Ukraine Live Day 412: Six Ukrainian Troops Killed Near Mariupol, Schastye

April 5, 2015
Two Ukrainian soldiers walk behind tanks near Lysychansk, March 27, 2014. Photo by Petro Zadorozhnyy

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Dmytro Yarosh Appointed as Adviser to Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief

Viktor Muzhenko, head of the General Staff and Dmytro Yarosh, head of
the Volunteer Ukrainian Corps have come to an agreement regarding
Yarosh’s further role in the Ukrainian military. He has been appointed
as an adviser to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Unian reported citing the Facebook page of the Ukrainian Media Center.

In Ukraine, if the Minister of Defense is a civilian, the Chief of the General Staff becomes Commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The president’s title is Supreme Commander-in-chief.

Muzhenko made the following statement about Yarosh’s appointment (translation by The Interpreter):

“The
fighters of the Volunteer Ukrainian Corps (DUK) displayed their high
motivation and combat spirit worthily in many battles. Their experience
and knowledge will work toward the development of all the Armed Forces.
We understand the need for changes and increasing the effectiveness of
all branches of the work of the Army. We also are reviewing various
models of development for the reserve divisions of the Armed Forces. We
will draft changes and implement them depite the external aggression and
internal resistance of those who do not reforms. We have gathered all
the patriots and defenders of Ukraine under one command. The enemy sees
our unity and sees that attempts to sow division among Ukrainians does
not have success. We have one goal and one Motherland. The army becomes
stronger with every week.”

Yarosh, a follower of controversial Ukrainian war hero Stepan Bandera, is head of the ultranationalist Right Sector, notorious for views characterized by multipleĀ  sources as “extreme,” “fascist” or even “neo-Nazi. While his group did not reach the 5% threshold in the parliamentary elections to gain seats via party lists, he and several other members of Right Sector were elected in single-mandate districts to the Verkhovna Rada or parliament.

There have been a number of allegations that members of his group are responsible for human rights violations and crimes. In December 2014, Amnesty International blamed Right Sector for the hold-up of some humanitarian aid truck last December which they claimed threatened “all of the Donbass with starvation.”

Right Sector indeed held up trucks managed by Pomozhem “We’ll Help”), a charity run by Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, claiming they contained cigarettes or were going to separatist fighters not civilians. But after determining that certain delivery trucks were not related to Akhemtov’s organization, the aid, temporarily rerouted to Dnepropetrovsk, resumed and was reaching Donetsk and other cities. On January 9, Akhmetov’s trucks resumed deliveries without impediment in January 9

And during this period, two convoys of Relief trucks sent by the Russian government also continued to arrive and gain access to the region as reported December 12 and December 17.

The urgent problem for the Ukrainian military leadership has been the disagreement over tactics and constant complaints from the volunteer battalions about how the generals were running the war — which Ukraine has been losing facing the military might of Russia.

Ultimately, President Petro Poroshenko ordered the volunteer battalions to come under the leadership of the regular army and also forced the resignation of oligarch Igor Kolomoisky from his position as governor of Dnepropetrovsk Region, who was funding some of the volunteer battalions. Fighters from the Right Sector transferred to contracts with the 79th Brigade.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Six Ukrainian Troops Killed Today

Six Ukrainian troops were killed today, AFP reports.

Six Ukrainian troops were killed
by landmines in the restive separatist-held east Sunday, breaking a lull
of several days in a conflict that began a year ago this week.

After weeks in
which a shaky ceasefire deal appeared to be largely holding despite
isolated clashes, the fatalities brought to nine the number of soldiers
reported dead within just 48 hours.

And
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko reiterated a call at the weekend for
international peacekeepers to be brought in to try to help end the
conflict.

“Unfortunately, six Ukrainian soldiers have been killed today,” army spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told AFP.

Four soldiers died when their vehicle came under missile fire while
crossing a bridge near the government-held village of Schastya, not far
from the separatist bastion of Lugansk in the northeast.

Two other soldiers were killed by a mine near Mariupol.

Unian reported a statement from Motuzyanyk about the deaths in Mariupol and Schastye (translated by The Interpreter):

“Near the populated area of Shirokino today an all-terrain vehicle exploded on an anti-tank mine. Two Ukrainian servicemen were killed and one was wounded. He is in one of the hospitals in Mariupol now. It is known that all the servicemen belonged to the same motorized infantry battalion.”

[…]

“Officers of the investigative operations group and servicemen are working at the site of the incident. According to preliminary data, it has been established that at the moment the vehicle with the servicemen was crossing the bridge in the city of Schastye, a shot was fired from a PTUR (anti-tank guided missile) from the direction of the [Russian-backed] fighters.”

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick