6 Ukrainian Troops Wounded in 24 Hrs; Since Start of War, 50 Children Killed, 138 Wounded

May 21, 2016
A field hospital with medical equipment donated by the US to Ukraine. Photo by ATO

Ukraine Day 824: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.

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


An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine


Australian Law Firm Sues Putin Over Downing Of MH17 In Ukraine

The evidence is simply overwhelming — Russia is ultimately responsible for the shooting down of MH17. That was the conclusion of our initial investigation which concluded just days after the incident, it was the conclusion of the Dutch Safety Board’s investigation, and it was the conclusion of our second investigation which The Interpreter published in conjunction with The Daily Beast last summer:

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How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17

Forensic Detail It's been a year since Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot out of the sky, killing all 298 civilians onboard. The results of the official inquiry have yet to be released, and while the fact that this Boeing 777 was immolated has not been disputed, various theories have been floated by the Ukrainian government, the Russian government, and other interested parties as to how it was and who ultimately bears responsibility for this tragedy.

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May 22, 2016 06:06 (GMT)

Since then, new evidence has come to light that links the missile which shot MH17 out of the sky to a specific Russian military air defense unit, and new video and satellite images have simply piled on more evidence, all of which lines up. 

All alternative theories have been carefully studied and forensically debunked. The only thing that remains is for a legal trial to be held in order to determine who is guilty of this tragic loss of innocent human life.

And now that may be happening.

An Australian law firm has sued Russian President Vladimir Putin for the deaths of those who were on-board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. Deutsche Welle reports:

According to the report, the Sydney-based law firm LHD named Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation as respondents for their damages claim. The firm represents 33 relatives of victims, including eight from Australia and one from New Zealand.

The lawyers intend to seek 10 million Australian dollars ($7,2 million) per victim.

“My clients want accountability for the deed,” said LHD co-associate Jerry Skinner. “They want enough money to reflect that the Russians take this seriously and it serves as a deterrent,” he told the Herald.

The lawsuit claims that Russia attempted to hide its involvement in the tragedy. The Kremlin failed to conduct an internal investigation, refused to help in cockpit reconstruction and allegedly had a hacker group attack the website of Western investigators, according to papers filed by LHD.

Skinner added that he had urged Russia to discuss the terms. However, he has heard “nothing from Russia, from their embassy or from the contact points … to indicate they are willing to talk about negotiating.”

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Australian law firm sues Russia for downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 | News | DW.COM | 21.05.2016

Court Cases An Australian law firm has filed a claim against Russia and President Putin seeking millions for each passenger killed in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014. All 298 people on board died.

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May 22, 2016 06:14 (GMT)

The Sydney Morning Herald adds more details:

Proposed respondents to the claim are the Russian Federation and President Vladimir Putin. It argues that Russia recognises an attack on a passenger plane is an egregious act having offered “a $50 million reward in connection with the terrorist downing of an Egyptian Airline that killed a large number of Russian citizens”.

There are 33 next of kin named in the application, eight from Australia, one from New Zealand and the remainder from Malaysia. There were 298 occupants on the plane which, lawyers say, could potentially take the compensation bill to almost $3 billion.

Russia has, predictably, reacted dismissively. The BBC reports:

The Kremlin said it was unaware of the claim, the Interfax news agency reported, but a senator with Mr Putin’s party is quoted in state media as saying it was “legally nonsensical and has no chance”. 

James Miller

6 Ukrainian Troops Wounded in 24 Hrs; Since Start of War, 50 Children Killed, 138 Wounded in Ukrainian-Controlled Donetsk Region
Russian-backed militants fired on residential areas of Avdeyevka (Avdiivka) this evening, May 21, Unian.net reported citing the ATO Press Center.

A total of 6 Ukrainian soldiers have been wounded in the last 24 hours; yesterday we reported on 3 who were wounded, 2 by mines. 

In a post four hours ago, the ATO reported:

At the present time, the shelling is continuing. The nature of the violations and possible casualties among local residents are being determined. Preliminarily, it has been established that the bandits used artillery systems with a caliber greater than 100-mm, which is strictly forbidden by the Minsk agreements.

Militants continued to fire on Ukrainian positions in Avdeyevka, Shirokino and Tryokhizbenka; yesterday they fired 13 times on the Ukrainian armed forces.
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) reported that they had captured a suspected accomplice to the forces of the self-declared “Lugansk People’s Republic” (LNR), Unian reported. The suspect was said to be surveying the movement of personnel and vehicles near Severeodonetsk for the purpose of planning an ambush. The suspect, whose name was not given, was said to possess communication devices that showed his “diversionary assignments.”
The Russian-backed DNR News claimed that Ukrainian armed forces shelled positions of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) 204 times, releasing 49 shells from 120-, 108- and 82-mm caliber artillery on Dokuchayevsk, Yasinovataya, Sakhanka, and Leninskoye in the south, and Zaytsevo to the north of Gorlovka as well as Kurgan Mogila Baba. There was also shelling to the north and west of Donetsk on Spartak, Zhabichevo, Staromikhailovka, Aleksandrovka and the Petrovsky District of Donetsk as well as the airport. There were also reports of 27 shells in Novotroitskoye and Krasnogorovka.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) reported a “slightly higher level of violence” in Donbass for May 20 in their report of May 21.
The mission continues to report obstruction from the Russian-backed forces:

The operation of the Mission’s ceasefire monitoring equipment was stopped by armed “DPR” members in Donetsk city and its activities were restricted on five other occasions, mainly in areas not controlled by the Government.*

In violation of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, armed “DPR” members stopped the work of the SMM’s remote monitoring equipment in the area of the Donetsk airport.* The SMM learned that they had disconnected the power supply to related SMM equipment in Donetsk city, claiming they had an order to do so by Mr. Alexander Zakharchenko. The armed “DPR” members asked the SMM to remove the equipment and threatened to forcefully remove it themselves otherwise. The Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination and the “DPR” points of contact were informed of the incident. The placement of the equipment had been co-ordinated with the sides prior to its installation. The actions of the armed “DPR” members effectively disabled the SMM’s cameras in the Donetsk airport area.

The SMM also reported:

Armed “DPR” members discontinued the power supply to SMM equipment in Donetsk city and thus stopped the work of remote monitoring equipment in the area of the Donetsk airport. The JCCC was informed.

In Vodiane, Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers did not allow the SMM to record the serial number of one weapon in a very aggressive manner. The JCCC was informed.

Armed “DPR” members denied the SMM access to the village of Sosnivske (2.6km north-west of Pervomaiske (“DPR”-controlled, 38km north-east of Mariupol) in an aggressive manner. The JCCC was informed.

Conditional access:

On 19 May, armed “DPR” members at a heavy weapons holding area permitted only two SMM monitors and an SMM language assistant to enter the area. 

Armed “LPR” members escorted the SMM as it monitored an armoured vehicle storage site in “LPR”-controlled Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk). The “LPR” members only granted access to the SMM after JCCC intervention.  

Regarding fighting, some of the OSCE SMM’s report correlates with the DNR report but not at the levels claimed:

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded a higher number of ceasefire violations, most of which it registered during the night hours of 19-20 May. [1] Whilst in Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 225 undetermined explosions during the night, 5-10km to the north-north west. In government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), during the night the SMM heard 30 explosions assessed as impacts 4-5km south of its position within 30 minutes, 39 explosions assessed as impacts 4km south-south-west and seven explosions assessed as impacts within one minute 3-4km east-south-east. During the day, in the Avdiivka area, the SMM heard four explosions assessed as impacts of rocket-propelled grenade projectiles, five bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire and saw two airbursts of 82mm mortars 3km south-east of its position. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), during the day the SMM heard 42 undetermined explosions, 27 bursts of small arms and heavy-machine-gun fire and 69 small arms shots all at locations 2-5km west of its position.

In the evening hours of 19 May the SMM heard 16-17 explosions it assessed as caused by mortar round impacts 10-12km south-west of its position in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk). Whilst positioned in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 14 single small-arms shots 3km to the south within 20minutes on the evening of 19 May. In the evening hours of 20 May, from the same position, the SMM heard 32 explosions assessed as caused by 82mm mortars 3-5km south-east of its position.

The SMM observed an increase in the number of ceasefire violations in Luhansk region compared to the previous day. Positioned 1km east of a checkpoint in “LPR”-controlled Sokilnyky (38km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 8-10km north-west of its position. Whilst in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM heard one explosion 500m east of its position, in a government-controlled wooded area, which it assessed to have been caused by a booby trap or mine. The civilians on the bridge did not react to the sound. During the evening/night from its position in Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard 14-16 outgoing explosions 1-4km south and south-west of its position.

In its report for May 19 published on May 20, the OSCE SMM said it had conducted a crater analysis in Stanitsa Luganskaya near the bridge and determined that it was fired by an automatic grenade launched (30-mm) from a “north-north-westerly direction.” LNR fighters said the crater came from incoming shelling on May 17; the OSCE analysis appeared to support the claim that the shell was fired from the Ukrainian side.
Unian reported that the National Police of Donetsk Region issued a study today saying that since war broken out in the Donbass in April 2014, in the parts of Donetsk region controlled by the Ukrainian government, 50 children have been killed and 138 have been wounded; 20 minors have also been left orphans as their parents were killed. The figures do not include the area controlled by Russian-backed forces.
At least 9000 civilians have been killed in the war in Ukraine.
Speaking at a conference on child safety, Vyacheslav Abroskin, head of the Donetsk regional police command said there were 312,000 children living in the territory of Donetsk Region that the Ukrainian government controls — almost half of the children who lived in Donetsk before the war. Every fifth child is a displaced person as a at least 69,000 children have lost their homes due to the Russian-backed militants takeover of par of Donetsk Region. 
A total of 556 schools are operating in the Ukrainian-controlled areas where 149,000 children receive instruction. An addition 537 schools are in the territory occupied by Russian-backed fighters; 23 of these are not in operation.

Marinka, Avdeyevka, Krasnogorovka, Granitnoye and other towns are still under fire; 37 schools attended by 6,500 children are near the line of contact; 13 schools had to be closed due to war. One school in Pavlopol is still being shelled; 25 children still live in this village and go to a neighboring village to school every day.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick