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Below we will be making regular updates so check back often.
France’s delivery of Mistral amphibious assault warships has been suspended indefinitely, “until further notice.” This is a language change from the previous”delay” but it is an announcement that stops short of total cancellation. The €1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) contract, slated to be the largest NATO arms deal with the Kremlin ever, is still very much in limbo. France would either have to refund that money to Russia or ultimately deliver on the contract. One option is to sell the ships to another NATO member and give Russia a refund, but so far there don’t look like there are buyers.
Russia is indicating that rather than pursue legal action, as they had previously stated, they will simply wait on the deal. Christian Science Monitor reports:
Russia’s deputy defense minister told RIA Novosti news agency that Moscow was not planning to take any immediate action against France for delaying the deal.
“We are satisfied, it is the French who are not satisfied, and we are going to patiently wait,” said Yury Brosiov, according to AP. “Everything is spelled out in the contract, and we are going to act in accord to the contract like all civilized people.”
Mr. Brosiov statement marks a significant departure from the Kremlin’s stance earlier this month. Just a couple of weeks ago, an unidentified Russian source told RIA Novosti that Moscow would seek compensation from France if the first Mistral were not delivered by the end of November.
Meanwhile, the Russian sailors who were supposed to sail the Mistral ships back to Russia are currently stuck in France. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The first of the two ships was due to sail on Nov. 14 from the French port of Saint-Nazaire, where about 400 Russian seamen had been training to operate the vessels. The seamen, who were supposed to sail the ship back to Russia, are now in limbo, having concluded their training sessions weeks ago.
— James Miller
Ukrainian Railways (Ukrzaliznytsia) has announced they may suspend rail movements in areas occupied by Russian backed forces due to safety fears.
The head of the legal department of Ukrzaliznytsia Oleh Titov announced the possible suspension at a press conference on Tuesday, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
As UNIAN reported earlier, on September 21 long-distance trains passenger services to Luhansk were renewed after having been suspended from the end of July.
As reported earlier, Ukrzaliznytsia changed the terminal station of three passenger trains in the Donetsk region to Kostiantynivka instead of Yasinuvata due to the increase in fighting in the east of Ukraine. The move affected trains No. 10/9 Kostiantynivka to Moscow, No. 125/126 Kostiantynivka to Kyiv, and No. 92/91 Kostiantynivka to Odesa.
Ukrzaliznytsia has said that if there is any further destabilization of the situation in eastern Ukraine, the railway industry could lose up to $3 billion by the end of 2014.
UNIAN reports, citing Hromadske TV, that a volunteering centre in Debaltsevo has been shelled, killing one person and injuring at least six.
According to the report, the centre, which was hosting soldiers was shelled by Russian-backed forces with Grad rockets.
A volunteer from the medical office at the Sontseslava centre told Hromadske that the building has been left without water or electricity. Their medical station has now relocated to a bunker.
The following images of the destruction were posted in an appeal for help on a Ukrainian volunteers’ Facebook group:
— Pierre Vaux
Shelling is clearly audible at the moment on the Ruptly live feed overlooking Donetsk Airport.
Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reports that Vladimir Stepanov, the deputy emergencies minister, has announced that another “humanitarian convoy” is due to enter eastern Ukraine on November 30.
This will be the eighth such convoy, without authorisation from the Ukrainian government or the oversight of the International Committee of the Red Cross, to enter Ukraine this year.
“Over 100 vehicles are due to cross the border on Sunday. They are to deliver 1,000 tons of cargo,” Vladimir Stepanov said.
The convoy will consist of building materials needed for the destroyed houses: glass, slate, roofing material and also fuel.
Stepanov said one half of vehicles will go to Lugansk while the other one to Donetsk. “We know exactly where this aid will go,” Stepanov said.
— Pierre Vaux
The ‘people’s council’ of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) has called on the UN to consider sending a peacekeeping force into south-eastern Ukraine.
The news once again raises fears that the Kremlin will attempt to use the pretext of humanitarian intervention to solidify Russia’s military control over the Donbass by sending yet more armour and troops marked up as peacekeepers. If nothing else, the appeal is yet another tool in the Kremlin’s campaign to brand Ukraine’s actions in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as war crimes.
Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reports on the statement by the praesidium of the DNR council:
“We are appealing to the international community to stop the humanitarian catastrophe and social genocide caused by the actions of the Ukrainian government,” the presidium of the DPR parliament, the People’s Council, said in a statement.
“We demand to convene an emergency session of the UN Security Council and consider the issue of intervention of a peacekeeping contingent involving representatives of the Russian Federation to control the compliance with the earlier reached agreements and resolving the humanitarian and social situation,” the statement reads.
— Pierre Vaux
News is breaking that the French presidency has suspended delivery of two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships to Russia.
Earlier today, Intefax-Ukraine reported that the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, had said that conditions for the delivery had not been met by Russia:
“The terms for this delivery have not yet been met. It is absolutely clear,” he told the France Inter radio station.
“There are totally obvious reasons behind all this. It will be enough to take a look at what is going on in Ukraine,” Fabius said.
— Pierre Vaux
A shell has struck a bus in Donetsk, killing two civilians and wounding another eight.
According to the office of the mayor of Donetsk, Oleksandr Lukyanchenko, the marshrutka (a fixed-route minibus) was struck by one shell at around 8 am (6:00 GMT) in the Kuybyshevsky district.
At 9:04, just over an hour before the announcement on the mayoral site, Ivan Prokhodko, chairman of the Kievsky district administration, wrote on his Facebook page (translated by The Interpreter):
At 8:00 Marshal Zhukov avenue was shelled. School number 21 was damaged. A number of private homes and shops too. I’m sorry to say that there were casualties. Two people were killed and eight wounded on a number 6 bus.
Here is a map highlighting Marshal Zhukov avenue:
Segodnya.ua quoted a witness (translated by The Interpreter):
“It all happened at 7:30 am. The marshrutka was travelling from the railway station towards the settlement at the Oktyabrskaya mine. It was just short of Timura street when the shelling started. The driver hit the emergency shut-down and evacuated all the passengers, telling them to take cover. Everyone dropped to the ground and waited for the shelling to stop for 5 minutes. When everything had calmed down, and people had begun to get up, one more shell flew in. Shrapnel from it killed 2 and wounded 8 people. A young man, 25 years old, and a woman were killed.”
Here is a map showing the approximate location of the bus when it was struck and that of School Number 21:
The casualties on the bus were only the latest in the last 24 hours.
According to the mayor’s office, three civilians were killed and another eight wounded by shelling during the night.
— Pierre Vaux