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
The Lugansk Military-Civil Regional Administration reports that Russian-backed forces shelled the town of Popasnaya this morning with Grad rockets.
Earlier today, the Ukrainian military reported Grad attacks on Ukrainian positions in the same area, near the villages of Troitskoye and Boguslavskoye.
According to the Administration, three Grad rockets fell near Parusovka Street, on the southern edge of Popasnaya.
The rockets, the report says, were fired from the direction of the occupied village of Kalinovo.
This afternoon the governor of the Lugansk region, Georgiy Tuka, said that reports on casualties and destruction had not been received so far.
— Pierre Vaux
The governor of the Donetsk region, Pavel Zherbivsky, has told reporters this afternoon that Russian-backed fighters have not only moved into Kominternovo, as reported yesterday, but also the village of Vodyanoye, even closer to Mariupol.
0629.com.ua reports that Zherbivsky said that Russian-backed fighters had captured Vodyanoye, Kominternovo and Zaychenko – a village east of Kominternovo – as “revenge” for the deployment of Ukrainian troops in Pavlopol and Pishchevik.
Ukrainian troops recaptured these villages in February before withdrawing after a Russian counter-attack and the second Minsk agreements. This area was then declared a “buffer zone,” however an OSCE report from April described Pavlopol as being under government control and, on December 2, Ukrainian troops once again entered the village.
Zherbivsky said that the Minsk agreement, while placing these villages in the military “buffer zone,” had divided them into Ukrainian and separatist “zones of influence.” While Pavlopol and Pishchevik fell under Kiev’s zone, the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic holds sway in the agreement over Kominternovo and Vodyanoye.
The governor said that garrisons of Russian-backed fighters were being established in the villages which, he said, need to be liberated, noting that he could not see any non-military solutions to the issue.
Around an hour ago, Ukrainian journalist Andriy Tsaplienko reported from the front line near Kominternovo.
The Interpreter translates:
Our foremost checkpoint before Kominternovo. We’ve been in touch with residents of the village. This is what they say: Yesterday people were allowed out. A woman was giving everyone orders. Today the situation has changed and there is a different commander. People aren’t being let in or out.
Granted, they’re conducting themselves properly, they’re not making threats or being rude. They say that entry and exit will be blocked for two days. Then, they promise, the situation will change. There’s not much food or water.
To the question of who seized the village – Russians or separatists – the locals answer that both are much the same. The villagers asked these ‘polite people’ to leave the village, telling them to go and dig their trenches in the fields. But the polite people say: “We are little people, we have orders.”
They communicate very politely. They’re digging in properly, for the long term. The villagers fear a repeat of Shirokino.
Tsaplienko’s uses “polite people,” the euphemism used to describe unmarked Russian soldiers deployed during the takeover of Crimea at the end of February last year.
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian military reports further use of Grad rockets by Russian-backed fighters today.
According to the ATO Press Centre, Grads were fired towards Ukrainian positions near Troitskoye and Boguslavskoye, both on the western fringes of the Lugansk region. The report says it is likely that Grad-P single-tube, portable launchers were used.
The report claimed that, as of 9:00 today, Russian-backed fighters had conducted seven attacks since midnight, with three occurring between 7:00 and 9:00. An earlier report said that there had been more than 20 ceasefire violations by Russian-backed forces between 18:00 yesterday and midnight.
Yesterday evening saw attacks across the front line. In the Gorlovka area, Ukrainian positions near Luganskoye, Mayorsk, Zaytsevo, Lozovoye and Novgorodskoye were attacked with small arms, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns.
Fighting continued on the outskirts of Donetsk with attacks on Krasnogorovka, Avdeyevka and Peski.
In the south of the Donetsk region, the ATO Press Centre reported that Russian-backed fighters had fired on the western outskirts of Shirokino – where Ukrainian marines are deployed – with small arms.
In the Lugansk region, automatic grenade launchers were used to attack Ukrainian troops near Krymskoye, on the southern banks of the Seversky Donetsk river.
This morning, the Ukrainian military reported small arms fire near Mayorsk and anti-tank missile attacks on Ukrainian positions near Granitnoye, east of Volnovakha.
The self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claims, meanwhile, that Ukrainian forces violated the ceasefire four times within the last 24 hours, shelling the outskirts of both Donetsk and Gorlovka.
Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, told reporters at noon that two Ukrainian soldiers and one civilian had been wounded over the last 24 hours.
Lysenko also reported a skirmish in Talakovka, a village just outside Mariupol:
This is particularly noteworthy given reports from both local media and the Ukrainian military that Russian-backed fighters entered the village of Kominternovo, around 10 kilometres east of Mariupol, yesterday morning.
The OSCE today confirmed to Interfax-Ukraine that their observers had been unable to reach Kominternovo as the road to the village was blocked with mines, tripwires and other explosive devices.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine received a telephone call yesterday from a Kominternovo resident, who said that armed men in camouflage uniforms, without identifying insignia, had entered the village.
This is, itself, worrying, as separatist paramilitary fighters loyal to the DNR often wear insignia, while Russian regular troops deployed in Ukraine tend to be unmarked.
The DNR has denied sending fighters into the village.
Andriy Biletsky, MP and commander of the Azov Regiment, told channel 24 last night that 12-15 armoured vehicles, along with artillery units, had entered Kominternovo.
Biletsky said that the Russian or separatist fighters had brought construction equipment and were now setting up concrete defensive positions and placing mines.
The occupation of the village, he said, appeared to be a long-term prospect.
Biletsky told 24 that, while he could not say “100%” that there will now be an offensive on the Azov coast, the enemy fighters were now in a significantly better position to launch such an offensive than they were before the seizure of the village.
— Pierre Vaux