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?
That “thunder” is almost certainly outgoing Grad rocket fire. The repetitive-yet-uniform thuds and the vague wooshing sound is consistent with the sound of Grad rockets being fired.
We have conducted a reverse-image search of screenshots of the video and they net zero results. The video was uploaded less than an hour ago. This suggests that the video may be new. Also, another report suggests that artillery and mortar fire could be heard in Donetsk.
But Grad rockets have to fall somewhere, which makes this other update, based on a different source, even more interesting:
We can’t verify that picture, though LiveUAMap’s sources are fairly consistently reliable. Avdeyevka was also targeted yesterday by artillery strikes, and the town was again shelled earlier today. There is also incoming Grad rocket fire reported in Pesky, a neighboring town.
LiveUAMap has another story which is developing, potential fighting in Gorlivka (Horlivka), north-northeast of Donetsk:
Another report says that 3 Ural trucks are on the move in Gorlovka.
These reports could all be isolated incidents, or they could be part of a new wave of fighting north of Gorlovka. It’s simply too early to tell.
— James Miller
Yesterday there was fierce fighting in Marinka, and both the Ukrainian Army and the Russian-backed separatists claimed they had taken it over.
As we noted in our post yesterday,
Marinka is strategically located southwest of Donetsk and northeast of
Mariupol. The militants have been advancing in what are like “fingers”
on alternate days to increasingly create “pincers” around towns in
Donetsk and Lugansk regions both to grab more territory and control
access to territory still under Ukraine’s control. Here is our illustrative map:
Vyacheslav Abroskin, Interior Ministry chief for Donetsk Region, wrote today on his Facebook page that he traveled to an area near Marinka on June 3, and updated the post today to say that the situation there was “stable” and is “under control of the Ukrainian Army.” He said the bodies of two men were found under the rubble from shelling by separatists yesterday. This apparently adds to the existing deaths yesterday of three civilians for a total now of five civilians killed in the June 3 offensive.
He attached some photos of damaged homes to his post.
Mashable reported yesterday that the Russian-backed fighters’ spokesman was claiming a defensive maneuver, but other statements implied victory:
Basurin said their move was not an offensive one, but a defensive one.
But a post on a rebel website seemed to contradict his statement. “As
a result of a massive attack by [Donetsk People’s Republic] armed
forces, Marinka has been liberated,” it said.
The Mashable article showed the post with a picture of rebels placing a
“Novorossiya” flag atop an administrative building in Marinka — despite
claims that the “Novorossiya” cause is dead, which we have challenged.
The DNR news account said “Marinka is ours!”
In fact, the picture was not taken in Marinka yesterday at all; we found it used on the pro-separatist news site Golos Sevastopolya (Voice of Sevastopol) on August 4, 2014 and on the pro-Russian news service ANNA’s site on August 9, 2014.
The DNR account also belied claims that their fighting was only defensive:
Marinka is ours! Just now a report has reached us from a soldier of the DNR Army, Pavel Kukhmirov (call-sign “Shakespeare) that as a result of a massive strike of the armed forces of the DNR, Marinka was totally liberated.
The DNR Facebook account also posted a picture of the sign for the town of Marinka with a scrawl “Russian city!” on it — that photo was from last year as well.
However, today, there was no further claim to the control of Marinka, and instead there was this ambiguous post:
Mobile Uploads – Новости Донецкой Народной Республики | Facebook
Новости Донецкой Народной Республики posted this photo on 2015-06-04. 14 likes. 0 comments. 3 shares.
The sign showing a picture of an old woman says:
“What are you doing sonnies…Even if the flags over you are different, the tears of the mothers are the same…”
According to a report by Censor.net, which cited Abroskin’s Facebook account, the Marinka police station was shelled by the rebels. But the Ukrainian forces said they were restoring it now. Abroskin posted a picture with the following caption:
“Sergei Knyazev, deputy head of the Interior Ministry Department of Ukraine for Donetsk Region and Andrei Leshchenko, head of the criminal police and head of the Marinka Precinct after the clean-up.”
That seemed to lend credence to the report that the Ukrainian police were back in charge of Marinka.
The OSCE’s report containing their observations about the Russian-backed forces moving their heavy armor in an offensive on Marinka and other areas undermined the separatists’ claims that they were merely on the offensive, although Russian state-owned media attempted to characterize yesterday’s fighting as an offensive by the Ukrainians.
The post at 5:23 am by the DNR Facebook account with a poster “Marinka, Your Time Has Come” also didn’t sound as if the action was merely defensive.
Translation: Marinka, Your Time Has Come. Rumor has it that the DNR flag is raised in Marinka. The city has gone over to the militia.
Informresist published a number of pro-separatist News Front videos showing a “sniper duel” and fierce fighting in Marinka that didn’t seem to indicate victory.
In describing the results of the Marinka fighting yesterday, the pro-separatist blogger Colonel Cassad wrote:
In the final analysis, after the losses incurred and the uncertain results of the battle for Marinka, the sides today clearly are licking their wounds and the intensity of the battles near Marinka has fallen drastically. The junta did not manage to realize its offensive intentions on the night of 2-3 June, the VSN (Armed Forces of Novorossiya) could not take Marinka in the course of retaliatory actions in the morning and afternoon of June 3. As a result, the sides on the whole remained where they were — the line of the front moved a little bit in favor of the VSN, although both sides paied for this with a large amount of bloodshed. Moreover, during the course of yesterday’s battles and shellings in Marinka and the suburbs of Donetsk, about 15-20 civilians were killed and dozens were wounded. On the whole, this was the bloodiest day of the war in Ukraine since the end of the battle for Debaltsevo, where the Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered enormous losses in its attempts to break out of the kettle.
While this account is spun to sound like a defensive action, yesterday Colonel Cassad directly cited Eduard Gilazov, head of the Ryazan Diversionary and Reconnaissance Group (DRG), who explained it clearly as an attack:
“I haven’t seen such a meat-grinder in a long time, so many victims and it’s a ceasefire. I don’t understand it, we have 1 300 [wounded] fighter. Many are shell-shocked, the operation started too smoothly, then the butchery began. Pyatnashka broke through to the hospital and held the defense without ammunition or water after which we broke through to Pyatnashka. The Ukes kept shooting so that I bid farewell to life 3 times. On the whole, I’m in shock, but we’ll correct it and we’ll knock the Ukes out of Marinka.”
Pyatnashka is another fighters’ group.
Yury Kasyanov, writing for InfoResist, said that the Ukrainian “hurray patriotism” had exaggerated the numbers of both attacking fighters and their casualties in Marinka; from an initial report of three Russians taken as POWs, only one remained in reality, and he died from a Russian shell.
Kasyanov said it was more realistic to say merely “we defended Marinka” which mean “its heroic defenders” who had now become “wounded invalids.” He fretted about the failure of the Ukrainian army to destroy armor in advance preemptively, and noted that the “attack on Marinka was not sudden” and that the “enemy had been drawing together strike detachments, tanks, and artillery” for awhile.
“The artillery preparation began long before the officially recorded beginning of the battle.” Here’s Kasyanov’s list of the events of June 2-3 (translation by The Interpreter):
23:30 – Donetsk, in the director of Gornyak, no less than 6 tanks
03:50 – Howitzer firing toward Avdeyevka from the coke chemical plant
04:30 – a half load of Grads flew from Donetsk. They fired on Marinka approximately from here.
07:00 – seven tanks went to Aleksandrovka.
07:30 – artillery beat on Marinka.
08:00 – The seps closed the checkpoints in Donetsk. The directions of Georgievsky, Volnovakha an Kurakhovo were closed.
08:50 – Grads stand under the bridge, Kirovsky district.
10:00 – 2 Grads firing from Donetsk on marinka.
10:00 – 10 tanks go to Marinka.
10:40 – 3 self-propelled artillery firing on our positions.
10:42 – firing by heavy MRLS from under Yasinovata.
11:00 – Aleksandrovka, large accumulation of troops, tanks, BMP, artillery.
11:30 – Aleksandrovka. In the area of coal mine no. 29, Grads are standing. On the road to Marinka — tanks, armored combat vehicles, military trucks.
