Ukraine Live Day 542: Night Of Ominous Warnings And Heavy Shelling Continues Apace Today

August 13, 2015
Smoke rising in a separatist-held suburb of western Donetsk this morning. Photo via @hyeva_maryinka

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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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?

Fragments From MH17 Crash Site May Be From Russian-Made Buk Missile

The Dutch chief investigator Fred Westerbeke has told the press that fragments taken from the wreckage of Malaysian Airliners Flight MH17 are not part of the wreckage but are, his experts believe, part of a Russian-made missile system — a Buk.

Westerbeke told Reuters:

“We found seven pieces, seven pieces which we established that they were not part of the airplane, and further investigation gives us now the conclusion that it’s probably part of the missile system and of a Buk missile system.”

“We are not hundred percent sure at the moment, that’s why we are a little bit cautious in the conclusion but the weapon experts who had been looking at these parts they say it’s probably Buk missile system and the further investigation we are going to do now is to establish that for sure.”

James Miller
OSCE Says That Despite Rumors It Continues Its Mission To Monitor Ukraine

Last night there were rumors spread, primarily through pro-Russian social networkers, that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine was planning on leaving Donetsk. The pro-separatist wrote that “reliable sources” in the militia of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic,” called “Russian Spring” by the outlet, said that the OSCE was to depart Donetsk by 6 AM today. The same report said that Ukrainian troops had intensified their activity and was preparing “a large-scale provocation, or a full-scale offensive.” The report does not mention that the Russian-backed forces appear to have launched their own offensive, nor does it mention the significant crackdown the OSCE has had to contend with recently — in the last month more than 40 of its vehicles have been disabled or destroyed, its monitors have been shelled, and its drones jammed, all while within territory controlled by the Russian-backed fighters.

Today the OSCE took to Twitter and dispelled these rumors:

James Miller
After Night Of Ominous Warnings And Heavy Shelling, Fighting Continues Apace Today

After a night of intense shelling and ominous warnings from Russian-backed separatists, fighting continued this morning, with reports of shelling and gunfire near Mariupol, Donetsk and Stanitsa Luganskaya.

Censor.NET reports that Georgiy Tuka, the governor of the Lugansk region, announced today that Russian-backed forces had shelled the village of Bolotennoye with 122 mm artillery at 7 am. Casualty and damage reports are yet to be received.

In Stanitsa Luganskaya itself, small arms fire was heard. A gas mains was severed by shelling during the night but was repaired by the morning.

In Krymskoye, on the southern banks of the Seversky Donets river, a soldier from the Kiev-2 Battalion was wounded by an anti-personnel mine.

In Mariupol, Yaroslav Chepurnoy, a press officer for the Ukrainian military, told that Ukrainian positions near Pavlopol, on the river Kalmius, had been attacked today with 152 mm self-propelled artillery. In Shirokino, Russian-backed forces used 120 mm mortars. Otherwise, attacks today in the Mariupol area have been limited to small arms.

Last night however saw shelling closer to the city of Mariupol than we have seen for several months.

As we reported last night, Ukrainian positions near Lebedinskoye, which is less than 4 kilometres from Mariupol, were shelled last night with 152 mm artillery.

According to Chepurnoy, the village of Talakovka, 7 kilometres from the edge of Mariupol, was bombarded with Grad MLRS at 22:33. 

Nikolai Krasikov, head of the village, told 0629 that residents had been forced to hide in their cellars during the shelling. Fortunately, no civilians were wounded and no homes were destroyed. He also reported that shells had fallen on the outskirts of nearby Gnutovo. 

According to local residents, the fire came from the direction of separatist-held Oktyabr. 

The same weapons were used twice against positions near Starognatovka, where Ukrainian troops gained ground after repelling a major assault on Monday morning.

Ukrainian troops were also attacked near Bogdanovka, Granitnoye, Chermalyk, Novogrigoryevka and Novoignatovka.


In the Donetsk area, there are social media reports today of shelling to the west of the city:

Translation: #Donetsk #Abakumova VKontakte: Smoke in the direction of the headquarters

The separatist-backed Donetsk City Administration reports that, at around 11:00, Ukainian forces shelled the Staromikhailovka area, damaging two buildings. This report corresponds with the above tweet.

Translation: #Marinka VKontakte: It’s quiet in the town, but somewhere further away from us, from the north, you can hear constant bangs.

Translation: #Krasnogorovka VK 14:05 In the Borisovka and Stalinskoy areas, shoot-outs can be heard.

Vyacheslav Abroskin, head of the Donetsk regional branch of the Interior Ministry, announced on Facebook that three civilians had been wounded in Avdeyevka, north of Donetsk, after Russian-backed forces shelled the town last night.

Today, Abroskin claimed, the town is again under fire from D-30 howitzers. 

Abroskin also reported that two civlians had been wounded in the village of Dzerzhynsk, north of Gorlovka. The pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency reports that one civilian was wounded in Gorlovka itself.

The Donetsk City Administration reports meanwhile that one civilian was killed and three wounded in the separatist-held city last night. 

Overall, the Ukrainian military claims that Russian-backed forces conducted 152 attacks, 102 of them in the Donetsk area.

UNIAN translates:

“It is worth noting that yesterday alone the Kremlin-backed mercenaries fired artillery systems 20 times, mortars 32 times, Grad multiple rocket launchers 15 times, and grenade launchers and small arms 100 times along the line of contact,” the report reads.

“The tensest situation was in the area of Donetsk. From 20:47 to almost 22:00 Kyiv time, the militants were firing Grad multiple rocket launchers, having attacked on ATO forces not far from the village of Peski [near the destroyed Donetsk airport] four times. They also fired 120mm mortars on this village three times. In the evening, the town of Avdeyevka came under militant fire from 120mm mortars five times and 122mm artillery systems three times. At 21:40, 22:00, and 22:40, the mercenaries started firing Grad rockets on the village of Opytnoye,” the report says.

In the area of the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol, the Russian proxies started firing artillery systems at 18:00 Kyiv time on ATO fortified positions near the villages of Lebedinskoye, Starognatovka, Talakovka and Pavlopol. In addition, at 21:20 and 22:10 Kyiv time, the militants were firing on Starognatovka, and at 22:33 Kyiv time they started using Grad multiple rocket launchers to shell Talakovka.

“At around midnight, the militants were firing mortars, 152mm artillery systems, grenade launchers and infantry combat vehicles on ATO forces near the village of Kirovo in the Artyomovks sector,” the press center said.

— Pierre Vaux