Ukraine Live Day 422: Heavy Fighting Around Both Peski and Shirokino

April 15, 2015
T-64 tank in Peski, on the edge of Donetsk. Photo: Myroslav Mysla

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 links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

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

Ukrainian Journalist Sergei Sukhobok Murdered In Kiev

Ukrainian media report that the journalist and co-founder of Obkom, Sergei Sukhobok, was killed on the night of April 12-13 in Kiev. 


Journalist Lyudmilla Chichkaneva wrote on her Facebook page today that Sukhobok’s body had been formally identified by his Obkom colleague, Alexey Mironov.

Obkom have announced Sukhobok’s killing, but the statement reads that more details (beyond the date of his death) are yet to come.

Donetsk news site notes that Sukhobok, a Donetsk native, had long been known and respected as a journalist at several newspapers in the city before moving on to found Obkom.

— Pierre Vaux

Former Party Of Regions MP Oleg Kalashnikov Found Shot Dead In Kiev

Oleg Kalashnikov, a former Rada deputy and member of Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, has been found dead at his home in Kiev.


Anton Herashchenko, member of the Verkhovna Rada and former adviser to the Interior Ministry, announced the discovery on his Facebook page with the minister, Arsen Avakov.

According to Herashchenko, Kalashnikov’s body was found today in the doorway of his apartment in a housing estate in Kiev’s Vynohradar neighbourhood. The former MP had been shot. 

The Kiev police have launched an investigation under article 115 of the Ukrainian criminal code – premeditated murder.

On March 30, Ukrainska Pravda reported that Olga Chervakova, an MP in President Poroshenko’s party, had called on the Prosecutor General and the SBU to investigate Kalashnikov for suspected involvement in so-called titushki provocative anti-Maidan activities and separatism.

The BBC comments on the circumstances of Kalashnikov’s demise, which is only the latest in a string of former Party of Regions politicians’ deaths:

At least eight Yanukovych allies have died suddenly in the last three months.

Most of the deaths are said to have been suicides. However, officials say it was possible some were killed or forced to take their lives.

Commentators in Ukraine have accused supporters, as well as opponents, of the current pro-Western government of involvement in the deaths.

The BBC’s David Stern in Kiev says no motive has emerged linking the deaths and no arrests have been made.

Mr Kalashnikov was a former deputy in parliament and a member of Mr Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

Accounts of his death differ, with some sources saying his body was found outside his flat in Kiev and others saying it was found within.

— Pierre Vaux


OSCE Hears 700 Explosions in Just 6 Hours Near Donetsk

The OSCE reports that in just a six hour period of time yesterday it heard more than 700 explosions near Donetsk. Here is an excerpt of their latest report, dated April 14 (yesterday) at 19:30 Kiev time:

The SMM observed ongoing intensive fighting in and in areas surrounding “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (11km north-west of Donetsk), particularly around government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north-west of Donetsk). Indicative of the intensity of the fighting, the SMM – located at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk) from 13:10 to 19:00hrs on 14 April – heard over 700 explosions, half of which were caused by heavy artillery, tanks, or mortars, either 82mm or 120mm.

In Shirokino (Shyrokyne) things were less intense than they have been, but shelling continues as we have reported. Fighting and troop movement has also continued elsewhere

Meanwhile, “DPR”-controlled Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) remained largely calm for the second consecutive day, as did most of the rest of the Donetsk region and the Luhansk region.

The SMM did, however, hear several explosions whilst in Shyrokyne, one of which caused severe injuries to a Russian journalist, to whom the SMM provided immediate medical assistance. The SMM also heard several bursts of heavy-machine gun and out-going mortar fire. The SMM noted an increased amount of damage to buildings in the village, and much more unexploded ordnance (UXO) on the streets, compared to its last visit to the village on 13 April. The few remaining residents – mostly elderly people – told the SMM that there was no drinking water, electricity or medical supplies available in the village, and food was scarce.

The deputy head doctor at Donetsk Trauma Hospital told the SMM that the hospital currently had 1,883 ambulatory and 633 hospitalized conflict-related patients (including 81 children).

South of “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Uspenka (27km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM witnessed military exercises involving approximately 10 tanks and 30 other vehicles, including armoured personnel carriers (APC) and military-type trucks.

At a press conference in Luhansk – attended by the SMM – the “director” and “chief accountant” of the “LPR” “state bank” said that RUB 45 million had been paid out by the “LPR” to pensioners. In “LPR”-controlled Khrystoforivka (50km south-west of Luhansk), local people told the SMM that the “LPR” had paid pensions to recipients in the village for the month of April.

The headmistress of a school in Khrystoforivka told the SMM that the pre-conflict standard Ukrainian curriculum was used in the school, and that the language of instruction was Ukrainian.

The SMM re-visited two “DPR” and four Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas, observing that the majority of weapons previously recorded were in situ, and that their locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At one of the “DPR” holding areas, however, the SMM noted four 152mm towed howitzers – part of the previously recorded inventory – had been removed. Three 152mm towed artillery pieces – previously recorded at one of the Ukrainian Armed Forced holding areas, and absent also the previous day – were still missing.

Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was completed, the SMM continued to note the presence and movement of heavy weapons in the zone from which they should be withdrawn. Near “DPR”-controlled Hirne (55km east-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed two T-72 main battle tanks moving west. East of government-controlled Kurakhove, (25km east of Donetsk), the SMM saw an anti-tank missile system mounted on a stationary APC.

At a press conference in Lviv – attended by the SMM – the governor of the Lviv region said the second stage of the fourth wave of mobilisation in the Lviv region had achieved its quota. He suggested that this was due to a mood change in the local population following appeals from clergymen, and media coverage of the conflict in the east. He compared the result with mobilisation efforts in the previous year, which he said had only reached 60 percent of the target.

Vostok SOS – an NGO advocating for the rights of internally displaced persons and other conflict-affected people from eastern Ukraine – showed the SMM in Kyiv its database of hostages and missing persons in the east. It listed 2,528 military personnel – all males – of whom 500 are still being held hostage (245 of whom are wounded), 856 former hostages who have been released, another 766 who were killed or died in captivity, 329 missing, and 77 recently added and still uncategorised. It also listed 359 civilians (approximately 15% female), 63 of whom are still being held in captivity, 51 former hostages who have been released, four who were killed or died in captivity, 233 missing, and eight recently added and still uncategorised. The SMM is not in a position to independently verify this information.

The OSCE is also still reporting that its movements are being blocked by the Russian-backed separatists:

The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the cease-fire does not hold everywhere. For this reason, the SMM requires security guarantees from the “DPR” and “LPR” which are not always provided. Where such guarantees are limited to escorted movements, and escorts are not provided for all planned patrols or are delayed, this also represents a restriction of SMM freedom of movement.

– Close to “LPR”-controlled Molodizhne (62km west of Luhansk), an “LPR” “escort” refused to allow the SMM to proceed along the main road to “LPR”-controlled Brianka (49km west of Luhansk), forcing the patrol instead to take back roads to reach Brianka.

– The SMM was stopped at an “LPR” “customs” checkpoint in Parkhomenko (29km east of Luhansk), and prevented from travelling to “LPR”-controlled Kruzhylivka (35km east of Luhansk).

– The SMM was stopped at an “LPR” mobile checkpoint on the outskirts of “LPR”-controlled Diakove (70km south of Luhansk) and was prevented from entering the village.

James Miller

Tank Convoy Filmed Moving Along Lugansk-Donetsk Highway Yesterday

The following video was uploaded to YouTube on the evening of April 14. In it, a large convoy of T-72 tanks, most of them likely the B1 variant, can be seen headed down a highway near Lugansk, (as indicated by a road sign).

@Conflict_Report geolocated the video thus:

Here is the location in more detail:


This means the tanks are headed west along the M04 highway, which runs from Lugansk to Donetsk. Many convoys from Russia have previously come through the Izvarino crossing to Lugansk, via Krasnodon, and then moved towards Donetsk along this route.


@Conflict_Report also notes that the accompanying fuel truck has Russian license plates:

At least 13 T-72s can be seen in the video:



— Pierre Vaux

MH17 Fragment To Be Exhibited On Victory Day In Russian Museum, Run By State-Funded ‘Warrior Brotherhood’ reports that a fragment of the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over south-eastern Ukraine in July last year, is to be exhibited in a Russian museum run by Warrior Brotherhood, a government-sponsored veterans group that was involved in promoting the Anti-Maidan march in Moscow in February.

The museum, in Yeysk on the Azov coast in the Krasnodar region, is due to open to coincide with the 70th anniversary Victory Day celebrations on May 9.

The story was first picked up online by the Chetvertaya Vlast (Fourth Estate) news site, after Soviet Priazovya, a local newspaper in Yeysk, reported on the exhibition:


According to the Soviet Priazovya article, the fragment of the downed Boeing 777 airline was sent to Yeysk by residents of the village of Rasspynoye, on the outskirts of Torez, near the crash site, in exchange for humanitarian aid from the Russian town.

The Interpreter translates:

In gratitude for the food, clothing and medicine that was delivered, the villagers of Rasspynoye gave Yeysk residents a fragment of the Malaysian Boeing 777, which crashed in the Shakhtyorsk district in July last year. According to one version, the passenger airline was shot down by soldiers of the national army of Ukraine.

As Chetvertaya Vlast noted, there was no mention of the “other, main version, that the Boeing was shot down by the separatists with a Russian Buk.”

The independent Ekho Moskvy radio station spoke to Finat Shaykhulin, chairman of the Yeysk branch of Warrior Brotherhood, who confirmed the story.

Shaykhulin said that the fragment had also been brought to Yeysk “as a sign to confirm that the Donetsk separatists were not guilty of downing the Malaysian airliner.”

How the fragment would demonstrate this is not immediately clear.

At the end of November last year, the Dutch Safety Board, which is investigating the disaster, announced that any wreckage remaining after investigators removed large quantities to the Netherlands for analysis was not of interest.

However Ekho journalist Tanya Felgengauer tweeted that Dutch prosecutors were not impressed by the news that a fragment of the wreckage from the crash, in which 298 people died, was being exhibited in Russia at a patriotic exhibition:

Translation: They’re also in shock at the Dutch prosecutor’s office. They asked how this could be possible. They asked for an hour or so to make sense of everything and work out whether or not to comment.
Heavy Fighting Around Both Peski and Shirokino

Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), has announced this morning that one Ukrainian soldier has been killed and two wounded over the last 24 hours, bringing the total killed this week to seven.

UNN reports that Praviy Sector has also announced the wounding of three of their fighters from the 5th independent battalion after their position in Peski, north-west of Donetsk, was attacked.

Meanwhile, to the south, one soldier from the Donbass volunteer battalion was reported wounded in fighting yesterday outside Mariupol. Dmitry Gorbunov, press officer for the Mariupol sector of military operations, told Novosti Donbassa that doctors had assessed the wounded fighter’s condition as being of moderate severity.

We do not know as yet whether Lysenko’s figures this morning included any of these other reported casualties.

Ukrainska Pravda reports that the ATO press centre claimed this morning that Russian-backed forces had conducted 23 attacks on Ukrainian positions between 18:00 and midnight yesterday.

The Interpreter translates:

According to the ATO press centre, in the Donetsk region the enemy shelled Ukrainian defensive positions four times with 120 mm mortars and with a tank.

Armed militants opened fire with automatic grenade launchers and small arms near Avdeyevka and Opytnoye.

In the Mariupol area, ATO forces’ positions near the village of Chermalyk were bombarded with mortars.

Criminals opened fire on a defensive position near Shirokino six times with small arms.

“Shelling began at 17:30, shortly after the departure from Shirokino of the representatives from the inspection group of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, who had been working there that day,” stress the ATO headquarters.

We note that the OSCE were reported to have actually observed mortar fire from both sides while they were still in Shirokino yesterday morning:

Ukrainska Pravda continues

In the Lugansk region, at around 20:00 near Sokolniki, an armed confrontation took place, during the course of which, militants used mortars, anti-aircraft artillery, assault rifles and anti-tank grenade launchers. “Ukrainian soldiers gave the attackers a decent response,” say the ATO headquarters.

In addition, not far from Schastye and Orekhovo, in the Lugansk region, “the Russo-terrorist army” fired on Ukrainian military positions with small arms.

Furthermore, from 20:00 to 22:00, Ukrainian units detected enemy drone flights 22 times. One of them, flying at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres from Starobelsk towards Liman in the Lugansk region, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile system.

Leviy Bereg‘s Oleksandr Rudomanov reported, citing Ukrainian fighter Myroslav Mysla, on continued fighting around Peski this morning.

The Interpreter translates:

At around 7:30 three of the militants’ BTRs and a tank entered the village of Zhabyache [we cannot find this location, he may mean the suburb of Zhabunki – Zhobunki in Russian – where heavy fighting was reported on Sunday]. The separatist opened fire on Ukrainian positions in Peski.

As of 8:30, the fighting has closed in around Peski. The separatists fired on the ATO forces with a tank and anti-tank missiles. The soldiers returned fire with anti-tank missiles and automatic grenade launchers. The tank has not yet been knocked out.

Based on information received as of 10:00, there have been no military casualties.


— Pierre Vaux