Fighting Escalates Significantly in Donbass; 3 Ukrainian Soldiers Injured; Plight of Civilians Worsens

August 16, 2017
A man sits in his ruined home in eastern Ukraine. Photo by Reuters

Ukraine Day 1276: LIVE UPDATES BELOW. Three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded today, and there was a report of one civilian woman injured.

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

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


Fighting Escalates Significantly in Donbass; 3 Ukrainian Soldiers Injured; Plight of Civilians Worsens

People in eastern Ukraine line up to cross the line of contact to obtain pensions and services. Photo by UNHCR 

Fighting escalated significantly today with 33 attacks on Ukrainian positions, including with Grad missiles, reported, citing the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] press service. Three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded, two in battle and one as a result of stepping on a mine.

On the Maritime line, Russia-backed militants opened fire with 82-mm and 120-mm mortars near Krasnogorovka. Near Pavlopol, militants fired grenade-launchers, mortar-launchers and small arms. At about midnight, they fired Partizan Grad missiles.
On the Lugansk line, separatist fired mortar-launchers near Krymskoye and Troitskoye and in the evening, struck Novoaleksandrovka and Novozvanovka.
On the Donetsk line, the Avdeyevka industrial zone was struck with mortars, grenades and small-arms.

Other news:

o Ukrainian Security Service Denies Russian Report of ‘Detention of Ukrainian Saboteurs’
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has pronounced “fake” a report in Russian and Russia-backed separatist media that a “diversionary group” trained by the SBU has been captured in eastern Ukraine, reported. citing the SBU’s Facebook page.
Vesti and Izvestiya claimed 20 Ukrainian soldiers had stormed the “grey zone” in two groups, suffering casualties. They published a video claiming that more than 60 ceasefire violations had occurred by the Ukrainian army and that 17 towns, including Donetsk, Spartak, and Yasinovataya (Yasynuvata) had been attacked by Ukrainian forces, damaging homes particularly in Spartak. Vesti said one civilian woman was injured.

As we reported, on August 12, the FSB detained a Ukrainian man and said he was an “SBU agent” preparing “diversion” in Russia-occupied Crimea.

o New OSCE SMM Patrol Base
Alexander Hug, first deputy head of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission said that the SMM was opening up a new patrol base in the ATO zone, reported, citing
He said more than 1,500 monitors are working in eastern Ukraine now, at Stakhanov, Debaltsevo, Gorlovka and other separatist-controlled areas. OSCE plans to open up a base again in Stanitsa Luganskaya. Popasnyaya in Lugansk Region is the main base for the observers, from which they patrol along the line of contact and at night monitor from the base. He said the routes of observation go up to the border with Russia.

o Ukraine Denies Involvement in Smuggling of Rocket Technology to DPRK
“Ukraine has never supplied rocket engines or any kind of missile technology to North Korea, Oleksandr Turchynov, secretary of Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council (NSDC), announced August 14, responding to a story in the New York Times that cited a US missile expert’s claim that such technology had found its way to the DPRK.
Yuzhmash, the factory cited as a possible source of the engines, also denied any involvement with Pyongyang, which was said to have obtained a Russian-designed RD-250 engine made at the factory.
A US expert has challenged the New York Time’s claim, as has US intelligence agents cited by Reuters.

o Living Conditions Deteriorate for Donbass Residents

In occupied Donbass, 25% of the population needs basic groceries, Unian reported, citing a UN report.
The Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Action (OCHA) says that 800,000 residents of Donetsk and Lugansk Regions are short of food, with at least 170,000 in severe need, particularly in Donetsk Region. The number of people with food shortages has risen from 7% to 15%. 
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also reported that 586,000 people in the conflict zone are unable to obtain their pensions and social services since they have not been able to registered with Ukrainian authorities. UNHCR said in June alone, more than a million people crossed the line of contact, waiting in long lines, to obtain services. “They have no place to get potable water, they don’t have a roof over their heads of the weather is bad and they don’t have access to medial care,” a UNHCR representative said.
UNHCR also said 700 schools were damaged and needed repairs before children could start school; only 89 have been restored this year. About 10,000 homes have been damaged and need repairs. About 40-60 buildings along the line of contact are damaged weekly.
A curfew has been imposed in Donetsk at 22:00 by the authorities of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republics,” meaning that stores and restaurants close before then so that workers can get home before being stopped by police.
o Manafort Not Under Investigation in Ukraine
Former Trump aide Paul Manafort is not currently under investigation, say Ukrainian prosecutors.

o Teen Injured by Explosive

OSCE SMM reported that a 15-year-old boy in Ukrainian-controlled Shyrokii lost three fingers on his hand and was hospitalized with other wounds after ammunition he was handling exploded. He is listed in serious condition.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

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