Ukraine Day 835: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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The Russian Foreign Ministry has denied claims from the Ukrainian government they had agreed to the deployment of armed peacekeepers to the Donbass.
Earlier this afternoon the deputy head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, Konstiantyn Yelisieiev, told Interfax that Russia, in addition to France and Germany, had agreed to their proposal for the introduction of an armed OSCE police mission.
Yelisieiev even said that Kiev has “clear records of all the telephone records” containing the agreements of the members of the ‘Normandy quartet’ to the proposal.
He did however note that “the leaders have not actually discussed details” as this was a task for experts and specialists to review.
The claim was surprising, given that the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, yesterday told Komsomolskaya Pravda that “the Donbass will never go along with this.”
Russia, he said, sought a different approach – to strengthen the existing OSCE monitoring mission by increasing their powers and numbers.
However Russia and their proxy fighters in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions have continued to bar the OSCE access to all but one border crossing throughout the deployment of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM).
And less than an hour after Interfax published Yelisieiev’s comments today, the news agency was told by Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, that “no such agreement has been given,” adding that “Kiev’s strategists are only hindering the cause” with such statements.
Neither the German nor the French governments have so far commented on the claims.
— Pierre Vaux
One Ukrainian soldier has been wounded and three wounded as Kiev reports 31 attacks by Russian-backed fighters yesterday.
According to Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, the casualties were incurred by enemy fire in Zaytsevo, north of Gorlovka, and Avdeyevka, north of Donetsk.
The Ukrainian military ATO Press Center claimed this morning that Russian-backed forces had intensified their attacks in the south of the Donetsk region, near Mariupol.
To the northeast of the port city, Ukrainian positions near Pavlopol were reportedly shelled with 120 mm mortars, while those around the seaside village of Shirokino came under fire from 82 mm mortars, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns.
Closer to Mariupol itself, Ukrainian positions outside the village of Talakovka were attacked with automatic grenade launchers.
On the highway between Mariupol and Donetsk, the ATO Press Center reports that Russian-backed fighters used an SPG-9recoilless rifle to attack Ukrainian fortifications near Novotroitskoye.
Military press officer Vitaliy Kirillov told the 112 television channel that Russian-backed fighters had shelled Ukrainian positions near Maryinka and Krasnogorovka, to the west of Donetsk, with 120 mm mortars.
In turn a “source in the security forces of the [self-declared] Donetsk People’s Republic” told the Donetsk News Agency that Ukrainian forces had shelled the western outskirts of Donetsk city with both 82 and 120 mm mortars. In addition, the source claimed that the separatist-held villages of Kominternovo and Leninskoye, east of Mariupol, had been shelled.
To the north of Donetsk, the ATO Press Center reports heavy shelling of Ukrainian positions near both Opytnoye and Avdeyevka.
According to the report, 28 shells were fired from separatist-held Spartak towards Opytnoye while defensive positions south of Avdeyevka (in the industrial park or ‘promzona’) were attacked with 82 mm mortars, automatic grenade launchers and small arms.
Here is a video, purportedly recorded on Monday, showing exchanges of fire from Russian-backed fighters’ position on the highway near the junction with Yasinovataya, just southeast of the promzona:
In the Gorlovka area Ukrianian positions near Novgorodskoye, to the west of the separatist-held town, came under small-arms, sniper and automatic-grenade-launcher fire, while to the east, those outside Luganskoye were attacked with 82 mm mortars and grenade launchers.
Meanwhile, in the Lugansk region, General Staff spokesman Serhiy Zhmurko told 112 that, despite the presence of a group of OSCE monitors, Russian-backed fighters had continued to attack Stanitsa Luganskaya, northeast of the separatist-held regional capital, with grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms.
— Pierre Vaux