2 Ukrainian Soldiers Killed, 8 Wounded; French President Says ‘Elections Before Border Control’

October 11, 2016
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission cars parked near Mariupol. Photo by Galina Odnorog

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


2 Ukrainian Soldiers Killed, 8 Wounded; French President Says ‘Elections Before Border Control’

Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed, eight wounded and three suffered concussions, Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a briefing today, October 11, UAToday.TV reported.
He did not give the locations although the losses likely took place near Mariupol as fighting as been more intense there in recent days despite the ceasefire. In the last 24 hours, militants launched 27 attacks on Ukrainian positions on the Mariupol line using 152-mm and 122-mm artillery. On the Lugansk line, there were 17 attacks.
The ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] Facebook page was hacked last week, and while the defaced entries have been removed there have not yet been any updates since October 5.

Ukrainian volunteer Galina Odnorog reported on her Facebook page today that while OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) observers were in the area to check the fulfillment of the recent disengagement agreement, pledges to have “round the clock” presence were not kept. SMM workers were leaving their positions at 5 pm. Odnorog learned from the mission that orders from Kiev are for them only to work outside during daylight hours and after dark, only record what they hear from inside. Monitors themselves have been subjected to a number of attacks as they attempt to do their jobs.

Further Loss of Ukrainian Territory 

Semyon Semyonchenko, the former commander of the Donbass Battalion and now a member of parliament from the Samopomich party claimed that the Trilateral Group’s agreement on disengagement would lead to further loss of Ukrainian territory, Gordonua.com reported (translation by The Interpreter):

“I was in Stanitsa Luganskaya recently and I can only say one thing. Those who decided to disengage forces right on the borders of Stanitsa Luganskaya need psychiatric help. Let them take their children there, so they would go to day care and schools in the ‘gray zone.’ This is a territory where enemy diversionary reconnaissance groups are operating, where their children will have to walk under the scope of the militants’ snipers. Let them suffer there two years waiting for the return of Ukraine. What was all this for if the forces are withdrawn?”

He said that only the president, prime minister and foreign minister were authorized to make international agreements and questioned the status of the Trilateral Group.

Hollande Calls for Elections to Sequence Before Border Control
Reuters reported today that a proposed summit October 19 of the “Normandy Quartet” — the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia — could only take place if there is “real progress” on key “stumbling blocks.”
Unian reported further on the remarks of French president Francois Hollande (translated from Russian):

“I am prepared within the framework of the ‘Normady format’ to move forward to completely fulfill the Minsk agreements, otherwise this will be a frozen conflict. But for this it is necessary to conduct elections, it is necessary to support this process. And only upon completion of that process, the government, the Ukrainian government could return control over its borders. In other words, the Minsk process is a series of steps and it is necessary to observe each. Above all, this is a ceasefire, security, confiscation of weapons and then it is necessary to conduct elections.”

He added that Russia should influence “the heads of the eastern regions” to make the agreement work.

President Vladimir Putin cancelled a visit to France today after Hollande said he would only meet him to discuss Syria. Putin was to inaugurate a new Russian Orthodox Cathedral and visit a Russian art exhibit on October 19.

The issue of the sequencing of the Minsk process has often been debated, as without control over its border, Ukraine continues to stand by as Russia continues to send in tanks and troops to back up the separatists. Kiev has complained that elections in the Donbass would have to involve freedom for Ukrainian parties, the media, and observers to be declared legitimate and these conditions are not likely to be met. Furthermore, in March Poroshenko said that security in the region, the deployment of an OSCE police mission and control of Ukraine over its border would be conditions required for elections in the Donbass.
As we reported, Lugansk authorities organized a rally yesterday pressing university students to demonstrate against the proposal to deploy an OSCE police mission in the region.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick