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
As we reported earlier,
Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada added an anti-discrimination clause to the
labor code which passed, on the second vote today, with 234 votes —
just 8 more than the 226 votes required.
However, there are skeptics. For starters, the anti-discrimination
bill was decisively voted down last week on its own, and an earlier vote
this week declined to add it to the labor code. Now, a Ukrainian
journalist is pointing out that the bill may only be temporary, since a
new labor code will soon replace the current amended one:
Flurry Of Claims Spells Trouble For What's Left Of Ukraine Cease-Fire Regime
Far from international front pages, the situation in eastern Ukraine is once again on the verge of open warfare. While the situation around Donetsk, the capital of the Russian-backed fighters, has remained strained since the announcement of the newest cease-fire in September, with sporadic small-arms fire reported almost daily, it has deteriorated significantly in the last two weeks.
With tensions in the Donbass at their highest since the summer and fighting breaking out across the front line, yet another Russian ‘humanitarian convoy’ has arrived in separatist-held territory.
The Russian, state-owned TASS news agency reports that the Ministry for Emergency Situations (MChS) has confirmed that a convoy made up of more than 100 trucks crossed the border before splitting up and arriving in Donetsk and Lugansk earlier today.
According to the MChS, the trucks carried more than 1,200 tonnes of aid, most of it food. This is the 44th such convoy to enter Ukraine without permission from Kiev since August last year.
Ukrainian officials have previously accused Russia of sending weapons, ammunition and fuel to separatist fighters in the trucks.
— Pierre Vaux
President Petro Poroshenko said last night that Ukrainian soldiers are authorised to return fire in the event that they are targeted by enemy fire, Novoye Vremya reports.
“Ukrainian soldiers have firm orders, in circumstances when their lives are in danger, when they are targets of attacks, in circumstances of urgent necessity, to open fire for effect. We will not allow the enemy to take us by surprise.”
At noon today Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, announced that one soldier was wounded in combat yesterday.
According to the Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre, Russian-backed fighters attacked Ukrainian positions near Tryokhizbenka, on the northern bank of the Seversky Donets river in the Lugansk region, with 82 mm mortars last night.
In the Donetsk area, Ukrainian positions near Peski, Avdeyevka and Troitskoye were attacked with grenade launchers and small arms. Ukrainian military intelligence reported later today that positions in other areas around Donetsk had been attacked yesterday, including Opytnoye, Novgorodskoye and Marinka.
To the south of the separatist-held city, on the highway to Mariupol, Ukrainian positions near Bogdanovka came under “provocative fire.”
The Ukrainian State Border Service claims that Russian-backed fighters fired several mortar shells last night towards a checkpoint outside the village of Mayorsk, to the north of separatist-held Gorlovka.
The ATO Press Centre noted that loud blasts could be heard in the Gorlovka area this morning.
Another interesting claim from the ATO Press Centre is that Ukrainian intelligence has recorded the return of enemy Grad MLRS towards the front lines, with Grads and self-propelled artillery spotted at 20:20 yesterday in a graveyard near the village of Lesnoye, east of Makeyevka.
We have found one cemetery recorded just south of Lesnoye on Wikimapia. However if this is indeed the location referred to, then it may still fall just beyond the Minsk withdrawal lines.
Meanwhile the Russian-backed separatists claim that Ukrainian troops have conducted 13 attacks within the last 24 hours, using 120 and 82 mm mortars, as well as infantry fighting vehicles and small arms.
Most dramatically, Ivan Prikhodko, the separatist-backed head of the Kuybyshevsky district of Donetsk city, claimed today that Ukrainian forces had used 82 mm mortars to shell the Oktyabrsky neighbourhood, on the front lines near Peski, striking a hospital.
It is interesting to note that video of repairs being conducted at the same hospital was uploaded yesterday afternoon by pro-Kremlin propagandist, before the shelling reportedly took place last night.
— Pierre Vaux
After 3 days of repeated votes, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada has finally passed the anti-discrimination bill required to obtain a visa-free regime with the European Union.
The successful vote was in fact the second attempt to pass the bill today. The anti-discrimination bill introduces a clause to the national Labour Code will ban discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the workplace.
Earlier this morning the bill failed to receive the necessary 226 votes to pass.
Ukrainska Pravda reported that after the first, failed reading, Speaker Volodymyr Groysman ordered a 15 minute recess before MPs review the bill once more.
Groysman attempted to both rally support for the bill while placating homophobic traditionalists: (translated by The Interpreter):
“The idea here is that if someone works for us, we do not have the right to simply discriminate against them. I want to stress once more that the basic values of any state are people and their rights.
We stand with you on family values by all means.I hear some fabrications saying that Ukraine may introduce same-sex marriage. God forbid this ever takes place, we will never support this.”
This time, the bill passed by 234 votes:
234 for, 42 against, 18 abstentions, 39 did not vote
This is a dramatic increase from the 117 votes in favour when the bill was first put to the Rada on November 5.
A more detailed view of the breakdown by party grouping can be seen in this screenshot from a 5 Channel news report:
Comparing with the earlier vote results we can see that 11 more members of President Poroshenko’s party (BPP) and 6 more from the Popular Front (NF) voted in favour of the bill. There was also one new vote against in the BPP and one new abstention from the NF.
The Opposition Bloc, the party formed from the remnants of Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, from which not a single MP voted in favour of the bill. Indeed, two Opposition Bloc MPs appear to have switched their votes from abstention to against between the two rounds today.
— Pierre Vaux