior minister, Arseniy Avakov, has announced that 28 Ukrainian troops have broken out of the encirclement of the town of Ilovaisk.

“Our first troops from the Ilovaisk group have reached the National Guard brigade’s strongpoint in the town of Komsomolske. Altogether there are 28 persons from battalions of Interior Ministry Peacekeeper (14), Kherson (3) and Dnipro-1 (11). It was good idea to hold the border the whole night! We’re waiting for other guys,” the Interior Ministry’s press service quoted minister Arsen Avakov as saying on Saturday.

Earlier, there had been reports that Ukrainian forces moving in the ‘humanitarian corridor’ proposed by Russia, had been fired on.

This was also reported shortly afterwards, at 9:11 GMT, by Semyon Semyonchenko, the commander of the Donbass battalion, who have been fighting in Ilovaisk.

Semyonchenko also said that Russian VDV (airborne forces) troops were in the town:

He wrote on his Facebook page (translated by The Interpreter):

The situation is still being sorted out. They’re trying to trick the guys into surrendering; they’re not giving up. On one side a tank dvision, on the other a VDV regiment. They’re still the enemy, but the regulars are better than the DNR. Medical assistance has been given to the wounded. Everything must be decided within an hour. There were attempts made by some headcases along the road to fire on the column. We made it through. We’re waiting. 

Romanian President Basescu Calls For EU To Give Ukraine Weapons

Romania’s HotNews reported yesterday that President Traian Basescu has has called on his fellow EU leaders to impose tougher sanctions on Russia, strengthen NATO’s eastern flanks and provide weaponry for Ukraine:

President Traian Basescu said at at a meeting with Romanian ambassadors on Friday that a major escalation of Russian acts in favor of separatists in East Ukraine was obvious and that there was a risk that the balance turned in favor of the Russian Federation. He said that at the European Council on Saturday he would call for the strengthening of the sanctions already decided on Russia, in the financial, energy and military sectors. 

Basescu also called on EU, NATO allies to start providing weapons to Ukrainain troops in order to counteract Russia’s involvement with separatist militias in Eastern and South-Eastern Ukraine. He said democratic states should overcome the phase of stating their good intentions.

He also provided a view on Romania’s position at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales, saying Romania will push for the strengthening of NATO’s eastern borders, with an increased NATO presence in the Bleack Sea.

He did not clearly name Vladimir Putin when he said that “the ideas of a sick man who believes he can remake the Soviet areas of influence” must be discouraged. And Basescu said Romania did not face danger in a “rational manner”, but it should prepare “for the irrational” as well.

An updated and more detailed report from today is available here (in Romanian).

Ukrainian Su-25 Shot Down By SAM

Ukrainska Pravda reports that the ATO press centre has announced that a Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 ground attack jet has been shot down by a surface-to-air missile (SAM). The pilot managed to eject.

They report (translated by The Interpreter):

The aircraft was shot down while returning after completing a mission to destroy terrorist military equipment and troops.

The pilot ejected and was with a unit of the Ukrainian National Guard within an hour and a half.

He was not injured and is heading to his the base he is deployed at.

“The ATO press centre has been authorised to state that the widespread reports from the terrorists of four Ukrainian Air Force aircraft being shot down are not true and are the deliberate lies of Kremlin propaganda,” said the ATO.

Tank With ‘For The Donbass’ Slogan Spotted On Russian Side Of Border

Twitter user Timur Khorev has geolocated a video, uploaded today, of two T-72 tanks on low loaders travelling in the Russian border town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky. The tanks lack military markings and bear slogans akin to those seen in use by supposedly separatist forces inside Ukraine. 

One of the tanks has “For the Donbass” emblazoned on the side:


Khorev geolocated the video, noting the distinctive Oda Bar visible at times to the left of the shot.



Аs the vehicles pass directly alongside the bar, we can plot their course as such:


The vehicles are therefore headed south on Bolshevitskaya street

Reports of Russians and Separatists Shelling Ukrainians in ‘Humanitarian Corridor’

There are persistent reports that Russian Federation troops as well as Russian-backed separatists are firing on Ukrainians evacuating through a supposed “humanitarian corridor” this morning, but we have not verified them.

Information Resistance, the pro-Kiev war reporting web site, said that two journalists who were sources of the Ukrainian website say there is firing on the Ukrainian soldiers. The Interpreter has a translation:

The first is Nazar Voznyuk on TV 112:

“I am now moving in a column of Ukrainian forces which is changing its place of deployment, moving deeper into the country. Today an active advancement of Russian Federation troops began. The last place where we could see them was at a reservoir near Rozovka. A convoy of the group of forces that had been encircled outside Ilovaisk was shelled at 10:00 am [the time when the corridor was supposed to close, but efforts were being made to extend the deadline–The Interpreter]. We have no idea how many people remain alive, preliminarily, about 20 people, but that is only from one group. No corridor was offered, and the situation is pitiable.”

Another journalist, Ruslan Yarmolyuk from the channel 2+2, wrote of the shelling yesterday, 22 hours ago:

“This morning according to the agreement about the corridor which fighters are to open outside Ilovaisk, the remainders of the 40th battalion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the 39th, the 28th and the remnants of the 51st brigade of Vladimir-Volynskaya went into the corridor and were shelled by heavy artillery and mortars. The Russian beasts swept from the earth everything that went through the corridor, both vehicles and personnel of the Ukrainian army and part of the volunteer battalions. None of them have gotten in touch and have not reached the gathering place! From yesterday’s reinforcement, which went to Ilovaisk, made up  of 30 vehicles, not a single one got out; of 300 men, by preliminary information, no more than 10 remain alive! That’s it, make your conclusions!”

