Ukraine Day 939: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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The Ukrainian military suffered heavy casualties yesterday, putting pay to any further talk of a strained ceasefire in the Donbass.
Yuri Biriukov, an adviser to President Petro Poroshenko, wrote on his Facebook page this morning that three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 15 wounded yesterday, with another still missing.
Of these casualties, two were killed and five wounded during a battle with a group of Russian-backed fighters near Stanitsa Luganskaya. It was during this clash that a soldier went missing.
Another soldier, Biriukov said, was killed by a 122 mm artillery shell near Mariupol.
The remaining 10 wounded soldiers were, he says, injured by various means, including shrapnel from shelling and tripwire mines.
This is the highest reported number of Ukrainian military casualties for any one day for several weeks.
According to the Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Center, Russian-backed forces conducted 35 attacks yesterday.
In the south of the Donetsk region, Ukrainian positions near Chermalyk, northeast of Mariupol, were shelled with 122 mm self-propelled artillery. According to military press officer Aleksandr Kindsfater, 45 shells were fired.
We presume that it was in this area that one Ukrainian soldier was killed.
On the coast, Russian-backed forces reportedly shelled the village of Shirokino with 82 mm mortars, while positions in the nearby village of Vodyanoye, as well as Granitnoye, to the east of Volnovakha, were attacked with grenade launchers, machine guns and small arms.
In the Donetsk area, the Ukrainian military reports that Krasnogorovka, west of the separatist-held city, was shelled with 82 mm mortars, while positions in Avdeyevka, to the north, were hit with both 82 and 120 mm mortars.
Grenade launchers, machine guns and small arms were used in attacks near Maryinka and Verkhnetoretskoye.
In the Gorlovka area, the military reports similar attacks near Novgorodskoye, Zaytsevo and Luganskoye.
In addition to the battle near Stanitsa Luganskaya that we reported on last night, the ATO Press Center reports that positions in the Lugansk village of Novozvanovka came under fire from BMP infantry fighting vehicles. Grenade launchers, machine guns and small arms were used in attacks near Popasnaya, Novoaleksandrovka and Nizhnetyoploye.
This morning, there are already reports of further shelling.
Oleksandr Zavtonov, press officer for Ukrainian military operations in the Donetsk sector, told the 112 television channel that between midnight and 6:00, Russian-backed forces had carried out six attacks.
According to Zavtonov, areas targeted included the Avdeyevka industrial park and the Butovka mine, as well as Zaytsevo and Luganskoye. He said that Russian-backed fighters had used 120 and 82 mm mortars, in addition to automatic grenade launchers, machine guns and small arms.
Ukrainian forces had, he said, returned fire three times this morning.
— Pierre Vaux