Ukraine Live Day 641: Ukraine Reports Shelling Of Villages Outside Mariupol, Grad Attack On Krasnogorovka

November 20, 2015
Russian-backed separatists near Novoazovsk on November 7, 2015. While separatist leaders claimed to withdraw from this area they have made attack on Ukrainian positions from nearby towns. Photo by Aleksey Flippov/AFP

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

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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: How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17.

Chief Ukrainian Expert On MH17 Attacked Outside His Home

Unian reports that the Research Institute of Forensic Expertise of the Justice Minister, Oleksandr Ruvin, has been attacked outside his home.

Pravda reports that Artyom Shevchenko, press secretary for the Interior Ministry, wrote on his Facebook page today that the attempted killing of Ruvin will be investigated by the main investigative department of the National Police.

Ruvin is currently being guarded in hospital. His injuries are not life threatening.

There are two witnesses to the armed attack, say the police.

Unian adds details about the significance of this attack:

[Ruvin]  is a member of the joint investigation team regarding the crash of Malaysian Boeing, and it was he who represented Ukraine’s position of Ukraine at all meetings, exposing manipulations by Russian experts.

“A biochemical analysis of the Russian Buk fragments was made in the Research Institute of Forensic Expertise, as well as an expert examination of all Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles and “air-to-air” missiles, which proved Ukraine’s non-complicity in the crime. The Dutch prosecutors follow his examination conclusions. Besides, the investigation activities are continuing – Ukraine will send to the Netherlands a batch of physical evidence in several days,” Butusov said.

Ruvin led a group of military and tactical expertise.

“Ruvin made an enormous contribution to the military and tactical expertise, which gave an objective assessment of the death of at least 350 Ukrainian soldiers encircled in Ilovaisk on August 29, 2014. The military tactical expertise on Ilovaisk allows assessing the actions of the General Staff in court, and such court will necessarily take place,” he said.

Ruvin was also an expert in the case of IL-76 air crash in Luhansk airport, killing 49 soldiers.

James Miller, Pierre Vaux

Ukrainian Military Intelligence Chief Says Separatists Preparing For Offensive

The head of the main intelligence directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, Vadim Skibitskiy, told the 112 television channel late last night that Russian-backed forces in the Donbass appear to be preparing for an offensive.

The Interpreter translates:

“We have recorded several signs indicating that preparations are under way for offensive operations. I’ll say more. Various ranks of military officers are continuously deployed there, for example from the General Staff, the 12th Command Reserve of the Russian Armed Forces. This is on a permanent basis,” he said.

In addition, intelligence has reports that a deputy commander of the Russian General Staff is in Donetsk, inspecting the readiness of the militants to fight without support from Russian soldiers.

Previous offensives in eastern Ukraine have been spearheaded by Russian troops and tanks, with local or Russian volunteer fighters moving in afterwards to hold territory. For the separatist paramilitaries to reach the same level of combat effectiveness as Russian regular forces would allow a major shift in tactics, also relieving pressure on the already overstretched Russian armed forces.

This may be especially important if ground troops are deployed to Syria. While the Kremlin explicitly denies this is planned, officials have admitted that artillery forces are already providing fire support to Syrian regime troops

Worryingly, the ‘defence ministry’ of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) announced this afternoon that their military forces were conducting exercises and had reached a “new level of combat readiness.”

— Pierre Vaux

Ukraine Reports Shelling Of Villages Outside Mariupol, Grad Attack On Krasnogorovka

The Ukrainian military reported less than two hours ago that Russian-backed fighters were shelling the villages of Pavlopol and Shirokino, outside Mariupol.

At 11:16 GMT the ATO Press Centre reported that Russian-backed fighters were using 120 and 82 mm mortars to shell the outskirts of the villages, while also opening up with grenade launchers and heavy machine guns.

Earlier today, the military reported that Russian-backed fighters had conducted 36 attacks overnight across the Donbass.

According to the report, the Ukrainian-held town of Krasnogorovka, west of Donetsk, was bombarded with rockets, fired from multiple launchers located towards Staromikhailovka.

Colonel Andriy Lysenko later told journalists that two rounds of Grad rockets had been fired on Krasnogorovka. He stressed that the rockets had fallen not on Ukrainian positions, but on the settlement itself. Four rockets were fired in total.

In addition, Lysenko claimed, three 82 mm mortar shells struck the town. 

10 small arms attacks were reported near Krasnogorovka and Marinka, to the south. The ATO Press Centre claimed that Ukrainian positions in Marinka were targeted with grenade launchers.

To the north of Donetsk, there were two skirmishes between Ukrainian and Russian-backed fighters on the front line between Spartak and Opytnoye. There were also attacks on Peski and Avdeyevka.

Outside Gorlovka, a Ukrainian soldier was wounded in the village of Mayorsk after Russian-backed fighters attacked with grenade launchers and small arms. There were similar attacks on Zaytsevo and Novogorodskoye. 

Lysenko claimed that enemy fighters were operating in residential areas, using the cover to conduct attacks at close range.

To the east of Gorlovka, the Ukrainian-held village of Lozovoye was reportedly shelled with 82 mm mortars. 

In the Lugansk region there were mortar and anti-aircraft artillery attacks on Ukrainian positions on the Bakhmutka highway, near Novotoshkovskoye.

Anatoliy Proshin, spokesman for the military operation in the Lugansk region, told the 112 television channel that there had also been two attacks near the village of Orekhovo.

Proshin reported no casualties in the area.

Meanwhile the ‘defence ministry’ of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claimed this morning that Ukrainian forces had violated the ceasefire 16 times over the last 24 hours.

According to the DNR, Ukrainian troops fired on several villages on the edges of Gorlovka, Staromikhailovka and Aleskandrovka, west of Donetsk, as well as Sakhanka, northeast of Shirokino.

The separatists accused the Ukrainians of using 120 mm mortars and armoured fighting vehicles in their attacks.

The DNR reported no military or civilian losses.

— Pierre Vaux