The Ukrainian Council for National Security and Defense rejected the claims of shelling as rumors, while saying that there wasn’t any humanitarian corridor established.

Donbass Commander Contacts Russian Forces to Extend Time for Corridor

Semyon Semyonchenko has just updated his Facebook page again with a notice at about 9:50 am Kiev time. The Interpreter has a translation:

We arrived at the location. The situation is as follows: there are three kettles of encirclement. Novokaterinovka, Starobeshevo and Chervonopilsk. In the last village there is Donbass [battalion] and the remnants of those units that have not surrendered. We are keeping up the guys’ spirits over the telephone. We only managed to begin compiling the lists just now, there was no connection all night. It is not known yet where the commander of the group is and all the commanders of the battalions.

A problem has arisen which we hope to solve soon. The army unit surrounding the Ukrainians along Chervonopilsk doesn’t know anything about the agreement and gave another two hours for surrender. I hope that this is simply the slow gears of the military bureaucratic machine.

I have informed the President and the commander of the National Guard. I am forced to enter into contact with the reconnaissance regiment of the RF Airborne Troops for the purpose of extending the period of the ultimatum in order for the command to manage to get through. Below are new telephone numbers for relatives to call. I will keep  you informed of events.

Uncertainty About ‘Humanitarian Corridor’ for Ukrainian Soldiers’ Evacuation

Late last night (about eight hours ago), Semyon Semyonchenko, commander of the Donbass Battalion, posted an upbeat notice on his Facebook page that he had a telephone conversation with President Petro Poroshenko and that an agreement had been reached “at the highest level” as follows concerning President Vladimir Putin’s offer of a “humanitarian corridor” (translation by The Interpreter):

1) Until 10:00 today, all soldiers who have not surrendered into captivity, will be allowed with their weapon and banners through a special corridor to the place of deployment of the basic ATO (anti-terrorist operation) forces. The combat vehicles have been blown up.

2) For several days, all those soldiers who surrendered into captivity, and also those wounded who are in captivity will be exchanged for Russian paratroopers in Kharkiv.

I have nothing more to say. I have no words left. I await morning. In 10 minutes I will publish a telephone number for the relatives – we will reassure them. We are putting together a list of the guys now.

Then about seven hours ago, Semyonchenko had a much more depressing notice:

A tragedy has occurred. I have grounds to believe that the surrounding of the volunteer battalions is the consequence of treachery and incompetence in the system of military management.

Fact 1 – a convoy has been in place for more than an hour, and only after the start of mortar fire, it moved ahead.

Fact 2 – during negotiations, the paratroopers told our soldiers that supposedly they would have long ago re-deployed if it hadn’t been for us. They waited for us all day in the place where the convoy was to take place.

Fact 3 – Yury Butusov and I sounded the alarm about this situation for more than 10 days, demanding reinforcements, we staged pickets outside the Presidential Administration and at the General Staff. Result: 0.

There are other facts of betrayal and outrageous incompetence which we will investigate later. At first the commanders and counterintelligence must come out and reconstruct the events by the minute, including the results of the tapping of telephones. I don’t know the names yet. But we will find out.

Now I have to get my guys out and bury our dead, and help the families who are left without bread-winners. The question is whether you can trust Russia? Of course not. What did they give as a pledge when they made an agreement? I don’t know, but neither I nor you will give up a pound of our native land. What is up with this ultimatum of 6 am? According to the President, it managed to be changed. What if they are deceived? I don’t want to think about that now, I just want to believe. Now the main thing: I decided to be with my soldiers. Technically, it is not difficult even with the IV to transport my organism. If they will execute them at 6 am, then let them shoot me as well. If they get out, then I will be with them.

He then gave a phone number for parents to call, saying the nurses were responsive, and noting that most of the men in Donbass Battalion were alright.

Ever since President Putin called on the separatists to create a humanitarian corridor for fleeing Ukrainian soldiers last last night, and separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko replied that only under the condition that heavy weapons and vehicles be left behind, there has been intense speculation about what may happen.

The Ukrainian news site said that in fact soldiers had started to move through the corridor and were shot in large numbers. But there were no confirmations of this claim at all.

This story in part was based on a Facebook comment by Yury Butusov

Putin has broken his promise to open a corridor for evacuation of wounded and soldiers of the Ilovaisk group of Sector B. A battle is under way. No other information will be available from me until it is over. No promises of Putin can be believed. Bastard…

But at 18:14 yesterday 29 August, the Ukrainian Council for National Security and Defense (CNSD) said there was no corridor at all, UNIAN reported.

“In the area of Ilovaisk, as in Ilovaisk itself, our forces are on maneuvers. There are no ‘corridors’ as they spoke of all day there…Information about the movement of the divisions, the units, we are not publicizing for the sake of the security of our soldiers” said Andrey Lysenko, speaker of the Information Center of the CNSD.

Lysenko said he “had no information” about any movement through any “humanitarian corridor” or any “mass deaths” of soldiers. “There are no corridors,” he said.

According to another UNIAN report, there are only 340 Ukrainian soldiers in Ilovaisk, who are said to be surrounded by Russian-backed separatists.

Russian state news has been running programs saying only a few hours remain to take advantage of the corridor.