This timeline and description of armor tracks with the OSCE’s observations which we highlighted yesterday.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
“There are direct hits by shells on residential homes in the area of Yubileynaya Street. Homes are destroyed, the gas line is damaged. Information about casualties is being checked.”
He said police were inspecting the area, he said. Later Censor.net learned from the police press office that one man, born 1969, was wounded by shrapnel and taken to the hospital in Avdeyevka.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has given his annual address to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, today. In the speech he made it clear how serious he believed the new enemy offensive was and how high the stakes are. A few choice quotes from the Kyiv Post:
“The military must be ready as much for a renewal of an offensive by the enemy in the Donbas as they are for a full-scale invasion along the whole length of the border with Russia. We must be truly ready for this,” Poroshenko says, adding that at least 9,000 Russian soldiers are being operating in the Russian-controlled area.
“We have the powers to defend our land,” the president said. “We’ve provided the minimum level of defense capability and liberated the bigger part of Donbas. We have stopped one of the strongest armies on the continent, because there are not miners and tractor drivers fighting against us, but Russian armed forces.”
“We are ready to restore all economic relations with the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk when Ukraine restores control over the border,” Poroshenko says.
Poroshenko warns of 'full-scale' war, prods to speed up reforms
Ukraine will stick to the Minsk II peace agreement, even though Russia might launch a "full-scale" invasion in the eastern Donbas, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said during an address to Parliament on June 4 almost a year after he came to power.
While the situation in Marinka remained relatively calm after yesterday’s assault, with Yuri Biriukov reporting only three shells being fired after midnight, Russian-backed fighters continued to conduct attacks elsewhere on the front line.
UNIAN translates this morning’s report from the ATO Press Centre:
“After being defeated near the town of Maryinka, the militants continued to attack the Ukrainian army at night. In the area of Mariupol, they fired artillery, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms on the village of Shyrokyne,” the press center said.
In the area of Luhansk, the militants fired on the villages of Donetske, Novotoshkivske, Stanytsia Luhanska and Krymske.
In the area of Artemivsk, the militants fired a grenade launcher on the town of Zolote, and small arms on the village of Leninske.
The militants also fired mortars on the village of Pisky near Donetsk, and rocket-propelled grenades on the village of Novotroitske.
“They fired mortars and artillery on the village of Hnutove and the town of Maryinka,” the press center said.
“During this period, the Ukrainian army recorded 18 reconnaissance overflights by enemy drones,” the ATO headquarters said.
The press office of the governor of the Lugansk region, Hennadiy Moskal, reported that the Ukrainian military checkpoint at Rodina, the last operating crossing point between Ukrainian and separatist-held territory in the region, had been attacked again.
Moskal’s office claimed that the checkpoint had been fired on with RPGs and automatic weapons over the night and bombarded with grenade launchers at 4:30 this morning.
On the outskirts of nearby Katerinovka, Russian-backed forces reportedly launched an attack at around 5 am.
At 5:45 a battle broke out near the tuberculosis clinic on the eastern outskirts of Krymskoye. The fighting lasted for around an hour.
Informator.lg.ua reports that shells struck two residential streets in Stanitsa Luganskaya last night, damaging houses and out-buildings.
Yuri Biriukov, an adviser to the Presidential Administration, posted on his Facebook page this morning that five Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 39 wounded over the last 24 hours.
Biriukov wrote that these figures were based on final data received as of 7 am for the period from midnight to midnight.
Of the five killed, four were lost during yesterday’s Russian-backed assault on Marinka.
The Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (NSDC) reports 5 killed, 38 wounded.
These are the heaviest military casualties since the battle for Debaltsevo in February.
Last night, three civilians were reported to have been killed in the fighting in Marinka.
The NSDC today claims that 2 were killed and 5 wounded.
Last night Ukrainska Pravda reported that Russian-backed fighters had attempted to shell Ukrainian positions again at 20:35, over two hours after the failure of the assault.
Ruslan Semenyuk, a press officer for the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC), told Ukrainska Pravda that around 10 122 mm artillery shells, as well as tank rounds, were fired before Andrei Taran, head of the Ukrainian delegation at the JCCC, contacted his Russian counterparts and informed them of the resumption of shelling. Following Taran’s intervention, the shelling ceased.
— Pierre Vaux