Fighting Shows No Sign Of Lessening With Military And Civilian Casualties

June 8, 2016
View from Ukrainian-held Maryinka towards separatist-held territory. Screenshot from Bryce Wilson's The Frozen Frontline

Ukraine Day 842: 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


SBU Release Audio Of Grégoire Moutaux Discussing Terrorist Plans

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has released excepts of audio recordings made during their undercover investigation of French citizen Grégoire Moutaux, who was arrested after trying to transport a huge cache of weapons and explosives into the EU on May 21.

In the recordings, Moutaux, a cattle inseminator from eastern France, can be heard speaking in English with at least one Ukrainian citizen, presumably an SBU agent:

Moutaux explains that he wants to carry out “operations to touch all French people.” He claims that there are ten members of his group, noting that their numbers are not yet sufficient to carry out his plans for two, simultaneous operations.
He plans on conserving some of his arsenal after the initial attacks, having decided to bring such a large amount from Ukraine as he fears it would become impossible after the “operations.”
He names two “symbolic” targets here: a tax office and a small bridge. “Don’t worry, it will be in the middle of the nigh, not in the day, so nobody will be in the office, no one will be killed by this.” He expects that on the day after, French citizens would stop paying taxes.
As an inspiration for his methods, Moutaux says that he observes “what the Russians are doing in the Donbass,” in trying to inspire revolt across Ukraine by seizing power in Donetsk, but says that his operation will be different as it is his own country. 
He hopes for other citizens will be motivated by his attacks and carry out their own “operations,” creating havoc for the authorities.
“Maybe the guys just go with a hunting gun to shoot this and this, and to start to make trouble in the whole country.

Because the big difference between what we are doing and the Muslims, it’s… The Muslims, they kill people, and they are supported by very few people… And our operation will be supported by many people.”
If the recording is real, then this is damning testimony as Moutaux can even be heard discussing specific quantities of explosives. 

Meanwhile Renouveau Francais, a far-right group whose logo was found on a T-shirt at Moutaux’s home in Nant-le-Petit when it was raided by French police, have issued a statement claiming that the detainee had never had any involvement with their group.

— Pierre Vaux

OSCE Confirms Missing Driver Being Held In Donetsk
As we reported yesterday, a Ukrainian man working as a driver for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) was reported missing after his wife lost contact with him on Saturday morning.

Today the OSCE has confirmed the report, with the news that he is has been detained in separatist-held Donetsk:

The OSCE SMM can confirm that one of our local staff in Luhansk region did not return from leave as planned, on 7 June. The police was informed.

We understand that he is reportedly held in Donetsk. We are in contact with the relevant actors to resolve this matter. We have demanded his immediate and unconditional release.

— Pierre Vaux

Fighting Shows No Sign Of Lessening With Military And Civilian Casualties

Seven Ukrainian soldiers
and one civilian were wounded as a result of attacks in the Donbass yesterday. Meanwhile the Russian-backed Donetsk separatists report that one of their fighters was killed.

The Ukrainian military claims that Russian-backed fighters conducted 36 attacks.

Some of the heaviest fighting was again seen in the Avdeyevka area, north of Donetsk.

It was here that the Donetsk regional police department reported last night that a 58-year-old civilian man had received multiple shrapnel wounds after Russian-backed fighters shelled the town.

According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, Russian-backed fighters attacked positions close to Avdeyevka and the Butovka mine, an exposed position just south of the town, with 120 and 82 mm mortars, heavy machine guns, grenade launchers and small arms.

To the west of Donetsk, positions in Maryinka came under fire from BMP infantry fighting vehicles. 

In the Gorlovka area, the Ukrainian military reports mortar attacks on Mayorsk and Zaytsevo, as well as grenade-launcher and machine-gun fire near Luganskoye.

Alexander Hug, the deputy chief monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), told reporters earlier today that Russian-backed fighters had established a new checkpoint near Mayorsk, just over 1 kilometer from the nearest Ukrainian position.

In the south of the Donetsk region, the ATO Press Center reported 18 attacks.

According to the report, Ukrainian positions near Novotroitskoye, on the Donetsk-Mariupol highway, and Vodyanoye and Lebedinskoye, east of the port city, were shelled with mortars.

Those near Pavlopol, Shirokino and Gnutovo came under fire from small arms and grenade launchers. 

The situation was calmer in the Lugansk region, with “un-targeted” fire near Stepnoye.

After midnight, fighting has reportedly continued around in the Donetsk region.

Military spokesman Sergei Zhmurko told the 112 television channel that there had been heavy shelling in the south by 8 am.

Zhmurko said that Russian-backed fighters had fired 32 122 mm rounds from self-propelled artillery and 60 mortar rounds on positions near Novotroitskoye. 

82 mm mortars were, he claimed, used near Pavlopol while 120 mm mortars fell in the Avdeyevka area.

There are also unconfirmed reports this afternoon of shelling heard in the north of Donetsk on social media:

Translation: From the direction of Putilovka can hear relatively powerful salvoes/impacts.

Translation: Donetsk Scheglovka. 13:52 Single volleys from the direction of Mineralnoye, immediately afterwards one impact somewhere by Putilovksy woods (approximately).

Nadiya Savchenko, the former political prisoner who was released from Russian captivity last month, visited two sections of the front-line near Avdeyevka and Shirokino yesterday.

She told reporters today that, from what she could see, only the first line of enemy positions was manned by paramilitaries, with Russian regulars making up the second and third.

“This is Russian aggression against Ukraine. This could be the start of a very fierce war.” 

Finally, here is a short documentary from Australian journalist Bryce Wilson, filmed from the Ukrainian lines around Donetsk and showing the intensity of the daily exchanges of fire:

— Pierre Vaux