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?
Many of the vehicles have number plates and identifying marks removed while many of the servicemen had taken insignia off their fatigues. As such, they match the appearance of some of the forces spotted in eastern Ukraine, which Kiev and its Western allies allege are covert Russian detachments.
The scene at the base on the Kuzminsky firing range, around 50 km (30 miles) from the border, offers some of the clearest evidence to date of what appeared to be a concerted Russian military build-up in the area.
The weapons being delivered there included Uragan multiple rocket launchers, tanks and self-propelled howitzers — all weapon types that have been used in the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kiev’s forces and separatists.
The amount of military hardware at the base was about three times greater than in March this year, when Reuters journalists were previously in the area. At that time, only a few dozen pieces of equipment were in view.
Over the course of fours days starting on Saturday, Reuters saw four goods trains with military vehicles and troops arriving at a rail station in the Rostov region of southern Russia, with at least two trainloads traveling on by road to the base.
A Reuters reporter also spotted a road leading to a less-frequently used (and less monitored) border crossing which had recently been repaired.
Daily Mail has even more pictures, and video, taken by Reuters. Their report:
A freight train pictured carrying a convoy tanks towards the Ukrainian border looks to escalate tensions between the two sides even further.
The nine tanks arrived in the southern town of Matveev Kurgan on Monday, before being driven along the streets on Tuesday.
The picture, taken on a mobile phone, comes just days after a huge convoy, including rocket launchers, military trucks without licence plates and armoured personnel carriers, was photographed driving along a road near the town.
One of the pictures shows the tanks driving through the town after having been offloaded from the train:
This new report seems to verify a claim analyzed earlier by The Interpreter, that a reporter for the news agency had taken pictures of Russian military hardware headed toward the Ukrainian border:
NATO, our sources among Western diplomats, the Ukrainian, and our own analysis suggest that a new offensive is being prepared by Russian proxies and the Russian military which supports them. With each passing day, more evidence is compiled showing the Russian military preparation for this inevitability.
The Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre has issued their evening report. According to the Press Centre, Russian-backed forces have continued to conduct attacks throughout the day across “practically all of the contact line.”
According to the report, Russian-backed forces shelled Granitnoye, east of Volnovakha, with 120 mm mortars.
To the north of Donetsk, Opytnoye was fired on with anti-tank missiles while Marinka, to the west of the separatist-held city, came under small arms fire.
To the east, near Artyomovsk, Troitskoye was reportedly shelled with mortars and Lozovoye fired on with heavy machine guns, 120 mm mortars and automatic grenade launchers.
Schastye, in the Lugansk region, was, the report says, attacked with heavy machine guns, automatic grenade launchers and small arms.
— Pierre Vaux
TSN reports that Konstantin Kravchuk, a Ukrainian lawyer for Aleksandr Aleksandrov, a Russian GRU Spetsnaz soldier captured outside Schastye on May 17, has told the television channel that his client will not appeal the decision of a Kiev court to place him under arrest.
Kravchuk said that Aleksandrov would cooperate with the investigation and that the conditions of his detention in the VIP ward of a military hospital were “more than good enough.”
The lawyer has made a request to the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General that the terrorism charges against his client be withdrawn as he says that Aleksandrov did not use firearms on Ukrainian territory. Instead, Kravchuk says, he can only be found guilty of illegally entering Ukrainian territory with the aim of gathering intelligence.
Aleksandrov’s fellow captive and commander, Yevgeniy Yerofeyev, will appeal against his arrest, TSN reports.
Yesterday, both captives finally received visits from a Russian consul, Aleksei Grubiy.
— Pierre Vaux
Yesterday we reported on a claim from Ukrainian soldier Aleksandr Pogrebiskiy, that a servicewoman had been killed by shelling in Avdeyevka.
Today Pogrebiskiy apologised on Facebook that he had been misinformed, saying that the woman, named as Irina, was severely wounded, but had survived.
He said that she had been taken to the Mechnikova hospital in Dnipropetrovsk.
Serg Rizhenko, chief doctor at the hospital, wrote on his Facebook page this morning (translated by The Interpreter):
A legend named Irina
25 years-old, she was brought to Mechnikova from Avdeyevka.
