Ukraine Live Day 656: Fighting Reported North Of Donetsk And Gorlovka

December 5, 2015

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

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Yatseniuk Claims Ukraine Can Survive Winter Without Russian Gas, Suggests Russian Involvement In Destruction Of Crimea Power Lines

The Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk, said last night that Ukraine “will make it through the winter” without Russian gas supplies.

According to Yatseniuk, Ukraine currently has 16 billion cubic metres of gas in storage. In addition, the government is currently working to obtain revolving loans to continue buying gas from European Union countries.

However the prime minister also said that Ukraine is currently 1.5 million tonnes short of the required 3.5 million tonnes of coal in order to run power stations through the winter.

Reserve funds need to be allocated to arrange coal purchases, he said, and he has appealed for the National Security and Defence Council to discuss energy security at their next meeting.

Yatseniuk also claimed that Russian agents may have been involved in the destruction of power lines to Crimea last month, which has caused blackouts throughout the occupied peninsular.

Interfax-Ukraine reports:

“Given the presence of Russian sabotage groups, Russians may have been involved in this.”

On December 3, President Vladimir Putin travelled to Crimea and vowed to restore electricity supplies by building power lines between Russia and the occupied region.

RFE/RL reports:

Putin “went to Simferopol where he inaugurated the first phase of the energy bridge that will provide Crimea’s power supply from Russia,” Crimea’s deputy Prime Minister Ruslan Balbek said.

“The first electricity line should have been operational on December 20, but the works have been speeded up… It is a historic day for Crimea, which has won its energy independence from Ukraine,” he said.

The electricity cables linking Russia to Crimea are now expected to be up and running on December 15, Balbek said.

— Pierre Vaux

Fighting Reported North Of Donetsk And Gorlovka

Both the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists have accused each other of attacks around Donetsk and Gorlovka overnight, with reports of further fighting today on social media.

According to the Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre, Russian-backed fighters opened fire 11 times between 18:00 last night and 6:00 today. 

The report claims that Russian-backed fighters fired towards Ukrainian positions near Mayorsk and Luganskoye, in the Gorlovka area, and Avdeyevka, Peski and Krasnogorovka, near Donetsk, with grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms.

On the Azov coast, a Ukrainian defensive position near Shirokino came under direct fire for around half an hour from 20:20.

Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, announced today that one Ukrainian soldier had been killed and three wounded over the last 24 hours.

The ‘defence ministry’ of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claimed this morning that a civilian woman was killed last night when Ukrainian forces shelled the northern outskirts of Gorlovka.

Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the DNR’s armed forces,told reporters at a briefing that the Ukrainian Aidar Battalion had shelled a separatist-held part of the village of Zaytsevo, which is largely controlled by Ukrainian troops.

Basurin claimed that the 37-year-old woman had been riding her bike when she was killed by shrapnel. The DNR spokesman complained that OSCE observers had not recorded the incident and had “hurriedly left the area,” for “reasons unknown.”

Overall, the DNR reported 12 violations of the ceasefire by Ukrainian forces over the last 24 hours. According to a report this morning, Ukrainian troops fired more than 20 120 and 82 mm mortar shells, in addition to 15 tank rounds onto separatist-held territory north of both Donetsk and Gorlovka.

Meanwhile the Ukrainian military claimed this morning that their soldiers had not returned fire overnight. 

This afternoon, there were further reports of shelling heard in Donetsk:

Translation: Durnaya Balka/Azotniy reminds of hot August, heavy artillery pounding away

Translation: #Donetsk loud…

Translation: Kind of loud, seems like it’s coming from the direction of Azotniy, but I could be mistaken. Does anyone know what is going on?

Translation: Donetsk Airport/Spartak, definitely fighting, machine guns, KK

— Pierre Vaux