Russian-Backed Fighters Launch Deadly Attacks As Ukrainians Gain Visa-Free Travel To EU

June 12, 2017
Activists wave Ukrainian and European Union flags during a night rally in support of Ukraine's integration with the European Union in the center of Kyiv, Ukraine, Nov. 21, 2013 (AP Photo)

Ukraine Day 1210: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.

Yesterday’s coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.

An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine


Heavy Fighting, High Casualties

Over the weekend there has been a significant and alarming increase in both ceasefire violations and casualties in eastern Ukraine.

At the briefing on Sunday morning, the Ukrainian military reported that there had been 73 ceasefire violations over the previous 24 hours. Worse yet, four Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and another seven wounded, one of the deadliest days in a very long time. 

Intense fighting was reported in the Mariupol sector, where 29 ceasefire violations were recorded. reports

“At first, the invaders shelled our fortified positions near the town of Krasnohorivka, using 122mm artillery systems and 120mm mortars. They also used portable versions of multiple launch rocket systems near the village of Chermalyk. Our fortified positions near the towns of Krasnohorivka and Maryinka, and the villages of Slavne, Hnutove, Talakivka, Vodiane, Shyrokyne and Chermalyk repeatedly came under enemy fire from grenade launchers and small arms, and 82mm mortars from time to time,” the headquarters said. In the evening, the situation was most tense near the village of Pavlopil. The militants carried out a number of attacks on the Ukrainian fortified positions, using 82mm mortars, infantry fighting vehicles, grenade launchers of various modifications and other infantry weapons.

Intense fighting was also recorded in Donetsk, however. 120 mm and 82 mm mortars were used against Avdeyevka, but it was not the only location attacked:

“Explosions of mines and grenades, which arrived from the enemy’s side, almost did not abate until midnight. The enemy also used the same weapons near the villages of Verkhniotoretske, Kamianka, Troyitske and Luhanske. Less powerful armed provocations were recorded near the villages of Zaitseve, Opytne, Nevelske and Novhorodske, where the illegal armed groups repeatedly attacked the Ukrainian positions with grenade launchers and small arms, and 82mm mortars in some areas. In total, the Russian-backed mercenaries carried out 21 attacks on our positions in this direction,” the report says.

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Escalation in Donbas: Ukraine reports 4 KIAs, 7 WIAs in last day

Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 73 times in the past 24 hours with four Ukrainian soldiers reported as killed in action (KIA) and seven as wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters.

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Jun 12, 2017 08:49 (GMT)

By Sunday afternoon, the Ukrainian military had another 28 ceasefire violations to report, and whereas over the previous 24 hours the Lugansk sector had been relatively quiet, heavy fighting was reported there as well.

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Donbas militants attack Ukraine 28 times on June 11 – ATO HQ

At dawn, the enemy fired 122mm artillery systems on the Ukrainian fortified positions near the village of Pavlopil in the Mariupol sector, as well as 120mm mortars near the village of Hnutove. In addition, the illegal armed groups shelled the Ukrainian positions near the villages of Talakivka and Vodiane, using small arms, grenade launchers and infantry fighting vehicles.

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Jun 12, 2017 08:53 (GMT)

All of this fighting comes, perhaps not coincidentally, on the first day that Ukrainians can travel to the European Union without a visa, a major milestone in Ukraine’s integration into the EU.

The Russian media was not happy about this development:

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Window to Nowhere. Russian Media Upset about Ukrainian Visa Free Travel to EU Countries

Russia's Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda got into the visa-free travel to the EU is doom for Ukrainians game in a special report menacingly entitled "Visa free travel for Ukraine. Window to nowhere". The 20 minute piece is a classic of the disinformation genre, a cut and paste job of unconnected, aggressive video, menacing music, threatening narration, and doomsday commentary.

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Jun 12, 2017 08:57 (GMT)

Is it a surprise, then, that Russian-backed forces would seriously escalate their attacks on Ukraine as the country celebrated the achievement that was one of the goals of the entire Euromaidan Revolution?

James Miller