Ukraine Live Day 634: 1 Ukrainian Soldier Killed, 3 Wounded With Fighting Near Gorlovka And Donetsk

November 13, 2015
A Ukrainian soldier walks past a damaged school in Peski on October 26, 2015. Photo by Anatolii Stepanov

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.

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For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17.

Ukrainian Helicopter, Carrying ‘Illegal Migrants’ Crashes In Slovakia, Killing At Least 6

A Ukrainian helicopter crashed last night near the Slovak village of Stretavka, less than 15 kilometres from the Ukrainian border.

The discovery of the wreckage was not reported until this afternoon. 

Slovak news site reports that six people were killed in the crash. Robert Kaliňák, the Slovak interior minister, said that he could not exclude the possibility that the death toll may increase.


Police have cordoned off the crash site. Photo: TV JOJ

Slovak investigators said that the helicopter appeared to have been flying dangerously low in attempt to evade radar while crossing the border without authorisation.

Bad weather last night would have made their flight even more dangerous. 

Yaroslav Galas, a spokesman for the state administration in Ukraine’s Zakarpattia region, told the 112 television channel that the Mi-2 helicopter had been carrying illegal migrants.

“There were four men and two women, but there is no more information yet, they were citizens of southeast Asia and Africa.” 

Galas said that the helicopters flight route is still under investigation but that it was possible it had taken off from the Lviv region.

The report notes that people smugglers have been active on the border with Ukraine. A Zlin Z-37 light aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Nizhny Hrusov, not far from Stetavka, two months ago. According to the report, the plane had been stripped of its chemical tanks, usually used for crop spraying, providing a space that could have been intended for transporting people.

— Pierre Vaux

Two Blasts This Morning In Uzhgorod , Zakarpattia

Police in the western Ukrainian region of Zakarpattia reported two explosions in the early hours of this morning in the regional capital Uzhgorod.

According to the police statement, reports of the blasts were received at 3:45 and 3:55. 

No one was wounded in the blasts, which were not powerful. However the police are “worried” because the explosions occurred in residential areas – a house and outside a 5-storey block.

Meanwhile reports that the first reported incident was the result of two military grenades thrown at the residence of Yuriy Mandych, a deputy in the Uzhgorod city council. 

According to this report, the blasts damaged the property, windows and a car. reports that the second reported blast was caused by a car set alight.

According to the news site, the VAZ car belonged to Igor Savitsky, a local Cossack leader. Some eyewitnesses claimed that the car was destroyed by a bomb.

Several cars were torched in Uzhgorod in July, amid rising tensions in the region after a shoot-out involving Pravyi Sektor members in neighbouring Mukachevo.

One of the cars burnt belonged to the regional prosecutor.

No claims have been made yet as to who was behind this morning’s incidents, however in a region with a recent history of violence and tensions involving Pravyi Sektor, this weeks’ announcement of the resignation of the groups leader, Dmytro Yarosh, may raise suspicions of score-settling or provocations.

— Pierre Vaux

SBU Announces Arrest of ‘Leading Member’ of Jabhat al-Nusra In Kiev

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has announced that a “leading member” of Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian rebel group affiliated with al-Qaeda, has been arrested in Kiev.

The Interpreter translates:

The citizen of one of the former Soviet republics participated in the Syrian conflict between 2013 and 2014. In 2015 the militant led an independent jamaat of the international terrorist organisation, the al-Nusra Front.

The Shevchenkovsky district court in Kiev has remanded the foreigner in custody for extradition.

— Pierre Vaux

Two Civilians Killed By Landmine Near Marinka

Novosti Donbassa reports that two civilians have been killed by a landmine in the Ukrainian-held Donetsk suburb of Marinka.

According to local police, the two men – one ages 29, the other approximately 60 – struck a mine while driving close to Marinka at around 9:00 this morning. 

Both died on the scene. 



— Pierre Vaux

One Ukrainian Soldier Killed, Three Wounded With Fighting Near Gorlovka And Donetsk

Oleksandr Turchynov, the secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), said today that one Ukrainian soldier has been killed and three wounded over the last 24 hours.

Turchynov said that Russian-backed fighters had shelled the government-controlled village of Zaytsevo, just outside separatist-held Gorlovka, with 82 mm mortars, wounding two soldiers. One of them died on the way to hospital.

The Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre reported earlier that there had been fighting in Zaytsevo between 18:25 and 19:15 yesterday evening.


To the east, the Lugansk police report that two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded after setting off a tripwire mine near the village of Krymskoye. 

In the Donetsk area, the  ATO Press Centre and Ukrainian military intelligence reported attacks, conducted with grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms on positions in the Marinka, Krasnogorovka, Peski, Opytnoye, Avdeyevka, Novoselovka Vtoraya, and Vasilyovka areas.


Overall, military intelligence reported 22 attacks yesterday. 

In turn the ‘defence ministry’ of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) has accused Ukrainian troops of violating the ceasefire 10 times over the last 24 hours.

According to the separatists, Ukrainian forces attacked northern and western areas of Donetsk, as well as Gorlovka, with mortars, tanks, and small arms.

The report claims that more than 60 82 and 120 mm mortar shells fell on separatist-held territory in that period.

Ertugrul Apakan, the Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, called on both sides today to adhere to the ceasefire agreement that came into force on September 1.

The OSCE statement:

KYIV, 13 November 2015 – The Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine Ertugrul Apakan today deplored the recent increase in the number and the gravity of ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine, and urged the sides to honour their commitments under the Minsk agreements.

Since the beginning of November SMM monitors have reported that the level of violence has increased, especially near the remains of Donetsk airport.

“I am particularly concerned by the use of heavy weapons in Staromykhailivka, Krasnohorivka and the Kuibyshevskyi district of Donetsk city,” the Chief Monitor said.

He recalled the clear commitments to the ceasefire made by the sides in the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum of September 2014 and the Package of Implementation Measures of February 2015.

“SMM monitors have observed and reported two months of relative calm, and tentative steps by people in some areas towards rebuilding their lives and communities. We urge all sides not to turn back the clock on these positive developments and to honour their commitments and work towards a durable peace,” Apakan said.

— Pierre Vaux