Shortly before midnight she was seriously wounded. The total for the day was seven.
It’s intense in the operating theatre.
Irina the combat medic suffered the traumatic amputation of both her legs and a penetrating eye injury. Ongoing operations are saving her life.
She has saved more than one life on the battlefield.
5 minutes ago she opened her eyes.
It’s hard to write…
I’m running to a session.
— Pierre Vaux
Oleksandr Motuzyanik, a spokesman for the Presidential Administration on the military operation in the south-east, has told reporters at a briefing today that one Ukrainian soldier has been killed and eight wounded over the last 24 hours.
The dead soldier was named by the Aidar volunteer battalion as Yevhen Marchuk from Krivoy Rog, born in 1988. Marchuk, a member of the second Afghan assault company, died yesterday in hospital from shrapnel wounds received when his checkpoint in the village of Rodina, between Zolotoye and separatist-held Pervomaysk, was shelled.
The press office of the governor of the Lugansk region, Hennadiy Moskal, reported that Ukrainian defensive positions in the nearby village of Stakhanovets had been shelled with mortars and tanks between 4:00 and 5:30 this morning. The shelling came from the direction of Pervomaysk. According to the report, 460-480 strikes were made over the course of this hour-and-a-half period.
According to Ukrainska Pravda, Oleksandr Motuzyanik said that the heaviest fighting overall had been seen around the separatist-held city of Donetsk, with Ukrainian positions in Peski, Avdeyevka and Marinka shelled by Russian-backed forces.
At least four civilians have also been killed overnight.
One woman was killed, Moskal’s office reported, in the town of Popasnaya, when a shell struck the basement of her home, in which she was sheltering, in the early hours of this morning.
The ATO Press Centre reported today that Boguslavskoye, on the western outskirts of Popasnaya, had also been attacked last night.
At least three civilians were killed on the south-western outskirts of Gorlovka when a house in the Korolenko suburb was struck by a shell last night. According to the Donetsk regional Prosecutor’s Office, the owner of the house, his 11-year-old daughter and another man were killed. Another four were injured, including a 10-year-old boy and a baby. Gorlovka news site 06242.com.ua reported this morning that the baby, aged two, had also died in hospital.
Another civilian was reported wounded in the village of Ozeryanovka, to the south-west of Korolenko.
The regional Prosecutor’s Office has claimed that the attack was conducted by Russian-backed forces. 06242 cited social media reports that self-propelled guns had been seen firing from the grounds of the Elastomer factory, to the north-east. Shells were reportedly heard flying over the town centre.
06242 described reports of fighting being heard around Ozeryanovka, with at least three tanks of the Russian-backed, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) seen leaving the area.
Meanwhile Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the armed forces of the DNR, claimed today that the shelling had been conducted by the 1st howitzer division of the Ukrainian 44th Artillery Brigade. Basuring said that responsibility for the attack lay with the Brigade commander, Oleg Lisovoy.
The ATO Press Centre reported, Russian-backed fighters fired anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms on the villages of Kirovo and Leninskoye, to the north of Gorlovka, and Lozovoye, to the east.
Governor Moskal’s office reported that a house had been burnt and destroyed on Lermontov street in Stanitsa Luganskaya after being struck by a shell.
Translation: My comrade, who has a better view in this area, sees a glow from the direction of Stanitsa [Luganskaya]
According to the ATO Press Centre, Schastye, west along the Seversky Donets river from Stanitsa Luganskaya, was attacked with tanks, rockets and mortars. Fighting was also reported between Krymskoye and Sokolniki.
In the south of the Donetsk region, Motuzyanik claimed that Ukrainian positions in the Volnovakha district had come under Grad rocket fire twice.
According to the spokesman, 122 mm artillery, 120 mm mortars and 152 mm self-propelled guns had been used in attacks on Ukrainian positions in Shirokino, firing from the separatist-held village of Sakhanka.
Ukrainian forces had, Motuzyanik claimed, returned fire on the Russian-backed fighters’ artillery positions.
Last night, we reported on the ferocity of the fighting in the Shirokino area in recent days: