Ukraine Day 821: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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After a long delay, a review team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved the next tranche of their loan to Ukraine, which means that the country could see a loan of $1.6 billion reach their state coffers as early as July. AFP reports:
The IMF said Wednesday that Ukraine “has made considerable progress in restoring macroeconomic stability” but called the fight against corruption a “litmus test” for the government retaining international support.
But the funds will only be released after a formal approval of the IMF board, expected in July, the Fund said in a statement.
“It is therefore important that the authorities boost their efforts to entrench fiscal and financial stability, decisively enhance transparency and the rule of law, and reform the large and inefficient state-owned enterprise sector,” it said.
After long delay, IMF review agrees new funds for Ukraine
Washington (AFP) – An International Monetary Fund team has agreed to the release of $1.6 billion in fresh funds to Ukraine after a long delay marked by government turmoil and persistent problems with corruption. The IMF said Wednesday that Ukraine "has made considerable progress in restoring macroeconomic stability" but called the fight against corruption a "litmus test" for the government retaining international support.
This review was supposed to take place by the end of last year, but the IMF expressed frustration at the lack of reform and concern over certain high-profile resignations from Ukraine’s government. With the political turmoil potentially fading into the past, the next tranche will have to be approved by the IMF board and will then be distributed to the country.
— James Miller
Interfax-Ukraine reports that Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, who is visiting Moscow today, has stated that the United States will not recognise the results of elections in separatist-held areas of the Donbass unless they are held in accordance with Ukrainian law.
“Neither we, nor anyone else in the international community, recognise any results of elections in the Donbass that are held outside the Minsk agreements.”
Nuland reiterated that for the elections to comply with the Minsk agreements, they “must be Ukrainian elections, that will meet Ukrainian standards and OSCE standards.”
Meanwhile the leader of the Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, who has repeatedly stated that the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) will not allow any major Ukrainian parties to participate in elections.
In January Zakharchenko said:
“Whether Ukraine likes it or not, we are fulfilling the Minsk agreements and according to these agreements, we must hold elections. But we will hold them in accordance with the laws of the Republic and on our land.”
Some breathing space was granted in April when both the DNR and their fellow separatists in Lugansk announced that they were postponing elections originally planned for the 20th of that month until July.
Reports that a lawyer was shot dead by unknown persons in Odessa turned out to be a hoax, and the murder staged by the Ukrainian National Police in order to catch would-be perpetrators, Dumskaya.net reported. He is still alive. We have corrected our previous story.
As we reported May 16, Aleksandr Pogoreliy, a prominent lawyer in Odessa who was representing an Estonian businessman, Marsel Vikhman, in a construction project, was reported to have been killed by unidentified gunmen in a Lexus car who drove by and shot him late on the evening of May 15.
Meanwhile, the police detained the would-be killers, with weapons in their possession, in cars with license plates from Russian-occupied Crimea. They said they also detained a middle-man in the planned killing and would issue information about the contractor of the murder soon. No names were supplied.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The Ukrainian military reports that yesterday saw 24 attacks by Russian-backed fighters, using heavy artillery, and wounding ten Ukrainian servicemen.
Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, told reporters today that the casualties had been incurred in the Donetsk and Mariupol areas.
Once again the highway between the two cities was the scene of intense shelling, with military press officer Vitaliy Kirillov telling 0629.com.ua that Russian-backed forces had used 152 mm artillery to shell villages on the Ukrainian front line.
Kirillov said that 70 shells were fired on Slavnoye, over the course of an hour, while 20 were directed at Novomikhailovka, just to the northwest, over a 40 minute period.
According to the ATO Press Center, 120 mm mortar shells were fired at Ukrainian positions outside nearby Novotroitskoye, while those near Granitnoye, east of Volnovakha, were attacked with machine guns and those near Pavlopol with grenade launchers.
Ukrainian soldier Aleksandr Samarsky told TSN that the shells falling near Novotroitskoye were coming artillery positions inside the separatist-held town of Dokuchaevsk.
“They’re shooting from Dokuchaevsk itself. From the town itself. At night the flashes can be seen clearly – identifying from where they’re shooting. It’s that simple.”
Yesterday separatist officials claimed that Ukrainian forces had shelled a farm on the the edge of Dokuchaevsk, destroying a grain elevator.
Today Donetsk news site 62.ua reports that Russian-backed fighters are now barring any passenger transport from heading out of the city onto the Mariupol highway.
For the second consecutive day, Ukrainian officials claimed that an unmanned aerial vehicle was used in a combat role.
Vitaliy Kirillov said that a drone had dropped six bombs over Andreyevka, a Ukrainian-held village on the road between Volnovakha and Granitnoye.
Donetsk police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin said that the devices released by the drone were “incendiary grenades.”
Both 120 and 82 mm mortars were reportedly used, in addition to grenade launcher and small arms, in attacks near Avdeyevka, north of Donetsk, which has born the brunt of attacks for much of this year.
The BBC’s Tom Burridge posted this video from the “promzone” or industrial park on the town’s southeastern edge, which lies immediately adjacent to Russian-backed fighters’ positions on the highway to Donetsk:
Fighting was also reported by the Ukrainian military in Zaytsevo, north of Gorlovka, while in the Lugansk region, Russian-backed fighters attacked positions near Tryokhizbenka and Stanitsa Luganksaya with grenade launchers and machine guns.
Meanwhile the pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency reports, citing a source in the security forces of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) that Ukrainian forces had fired 216 mortar rounds last night.
According to the report, 139 120 mm and 77 82 mm rounds were fired on Dokuchaevsk and the northern outskirts of Donetsk between 20:20 yesterday evening and 6:40 this morning.
— Pierre Vaux