Ukraine Reports Dramatic Escalation Yesterday: 96 Attacks, 3 Soldiers KIA, 6 WIA

August 18, 2016
Aftermath of shelling in government-controlled Maryinka. Photo: ATO Press Center

Ukraine Day 913: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.


An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine


Putin Reportedly to Visit Russian-Occupied Crimea Tomorrow

Russian media has been reporting leaked plans of President Vladimir Putin to visit Crimea tomorrow for a “working visit,” says Novaya Gazeta.

The trip would follow the FSB’s report August 10 claiming clashes occurred with “Ukrainian saboteurs” near the border of Russian-occupied Crimea and the Ukrainian mainland in which two Russian soldiers were reportedly killed.

On August 16, RBC cited “two sources close to the Kremlin” and “one source close to the presidential representative of the South Federal District,” where Crimea was recently incorporated by Putin, all saying that Putin was expected to visit Friday.
The Kremlin press office had no comment. Recently, after scandals that occurred when the media reported that Putin was “missing” because he postponed meetings, the Kremlin has decided to no longer give journalists Putin’s schedule.

Putin visited Crimea in August 2015, and then again in March 2016 to inspect progress on the building of the Crimean bridge, Novaya Gazeta reported. On July 28, he announced major personnel shuffles, removing Sergei Menyaylo, governor of Russian-occupied Sevastopol in Crimea, and appointing him as presidential representative to the Siberian Federal District, and also to a seat on the Security Council.

A source close to the Sevastopol leadership said that Putin wanted to check up on his personnel changes there and ensure things were running smoothly.

According to the sources, Putin plans to visit the Tavrida (Taurides) Youth Camp run now by Rosmolodyozh, the Russian government youth agency, to see projects for young directors, producers and actors. This year, the government declared a “year of Russian cinema” and therefore it seems “logical” for the president to make this visit; in fact the program was even extended from 7 to 9 days to accommodate his visit, said a source. Rosmolodyozh could not confirm the president’s visit.
Putin has made visits to the Seliger youth camp and also to its program Terra Scientia in recent years. A source close to the management of Seliger said a trip by Putin wasn’t planned this year.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Occupying Authorities In Crimea Move Detained Tatar Representative To Psychiatric Hospital

The occupying Russian authorities have today transfered Ilmi Umerov, the deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, to a psychiatric hospital.

Umerov was detained by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in May.

He has been charged with “separatism,” for opposing Russia’s occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula.

Last Friday a judge in Simferopol ordered Umerov be sent for psychiatric examination at a hearing from which he was absent, having been hospitalised with suspected heart trouble.

QHA, an independent Crimean news agency, reported that the transfer of Umerov to a psychiatric facility is illegal as the court of appeals has not yet issued a judgement on an appeal against his transfer lodged by his lawyers. 

QHA said that Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Mejlis and a Ukrainian MP, reported today that FSB officers came to the hospital treating Umerov and demanded that he be discharged so they could transfer him.

Umerov’s daughter, Ayshe, wrote on her Facebook page this afternoon that he has been moved to a psychiatric clinic in Simferopol.

His family has been barred from seeing him today and is awaiting a decision, apparently due tomorrow. Otherwise, they will have no contact with him for the next 28 days of his examination.

Ayshe wrote that she is particularly worried about her father’s access to medication, which he needs to take for Parkinson’s disease, hypertension and diabetes. All of his medication is now held by nurses on a separate floor who determine when he is allowed to take them.

Russia has a grim history of the use of psychiatric detention as a form of punishment. It was widely used in the Soviet era and has become more frequent again in the last two years.

— Pierre Vaux

Ukraine Reports Dramatic Escalation Yesterday: 96 Attacks, 3 Soldiers KIA, 6 WIA

The Ukrainian military claimed this morning that yesterday saw a dramatic increase in the number of attacks by Russian-backed forces in the Donbass.

According to the ATO Press Center, Ukrainian positions came under attack 96 times over the course of the day.

Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, told reporters at noon today that three Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and six wounded.

Yevgeniy Deidei, MP and former volunteer fighter, wrote on his Facebook page last night that two soldiers had been killed and four wounded as a result of an attack on the Avdeyevka industrial park (the promzona) on the front line northeast of Donetsk city.

The ATO Press Center reported that 152 and 122 mm artillery was used extensively, in addition to mortars, grenade launchers and cannons mounted on BMP infantry fighting vehicles.

According to the military, Russian-backed forces fired more than 130 122 mm shells on Avdeyevka, where the worst Ukrainian casualties were suffered.  

These same weapons were reportedly used near Peski, Novoselovka Vtoraya and Pervovo Maya, all to the north of Donetsk, and Luganskoye, east of Gorlovka, where four dozen shells were fired.

This video purportedly captures the sound of shelling in Avdeyevka last night: 

Translation: #Avdeyevka it’s completed f*cked here!

Translation: I go outside and it feels like the earth is shaking. Brutal, just brutal.

This report suggests the use of single-shot Grad P rockets from separatist-held Yasinovataya, southeast of Avdeyevka: 

Translation: Yasinovataya – they’re shooting with some sort of Grad-type rocket, but single shots.

To the west of Donetsk, the ATO Press Center reported that Russian-backed forces shelled positions in Maryinka with 122 mm artillery, and mortars raining down along the whole front line from nearby Krasnogorovka all the way to Shirokino on the coast, with 152 mm artillery used against defense in Sionitnoye.

Translation: #Maryinka night fighting 18/08/2016
The Ukrainian military released photos today detailing what they said was damage caused by the shelling in Maryinka:

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Shelling continued throughout the night, with Colonel Motuzyanyk reporting that 152 mm artillery was used to shell positions near Granitnoye (Hranitne in Ukrainian), east of Volnovakha:
Houses were reportedly struck in nearby Mirnoye:
RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service, Radio Svoboda, filmed the aftermath of shelling in another settlement in this area, Novoselovka:

Irina Baranova, a spokesperson for the ATO Press Center, also reported the use of heavy artillery against Ukrainian positions to the north of Gorlovka this morning.

In the Lugansk region, the ATO Press Center reports the use of 122 mm artillery near Popasnaya and Novoaleksandrovka. Grenade launchers were used in attacks on positions near Zolotoye, Krymskoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya, where armored vehicles also opened fire.

According to the Lugansk regional police, a school building was damaged in Stanitsa Luganskaya.

Meanwhile the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claims that Ukrainian forces fired on separatist-held territory 428 times over 24 hours.

According to the DNR, Ukrainian forces used heavy artillery and mortars to target the northern outskirts of Donetsk and Gorlovka, as well as the southern settlements of Dokuchaevsk, Signalnoye, Yasnoye, Belaya Kamenka, Sakhanka and Kominternovo. 

— Pierre Vaux