Ukraine Day 1005: LIVE UPDATES BELOW. Heavy fighting continued in southeastern Ukraine today, on par with the escalation in the last week, with 6 Ukrainian soldiers wounded in Avdeyevka, northwest of Donetsk. There were unconfirmed reports of 3 Russia-backed fighters killed and 2 wounded.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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One Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action, Col. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported today, November 18. He also reported that one Russia-backed militant was killed and 2 were wounded.
According to Morozova’s office, 4,250 people have been killed in the DNR, including 591 women and 3,659 men.
Col. Lysenko said shelling continued on the Bakhmut Highway and near Mariupol.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
US and European leaders have agreed to maintain sanctions on Russia until Minsk deal implemented.
President Barack Obama met in Berlin this morning with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, France’s President Francois Hollande, Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, Spain’s President Mariano Rajoy and Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi.
From a White House press release:
The leaders also took stock of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. They unanimously agreed on the continued need for Russia to fully meet its commitments under the Minsk agreements and that Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia must remain in place until it does so. The leaders expressed concern over the continued lack of a durable ceasefire and reaffirmed the importance of creating a security environment that is conducive to moving forward with free and fair local elections in the occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
But Reuters reports that Merkel specified, during a press conference with Rajoy, that “no decisions had been made about extending the Ukraine sanctions, but actions to implement the Minsk peace accord were not sufficient.”
It is noteworthy that the White House statement explicitly links sanctions relief with the fulfilment of the Minsk agreements. This is important as the sanctions were originally imposed in response to Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, rather than the military intervention in the Donbass.
Merkel also said that there had been no discussion of imposing further sanctions connected to Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria, while the White House reported that leaders had employed that expression most guaranteed to sink hearts in eastern Aleppo as they “expressed grave concern about the humanitarian situation in Aleppo.”
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has announced that they have successfully rescued a Russian defector who had allegedly been kidnapped by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
Ilya Bogdanov, a former senior lieutenant in the FSB, defected to Ukraine in 2014, where he fought with a Pravyi Sektor volunteer unit against Russia-backed forces.
Bogdanov was interviewed by Ukraine’s TSN news while fighting at Donetsk Airport in October, 2014:
On Monday, Kiev police reported that Bogdanov had gone missing, with his friends having had no contact with him since November 12.
Today the SBU released dramatic footage of members of their elite Alfa unit stopping a car near the border with Russia in the Kharkiv region.
The Alfa troops drag the occupants out of the car, one of whom, his head covered and hands bound with plastic ties, identifies himself as Bogdanov.
According to the SBU, Bogdanov had been kidnapped by FSB agents in Kiev and taken to Kharkiv. The SBU believes that the agents had planned to murder the defector and take his body to Russia.
Vasyl Hrytsak, head of the SBU, told reporters today that three Ukrainian citizens had been involved in the kidnapping, among them, Vladimir Rozsokha, a former deputy in the Kharkiv regional council.
Here is a video of Rozsokha during his 2013 electoral campaign:
Rozsokha appears in the SBU video, apparently confessing to having been an agent of the FSB.
However it is important to note that the footage has been edited and he appears to be reading from a written statement, nor is it known whether he was under duress.
The video contains audio recordings of phone conversations between Rozsokha and another, unnamed detainee, talking with men alleged to be Russian FSB officers, discussing the operation.
— Pierre Vaux