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 President Petro Poroshenko will chair a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) in order to address the increasing violence adjacent to territory controlled by the Russian-backed militants. According to Interfax-Ukraine, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk says that the meeting was “unexpectedly called.” According to the Presidential Press Service, one key concern is that the Russian-backed forces are now hitting civilian territory with large-caliber artillery which should have been withdrawn under the Minsk Protocol:
The Head of State noted that given the increased number of shelling of the Ukrainian positions by pro-Russian terrorists in the ATO area, it is necessary to determine a strategy and coordinate further actions. “We must clearly define the plan on strengthening our defense in case of escalation,” the President said.
The President emphasized that Ukraine strictly complies with its Minsk commitments. He also added that fake elections in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions planned by militants for October 18 and November 1 can ruin the Minsk agreements completely.
At the same time, the President drew attention to the need for intensifying interaction with the OSCE and ensuring efficient cooperation with the Joint Center for Control and Coordination in order to create conditions for uninterruptible monitoring of the ceasefire regime and guarantee access for the OSCE inspectors to the areas of heavy weaponry deployment.
The Head of State reminded that the negotiations of the Trilateral Contact Group were completed the day before in Minsk. In the course of these negotiations, Ukraine suggested a plan on withdrawing the artillery systems of caliber over 100mm, as well as tanks and grenade launchers to the distance of 15 km. “These types of weapons were used against Ukrainian forces until recently, when militants started using large-caliber artillery against us,” the President emphasized.
The NSDC Military Cabinet will also discuss humanitarian and economic issues, particularly the establishment of the subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group on the border. This subgroup will begin “the implementation of the Minsk agreements’ provision on the restoration of control over the uncontrolled part of the Ukrainian-Russian border and withdrawal of foreign troops from the Ukrainian territory”.
The meeting takes place one day after the trilateral contact group in Minsk failed to achieve any new ceasefire agreement. While Ukraine says that they were pushing a plan which would see the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the front lines, a key leader of the Russian-backed separatists, Denis Pushilin, claimed that Ukraine was unwilling to withdraw its forces. AFP reports:
The latest meetings were meant to agree the withdrawal of smaller weapons from a proposed 30-kilometre-wide (18-mile) buffer zone that splits rebel-run districts from the rest of Ukraine.
Donetsk separatist negotiator Denis Pushilin said the discussions were “aborted by the Ukrainian side” after more than six hours because of Kiev’s refusal to move back its forces from four strategic locations.
Pushilin added that some talks would continue into Tuesday.
“But most likely, nothing will get done,” he said. Kiev and Moscow envoys did not speak to reporters in Minsk.
As we reported earlier, the NSDC continues to report record or near-record numbers of attacks on their positions from Russian-backed forces. NSDC secretary and former president also said that Russian calls for the withdrawal of weaponry with a caliber below 100 mm and tanks were “an attempt to create favorable conditions for an offensive by Russo-terrorist groups.”
As of now it does not appear that any senior-level talks will be held within the next three weeks.
— James Miller
The Ukrainian government has cast doubt on claims made to the OSCE by a fighter in separatist-held territory that they were members of a Russian military unit.
Last night, the OSCE reported that members of their Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) had been told by an unmarked soldier guarding a weapons storage site in separatist-held territory that he and his comrades were members of the “16th Airborne Brigade from Orenburg.”
As we reported earlier this morning, no such unit can be found in connection with Orenburg.
This afternoon, Ukraine’s Ministry of Information Policy said that the soldier’s comments had been a “provocation,” aimed at discrediting the SMM and Ukrainian media.
The Ministry confirmed that “no such brigade exists,” adding that (translated by The Interpreter):
“[W]e consider that this may have been either a planned intelligence operation to discredit the Ukrainian media and OSCE, or the stupidity of the Russian terrorists.”
— Pierre Vaux
Oleksandr Turchynov, the secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine (NSDC), has announced that three Ukrainian servicemen were killed and seven wounded over the last 24 hours.
According to Turchynov’s statement, published on the NSDC website, Russian-backed forces conducted 109 attacks over the same time period.
Turchynov said that by firing artillery from positions in residential areas, Russian-backed fighters were using civilians as human shields.
The NSDC secretary and former president added that Russian calls for the withdrawal of weaponry with a calibre below 100 mm and tanks were “an attempt to create favourable conditions for an offensive by Russo-terrorist groups.”
Earlier this morning, the ATO Press Centre reported that in more detail on last night’s attacks.
According to the report, Ukrainian positions both north and west of Donetsk were subjected to intense fire from artillery, mortars and tanks.
At around 23:00, Ukrainian defensive positions in Peski, north-west of Donetsk, were fired on three times by tanks. Vodyanoye, north of Donetsk Airport, was shelled with 152 mm artillery while Pervomayskoye, north-west of Peski, was shelled with 122 mm artillery and tanks. Opytnoye, east of Vodyanoye, came under 120 mm mortar fire.
