The number of attacks reported over the last 24 hours has dropped somewhat, but mortar use continues across the front line.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.
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There are reports this evening of heavy fighting to the west of separatist-held Donetsk.
According to reports on social media, gunfire and shelling can be heard in the Ukrainian-held Krasnogorovka and Marinka areas, as well as neighbouring, separatist-held Aleksandrovka.
This video purportedly captures the sound of fighting near Marinka and Aleksandrovka today:
Translation: #Krasnogorovka VK 17:00 in Marinka HELL hitting with everything there is (except Grads and Tochka U)
Translation: In Marinka it’s gone to hell. Battle, everything is droning. In Marinka it’s completely gone.
Translation: Hasn’t pounded like this for a long time. Heavy banging and frequent. #Donetsk
Translation: Can hear heavy [weaponry] and machine gun fire
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has opened criminal cases against two Russian officers who were part of the Russian delegation at the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC), which oversees the implementation of the Minsk ceasefire in the Donbass.
“On February 2 of this year, our investigation registered a criminal case opened under Article 333 of the Penal Code of Ukraine – a violation of the rules for transporting commodities subject to state control, as well as under Article 258, Point 3 – abetment to terrorist activity,” Ukrainian Security Service chief Vasyl Hrytsak told a press briefing in Kyiv on Tuesday.
As a correspondent of Interfax-Ukraine reported, the SBU chief said that in a course of the regular rotation of the Russian JCCC mission on January 27, during a border control procedure of the Russian servicemen – Commander Sergey Kutsenko and Major Alexander Kornik were found 14 manuals on military matters with a secrecy label of ‘restricted use’, including a manual on using of the volley fire, methodical materials and a course of lectures concerning the application of modern tank units under special conditions using hand grenades and mines.
Other manuals gave guidance on the use of multiple-launch rocket systems, building fortifications, mine clearing and logistics.
The SBU claims to have seized evidence from three other Russian officers – Lieutenant Colonel Yelizar Popov and Majors Sergei Trofimenko and Yuri Frolov. This included citations and medals for separatist fighters for their “courage” in the “struggle to repel the aggression of the Ukrainian state,” and for “internationalist warriors.”
Patches and documents the SBU claims to have seized from the officers:
So far, we have not seen a response from Russian officials.
However the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency has relayed reactions from Russian-backed separatist spokesmen.
Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the armed forces of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), claimed that Ukraine was trying to “discredit Russia before the Minsk talks and the meeting of the “Normandy Quartet.”
Igor Yashenko, Basurin’s counterpart in the sister separatist ‘republic’ in Lugansk, the LNR, said that this was evidence that Ukraine did not want peace:
“For two years the Ukrainian side has not backed up their dozens of accusations against Russian servicemen with one piece of evidence… Rather, it is the other way round. Instead of fulfilling the package of measures [agreed in Minsk] and peacefully resolving the conflict in the Donbass, Kiev’s security forces are doing everything they can to blacken Russia in the eyes of the international community as the first country to support the resolution of the conflict in the Donbass by peaceful means.”
— Pierre Vaux
Investigators at the prosecutor’s office in in the Dnipropetrovsk city of Krivoy Rog are assembling material for a case against MP and former volunteer commander Semyon Semyonchenko, says fellow Samopomich deputy Yegor Sobolev.
Sobolev said that the investigators had:
“let slip that the volume of a case against Semyon Semyonchenko has already been collected. For this, the prosecutor’s office has arrested or summoned for questioning no fewer than seven Donbass fighters.”
Semyonchenko was the founding commander of the Donbass volunteer battalion, which fought in several key battles of the conflict, most notably at Ilovaisk, where the battalion suffered terrible losses. Semyonchenko himself was wounded by shelling in the first days of the doomed attempt to retake the town.
He was elected to the Verkhovna Rada during the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Leviy Bereg reports that Semyonchenko himself has said that the case concerns threats of violence he allegedly made against the chief of the Krivoy Rog police, Valeriy Lyotiy.
Samopomich held numerous protests in the city against what they claimed was a fraudulent electoral process during the November, 2015 local elections. Semyonchenko was a regular presence during these protests.
His party’s complaints that the winner of the mayoral vote, Yuri Vilkul of the Opposition Bloc, had violated electoral procedures have in fact been accepted by the Verkhovna Rada, which ordered that new elections be held in March this year.
But back on December 5, Semyonchenko and Sobolev were involved in a confrontation with Lyotiy after police received a call telling them that explosives had been placed in the Krivoy Rog mayor’s office.
Samopomich were conducting a protest inside the office at the time and perceived the police call for the evacuation of the building as a ruse to remove them from the site. Sobolev claimed that Lyotiy had smacked his head against the wall after he refused to leave.
This Hromadske video shows Lyotiy attempting to persuade Samompomich members to leave the premises. Near the end, Semyonchenko can be seen swearing at the police chief and pushing him, telling him “Lyotiy, you’re a criminal.”
According to Sobolev, the investigators working on the case against Semyonchenko have been attempting to pressurise members of the Donbass battalion into giving evidence against their commander on threat of being charged themselves.
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian military reports 45 attacks by Russian-backed fighters over the last 24 hours. While the number of attacks has decreased somewhat, heavy weapons are still being used, most notably in the Donetsk area.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Centre report, mortars were used to shell Ukrainian positions in Peski, Marinka and Krasnogorovka, which also came under fire from infantry fighting vehicles and anti-aircraft artillery. Positions near Avdeyevka and Opytnoye were attacked with grenade launchers and small arms.
In the Gorlovka area, these same weapons were used in attacks near Mayorsk, Zaytsevo and Luganskoye.
According to Yevgeny Sylkin, a military press officer for the Lugansk region, 120 mm mortars were used to shell Ukrainian positions in Troitskoye, east of Artyomovsk. Sylkin said that around five shells were fired last night from the direction of separatist-held Kalinovo.
In the south of the Donetsk region, the military claims that positions in the village of Gnutovo, around 10 kilometres outside Mariupol, came under mortar fire, while Russian-backed fighters used small arms in attacks on positions in Shirokino, on the coast.
The BBC’s Fergal Keane reported from Peski yesterday, shelling and automatic gunfire were audible throughout the day. He notes that only 18 of the original population of around 2,000 remain in the suburb:
Return to the village on Ukraine's frontline – BBC News
The BBC's Fergal Keane returns to area around Donetsk airport, including the frontline village of Peski, abandoned by all but a handful of its residents.
Meanwhile, the pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency reports that Ukrainian forces in Peski and at the Butovka mine had last night shelled the Zhabichevo and Spartak neighbourhoods of northern Donetsk with 82 mm mortars and grenade launchers.
— Pierre Vaux