Ukraine Day 974: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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President Petro Poroshenko has announced that he will meet with his Russian, German and French counterparts in Berlin tomorrow.
The meeting in the “Normandy Format” will be the first to include all four leaders in person since October 2 last year. This will also be President Vladimir Putin’s first visit to Germany since 2013.
The Ukrainian Presidential Administration tweeted today:
Translation: Let’s not raise our expectations too high for tomorrow’s meeting in Berlin – the President.
Yesterday Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told the Associated Press that:
“If there were such a meeting, no one should expect that it will resolve all the problems.
From the ceasefire, which isn’t really one, to the stalled political process, a lot really is not satisfactory at all. But Minsk is the only thing we have, the only thing everyone can call on and that sets out a peaceful and political road for everyone.”
Meanwhile Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that the reference in Poroshenko’s statement to putting pressure on Russia to fulfil the Minsk agreements “shows how tough the situation is and the extent to which Kiev does not intend to fulfil its own obligations under the Minsk agreements.”
Of course, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Moscow denies that it is a party to the war in Ukraine.
Poroshenko, Merkel and President Francois Hollande are due to meet tomorrow morning to hold their own talks in preparation for meeting Putin.
In the Donbass, three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded yesterday as Kiev reports another day of intense shelling in the south.
Colonel Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, told reporters at a briefing today that two other soldiers had suffered concussions. All the casualties were the result of enemy shelling in Avdeyevka, north of Donetsk, and Vodyanoye, east of Mariupol.
According to Lysenko, more than 500 shells were fired by Russia-backed forces on the front line between Talakovka, just northeast of Mariupol, and the seaside village of Shirokino.
He said that the shelling had lasted for around 11 hours, with a further round of artillery fire at the end of the day.
Near Vodyanoye itself, there was an hour-long skirmish between Ukrainian and Russia-backed fighters, supported by artillery.
Yesterday Ukraine’s TSN news channel spoke to soldiers deployed on the front line near Shirokino.
They said that the shelling had continued throughout the day on Sunday, with both 82 and 120 mm mortar rounds coming in from separatist-held Sakhanka, to the east.
The soldiers say they believe the troops shelling them are Russian soldiers, due not only to the Russian-manufactured weaponry used against them, but the speed and precision of the attacks.
These methods had, they said, brought some success for the Russians, who had managed to gain a new position from which they could subject the Ukrainians to constant fire, “making our lives a nightmare.”
Elsewhere, the Ukrainian military reported that Russia-backed forces had used mortars to shell Krasnogorovka and Verkhnetoretskoye, near Donetsk, and Stanitsa Luganskaya, in the Lugansk region.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, there were 29 attacks across the whole front line yesterday.
— Pierre Vaux