Ukraine Day 1236: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
Ministry of Defense: One Ukrainian serviceman killed and one wounded in action | UACRISIS.ORG
One Ukrainian serviceman was killed in action yesterday, one more was wounded, reported Ukrainian Ministry of Defense spokesman on ATO Colonel Andriy Lysenko at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. In Luhansk sector, Russia-backed militants violated the ceasefire violation six times in the past 24 hours.
The OSCE, tasked with overseeing the very-broken Minsk ceasefire agreements, reports that last week saw a 25% increase in fighting over the previous week. The Ukraine Crisis Media Center reports:
Relatively quiet the week before, the Popasna-Pervomaisk area was suddenly rocked by violence on Tuesday evening last week. “Our monitors in Popasna that evening and into the early hours of the following morning recorded 100 mortar impacts in the area. Overall last week our monitors recorded 63 explosions from artillery and 175 from mortars there, compared to just six explosions from artillery and nine from mortar rounds the previous week,” noted Alexander Hug [Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission]. This area did in fact account for around 65% of all recorded explosions attributable to mortars, tanks, and artillery last week.
The following night – on June 28 – the hostilities spread to the Svitlodarsk area. “After two consecutive weeks – in which not a single explosion attributable to Minsk-proscribed weapons had been recorded – our monitors in the patrol base there witnessed a one-hour violent clash. In total, they heard at least 50 artillery and 10 mortar shots,” added the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
OSCE SMM: The number of ceasefire violations increased by 25% last week | UACRISIS.ORG
Last week OSCE SMM recorded an increase in the level of violence in eastern Ukraine: 25 percent increase in the number of ceasefire violations compared to the previous week. The increase in the number of explosions attributable to mortars, tanks, and artillery was particularly notable.
New US Envoy To Take Part In Failed Minsk Talks
The Minsk peace process was signed by the Ukrainian government at the height of the Russian invasion at the start of September 2014. The Minsk agreement was signed less than six month later in February 2015. Neither ceasefire has brought peace to Ukraine, and Russian soldiers remain heavily involved in the fighting in the east.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has named Kurt Volker, the former US ambassador to NATO, as the new US envoy in charge of overseeing that a ceasefire does take place and a permanent peace can be established.
Volker, a career diplomat and Europe specialist who also worked in the White House, is close to Sen. John McCain, a prominent critic of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and of the previous administration’s approach to that intervention. Volker currently heads the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.
In announcing the appointment, Tillerson said Volker’s “wealth of experience makes him uniquely qualified to move this conflict in the direction of peace.” He said the U.S. remains fully committed to the Minsk agreements.
The State Department said Volker would accompany Tillerson to Kiev on Sunday and then hold regular meetings with senior Russian, German and French officials. He will “take responsibility for advancing U.S. efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the Minsk agreements,” the department said.
It remains to be seen, however, whether Russia will end its aggressive actions in Ukraine and drop its support for the “separatists” who continue to wage war in the Donbass.
— James Miller