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
Mercenaries controlled by the Russian authorities tried to send one of the OSCE automobiles along a route where militants planned to shoot at them. The consequences of this heinous provocation could have been the killing of international observers and ensuing accusations against the ATO. However, our solderis warned the members of the SMM in time and the provocation was foiled.
At 10:53hrs on 27 December, a SMM patrol comprised of six SMM members in two armoured vehicles arrived at 3.5km south-south-west of the centre of Kominternove village (92km south of Donetsk, 23km north-east of Mariupol) from “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Zaichenko (90km south of Donetsk), escorted by armed “DPR” members and a Russian Federation representative of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (accompanied by a media representative). There, the SMM started monitoring on foot and found three craters in an agricultural – not cultivated – field.
At 11:20hrs, while conducting analysis of the third crater, the SMM heard three single shots of small arms, outgoing 150-200m north-north-west of its position, and saw the third shot impact on the ground 5-7m north-east of its position. The SMM left the area immediately. On its way to its vehicles, the SMM heard a burst of small-arms fire originated from the same location.
There were no injuries to SMM members or damage to its vehicles; the SMM returned safely to its base in Donetsk city at 14:39hrs.
At 10:25hrs on 24 December, an SMM patrol arrived in Kominternove (92km south of Donetsk, 23km north-east of Mariupol) from the village’s eastern entrance, escorted by armed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) members. For the last two days, the SMM had attempted to reach the village to follow up on reports about the presence of armed “DPR” members, but had not been able to do so due to security concerns and the restriction to its freedom of movement imposed by armed personnel (see SMM Daily Reports 23 December and 24 December 2015).
The escorting “DPR” members did not allow the SMM to go beyond the main street of the village, citing possible sniper fire. While on the main street, the SMM saw multiple fresh caterpillar tracks, consistent with infantry fighting vehicles and tanks.
Five residents (three women and two men), in the presence ofthe escorting armed personnel, told the SMM that armed “DPR” members had entered the village on 22 December and had been present until 24 December, when they had left the village in the early morning.
At 13:00hrs, the SMM left the village. During its time there, the SMM did not observe any armed persons or weaponry, with the exception of the escorting armed “DPR” members; nor did the SMM observe any ceasefire violations.
The SMM also conducted a mirror patrol in the west of Kominternove but could not get closer than a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint located 1.7km west of the village as explosive devices (including anti-tank mines) were still on the road between the checkpoint and the village.
On December 25, OSCE Chairman-in-Office Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic reiterated calls for peace in an effort to enforce a holiday “quiet regimen” declared by the Trilateral Contact Group on December 22.
According to the ATO Press Centre, the village of Zaytsevo, where a civilian woman was killed by mortar fire yesterday, was shelled with 82 mm mortars, grenade launchers, anti-aircraft artillery as well as tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.
A report from the military said that Ukrainian positions in the Zaytsevo area came under targeted fire several times last night.
In Marinka, southwest of Donetsk city centre, Ukrainian troops came under fire from small arms and grenade launchers five times. The ATO Press Centre reports that Ukrainian troops “were forced to open fire for effect in response with authorised weaponry.”
To the northeast of Donetsk, Russian-backed fighters bombarded the village of Novoselovka with 82 mm mortars and recoilless rifles, as well as neighbouring Troitskoye with anti-aircraft artillery and infantry fighting vehicle cannons.
The military also reported provocative attacks near Donetsk Airport and the northern outskirts of Gorlovka.
Meanwhile the separatist-backed head of the Petrovsky district administration in Donetsk, Maksim Zhukovsky, claims that Ukrainian forces shelled the western district at around 22:00 last night.
The pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency reports that Ukrainian troops also attacked Sakhanka, east of Mariupol, as well as the outskirts of Donetsk and Gorlovka with mortars, infantry fighting vehicles and grenade launchers.
The report claims that more than 50 shells fell on separatist-held territory last night.
Aleksandr Kindsfater, spokesman for the Ukrainian military headquarters in Mariupol, told 0629.com.ua this morning that Russian-backed troops in Kominternovo, which was seized earlier this week, had shelled Ukrainian positions outside Talakovka, a village just outside Mariupol.
Kindsfater said that the attack was conducted with 82 mm mortars at around 20:00 last night.
The spokesman also reported “provocative fire” on the village of Vodyanoye from separatist-held areas of Shirokino.
At noon today, Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, announced that one Ukrainian soldier had been killed and three wounded in combat within the last 24 hours.
— Pierre Vaux