Ukraine Day 1075: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Heavy fighting is reported in the Donetsk area this evening.
According to reports on social media, shelling has been heard across much of the separatist-held city, with the fighting apparently under way to the north, near Avdeyevka and the ruins of Donetsk Airport.
Donetsk resident Ramil Zamdykhanov posted this video on Facebook at 21:23 Kiev time (19:23 GMT), adding:
“At the open window, war is rumbling. Behind me, my wife is persuading the children that this isn’t all scary. That’s how we live.”
More reports and video have been circulating:
Translation: Avdeyevka 22:58, several incoming to the north
Translation: Today I can hear explosions and gunfire. Now – a second. And now it’s calmer.
There are also reports of shelling from the Mariupol area, near the Azov coast:
Translation: Very loud in Mariupol, even I would say too much.
Mariupol news site 0629.com.ua cited residents’ reports of heavy artillery fire being heard from within the city.
Ivan Chmil, a Ukrainian military press officer, told 0629 that Russia-backed forces were tonight shelling positions near the villages of Vodyanoye and Shirokino, a few kilometres east of Mariupol.
Tonight’s shelling follows a day of heavy fighting on Thursday, which left two Ukrainian soldiers dead.
Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, told reporters today that the soldiers had been killed by mortar shelling in Shirokino and the Lugansk settlement of Novotoshkovskoye.
According to this morning’s report from the Ukrainian military, Russia-backed forces conducted 63 attacks yesterday, using 152 and 122-mm artillery, mortars and tanks to shell positions outside Mariupol.
In the Lugansk region, the Ukrainian military claims that Russia-backed forces used BM-21 Grad multiple-launch rocket systems to bombard the positions near the village of Novozvanovka, firing 20 rockets, as well as using 122-mm artillery and mortars.
Elsewhere in the Lugansk region, mortar use was reported near Novoaleksandrovka and Popasnaya, as well as Avdeyevka and Verkhnetoretskoye, north of Donetsk, and Zaytsevo, north of Gorlovka.
While the fighting in Ukraine has ebbed and flowed over the last year or so in a relatively cyclical manner, the intensity and range of shelling seen over the last 48 hours is unusual and worrisome.
For their part, the Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region claim that Ukrainian shelling damaged four homes yesterday in the village of Zaichenko, east of Mariupol, and that the nearby village of Sakhanka was shelled for three hours this morning.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, the first leader of the Russia-backed ‘People’s Republic’ in Lugansk, Valery Bolotov, has died.
Russia’s Interfax reports that Konstantin Knyrik, head of the South-Eastern Front information center, told the agency that, according to preliminary information, Bolotov died from a heart attack in his Moscow apartment this morning.
Bolotov proclaimed himself the ‘people’s governor’ of Lugansk in April, 2014, as Russian agents and separatist activists began taking over administrative buildings in the eastern region of Ukraine.
In August that year, Bolotov announced that he was resigning due to injuries, and was replaced by his former ‘defense minister,’ Igor Plotnitsky, who remains the head of the so-called Lugansk People’s Republic.
— Pierre Vaux