Day 721: Ukraine Reports 61 Attacks Over 24 Hours

February 8, 2016
Remains of a Ukrainian army Ural truck after striking a landmine near Avdeyevka yesterday. Photo: 16th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade Facebook page

Fighting continues in the Donbass, with Ukraine reporting heavy mortar shelling in the Marinka area, where one Ukrainian soldier has been wounded.

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

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For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17.


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


Sentsov And Kolchenko To Be Transferred To Remote Penal Colonies

RFE/RL’s Russian service, Radio Svoboda, reports that two Ukrainians arrested by the occupying Russian authorities in Crimea and convicted, by widely-condemned trials, of terrorism, are being moved to penal colonies far from public view.

Director Oleg Sentsov, whose lawyer says that he was subjected to torture and threats of rape, has been removed from a pre-trial detention facility in the western Rostov region, bordering Ukraine.

He is now in Samara, and is expected to be taken to Irkutsk Region, deep in southeastern Siberia and one of the most remote areas of Russia.

Oleksandr Kolchenko, a left-wing activist who was convicted alongside Sentsov, is currently in Voronezh, but is being transferred to Chelyabinsk Region in the southern Ural mountains. 

Kolchenko’s lawyer, Svetlana Sidorkina, said that she expects that the Federal Prison Service will soon confirm the transfer of the Ukrainians from Rostov and give details of which specific colonies they are to be held in.

Sentsov and Kolchenko were arrested in occupied Crimea in May, 2014 and were convicted by the Rostov-on-Don military court in August last year, despite the withdrawal of statements by two key witnesses, who said that they had been tortured.

Kolchenko was sentenced to 10 years and Sentsov to 20. The trial was criticised both in Russia and abroad, with numerous directors,  politicians and international organisations, including the European Court of Human Rights, Amnesty International and the OSCE condemning the trial as politicised.

— Pierre Vaux

Russia Launches Snap Military Drills In Southwest

Interfax reports that Russia has commenced a snap drill in the Southern Military District, which includes areas along the Ukrainian border.

The defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said today that as of 5 am, President Vladimir Putin had ordered troops of the Southern Military district, as well as certain paratrooper and air transport units to be brought up to “full military readiness.”

“Since that time, we have begun a snap inspection of the military readiness of troops in the southwestern strategic area.”

Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax-Ukraine, that the head of the Ukrainian General Staff, Viktor Muzhenko, has told journalists that Moscow had explained the snap drills as preparations for exercises planned for this summer.

“Today we have had reports that parts of the army and Black Sea Fleet have been brought up to a high level of combat readiness. We have reacted accordingly.”

In particular, Muzhenko said, Ukraine will be studying the drills for evidence of the military readiness of Russian troops in areas near the border. 

— Pierre Vaux

Ukraine Reports 61 Attacks Over 24 Hours

The Ukrainian military claimed this morning that Russian-backed fighters had conducted 61 attacks over the previous 24 hours.

Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, announced that one Ukrainian serviceman was wounded during an attack on Marinka, west of Donetsk.

Three more Ukrainian soldiers, from the 16th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade, were wounded yesterday after their truck struck an antitank mine, the unit reports on Facebook. Leviy Bereg‘s Oleksandr Rudomanov reports that the incident took place outside Avdeyevka, north of Donetsk.


The remains of the Ural truck – photo: 16th Brigade Facebook page

According to this morning’s ATO Press Centre report, the heaviest fighting was seen in the Donetsk and Gorlovka areas.

To the north of Donetsk, grenade launchers and small arms were used to attack positions in Peski and Opytnoye.

To the west, Ukrainian defensive positions in the Marinka area were shelled 16 times with 82 and 120 mm mortars. Mortars were also used to shell nearby Krasnogorovka, as well as Mayorsk, north of Gorlovka, and Troitskoye, east of Artyomovsk.

In addition to attacks near Zaytsevo and Novgorodskoye, north and west of Gorlovka respectively, heavy machine guns and small arms were reportedly used against Ukrainian positions near Starognatovka, east of Volnovakha.

While the ATO Press Centre does report that Ukrainian troops “were forced to return fire in isolated incidents,” the ‘defence ministry’ of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claims that Ukrainian forces shelled separatist-held territory 63 times.

According to the DNR, 82 and 120 mm mortars, as well as tanks and small arms, were used in attacks on the northern and western outskirts of Donetsk city.

In the skies above the Donbass, Ukraine’s Colonel Lysenko claimed that 12 drone flights had been detected over the last 24 hours:


— Pierre Vaux