Ukraine Day 787: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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The Ukrainian military reports 80 attacks by Russian-backed fighters yesterday, killing one Ukrainian soldier and wounding another.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, the heaviest fighting yesterday was once again seen to the north of both Donetsk and Gorlovka. 152 mm artillery was reportedly used against Ukrainian positions near Opytnoye, in addition to mortars, which were also used to shell positions in nearby Peski and Avdeyevka; Mayorsk and Zaytsevo, north of Gorlovka; and Tryokhizbenka, in the Lugansk region.
Other attacks, with small arms, grenade launchers and machine guns, were reported near Marinka, Verkhnetoretskoye and the Butovka mine, near Donetsk; Svetlodarsk and Luganskoye, near Gorlovka; and the Lugansk town of Zolotoye.
In the south of the Donetsk region, military spokesman Aleksandr Kindsfater reported 120 mm mortar fire on Ukrainian positions near Vodyanoye, east of Mariupol, and Novognatovka, east of Volnovakha. In addition, Kindsfater reported grenade launcher and machine gun attacks near the village of Shirokino, on the coast.
Fighting continued this morning, with another military spokesman, Viktor Shubets, claiming that Russian-backed fighters had shelled positions near Opytnoye again with 120 mm mortars at around 7 am.
Meanwhile the ‘defense ministry’ of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) accused Ukrainian forces of firing 382 mortar and artillery shells in 59 attacks over 24 hours.
According to the DNR, Ukrainian troops targeted the village of Sakhanka, east of Mariupol, and Petrovskoye, southeast of Donetsk, as well as the outskirts of both Donetsk and Gorlovka.
The pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency reported a claim from a DNR military source that a checkpoint at the highway junction with Yasinovataya, just southeast of Avdeyevka, had been subjected to mortar shelling by Ukrainian troops for four hours, with 65 82 mm shells and 11 120 mm ones fired.
For an interactive map of the war zone click here:
President Vladimir Putin has, surprisingly, stated his approval of Ukrainian proposals for an armed OSCE police force to be deployed in the Donbass.
President Petro Poroshenko proposed the introduction of such a police mission at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 2.
Poroshenko: Armed OSCE mission would secure local elections
Local elections are a requirement of the Minsk ceasefire agreement Armed police could be deployed with OSCE's observers in Ukraine , under a proposal by President Petro Poroshenko. He says such a force would provide the necessary security during future local elections in the Donbas region.
But today, during a marathon phone-in session with the President, Putin said that he thought it was a “good suggestion.”
The state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reports that Putin said:
“Not so long ago, I had a conversation with Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko. He proposed, this was his suggestion, to strengthen the OSCE presence, including his proposal to have armed OSCE personnel on the contact line, and to achieve a full ceasefire.
I think that this is a valid suggestion, we support this, but we now need to work with our Western partners for the OSCE to take such a decision – the number of their personnel would be significantly increased and, if needed, it would be specified in their mandate to allow them to have firearms.
Of course it must be pointed out that the Kremlin maintains that Russia is not a party to the conflict, despite the abundance of proof to the contrary, so this may be nothing more than a pretence of good faith if the supposedly independent separatists in Ukraine refuse to agree to such a deployment.
— Pierre Vaux
The Verkhovna Rada has approved, by a majority of 239 votes, a new Cabinet of Ministers.
All posts have been settled with the exception of that of the health minister. Ukrainska Pravda reports that three, different candidates are being considered – deputy ministers Viktor Shafranskiy and Roman Ilyk, as well as Boris Todurov, director of the Heart Institute.
UNIAN has a list with brief descriptions of each new minister:
Stepan Kubiv is to become First Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Economic Development and Trade (Presidential envoy in parliament, MP);
Deputy Prime Minister – Volodymyr Kistion (first deputy chief of staff in Rada);
Deputy Prime Minister for European and EuroAtlantic Integration – Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (first deputy chief of Rada Committee on Foreign Affairs, MP);
Deputy Prime Minister – Pavlo Rozenko (Minister of Social Policy in Yatsenyuk’s government);
Deputy Prime Minister for Humanitarian Affairs – Vyacheslav Kyrylenko (Minister of Culture in Yatsenyuk’s government);
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Housing – Gennadiy Zubko (retains his post);
Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers – Oleksandr Saenko (Rada’s chief of staff);
Finance Minister – Oleksandr Danylyuk (former adviser to Viktor Yanukovych; headed the coordination center on implementation of economic reforms since 2010; in July 2014 appointed representative of Petro Poroshenko to the Cabinet; in September 2015, the president appointed him Deputy Head of Presidential Administration)
Interior Minister – Arsen Avakov (retains his post);
Justice Minister – Pavlo Petrenko (retains his post);
Defense Minister – Stepan Poltorak (retains his post);
Foreign Minister – Pavlo Klimkin (retains his post);
Minister of Social Policy – Andriy Reva (Deputy Mayor of Vinnytsia);
Youth and Sports Minister – Ihor Zhdanov (retains his post);
Minister of Information Policy – Yuriy Stets (retains his post);
Ecology Minister – Ostap Semerak (minister of Yatsenyuk’s Cabinet, MP, first deputy of Rada Committee on Euro integration);
Minister of Education – Liliya Hrynevych (Chairman of Rada Committee on science and education, MP);
Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food – Taras Kutoviy (head of Rada’s Committee on Agriculture and Land, Deputy chief of BPP faction);
Infrastructure Minister – Volodymyr Omelyan (Deputy Infrastructure Minister in Yatsenyuk’s government);
Culture Minister – Yevhen Nyshchuk (Deputy Minister of Infrastructure in Yatsenyuk’s government);
Minister on temporarily occupied territories and IDPs – Vadym Chernysh (expert on fighting money laundering and financing terrorism, member of ACAMS – Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists) since May 2010);
Minister of Energy and Coal Industry – Ihor Nasalik (between April 2002 and March 2005 – MP, used to be chairman of subcommittee on oil industry and petroleum products supply of the Rada Committee on fuel and energy complex, nuclear policy and nuclear security).
— Pierre Vaux
Volodymyr Groysman has replaced Arseniy Yatsenyuk as prime minister of Ukraine.
Groysman, who was Rada Speaker up until today, was confirmed by the Verhovna Rada in a vote that also ratified Yatsenyuk’s dismissal.
Journalists Myroslava Petsa, Paul Gogo, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Maxim Tucker, as well as MP Serhiy Leshchenko covered the proceedings in the Rada leading up to the vote:
Translation: Petro Poroshenko is leaving the parliament, Groysman takes the floor
Translation: Groysman vows that the new government will be intolerant of corruption
Groysman’s appointment represents a solidification of President Poroshenko’s power over the government, as the Rada Speaker is an ally and member of his political party.
In comparison with US-born reformist Natalie Jaresko, the soon-to-be-former finance minister who was in the running to succeed Yatsenyuk until a few weeks ago, Groysman is seen by liberals as a politician who will maintain the status quo, more inclined to defend the interests of Ukraine’s oligarchs.