Ukraine Day 908: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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UPDATE: Ultimately, police arrested 20.
On the Mariupol line, militants fired 11 times on ATO positions, three with heavy artillery banned under the Minsk agreement. More than a hundred rounds were fired with 122-mm artillery in Lebedinskoye and Sladkoye; Talakovka also fell under fire from 120-mm artillery. There were constant clashes starting even before dawn in Nikolayevka and Bogdanovka, where militants used grenade-launchers and firearms. An anti-tank missile complex was used in Starognatovka and large-caliber machine-guns in Maryinka.
On the Donetsk line, there was artillery fire on Ukrainian positions in Avdeyevka and Novoselovki and grenade-launchers and machine-gun fire in Novgorodskaya. Large-caliber machine-guns were used in Troitskoye and mortar-launchers were fired on Novotroitskoye. Grenade-launchers were used to attack Zheltoye and sniper activity was recorded.
In other news:
o ATO Soldiers Says Fighting Reduces When OSCE Monitors Appear
o Tuka Says Russia Does Not Have Enough Troops To Invade
“As for Crimea, I fear the most that during such military tense some soldiers’ nerves will give out and a provocation on either side could occur. This could be used as a motive for further actions on the part of the Russian Federation.Russia is not prepared for full-fledged military operations and has the remnants of common sense not to do this. As for provocative actions, tactical actions for the purpose of seizing such population center, that I think is possible.”
o Head of Ukrainian Border Guards Says No Unusual Activity
Oleg Slobodyan, head of the Ukrainian State Border Service says border checkpoints are working in the regular regimen and the amount of Russian army near the administrative border does not seem to be above average, Unian reported, citing TV 112 UA:
“All the entry and exit checkpoints are operating in a regular regimen. Periodically, pauses arise due to the fact that the occupiers are arrhythmically allowing through people and vehicles. They gather about 10-15 men in groups and vet them in detail, finding out a lot of personal information about where they are going, with what purposes, and they check their digital tech. Therefore throughout the day, there are pauses in the operation of the checkpoints but on the whole, the situation is stable, quiet and controlled.”
The border guards say the number of people crossing into occupied Crimea is less, however, except for the Chongar crossing which had about 30-40 cars in line, somewhat more than usual.
Slobodyan also commented on the activity of Russian armor:
“We have observed the Russian Federation’s military armor near their positions, but these are small groups of about 5-6 automobiles, this fits into the logic of rotation. If we are to speak about large military divisions, about heavy artillery, about an amassing of the kind of military vehicles that could conduct offensive actions or take part in a wide-scale operation, then we do not observe this on the administrative border itself.”
He said the Russian forces usually conduct reconnaissance with helicopters and drones, and sometimes from speedboats.
Pro-Russian media said the villages of Rtutny and Stalsbyt (Novaya Uspenka) in the Nikitovsky District of Gorlovka came under Ukrainian Army shell fire today and some homes were damaged.
There was also fighting around Yasinovaya and Avdeyevka.
o Former Ukrainian Army Psychologist Serdyuk Named by FSB Says He Was Never Involved in Intelligence
“I have no nothing to do with intelligence or the special services. I haven’t in the past and don’t now. And I don’t want to, as I don’t have the knowledge or the experience. It’s some sort of nonsense. I have never been the head of any intelligence. Only this morning I got on the Internet and read everything they are writing. I am stunned by this. Shocked. I have never organized anything and never sent anyone anywhere. I’m a conscientious person. I’m not a terrorist and I don’t plan anything. I live my life and feed my family. And now this has thundered across the whole country. People call me and I don’t even know what to comment. All of this is alarming.”
Serdyuk said he was demobilized on September 30, 2015 and lives in Kiev now and runs a small architect’s office, a business that he had left when he went to fight in the war.
In a televised confession, Serdyuk was named by Yevhen Panov, a former ATO soldier captured by the FSB, as running the “sabotage” operation at the Crimean border.
“Judging from the video, they treated Zhenya [Yevhen], to put it mildly, not humanely. From the video it is clear that they beat him. His reaction is delayed somehow. There is a clear discrepancy. Even when he says my last name, he does it with pauses. There’s the impression that someone is dictating it to him. And what they are charging him with — I can’t wrap my head around it. Well, where is Zhenya, and where is what they are incriminating him with? He is patriotically-minded, but his health is weak. When he came to us back them, it was surprising why they let him in the draft board with such health. Well, all efforts must be made to free him.”
o Crimean Tatar Leader Says Address Detainee Gave Doesn’t Exist
Zaid Smedlyayev, head of the Central Elections Committee of the Crimean Tatar Kurultai (community) said that Rydvan Suleimanov gave an address that doesn’t exist. There is such a street which can be found on Google maps, but not the house number. Smedlyayev believes Suleimanov was abducted by Russian forces to fulfill a scenario where a Muslim Crimean Tatar — as has been done with many others — will be accused of terrorism. More than 2,000 Crimean Tatars have been abducted in Crimea, he said, and if people try to find out their fate they themselves then face threats from law-enforcers.
o Aide to Separatist Leader Pavel Dremov Found Dead
Translation: Media reports the death of the supposed organizer of the assassination attempt on Plotnitsky.
Nikolai Minin, who was “the right-hand man” of Pavel Dremov, the Cossack separatist leader of Stakhanov known for his criticism of the leadership of the self-declared “Lugansk People’s Republic” (LNR) assassinated earlier this year, was found dead in his bed, pro-Russian media reports.
He is said to have obtained a file of compromising material and organized the assassination attempt on Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of the LNR last week.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick