Ukraine Day 855: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
- READ OUR SPECIAL REPORT:
Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five wounded in combat yesterday, as Kiev reports 41 attacks by Russian-backed forces in the Donbass.
Four civilians were wounded, two of them in Krasnogorovka, as we reported yesterday morning, with the other two reported today.
According to the Donetsk Regional Military-Civil Administration, a 15-year-old boy was admitted to hospital in Kurakhovo today with gunshot wounds, while a resident of Maryinka, west of Donetsk, suffered blast injuries.
Translation: Wrecked car in Maryinka. Separatists’ positions on the slagheap of the Trudovskaya mine (Donetsk).
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, the Maryinka area was attacked with grenade launchers and heavy machine guns, while Krasnogorovka, to the north, was once again shelled by tanks, mortars and anti-aircraft artillery.
To the north of Donetsk, Ukrainian positions near Nevelskoye and Avdeyevka were shelled with 120 mm mortars, while those near the Butovka mine and Verkhnetoretskoye were attacked with 82 mm versions.
Translation: #Avdeyevka Pobeda Street nos. 3 and 5, aftermath of a merry little night.
In the Gorlovka area, Russian-backed fighters reportedly attacked Ukrainian positions near Zaytsevo and Mayorsk, both to the north of the separatist-held town, with grenade launchers and heavy machine guns.
In the south of the Donetsk region, military press officer Vitaliy Kirillov told 0629.com.ua that Ukrainian positions in Shirokino were shelled last night for more than five hours.
According to Kirillov, Russian-backed fighters used both 120- and 82-mm mortars in the attack.
Russian-backed forces also reportedly conducted attacks near Gnutovo, Taramchuk, Pavlopol and Talakovka, where, Kirillov told the 112 news channel, a shell struck a house yesterday evening.
Kirillov said that Ukrainian forces in the southern sector had returned fire seven times yesterday.
Meanwhile, in the Lugansk Region, sniper attacks were reported near Schastye.
In turn, the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) has accused Ukrainian forces of firing on separatist-held territory 440 times over 24 hours.
According to the DNR, Ukrainian troops used 122-mm artillery and mortars, in addition to infantry fighting vehicles, grenade launchers and small arms in attacks near Donetsk, Gorlovka, and villages in the south.
— Pierre Vaux
The move follows the extension of sanctions on trade with Russian-occupied Crimea last Friday:
Earlier this morning EUobserver reported that EU ambassadors were planning on passing the extension decision without a debate.
“We’ll see what happens in the meeting, but the expectation is that any change of strategy [on sanctions] would wait for the the next time around,” the source said, referring to the next six-month renewal that will fall due in winter.
“There’s still a consensus [for the current roll-over] … we don’t expect any hiccups”, the source said.
As the report notes, EU unity on policy towards Russia has been fraying over the last few months, with both houses of the French parliament passing non-binding resolutions calling for the lifting of sanctions, and both the German and Austrian foreign ministers suggesting a change in sanctions policy.
The ambassadors’ meeting comes after Austrian and German foreign ministers, over the weekend, said EU policy should be modified so that, in future, if Russia complies with part of the Minsk ceasefire accord on Ukraine then the EU would respond by lifting part of its economic measures.
The current model is to lift sanctions after full compliance.
Further adding to the sense that some European ministers are keen to move towards detente with Russia, despite the lack of any progress whatsoever towards peace in Ukraine, is a report from the Rheinische Post today that the German economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, is planning on visiting Moscow “early next week.”
According to the report, Gabriel, who is, like the foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), wants to discuss reestablishing ties between Moscow and Berlin, and will meet with President Vladimir Putin in person.
The SPD and their coalition partners, the Christian Democrats (CDU), are reportedly drifting apart from each other on the subject of Russia, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU taking the harsher line.
— Pierre Vaux