Ukraine Live Day 440: More Heavy Fighting in Donetsk, More Heavy Weaponry in Lugansk

May 4, 2015
A Strela 10, one of 3 escorting a convoy of heavy weapons through the streets of separatist-held Lugansk on May 1, a violation of the Minsk accords

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More Minsk Violations, More Calls For Political Dialogue

The situation report as of today’s briefing from the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council: 

According to the AFP, NSDC spokesperson Andriy Lysenko said that one Ukrainian soldier was killed and 6 were wounded over the last 24 hours. AFP also reports that one civilian was killed. According to that same report, the Russian-backed separatists report that 6 of their own soldiers have been wounded over the same period:

Rebel shelling of a Ukrainian army checkpoint left one civilian dead Saturday in Marinka, six kilometres (nearly four miles) west of the separatists’ stronghold Donetsk, said regional police Chief Vyacheslav Abroskin.
Army positions have been shelled 16 times in the last 24 hours by guns of a calibre of at least 100mm, Lysenko said.

For the first time in weeks the town hall in Donetsk has reported shelling of the city, especially in neighbourhoods not far from the ruins of the airport, a frequent flashpoint.

According to a pro-Kremlin reporters from Komsomolskaya Pravda, the violence continued today in the areas described above: 

Translation: one again it’s started again here — they’re aiming at the west of Makeyevka, at Gorlovka, Yasinovataya, battle near the airport, shelling the adjacent areas. OSCE is asleep.

He was challenged by a citizen reporter:

Translation: Regarding the volleys from Azotny and from Gvardeyka, we’re silent, of course, yes?

Speaking of the OSCE, the Chairperson-in-Office released a statement condemning the escalations and calling for political progress — though the statement refused to point fingers at which side is breaking the ceasefire, and failed to explain how political progress was going to move forward or resolve anything if two Minsk agreements have not frozen this conflict:

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić today condemned violations of the cease-fire along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine during the last few days, and expressed in particular serious concern over the use of proscribed heavy weapons as well as the increased fighting in and around Donetsk and Shyrokyne. He once again reiterated the call, supported in Belgrade last week by the ministerial OSCE Troika, to all sides to fully and unconditionally respect the cease-fire, end all hostilities and implement all provisions from the Minsk Agreements, including the withdrawal of heavy weapons. “At this moment, it is essential for the political process to gain momentum, and I call all sides to invest all possible efforts towards that end,” said Dačić.

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office reiterated his full support for the activities of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM).  He also stressed the importance of the safety and security of the SMM monitors and referred to several incidents over the May 1-2 period which placed them in potentially dangerous situations in eastern Ukraine. Dačić said: “The decision to dispatch an observer mission to Ukraine was unanimously supported by all 57 participating States. SMM monitors must be allowed unfettered access, with safety guarantees and with no interruption to their crucial work.”

Meanwhile, heavy weaponry — protected by advanced anti-aircraft systems — continues to appear in Lugansk under the guise of drills to mark the May 9th Victory Day commemorating the end of World War II. However, many are concerned that such convoys may really be fresh reinforcements straight from the Russian military’s stockpiles:

A similar convoy was documented on May 1. It’s also worth noting that, parade or no, this equipment is in direct violation of the Minsk agreements, as we pointed out yesterday:
James Miller, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick