Ukraine Day 870: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Italy’s Il Giorno reports that the Regional Council of Lombardy has followed Veneto and Liguria in voting to recognize Russia’s jurisdiction over the occupied Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.
The newspaper says that the measure was passed yesterday with the backing of the far-right Lega Lord party, which has the most seats in the Council; Forza Italia; the nationalist Fratelli d’Italia; and the populist Movimento 5 Stelle. It was opposed by the Partito Democratico, which governs Italy, and the left-wing Patto Civico of Umberto Ambrosoli.
According to the text of the bill, the Council recognizes the “expressed will” of the Crimean people in the internationally-condemned referendum that took place after Russian troops took control of the peninsula in March 2014.
The bill also commits the Council to push the national government for the “resumption of dialogue with the Russian Federation” in order to strengthen international security and fight terrorism, as well as to agitate for the lifting of sanctions and promote trade deals with Crimea.
In all three votes, the Lega Nord played the key role.
Members of the party participated, alongside members of other fringe, extremist parties, as ‘observers’ in the Crimean referendum.
Their MEPs routinely vote in the Russian interest in European Parliament debates, and, with particular significance for yesterday’s vote, the party established with Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association.
The state-owned Voice of Russia radio station (now restructured into Rossiya Segodnya) contributed to the founding of the Association, which sent a delegation to the International Russian Conservative Forum in Saint Petersburg last year, alongside some of Europe’s most prominent neo-Nazis.
Anton Shekhovtsov's blog
The Russian fascist Rodina (Motherland) party that was founded by Russia's current Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin is organising a large conference titled "International Russian Conservative Forum" (IRCF) to be held in St. Petersburg on 22 March 2015. According to Kommersant's journalist Grigory Tumanov, the following European organisations are taking part in the conference: 1.
The Ukrainian military reports that they suffered another round of heavy casualties yesterday – two servicemen dead and ten wounded.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, Russian-backed forces continued to use heavy weaponry, including 152 mm artillery, with which they shelled the village of Shirokino, on the Azov coast.
Ukrainian positions in this area were also reportedly attacked with 120 and 82 mm mortars, with the same weapons used against those near neighbouring Gnutovo.
Military press officer Vitaliy Kirillov told the 112 television channel this morning that Russian-backed fighters near the coast had recently received four trucks loaded with 152 mm shells.
Kirillov also reported another use of 152 mm artillery against positions near Lebedinskoye, as well as attacks with smaller weapons near Talakovka, Starognatovka, Taramchuk and Beryozovoye.
Elsewhere, the heaviest fighting was seen to the north of separatist-held Gorlovka, where the ATO Press Center reports Ukrainian positions near Mayorsk and Zaytsevo were both shelled with 120 mm mortars, in addition to other weaponry such as grenade launchers.
Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, claimed today that Russian-backed fighters had used a Grad-P single-shot rocket launcher to fire two 122 mm rockets at Ukrainian positions outside Mayorsk.
It was, he said, the first time such weapons had been used in a long while.
To the east of the town, Russian-backed forces reportedly attacked Ukrainian troops near Luganskoye with grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms.
These same weapons were reportedly used in attacks to the north of Donetsk, near Avdeyevka.
Attacks were also reported to the west, near Maryinka and Krasnogorovka.
TSN spoke to Ukrainian soldiers here yesterday afternoon. They described Monday night on this section of the front as “simply hellish.”
According to the report, two soldiers were killed at the positions in Peski, northwest of Donetsk, when Russian-backed fighters shelled them with shells the soldier described as appearing as if filled with fragments of chalk or limestone. Six more were wounded in the attack.
Meanwhile the situation in the Lugansk region was reported to be somewhat quieter, with only three attacks near Popasnaya.
In turn, the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) accused Ukrainian forces of firing on separatist-held territory 402 times over 24 hours.
According to the DNR, Ukrainian troops used 122 mm artillery, mortars, grenade launchers, BMP infantry fighting vehicle cannons and small arms in attacks onthe outskirts of Donetsk and Gorlovka, as well as the settlements of Dokuchaevsk and Sakhanka, in the south.
— Pierre Vaux