Ukraine Live Day 476: Marinka Assaulted This Morning, Ukraine Says Attack Was Repelled

June 8, 2015
A Ukrainian coastal patrol boat rescuing the crew of another that was struck by a blast off Mariupol yesterday. One crewmember died in hospital and another is missing.

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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Russian-Backed Rebels Are Restarting the War in Ukraine

The battle for Marinka is not over, but the June 3 offensive against the Ukrainian-held territory has signaled a new phase of this conflict, and may have dealt a fatal blow to the Minsk peace process. In our latest article in Foreign Policy, The Interpreter’s managing editor, James Miller, argues that the war in Ukraine is back on (though it never really ended)  and the Russian strategy could spell disaster for the country:

The battle for Marinka has also already had at least one tremendous consequence. Three days after the attack, Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, who was in charge of the OSCE mission, resigned. She had been overseeing not just the monitoring of fighting in eastern Ukraine but also the cease-fire negotiations between Kiev, the rebels, and Russia. Tagliavini’s resignation is a sure sign that there is frustration within the OSCE about the deterioration of the situation in eastern Ukraine. But with Tagliavini out, it may not be possible to find a replacement who both Russia and the West can agree to support.

If such an agreement cannot be met, the peace process in eastern Ukraine is dead. The consequence could be open war between Ukraine and Russia, war that has been so carefully avoided and yet war which some have feared has always, thanks to Putin’s aggressive intentions, been unavoidable. The Marinka attack does not augur well for the prospects of peace.

Read the full article here:

Russian-Backed Rebels Are Restarting the War in Ukraine

Last week, Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine launched a significant offensive against Marinka, a town less than 10 miles west-southwest of Donetsk, the separatists' capital. While the Ukrainian military repulsed the attack, there is now renewed fighting across eastern Ukraine.

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Jun 09, 2015 02:00 (GMT)

Four Oil Tanks on Fire in Kiev Region; 4 Workers Injured

Social media and regional media are reporting a major fire at an oil plan in Kiev Region.

The camera man in this amateur video says he is filming June 8, 2015, and sees a large plume of smoke coming up from an oil plant in the village of Kryachka in Vasilkov Region.

A news report on the video says 4 oil workers were injured. Three gasoline tanks are on fire.

But reported later that four tanks out of 17 on the site were on fire.

According to that report, twenty-five trucks and 90 firemen have gone to the scene, as well as 2 fire trains from Fastov and Kiev-Tovarny. They are preparing to attack the conflagration with foam.

This video is taken closer to the scene, and contains a news report that four tanks are involved.

Kryachka is about 40 kilometers south of Kiev.

The plant belongs to the oil company BRSM Nafta. The fire may have occurred when oil was being pumped from one tank to another, although company officials have not ruled out arson, says

Aleksandr Melnichuk, director of the company’s department of strategic marketing, commented (translation by The Interpreter):

“This can not be caused by careless handling, since the oil plant has been in operation more than 10 years and has considerable experience. Among the possible reasons deliberate arson is being looked at, since there are persons interested in this.”

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Video Shows Heavy Shelling North-Northeast of Gorlovka
One area that has seen heavy fighting recently is the area around Gorlovka, northeast of Donetsk, another area where evidence suggests the Russian-supported forces are focusing their attacks. This video was reportedly taken in Gorlovka today. There is no record of this video having previously been uploaded to the internet. Furthermore we have geolocated this video to Gorlovka:

A picture of the building in the foreground can be found here in Panoramio – note that the same pipes are visible in both the video and the Panoramio image:


The buildings in this area also match the video:

compare-structures.pngIn the video, there is a smokestack which appears to be on the slag heaps, but as we’ll see the zoom of the camera has distorted distance. The small building, or “hut” is at the bottom of this view, the slag heaps (terrikon in Russian) in the middle, and this tower…

…is visible in the background (here):

Screenshot_7-620x566.pngAs you can also see, Shumy, a position we believe is still held by the Ukrainian military, is positioned suspiciously just beyond where this smoke is rising. 

There are reports that shelling can be hear in Gorlovka this evening:

Translation: 23:11 #Gorlovka now – very noisy

James Miller, Pierre Vaux, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Russian-Backed Forces Reportedly Shelling Shirokino With 152 mm Artillery reported at 17:57 GMT that Yaroslav Chepurnoy, a press officer for the Ukrainian military operation in the Mariupol area, had claimed that Russian-backed forces were, at that time, shelling Ukrainian positions in Shirokino with 152 mm self-propelled guns.

The attack began with small arms at 20:30 (17:30 GMT). 10 minutes later, Chepurnoy said, the self-propelled guns opened up.

The artillery fire could be heard in Mariupol.

No casualties are reported so far and the Ukrainian military claims the situation is under control. 

— Pierre Vaux

Body Parts Of Missing Coastal Patrol Boat Commander Found Off Mariupol

Mariupol news site reports, citing the Ukraina TV channel, that parts of the body of the missing crewman of the Ukrainian coastal patrol boat, struck by a mine yesterday, have been recovered.

The missing man was the commander of the crew.

This now means that two crew members were killed and five wounded as a result of the blast, which the Ukrainian military says was caused by an improvised sea mine. 

— Pierre Vaux

Shelling And Fighting In Krymskoye This Afternoon

The press office of the governor of the Lugansk region, Hennadiy Moskal, reports that the village of Krymskoye was shelled this afternoon with mortars and artillery.

The Interpreter translates:

At first our positions were shelled with artillery weapons and mortars, then an armed confrontation began, with the use of automatic weapons and grenade launchers. Residents of Krymskoye, living on streets near the tuberculosis clinic (at the edges of the village and controlled by Ukrainian soldiers), have been forced to hide in their cellars for a long time.

By 17:00 (14:00 GMT), the five-hour battle had ended.

According to preliminary reports there were no civilian casualties.

Krymskoye lies on the southern banks of the Seversky Donets river, north of a Russian-controlled area of the Bakhmutka highway, north-west of Lugansk.


— Pierre Vaux

Poroshenko Signs Law Barring Russian Forces From Passing Through Ukrainian Territory To Reach Transnistria

President Petro Poroshenko has signed a law barring Russian forces from passing through Ukraine to reach the unrecognized breakaway territory of Transnistria, on Moldova’s eastern fringes.

The law annuls an agreement established between Russia and Ukraine in 1995, which allowed Russian troops to travel to Transnistria, where they maintain a military presence, via Ukraine.

An explanatory note attached to law, which was passed by the Verkhovna Rada on May 21, states that the prior agreement should be annulled due to Russia’s military attacks against Ukraine. The passage of Russian forces through Ukrainian territory is regarded by the authors of the bill as a “direct threat to Ukraine’s national security and territorial integrity.”

Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reports:

The foreign minister of the self-proclaimed republic of Transdniestria, Nina Shtanski, said that Ukraine’s refusal to let through Russian military was upsetting the peacekeeping format in the region and putting a big question mark over Kiev’s role in the Transdniestria settlement talks.

She said that “action shaking loose the peacekeeping format in the security zone of the Transdniestrian conflict is impermissible.”

Russia’s 14th Army, which remained in Moldova after the collapse of the Soviet Union, took the separatist side in July 1992, during the Transnistrian War, by shelling Moldovan forces near Bendery, inflicting heavy casualties. This Russian intervention was a key factor in the subsequent ‘freezing’ of the conflict. Russian forces remain stationed in Transnistria, ostensibly as peacekeepers.

The communist, separatist entity, which is a haven for organised crime and arms smuggling, borders Ukraine’s Odessa region and is only accessible via either Ukraine or Moldova.

— Pierre Vaux

Ukrainian Military Spokesman Tells BBC That 7 Ukrainian Troops Have Been Killed After Striking A Mine

Sky News Denies Claims That They Postponed Report On Russian Casualties In Ukraine Due To Putin’s Decree

A Sky News spokesperson has told The Interpreter that claims by Russia’s RBK, that the British television channel cancelled the broadcast of a report on Russian military casualties in Ukraine, are false.

According to RBK, sources close to a Sky News film crew said that the broadcast, which they say was originally scheduled for May 28, was cancelled following President Putin’s decree that reports of casualties incurred during ‘special operations’ conducted in peacetime were now state secrets.

RBK’s claim seemed odd, as the decree only applies to Russian government and military officials.

According to RBK’s “sources close to Sky News,” the British television channel’s journalists are still consulting lawyers but have decided to broadcast the report this week.

However a Sky News spokesperson told The Interpreter:

Sky News has not postponed the report – it is carrying out its usual editorial processes.


Sky News were following up on investigations carried out by Russian bloggers into recently deceased members of Russia’s GRU Spetsnaz forces.

RBK reported that the Sky News team had visited Tatarstan and the Tambov and Chelyabinsk regions to interview relatives, neighbours and colleagues of the deceased soldiers.

One of the mothers of the deceased reportedly spoke with Sky News and confirmed that her son had been an active soldier. She had been told by the army that her son had been killed during a counter-terrorism operation in the northern Caucasus.

Others refused to speak or were even aggressive to the journalists.

— Pierre Vaux

Ukraine Claims Russian-Forces Escalating Attacks Near Artyomovsk

The Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre claims that Russian-backed forces intensified their attacks near Artyomovsk and Gorlovka last night.

According to the report, the villages of Semigorye and Pershe Travnya were shelled with 122 mm artillery. Ukrainian positions near both Pershe Travnya and Slavkovichi were fired on by a tank.

Leninskoye, a Ukrainian-held village just outside Gorlovka, was shelled three times with 120 mm mortars.


In the Donetsk area, Opytnoe, Avdeyevka and the Butovka mine were shelled with 120 mm mortars. The same weapons were used against Ukrainian positions in Shirokino.

— Pierre Vaux

Investigators Believe Improvised Sea Mine Struck Coastal Patrol Boat Yesterday

Mariupol news site reports that the ATO Press Centre has announced that the cause of the blast that damaged a Ukrainian coastal patrol boat in the Azov sea yesterday has been established by investigators.

According to the preliminary findings, an improvised explosive device was placed aboard a construction of wood and foam, carrying a metal cylinder resembling a beacon, was mistaken for a radio buoy by the boats crew, who attempted to bring it onto the boat.

At this point the device exploded, damaging the ship and wounding the crew.

One of the crewmen was reported to have died in hospital last night. Five others are being treated and one is still missing.

The report claims that the device was set adrift at sea from territory controlled by Russian-backed forces. The explosion occurred 4 kilometres out to sea from Mariupol, near the docks.

According to the report, this was not the first such incident.  

The Interpreter translates:

Not long ago, a similar device washed up on the shore near the village of Vinogradnoye. The fisherman who found it, attempted to take the object apart, and this attempt ended tragically for him.


— Pierre Vaux

Russian-Backed Forces Reported To Have Suffered Significant Casualties In Marinka Fighting Today

Yevgeny Deidei, MP and coordinator of the Kyiv-1 Battalion has just written on his Facebook page (at 11:18 GMT) that fighting ended in Marinkia with “significant” losses for the Russian-backed attackers.

The Interpreter translates:

The battle is over. The separatists suffered significant losses – many wounded, some killed. Furthermore and enemy BMP was knocked out. There are no casualties amongst the civilian population or the ATO forces.

It’s quiet again in the Marinka area… 

— Pierre Vaux

Russian-Backed Forces Assaulted Marinka This Morning, Ukraine Says Attack Was Repelled

There were reports this morning that Russian-backed forces had launched another assault on the Ukrainian-held Donetsk suburb of Marinka.

Yevgeniy Deidei, MP and coordinator of the Kyiv-1 Battalion, wrote on his Facebook page at 7:42 GMT that Russian-backed forces were attacking Marinka for second time in less than a week.

The Interpreter translates:

The militants are attacking Marinka again. Direct fire from tanks and mortars. A close-quarters battle is under way. 

We will hold out! We have to hold out!!! 

Glory to Ukraine! 

Ruslan Semenyuk, press officer at the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC), told Ukrainska Pravda that Russian-backed fighters had begun firing at 6 (3:00 GMT) this morning.

At around 10:30, shelling with 120 mm mortars began.

However Semenyuk told the online paper that “at this moment, we are not detecting any massive offensive.”

Igor Savchuk, a soldier in the Kyiv-2 Battalion, wrote at 9:21 GMT that there was no battle in Marinka, but that Russian-backed forces were shelling the suburb with artillery, tanks and Grad MLRS. He said that the the situation had calmed a short while ago.

A Twitter account for the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported that, at around 11:00 (8:00 GMT), Ukrainian forces were returning fire, with both sides using artillery. 

Translation: Marinka. 12:00, the enemy received an appropriate response – they’ve withdrawn. Individual shelling continues. Information on casualties is to be confirmed.

Translation: Concerted actions by our units in Marinka have allowed us to rebuff the enemy. An enemy diversionary group was destroyed. One enemy tank was knocked out.

— Pierre Vaux