Ukraine Day 793: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Interfax reports that Igor Plotnitsky, the head of the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR), has followed the leader of the Donetsk separatists, and postponed local ‘elections,’ originally scheduled for April 24, until July 24.
Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five wounded yesterday, despite a wider reduction in the level of violence.
According to Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, all of the casualties were incurred in combat in the Donetsk area.
The Ukrainian military reported only 23 attacks by Russian-backed fighters yesterday, dropping for the second day in a row after two weeks of high-intensity fighting that saw the largest number of attacks over a single day since August last year.
Colonel Lysenko claimed though, that even within yesterday’s limited number, “every second attack was targeted and conducted with mortars.” Lysenko said that more than 70 mortar shells were fired on Ukrainian positions.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, 120 mm mortars were used to shell Ukrainian positions near Avdeyevka and the Butovka mine, north of Donetsk. 82 mm ones were used against nearby Opytnoye and Marinka, to the southwest of Donetsk city.
It was Marinka, the report claimed, that saw the worst fighting, with Russian-backed fighters carrying out six attacks on the suburb using, in addition to the mortars, grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms.
To the north of separatist-held Gorlovka, Ukrainian positions near Leninskoye and Mayorsk were shelled with 82 mm mortars.
In the south of the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military reported that positions near Berdyanskoye and Shirokino, east of Mariupol, had been shelled with 82 mm mortars.
According to military press officer Yaroslav Chepurnoy, mortars were used four times in this area, with 10 rounds fired – a shap drop from the 30-40 he reported the day before yesterday.
The ATO Press Centre claimed that Ukrainian troops were “forced to return fire nine times to prevent militants approaching to within a dangerous distance from the direction of [separatist-held] Sakhanka, Trudovoye and Bezymennoye.”
Meanwhile the pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) claimed, citing a DNR military source, that Ukrainian troops kept up a high rate of fire yesterday: 104 82 mm and 37 120 mm mortar rounds; 31 125 mm tank rounds; and 22 122 mm artillery shells.
According to the DNR, Ukrainian shelling was directed at the northern outskirts of both Donetsk and Gorlovka.
— Pierre Vaux