Ukraine Day 854: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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The Kremlin has denied reports that the leaders of the so-called Normandy Quartet – Russia. Ukraine, France and Germany – are to meet at the beginning of July.
Yesterday the Stuttgarter Zeitung reported that a preparatory meeting had already taken place and that the German representatives, dismayed by the worsening fighting, hoped to organise a meeting of the national leaders before the NATO summit begins on July 8.
But today Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reports that President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has said that the “necessary preconditions” for such a meeting had not been met.
According to Peskov, these “preconditions” included a “demonstration of readiness” from Kiev for implementing the Minsk agreement.
This of course ignores the fact that with intensifying attacks from Russian-backed forces and recalcitrant rhetoric on disregarding Ukrainian electoral law from the separatist leadership, the chance of the Ukrainian government agreeing to local elections being held in the occupied territories seems remote to say the least. In addition, Russia still controls huge swathes of the borders of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions and is not allowing the OSCE to monitor crossing points.
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian military claims that Russian-backed fighters conducted 31 attacks yesterday in the Donbass, using a wide variety of heavy weaponry.
Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, announced at noon today that one Ukrainian soldier had been killed as a result of enemy fire near Novozvanovka, in the Lugansk region. Two other Ukrainian servicemen were wounded.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, the Ukrainian positions near Novozvanovka were shelled with mortars, while those outside nearby Popasnaya and Novoaleksandrovka were attacked with grenade launchers.
To the west of separatist-held Donetsk, Krasnogorovka, where two civilians were wounded by shelling in the early hours of this morning, was the focus of the heaviest fighting last night.
The report claims that from 21:00 last night, Russian-backed forces deployed near Staromikhailovka used 82 and 120 mm mortars, 152 mm artillery and tanks to fire more than 150 rounds towards the government-controlled town. Meanwhile automatic grenade launchers were used to bombard Ukrainian positions in Maryinka, to the south.
To the north of Donetsk, Ukrainian troops at the Butovka mine were shelled once again with 82 mm mortars while those nearer Avdeyevka came under fire from 120 mm mortars.
Mortars were also reportedly used to attack positions near Zaytsevo, north of Gorlovka. Positions in nearby Mayorsk and Luganskoye were attacked with small arms, machine guns and grenade launchers.
In the south of the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military reported small-arms attacks near Gnutovo, Talakovka and Shirokino.
Meanwhile the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claimed today that Ukrainian troops had fired on separatist-held territory 670 times over 24 hours.
According to the DNR, the majority of attacks were directed at the outskirts of Donetsk and Gorlovka, as well as the settlements of Dokuchaevsk, Sakhanka and Kominternovo, in the south.
The body of one Russian-backed fighter was reportedly recovered from no-man’s land to the north of Gorlovka. According to the DNR, representatives of the OSCE and the Joint Center for Control and Coordination were present when the body was retrieved.
— Pierre Vaux
Two civilians have been injured after a shells truck an apartment building in government-controlled Krasnogorovka, west of Donetsk.
The Maryinka police department reported that a direct strike from an artillery shell on the multistory building on Suvorov Street at around 2:50 this morning.
The casualties, a mother and her daughter born in 1940 and 1968, were taken to a hospital in Kurakhovo with multiple shrapnel wounds to the head, torso and limbs.
Oleg Livanchuk, the town’s mayor, told Novosti Donbassa that eight apartment blocks on Suvorov had been damaged by last night’s shelling, five of them seriously. In an apartment on Kirov Street was struck and shrapnel damaged the roof of a building on Lutugin Street.
Photos from the report:
Translation: 4 Suvorov (corner smashed off). They say that it went right through.
Translation: Another impact at number 26, Kirov.
Krasnogorovka has long been the target of attacks by Russian-backed fighters, but there has been a marked increase in shelling directed at residential areas in recent days.
On Wednesday last week, another civilian was wounded in the town: