Ukraine Day 875: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
- READ OUR SPECIAL REPORT:
The Ukrainian military reports that yesterday saw the worst fighting in months, with 94 attacks by Russian-backed forces across the front line in the Donbass.
Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, told reporters today that one Ukrainian soldier had been killed and ten wounded.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, the heaviest fighting was seen on the front to the north of Donetsk and Gorlovka.
To the west of Gorlovka, positions in Novgorodskoye were reportedly shelled with 152 mm artillery and 120 mm mortars. To the north, the village of Nikolaevka Vtoraya was shelled by 122 mm self-propelled artillery.
120 mm mortars were also used against positions in nearby Mayorsk, as well as Avdeyevka, Peski and Troitskoye, to the north of Donetsk.
It was near Troitskoye that the Ukrainian military claims that an attack by a group of more than 20 Russian-backed fighters was repelled.
According to the official report, three of the attackers were captured. One of them, a Russian citizen from Omsk called Natan Leonidovuch Tsakirov, died from wounds sustained in battle. The other two remain in a medical facility. One of these is claimed to be the Russian commander of the company.
As proof of Tsarikov’s identity, the General Staff released a photo of his Civil Passport:
To the west of separatist-held Donetsk, the military reports that 82 mm mortars fell on Krasnogorovka and Maryinka, where press officer Vitaliy Kirillov said that two homes were destroyed by shelling.
According to Kirillov, heavy weaponry was also used in the south of the region, with positions near Vodyanoye, east of Mariupol, subjected to particularly intense bombardment.
Kirillov said that Russian-backed forces had fired 65 shells at these positions from both 120 and 82 mm mortars.
He also reported attacks near Gnutovo and Shirokino.
Meanwhile the Lugansk Regional Military-Civil Administration reports that residential areas of Stanitsa Luganskaya, northeast of the separatist-held regional capital, were fired-on last night.
According to the report, Russian-backed fighters fired on the settlement with grenade launchers and small arms. One home was reportedly destroyed.
The Administration also reports intense shelling in the Popasnaya area in the west of the region. Ukrainian positions near Novozvanovka, Novoaleksandrovka, Zolotoye and Popasnaya itself were reportedly attacked with 120 mm mortars, self-propelled artillery, anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms.
Small-arms fire was also reported near the village of Krymskoye, on the southern banks of the Seversky Donets river.
— Pierre Vaux
Ukraine and Canada have signed an agreement on the establishment of a free trade zone between the two states as the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, visits Kiev.
Trudeau, who arrived in Ukraine yesterday, attended the signing of the agreement this afternoon with President Petro Poroshenko and both countries’ trade ministers, Stepan Kubiv and Chrystia Freeland:
Translation: Historic moment – Stepan Kubiv and Chrystia Freeland have signed the agreement on a free trade zone between Ukraine and Canada.
Ukrainska Pravda reports that President Poroshenko said that the agreement would come into effect immediately, but the implementation would take place over the course of seven years.
The BBC’s Tom Burridge reports that the deal aims to cut 98% of trade tariffs between the two states over that period of time.
As La Presse Canadienne noted yesterday, the deal was in fact signed seven years late, with negotiations having been initiated in 2009 by the Canadian prime minister at the time, Stephen Harper. The talks stalled the following year after the election of Viktor Yanukovych and were only resumed after his flight from office at the height of the Maidan protests.
The trade deal isn’t the biggest for either country. But it is seen as politically important given Ukraine’s efforts to escape from Russia’s influence. Ukrainian officials are also hoping it will spark an influx of Canadian investment for their country’s struggling economy.
Trudeau visited Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev where he and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Groysman, laid wreaths at the monument to the so-called Heavenly Hundred – protesters shot dead during the protests against the Yanukovych government in February, 2014.
Tom Burridge reported from the scene via Facebook Live:
Trudeau, who had just been in Poland where he visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp as well as attending the NATO summit, has also visited the site of the Babi Yar massacre and the national memorial to the Holodomor.
But while the message intended was very much one of solidarity between the two countries (a point of domestic political importance for Canada with more than a million citizens of Ukrainian origin), CBC News reports that Trudeau dodged questions about extending the Canadian military training mission after 2017 or allowing Canadian arms exporters to sell to Ukraine.
200 Canadian troops are currently deployed in the west of Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces.
Future for Canadian military trainers in Ukraine uncertain beyond 2017
Ukraine's president made a personal appeal Monday for Canada to extend its military training in the western region of the embattled country. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was noncommittal as he and Petro Poroshenko celebrated the formal signing of a free trade deal between their countries.
The report notes that Trudeau did however announce that Ukraine would receive another $13 million in humanitarian assistance, “particularly for the hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes in the east.”
— Pierre Vaux