Day 742: Sharp Escalation In Fighting Across Donbass

February 29, 2016

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

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For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

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


Detained Azov Member’s Lawyer Says His Client Has Been Tortured By SBU

UNIAN reports that Andrei Mamalyga, lawyer for Stanislav Krasnov, a former Azov regiment fighter and activist who was arrested this weekend, has accused the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) of torturing his client.

Mamalyga told journalists outside the SBU building in Kiev that after his arrest at a gas station on the highway between Kiev and Kharkiv, Krasnov had been bound and blindfolded with duct tape and was taken into the woods.

According to his lawyer, Krasnov was then tortured for about six hours as SBU officers demanded he tell them where he had hidden weapons. According to the SBU, Krasnov was arrested shortly after dropping off explosives at a hiding place near the village of Schastlive.

It was after this, Mamalyga claims, that Krasnov was brought to the SBU building on Volodymyrska Street in Kiev where he was seen with his girlfriend, Oksana Shelest, who had also been arrested.

As we reported earlier, there were already claims that witnesses had seen both detainees in the corridor of the building exhibiting signs of having been beaten.

Azov members have been protesting outside the SBU building, demanding the release of their comrade, who the Service says has been working as a spy for Russia’s FSB.

Here is video footage from the protest last night:

— Pierre Vaux
SBU Claims Arrested Azov Activist Was Working For Russia’s FSB

Ukrainska Pravda reports the leader of the Azov-Krym “civilian corps,” an activist group associated with the Azov Regiment that helped organise the blockade of Russian-occupied Crimea, who was arrested yesterday, has been accused of spying by the head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU).


Azov Press photo of Stanislav Krasnov

According to SBU chief Oleksandr Tkachuk, Stanislav Krasnov, whose arrest we reported on yesterday, had been working with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) since 2014.

Tkachuk said that Krasnov had met with his “Russian curator” in Belarus to discuss plans to carry out sabotage with explosives and had given the FSB lists of Azov Regiment members.

Krasnov and was arrested, with his girlfriend Oksana Shelest, in the early hours of February 28 at a gas station after allegedly depositing explosives at a hiding place on the highway between Kiev and Kharkiv, near the village of Schastlive.

According to Tkachuk, Krasnov attempted to escape arrest and put up resistance. 

Plastic explosives, equivalent to 42 kg of TNT, were reportedly found at the hiding place, in addition to seven anti-tank mines, 10 detonators and grenades. According to the SBU, Krasnov had moved the explosives from another location.

Meanwhile Krasnov’s friends and associates believe the SBU is lying about the explosives and one, Tamara Shevchuk, says that he and Shelest appeared to have been beaten when they were glimpsed in the corridor of an SBU building on Volodymyrska Street in Kiev.

— Pierre Vaux

Top Five Headlines From Crimea This Week
The Ukraine Crisis Media Center has published an article with a rundown of their top five Crimea-related news stories from the last week:

The headlines:

– Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu: Turkey will always support Crimean Tatars.

– Two years after Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Crimea would remain Ukraine’s integral part.

– Occupants broke into ‘Crimea’ NGO in Simferopol.

– Occupants launched a libelous campaign against Jamala’s performance at Eurovision 2016.

– Transcript of NSDC meeting on Crimea annexation declassified

Read the article here.  

Also see our partial translation of the NSDC transcript here:  

James Miller
One Ukrainian Soldier Killed, Another Captured On Saturday After Truck Struck Landmine

While Ukraine reports no military casualties within the last 24 hours, Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration announced at noon today that one Ukrainian soldier was killed and another captured on Saturday.

According to Lysenko, a Ukrainian army truck struck a landmine in the Bakhmut district of the Donetsk region.

The truck was completely destroyed and one of the soldiers died at the scene. Russian-backed fighters took the surviving prisoner and removed the body.

The Ukrainian authorities are, Lysenko said, doing all they can to arrange the return of both the captive soldier and the body.

— Pierre Vaux

Sharp Escalation In Fighting Across Donbass

The Ukrainian military reports a sharp escalation in fighting over the last 24 hours, following three days that saw a relatively low level of violence.

According to the ATO Press Centre, Russian-backed fighters attacked Ukrainian positions 71 times in the 24 hours preceding 6:00 today.

36 attacks were reported in the Donetsk area, 22 near Mariupol and 13 in the Lugansk region.

Military spokesman Aleksandr Kindsfater told that Russian-backed fighters had used both 82 and 120 mm mortars to shell Ukrainian defensive positions near Vodyanoye, Gnutovo and Talakovka, all near Mariupol.

West of Donetsk, Kindsfater reported that Ukrainian positions in the Marinka and Krasnogorovka areas had come under fire from heavy machine guns, grenade launchers and anti-aircraft artillery. 

The Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence claimed today that two Russian soldiers were killed and three wounded during a failed attack on Krasnogorovka yesterday.

According to the report, one Senior Lieutenant Andrei Krasnoshchekov was identified as one of the dead.

Meanwhile the ‘defence ministry’ of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claims that Ukrainian forces shelled separatist-held areas 273 times in 25 attacks over the last 24 hours.

According to the DNR, the worst shelling was directed at the village of Kominternovo, east of Mariupol. 


— Pierre Vaux