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
Yegor Previr, a Maidan activist, wrote on his Facebook page that the men were from an armed detachment called Odin (One) which formerly fought with the 7th Separate Battalion of Right Sector’s Volunteer Ukrainian Corps who used to be involved in detaining the Russian-backed militants and diversionary groups.
Right Sector, among the most active participants in the Maidan protests, is an extremist group whose members formed volunteer battalions to fight against the Russian invasion. They have been involved in a number of conflicts with the Ukrainian government, notably in Mukhachevo. Last year, efforts were made to harness the Right Sector fighters by requiring them to join the National Guard.
Previr posted a video uploaded to YouTube of Ruslan Kachmala, commander of the 7th Separate Battalion, described sa the commander of Odin , who called the SBU “idiots” for arresting his men, and said they had been in the process of joining the National Guard. He said that authorities “all knew” for months that they were armed and had cases of ammunition. He said that despite law-enforcers’ knowledge that they were armed and had explosives, which he said they had retrieved from the Donetsk airport when Ukrainian forces retreated, they decided to make a demonstrative arrest of the Right Sector fighters.
“They wanted to just shoot the guys, but they didn’t put up any resistance, so there was no one to shoot,” Kachmala said in the videotaped statement.
In July, Gordonua.com reported that the Interior Ministry had announced that some 40 fighters, including their commander Kachmala, from Right Sector’s 7th Separate Battalion were going to join the Azov Regiment in the National Guard; 5 were going to remain in Right Sector. At that time Kachamala was reported as saying (translation by The Interpreter):
“The motive is simple: as long as we’ve been fighting, Right Sector has become more corrupt and has gone outside the law. Therefore we decided to have all former divisions leave Right Sector. I long ago left Right Sector but didn’t announce it. Now we will go into the official structures. We are in the same positions where we were before.”
It’s not clear why the fighters didn’t in fact enter the National Guard in the last five months, or what their current status will be, since they have been detained and disarmed.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Then this afternoon, Andrei Lysenko, speaker for the presidential administration on ATO affairs said there had been a total of 59 armed attacks, Novosti Donbass reported.
He said five Ukrainian soldiers had been wounded in the past 24 hours. Yesterday, on December 18, we reported the first four of these soldiers wounded.