Ukraine Day 1122: LIVE UPDATES BELOW. Police fired over the heads of protesters crashing a checkpoint in Konstantinovka today as clashes between blockaders and law-enforcers resumed. The National Council on Defense and Security supported President Petro Poroshenko’s own proposal of a ban on freight traffic from the Russia-backed separatist-held territories of the Donbass.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Home damaged in Mariupol area. Photo by 0629.com.ua.
Russia-backed militants attacked Ukrainian positions 46 times in the past day, Liga.net reported, citing the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] evening dispatch. No casualties were reported throughout the day.
Earlier in its morning dispatch, the ATO cited 106 attacks; 6 soldiers wounded, and one soldier concussed.
Avdeyevka remained under intense attack over night with grenade-launchers, mortars and a tank. Grenade-launchers and mortars were fired on Zaytsevo, Opytnoye, the Butovka mine, Luganskoye, Troitskoye and Kamenki; 122-mm mortars were fired on Luganskoye.
Throughout the day on the Donetsk line, mortar-launchers, grenade-launchers and small arms were used to attack Avdeyevka, Troitskoye and Luganskoye. A tank also fired on Avdeyevka as did snipers.
In Peski, a BMP was used and near Kamenki, Troitskoye and the Butovka mine, 120-mm mortars.
On the Lugansk line, militants used grenade-launchers near Novozvanovka.
The Mariupuol line was most attacked overnight, with mortar fire on Vodyanoye, Pavlopol and Gnutovo. A tank fired on Maryinka, and BMPs fired on Vodyanoye, Shirokino and Beryozovoye. Snipers were active near Gnutovo, Novomikhailovka and Shirokino.
During the day on the Mariupol line, most shelling was on Shirokino and Vodyanoye, where militants used machine guns, a BMP and anti-aircraft systems.
The Joint Command and Coordination Center (JCCC) reported that in the last 48 hours, Russia-backed forces have fired 22 82-mm shells, 77 120-mm shells and 77 125-mm shells, using artillery banned by the Minsk agreements.
This caused damage to the Makeyevka-Avdeyevka Coke Factory power line and left Avdeyevka without electricity again as we reported yesterday.
The Donetsk Filter Station, which supplies water to Avdeyevka, Yasinovataya and Donetsk was forced to halt again. The JCCC urged its Russian counterparts in the JCCC to put pressure on separatists to ensure the power and water supply for civilians in the Donbass. Authorities hope to begin repairs March 16.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
National Guard Col. Yuriy Holuban makes an unauthorized speech in parliament March 15. Screen grab of video by 112 TV.
Police opened fire over the heads of about 50 protesters in an auto convoy at a checkpoint in the town of Konstantinovka (Kostiantynivka) as clashes broke out again today between law-enforcers and activists who want to stop trade with the Russia-backed separatist-controlled territories, Gordonua.com reported.
The confrontation in Konstantinovka, about 73 kilometers to the north of Donetsk began at about 14:30 when the protesters refused to submit to a document check, Liga.net reported.
“They opened fire on us!!!At the Konstantinovka Checkpoint!!!Deputy Taras Pastukh has been registered. They are shooting in the air, and shooting through tires.”
But as the police were outnumbered and were unwilling to use more force as an MP was present, activists were able to push aside a police car and pass through the checkpoint.
Activists said the troops arrived in transport carriers, checked documents and took pictures of the blockaders. Forces also went to the Zaporozhia checkpoint in Bakhmut.
Poroshenko Gets Support for Proposal to Impose Blockade on Donbass
“To blockade or not to blockade? To support at least minimal economic relations with the occupied districts or cut off everything? These questions can be answered in different ways. It depends on what kind of strategy we maintain. Our goal is obvious. Restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine through the political and diplomatic route; the reintegration of the non-controlled territories within the Ukrainian state; the reunification of their residents with the Ukrainian family.”
Until a few weeks ago, many plants in the separatist-occupied areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions had continued to pay their taxes on profits to Ukraine, not to separatist coffers, and had continued to deliver raw material and goods to the rest of Ukraine, said Poroshenko. Now those links are broken as the separatists have responded to the unofficial blockade begun by ATO veterans, which cost them revenue, by seizing the remaining Ukrainian plants and selling their coal to Russia, not Ukraine.
Said Poroshenko, regarding the coal mines and plants in the Donbass:
“These were like little islands of Ukraine. The anchor, on which this territory was held for Ukraine. And undoubtedly, we intended to use them for reintegration, for returning Ukraine to the Donbass, and returning Donbass to Ukraine. These were basic place d’armes.”
For this reason, Kiev maintained economic ties with the Donbass and officially condemned and discouraged the blockade informally put into effect by ATO veterans in December 2016.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister said the blockade had already cost Ukraine $3.5 billion, that plants were forced to buy coal from Russia, and 75,000 people in the mining industry could lose their jobs, Liga.net reported. Reserves of anthracite coal were dwindling and could not be replaced quickly with imports.
“They needed PR, needed a conflict, needed destabilization of the internal political situation in Ukraine. And that is yet another evidence of the fact that this entire scenario was written not in Ukraine. The sentiments of the volunteers [fighters], of all those who sincerely supported these actions, they were simply exploited.”
The radicalism of the blockaders alienated both local residents and Ukraine’s European partners, Poroshenko added.
Police Brought into Parliament to Speak About Clashes with Blockaders; Deputy Speaker Closes Session
Yuriy Holuban, a colonel in the National Police, was brought to the podium to recount the incident that led to the arrest of the 45 demonstrators, including MP Volodymyr Parsyuk in Slavyansk.
Speaking at first in broken Ukrainian and then in Russian, he complained about Parasyuk’s actions at the checkpoint, noting that he and his fellow police were following orders not to allow people into the ATO zone, and in the clashes, some of his men were wounded, including some seriously.
Volodymyr Parasyuk, who is an MP but not a member of any faction, was accused by police of pushing law-enforcers, insulting them, and tearing the masks off some officers who refused to allow activists to pass through a checkpoint.
President Petro Poroshenko condemned Parasyuk’s actions, captured in a video, as “disgraceful”.
A video was also uploaded of police opening fire. Parasyuk said seven of his supporters were detained, his sister was beaten, and his father was hospitalized due to the use of tear gas by police.
But Anton Gerashchenko said that Holuban had in fact fought on the side of Ukraine for the last three years and had been wounded at Maryinka.
The NSDC’s decision to support President Poroshenko’s call for an official blockade should likely see the end of protests in recent months that have been among the most severe clashes between police and demonstrators since the Maidan protests in 2014.
But extent of the damage for Ukraine of the forcing of Poroshenko’s hand in this manner and the loss of the Donbas industries for Ukraine have yet to be seen.
Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, who owns a number of coal mines and plants in the Donbass, says he has lost control of his companies in the region.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick