Ukraine Live Day 611: Tanks Are Pulled Back On The Azov Coast, But Do They Remain On The Banks Of The Kalmius?

October 21, 2015
Ukrainian tanks withdrawing near Artyomovsk yesterday. Photo via @uacrisis

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Ukrainian Soldier Wounded Clearing Mines Near Marinka

Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, has told reporters that one Ukrainian soldier was wounded over the last 24 hours.

According to Lysenko, the serviceman was wounded by a grenade blast while clearing mines near Marinka, west of Donetsk.

The Colonel said that there had been no violations of the ceasefire or enemy drone flights recorded over the same period throughout the Donbass. 

— Pierre Vaux

Tanks Are Pulled Back On The Azov Coast, But Do They Remain On The Banks Of The Kalmius?

The process of weapons withdrawal continues in eastern Ukraine today with news that both sides are withdrawing tanks from the front line on the Azov coast.

Interfax-Ukraine reports that President Petro Poroshenko announced today that Russian-backed fighters are withdrawing in the Novoazovsk district, east of Mariupol:

“Today the invaders have started to withdraw tanks, light artillery and mortars in the south of Donetsk region, the area of Novoazovsk.” 

At the same time, Ukrainian tanks were pulled back to the west near Mariupol:


Today’s news is the most significant step so far towards the demilitarisation of the area. While troops from the Ukrainian Donbass Battalion were withdrawn from the frontline village of Shirokino at the end of July, the contact line has since been defended by Naval Infantry.

This summer saw protests against those plans, with some Mariupol residents joining with volunteer units to campaign for Ukrainian forces to remain in place. 

Today’s withdrawal appears so far to have gone without disruption.

But the real test of the withdrawal policy in the area will be to see whether Russia withdraws tanks from the eastern banks of the River Kalmius, to the north-east of Mariupol.

The latest OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) report, based on data received as of 19:30 on October 19, says that an SMM UAV observed 25 tanks deployed near Sontsevo, and two near Bezymennoye, east of Shirokino:

In violation of respective withdrawal lines, the SMM unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) spotted the following military hardware in “DPR”-controlled areas: in the area of Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol) two main battle tanks (MBTs) and in the area of Sontseve (60km north-east of Mariupol) 25 MBTs and other military equipment. 

Earlier this year a large military camp, complete with paved roads and a parade ground, was constructed in separatist-held territory just south of Sontsevo.


If these forces are not pulled back from the front line then they will consider to pose a significant threat to Mariupol, undermining the withdrawals seen today.

— Pierre Vaux