Ukraine Live Day 406: Claims Of Continued Use Of Heavy Artillery

March 30, 2015
Smoke rises above Peski, north-west of Donetsk. Photo: Tom Daams

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here. An archive of our liveblogs can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

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For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?

US Congressional Delegation Visits Kiev, Meets with Poroshenko

A delegation from the US Congress is visiting Ukraine today.

Translation: Delegation from USA Congress in Ukraine.

On March 4, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and other senior Republican and Democratic House members wrote a letter urging U.S. President Barack Obama to quickly authorize lethal weapons for Ukraine as it battles Russian-backed separatists.

The House of Representatives then passed a resolution on March 23 by 348 to 48 votes, asking Obama to authorize the delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine. The proposal to arm Ukraine has had the verbal support of Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and

But Obama has not acted on these requests nor is he required to do.

Last December, a bill passed both the House and Senate authorizing up to $350 million in military aid to Ukraine which contained language that could include lethal weapons.

The resolution was greeted by Kremlin propaganda outlets as  a “provocation” and hostile act against Russia, and has in turn engendered propagandistic statements such as the call by the speaker of the Chechen parliament to deploy weapons in Mexico and work for the secession of southern states.

The delegation arrived on the same day as another shipment of Humvees.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Ukrainian Troops Wounded In Attack Across Seversky Donets Near Tryokhizbenka

Leviy Bereg reports, citing the press office of the governor of the Lugansk region, Hennadiy Moskal, that two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded yesterday when Russian-backed fighters attacked near Tryokhizbenka, on the northern bank of the Seversky Donets river.

According to the report, at around 19:30, a group of militants on the southern side of the river went up to the ruined bridge to the village and fired on a Ukrainian defensive position with automatic weapons and grenade launchers. 

The Russian-backed fighters withdrew after the Ukrainians returned fire, but two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded.

According to the governor’s office, doctors are fighting to save the life of one of the soldiers, who is in a critical condition.

To the south-west of Tryokhizbenka, there were, Moskal’s office reported, shoot-outs between Ukrianian troops on the outskirts of Krymskoye and Russian-backed fighters from occupied Sokolniki.

On the Bakhmutka highway, to the south, shells blasts were heard. There were also several small arms skirmishes in Stanitska Luganskaya throughout the evening.


Meanwhile, Novosti Donbassa reports that Dmytro Snegiryov, leader of the ‘Prava Sprava’ (‘just cause’) civic movement, has claimed on his Facebook page that a column of 19 tanks and four BTR armoured personnel carriers has been recorded moving into Lugansk from the direction of Krasnodon (which lies on the road from the Russian border crossing at Izvarino).

— Pierre Vaux

Satellite Photos Show Mass Graves in Rostov Reported by Bloggers in November 2014

On our Russia Update blog today, we report on Google Earth evidence of possible mass graves in Russia’s Rostov region, near the border with Ukraine.

There have been claims from local bloggers that these graves contain the bodies of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. Many of the graves are anonymous and were dug at the same time.

1 Ukrainian Soldier Killed, 3 Wounded Over Last 24 Hours
Ukraine Claims Russian-Backed Fighters Shelled Gorlovka With Grads

Novosti Donbassa reports that the press office of the Donetsk Regional State Administration (DonOGA) has claimed, citing Valentin Fedichev, deputy commander of the ATO, that Russian-backed fighters have shelled residential areas of Gorlovka (which is in separatist hands).

According to Fedichev, the militants had positioned Grad rocket launchers between the villages of Golmovsky and Zaytsevo and fired 10-15 rockets into the town.

Fedichev said that these attacks had been carried out with the aim of convincing the residents of Gorlovka that they were under attack by Ukrainian forces (who are located to the south-west of Zaytsevo near Mayorsk). 


A post on the pro-separatist VKontakte group, Samooborona Gorlovki (Gorlovka Self-Defence), which suggested the report was propaganda, asked residents whether they had heard any Grad strikes during the night.


38 people replied “yes” and 970, “no.”  None of the comments in response to the poll were from those claiming to have seen or heard Grad impacts.

However the pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) reports that the ‘Ministry of Defence’ of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, has in fact claimed that Ukrainian forces had attacked Gorlovka, though no mention of Grad rockets was made.

Instead, the DNR claimed that armour, mortars, anti-aircraft guns, anti-tank missiles and small arms had been used in 13 attacks over the last 24 hours across the region. 

Ukrainians Report Use Of Heavy Mortars And Fighting Near Mariupol

Oleg Sushinsky, the spokesman for the Mariupol Defence Headquarters, told Ukraine’s 5 Channel this morning that Russian-backed fighters had conducted three strikes on Ukrainian positions last night. 

A later post on the Defence Headquarters’ Facebook page specified that there had been three 120 mm mortar shells fired at the village of Lebedinskoye, a small arms and rocket-propelled grenade attack in Shirokino, and a little later, shelling of that same village with an 82 mm mortar.

These reports were echoed by the Azov regiment’s press office.

There were, the Headquarters claimed, no Ukrainian military casualties. 

The Headquarters also claimed that a Ukrainian scout had observed a “conspicuous build-up” of Russian military hardware near Novoazovsk.


— Pierre Vaux