Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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: How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17.
- READ OUR SPECIAL REPORT: An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlinâs Dirty War in Ukraine
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has arrested Olena Lukash, who served as justice minister under former President Viktor Yanukovych.
Olena Lukash – Photo: UNIAN
Interfax-Ukraine reports that SBU spokesperson Olena Hitlyanska told reporters that Lukash was wanted for involvement in attacks on protesters during the Maidan revolution.
On February 28, 2014, the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) ordered the Interior Ministry and SBU to arrest Lukash on suspicion of shooting activists on Maidan in Kyiv through February 18-22.
In March, the EU and Canada announced that Lukash was on the list of senior Ukrainian officials subject to financial sanctions.
On May 28, 2015 the PGO accused Lukash of misappropriation and property embezzlement through abuse of office.
The corresponding information has been posted on the official website of Interior Ministry.
According to the website, Lukash has been on the wanted list since July 28, 2015.
She was accused of committing an offence under Article 191, Part 5 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (embezzlement of property or misappropriation through abuse of office), and of official forgery (Part 2, Article 366 of the Criminal Code).
Ukrainska Pravda reports that prosecutor Vladislav Kutsenko told reports that Lukash is suspected of embezzling 2.5 million hryvnia (around $109,892) from state budgets.
Lukash was reported in September to have been hiding in Russia. Kutsenko said that she returned to Ukraine today and was arrested in Kiev.
— Pierre Vaux
Is the Donbass on the brink of an outbreak in major fighting? As we’ve been reporting (see previous update) there are reports of heavy weapon use, and troop mobilization on behalf of one of the most infamous fighting groups within the ranks of the Russian-backed fighters.
Beyond what we’ve already quoted in the previous update, the latest OSCE report, dated November 3, at 19:30, lists significant violations of the ceasefire agreement including fighting and the movement of heavy equipment. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) uses drones to monitor the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. One of their drones was jammed in an area controlled by the Russian-backed fighters. The movement of heavy weapons by both sides may indicate that renewed heavier fighting could be imminent:
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed: in the area of government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk) one stationary infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-2) equipped with one anti-tank guided missile system (9K111, Fagot); and three camouflaged MLRS (122mm calibre, Grad, BM-21) in the area of government-controlled Chabanivka (67km north-west of Luhansk).
The SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) observed, in violation of respective withdrawal lines, in the area of “DPR”–controlled Rozdolne (67km north – east of Mariupol) five main battle tanks and other military equipment. The SMM UAV carried out an emergency landing following jamming of its GPS near the launch site shortly after take-off*.
In areas beyond respective withdrawal lines, at a known training area in “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed 20 MBTs (T-72 and T-64). At a known training area in “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed eight howitzers (122mm, Gvozdika), another howitzer (122mm, D30) and one tented military-type truck in a static position. No live-fire exercises were observed at these locations. The SMM was unable to check serial numbers at these locations to verify the withdrawal of weapons in accordance with the Minsk package.
— James Miller
There are reports from Donetsk this morning of fighting and blasts in to the north and west of the separatist-held city.
Donetsk news site 62.ua quotes residents on social media as saying that salvoes from heavy weaponry could be heard.
The Interpreter translates:
“Kalinovka 11:26, just now, a single powerful one, the windows shook. Somewhere far away.”
“Leninksy, heard a triple boom, even the glass buzzed.”
“Kalininsky, bangs somewhere.”
“Zaperevalnaya, heard one powerful bang. What was it?”
“Abakumova, heard a powerful blast.”
There were also reports on Twitter:
Translation: New double bang several minutes ago. West-northwest.
Translation: VKontakte: #Marinka “12:10 – very powerful strike somewhere, around five minutes ago”
There were also reports that the separatist Sparta Battalion (led by infamous paramilitary Arsen Pavlov, known by his nom de guerre, Motorola), has been on the move today:
Translation: 12:45 Donetsk. Peski: shooting battle (machine guns, assault rifles). Shelling conducted towards Petrovka from the direction of Krasnogorovka.
Ukrainian forces control Krasnogorovka while Russian-backed fighters occupy the Petrovsky district of Donetsk (Petrovka).
The purported locations of the reports indicate that both sides are now exchanging artillery fire.
Of particular note are the locations of the reports of bangs heard in the Kalininsky, Kalinovka and Zaperevalnaya areas. These are all to the east of the city centre, some distance away from the front lines. If blasts can he heard in these neighbourhoods then it suggests that heavier, longer-ranged artillery is now being used again by Russian-backed forces on the eastern fringes of the city.
We note that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), which described an elevated level of fighting in their report based on information received as of 19:30 on November 3, published yesterday, said that they saw “fresh impacts” and shrapnel from a Grad rocket in separatist-held Staromikhailovka, around 5 kilometres east of Krasnogorovka:
The SMM visited “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (19km west of Donetsk) following reports of shelling on 2 November. On Zhukovsky Street, the SMM saw a house with a sizeable hole in the roof and damage to an exterior wall, which the SMM assessed to be fresh impacts. Three elderly residents (two men, one woman) told the SMM that they heard explosions around 22:00-22:30hrs. According to the residents, no one was injured as the occupants were not in the house. The SMM found shrapnel assessed to have been from a Grad rocket (122mm calibre). The SMM assessed that the projectile was fired from the north-west.
The trajectory estimated by the SMM would indicate that the Grad was fired from Ukrainian-held territory. If Ukrainian troops are using Grad rockets and Russian-backed fighters have resumed using heavy artillery, then the Donbass may well be on the brink of a resumption of full-scale hostilities.
The Ukrainian military reports that Russian-backed forces attacked Ukrainian positions 12 times between 18:50 last night and 00:30 this morning.
According to the ATO Press Centre, Russian-backed fighters attacked positions near Opytnoye, Avdeyevka and Peski with grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms.
The military also reported attacks on positions near Novgorodskoye, west of Gorlovka.
Meanwhile the separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) website reported, citing “a source in the security forces of the DNR” (self-declared Donetsk Peoples Republic), that Ukrainian forces had fired 124 shells from 82 and 120 mm mortars into the northern outskirts of Donetsk overnight.
According to the source, the Ukrainian attack lasted from 21:30 until around 2 am, with shelling of both the Spartak area, to the northeast of the city centre, and the Volvo Centre, a separatist-held position southeast of Ukrainian-held Peski.
— Pierre Vaux