Attacks continued after midnight, with Opytnoye, Vodyanoye and Marinka shelled.
Avdeyevka, which lies to the north of Opytnoye, was once again subject to heavy bombardment.
The ATO Press Centre reported that residential areas of the town had been shelled twice by 120 mm mortars. The report claims that no Ukrainian military forces were deployed in the areas targeted.
Translation: #Avdeyevka, Zavodskaya street, aftermath of shelling on the night of 03-04/08/15
Translation: #Avdeyevka, rails opposite ATB, aftermath of shelling on the evening of 03/08/15
The Metinvest company, which owns the vast Avdeyevka Coke and Chemical Plant (AKKhZ), released a press statement today, announcing that, due to the repeated shelling of the site, the plant was on the verge of shutting down.
Three out of the four high-voltage power lines supplying AKKhZ have been knocked out by shelling and raw materials can no longer be brought in due to damage to the railway yard.
Since July 2014, Metinvest said, more than 320 shells have fallen on the grounds of AKKhZ, killing seven works and wounding more than 50.
In Janurary this year, Arseniy Yatseniuk, the Ukrainian prime minister, claimed that the Russian-backed separatists want to destroy AKKhZ so as to shut down Ukraine’s strategically important metallurgy industry.
Without coke from AKKhZ, Ukraine’s steel plants would, Yatseniuk said, be forced to shut down until alternative supplies from abroad could be established.
Meanwhile the separatist-backed city administration in Donetsk reported that shells had struck housing on two streets in the suburb of Aleksandrovka, in the south-western Petrovsky district, near the front line with Ukrainian-held Marinka.
According to the administration, one house on Chelyuskintsev street and four on Gorky street were struck by shells. No casualties were reported.
Away from Donetsk, the ATO Press Centre reported that the village of Sanzharovka, south-east of Artyomovsk, had been fired-on at around midnight.
Around an hour later, there was a skirmish between Ukrainian troops and an enemy diversion and sabotage group outside the village of Leninskoye, north of Gorlovka.
In the south of the region, there was heavy fighting along the river Kalmius, north-east of Mariupol.
Yaroslav Chepurnoy, a Ukrainian military press officer, told 0629.com.ua that Ukrainian positions near Starognatovka had been shelled five times with heavy artillery yesterday.
Ukrainian troops deployed near Pavlopol, Chermalyk, Granitnoye and Novogrigoryevka were fired-on several times.
As of 9 am local time, Ukrainian positions near Chermalyk have, Chepurnoy claims, already been fired on six times. Russian-backed forces reportedly used small arms, machine guns and ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft artillery in their attacks.
The Lugansk Military-Civil Administration reported today that Stantisa Luganskaya, north-west of separatist-held Lugansk city, and the village of Krymskoye, on the southern banks of the Seversky Donets river, were both attacked last night.
According to the report, a company commander from the 128th Brigade was wounded when Russian-backed fighters “systematically” pounded the scrub around the town with RPGs.
According to ua-reporter.org, two soldiers from the 128th Brigade were killed on Sunday night near Stanitsa Luganskaya. The website reports that the Zakarpattia regional administration has named the two as Aleksandr Adalbertovich Pavlyuk and Maryan Ivanovich Kozak.
The mortar attack on Ukrainian positions in Krymskoye was, the Lugansk Administration claimed, preceded by a drone flight, which was seen to linger over the tuberculosis clinic (the subsequent target).
— Pierre Vaux
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) reports that a soldier, guarding a weapons storage site in separatist-held territory, told the SMM that he and his colleagues were serving members of the Russian armed forces.
According to the report, based on information received as of 19:30 on August 2 and published last night, the soldier said that he and his comrades were members of the 16th Airborne Brigade from Orenburg:
The SMM revisited five “DPR” and four Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. The SMM found that all weapons previously recorded at three “DPR” sites were in situ. An armed man guarding the facility at one of the sites claimed that he and those present at the site were part of the 16th airborne brigade from Orenburg, Russian Federation. They did not wear identifying insignia.
We cannot yet verify whether there is a 16th Airborne Brigade based in Orenburg.
At the beginning of June this year, the Russian state news agency, TASS, reported that the Ministry of Defence was creating a new, three-regiment formation out of the Ulyanovsk brigade of the 104th Guards Air-Assault Division, one unit of which was to be based in Orenburg.
The city has a long association with Russia’s airborne forces and is home to a military airbase. However we cannot find any specific mention of a 16th Brigade being based there. There is a 16th Independent Special Forces (Spetsnaz) Brigade within the Russian airborne forces (VDV), but they are, at least as of December, 2013, based in Tambov.
— Pierre Vaux