Ukraine Day 938: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
- READ OUR SPECIAL REPORT:
Today around 15:00-15:30, a diversionary and reconnaissance group of the unlawful armed forces [the Russian-backed separatists — The Interpreter] broke through the Ukrainian Armed Forces position in the area of the village of Nizhnyeye in Tyoploye Stanichno-Luganskoye District of Lugansk Region. As a result, we had losses of two 200s [KIA] and five 300s [WIA]. Now the military and the National Guard are conducting operational search measures to neutralize the saboteurs. The special services [intelligence] are taking a number of other actions. I called the guys at the position, everybody is on combat alert.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, James Miller
The Ukrainian military claims to have captured a Russian soldier fighting near separatist-held Gorlovka.
According to the main intelligence directorate of the Ministry of Defense (GUR), Denis Sidorov, born in Moscow in 1981, was captured near the village of Shirokaya Balka, west of Gorlovka, on Friday last week.
The GUR claimed that Sidorov was part of a scouting company of Russia’s 3rd Independent Motor-Rifle Brigade.
He also informed his captors, the GUR said, that Russian Colonel Alexei Berdnikov, commander of his unit, had arrived in the Donbass this August, dispatched from Primorsky Krai in Russia’s Far East, to replace General-Major Igor Timofeyev.
Berdnikov, the captive allegedly said, had been based in Gorlovka and had recently received visits from officers of Russia’s air defense units and the 60th Independent Motor-Rifle Brigade of the 5th Army of the Eastern Military District.
Today the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) released video of a man, purportedly Sidorov, giving a “confession” to fighting in Ukraine.
It is important to note that this statement may well be made under coercion. He speaks haltingly, and his eyes repeatedly scan down, which could indicate he is reading from a prepared statement.
The captive says that he served with the 71st Guards Motor-Rifle Regiment in the North Caucasus, participating in “clean-ups” in the Chechen Republic after the fall of Grozny to Russian forces.
He then left army service and transferred to the Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops, where he served as a scout, then says he resigned of his own volition. In late January 2015, he traveled to the Donbass and joined the 7th Independent Mechanized Brigade of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR), serving as a scout and engaging in combat against the Ukrainian armed forces. He then said recently he served in the DNR’s 3rd Independent Mechanized Brigade.
The man then says on September 8, near the town of Novogorodskoye (which is to the northwest of Shirokaya Balka), he crossed the line of contact and was taken captive by Ukrainian forces.
However the man, who does appear to resemble old photos from a rarely-used VKontakte profile belonging to one Denis Sidorov, born in the same year and living in the Moscow area, does not actually say that he is in active service with the Russian armed forces.
The VKontakte shows that someone logged in to the account today at 6:58 am Moscow time.
— Pierre Vaux and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Jan Petersen, has told Russian media that the organization will not be sending observers to monitor elections on September 18 in Russian-occupied Crimea.
Petersen told Izvestia, in an interview published today, that the consensus among OSCE member states was that no observers would be sent to the peninsula, nor would the region be mentioned in the ODIHR report on the Russian elections.
Of the member states of the OSCE, no others recognise Russia’s claim to sovereignty over Crimea.
The absence of OSCE observers will prevent the Kremlin from being able to claim international recognition of any electoral results in occupied Crimea, which was annexed after Russian troops surrounded Ukrainian military bases and seized administrative buildings in February, 2014.
Instead, the Russian government may turn once again to fringe political parties to provide a fig leaf, as has been seen in ‘elections’ held in the areas of the Donbass controlled by Russian-backed fighters.
Fake Monitors "Observe" Fake Elections in the Donbass
Vienna, November 1, 2014 – The "Donetsk People's Republic" (DNR) and "Luhansk People's Republic" (LNR), which are officially considered terrorist organisations by the Ukrainian authorities, will hold "parliamentary elections" on Sunday, November 2, on the territories occupied by them with the help of the Russian army.
In fact when the OSCE refused to send observers to monitor the Crimean ‘referendum’ on unification with Russia, conducted by the occupying authorities a few weeks after Russian troops had seized control of the peninsula, Russian state media simply fabricated such a mission.
In this Rossiya-24 report from March 15, 2014, three days before the vote, the state -owned news channel’s correspondent claims that 100 OSCE observers will monitor the referendum.
This came only four days after the OSCE issued a statement announcing that no observers would be sent, and that the referendum was illegal.
Rossiya-24 interviewed several of the “international observers” – Frank Creyelman, Johan Bäckman, Bela Kovacs and Luc Michel, who was described as the “organizer of the OSCE observation mission in Crimea.”
None of these people have had any affiliation to the OSCE. They are all political activists on the far-right.
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian military reports that the situation in the Donbass has continued to deteriorate.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, Russian-backed forces conducted 37 attacks yesterday, the highest number the Ukrainian side has reported on any day since the latest ceasefire came into effect on September 1.
The heaviest fighting was again reported in the south of the Donetsk region, near Mariupol.
Aleksandr Kindsfater, spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in ‘Sector M,’ told Mariupol news site 0629.com.ua that positions in the villages of Shirokino and Vodyanoye had been shelled with 122 mm artillery.
The ATO Press Center also reports that Russian-backed fighters also used BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles to fire on Ukrainian troops in Shirokino.
Grenade-launcher, machine-gun and small-arms attacks were also reported near Talakovka, just outside Mariupol; Granitnoye and Starognatovka, east of Volnovakha; and Maryinka, west of Donetsk.
To the north of the separatist-held regional capital, military press officer Oleksandr Zavtonov reported grenade-launcher and machine-gun attacks on positions in Avdeyevka and Verkhnetoretskoye, as well as Luganskoye, east of Gorlovka.
Meanwhile the Lugansk Regional Administration reported 13 attacks overnight near Popasnaya, in the west of the region.
According to the report, 106 rounds were fired from automatic grenade launchers, in addition to 5 RPGs and seven shots from BMP cannons.
In turn, the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR) claimed that Ukrainian forces had attacked their own positions near Popasnaya once with an automatic grenade launcher.
In Donetsk, Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the armed forces of the other separatist ‘republic’ (the DNR), today accused Ukrainian forces of violating the ceasefire 229 times over the last 24 hours.
According to Basurin, Ukrainian troops fired 164 120 and 82 mm mortar rounds in attacks on the outskirts of Donetsk and Gorlovka, as well as the village of Sakhanka, east of Mariupol.
Despite the fighting, Colonel Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, announced that no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded yesterday.
— Pierre Vaux