Ukraine Liveblog Day 114: Gazprom Extends Prepayment Deadline to June 16

June 11, 2014
Ukrainian mortar team in action. Screenshot from YouTube video.

Yesterday’s liveblog can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

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Video Reportedly Shows Militants Shelling Lugansk

This video, discovered by the Ukraine Reddit forum, reportedly shows separatists directing mortar fire at the Lugansk airport. For two days the National Guard have been surrounded at the airport. Militants have cut water and electricity lines and are demanding that the National Guard troops surrender.

It is not possible to geolocate the video, so one should treat it as unconfirmed.

Russia Back To Demanding Ukraine Halt Military Operations

Despite the fact that this week Ukraine’s new president said that they had reached an “understanding” with Russia on how to best stop this crisis, Ukraine is continuing its anti-terror operation (ATO) and Russia is once again demanding that those efforts stop. RFE/RL reports:

In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, June 11, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed the need for Kiev to stop its army operation in the south-east of Ukraine as soon as possible.

He called for “coordinating the terms of ceasing fire, solving urgent humanitarian problems and starting a truly national dialogue on the future system in Ukraine”.

“Special emphasis was put on the importance of direct talks between the conflicting Ukrainian sides in order to come to agreement on all these tracks,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Separatist Leader Denis Pushilin In Moscow, Refuses To Negotiate With Kiev
The separatist leader and self-appointed chairman of the self-appointed supreme council of the self-appointed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, is in Moscow to lobby for increased support for Ukraine’s insurgents:

Voice of Russia reports that Pushilin is unwilling to negotiate with Kiev, a point which undercuts Moscow’s cooperation with a trilateral committee formed by Ukraine’s new president Petro Poroshenko which was designed to end this crisis:

Specifically, Pushilin said the southeastern regions of Ukraine are interested in issues such as the creation of a humanitarian corridor, exchange of POWs, and “withdrawal of illegal armed groups from the territory of Donbas.”

“These should be the first issues to be tackled,” he said. Pushilin said he believes now would be the right time to bring a Russian peacekeeping contingent to the southeastern regions.

Responding to a question from Interfax on whether the Donetsk People’s Republic can change its mind about its independence, Pushilin said: “There is no point talking about some united Ukraine after this many deaths and destroyed lives in Donetsk, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, and other cities of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, after the horrific events in Odessa.”

Russian Stocks Briefly Suspended – But Rally Continues

Russia’s stock markets were briefly suspended today — without reason. Reuters reports:

Before the suspension, the dollar-denominated RTS share index of the Moscow Exchange was flat on the day, after rising 0.2 percent at opening, and the rouble-based MICEX was trading 0.1 percent higher.

Trading early on Wednesday was thin with investors watching for news from ongoing price negotiations for natural gas deliveries to Ukraine and ahead of a long weekend in Russia that is starting on Thursday.

The MICEX wound out the day up .56%. That puts its value at 1,499.11 points — higher than at any point since the fall of the Yanukovych government.


While significant troubles still plague the Russian economy, it has stepped back from the edge of a serious crisis that was brewing in February and March.

Separatists Reportedly Release 14 Ukrainian Soldiers

Kyiv Post reports that militants in Gorlivka (Horlivka) have released 14 Ukrainian soldiers, “eight officers from the Ukrainian Interior Ministry and six border guards” who had been held by the separatists.

No more details are available at the moment. It’s not clear why the soldiers were released or whether this is part of a prisoner swap or amnesty program.

The Media Narrative, the Future of NATO, and the Prospects For Peace in Ukraine

This week on The Interpreter podcast Boston College Professor Matt Sienkiewicz and Interpreter Magazine’s managing editor James Miller discuss the latest news from Ukraine.

Can Ukraine’s new president broker a peace with Russia? Is
Ukraine losing in the east? Are things actually getting worse, not
better, despite the media narrative? What is NATO’s role, is NATO
stronger or weaker because of this crisis, and does that help or hurt
Ukraine? And how do citizen journalists who are documenting this crisis
compare to similar efforts in places like Syria or Libya?

Listen to it here

Ukrainian Major Arrested in Mariupol for Aiding Separatists

Mariupol-based news site reports that the a major in the Ukrainian armed forces was arrested in Mariupol on Monday on suspicion of providing weapons to separatist fighters.

They report that Anton Geraschenko, an adviser to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said (translated by The Interpreter):

“There are traitors. Yesterday a major from one of our defence services, who has been accused of selling weapons to the DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic] fighters, was detained in Mariupol. He has been arrested and is now under investigation. All the information on him will soon be made public as a lesson to others. Unfortunately, there are traitors in every country in this situation.”

Border Village of Dmitrovka Occupied by Separatists

Novosti Donbassa reports that the small town of Dmitrovka, near the border with Russia in the Donetsk region, is now under the control of separatist fighters.

They report (translated by The Interpreter):

Militants from the Donetsk People’s Republic control the Russo-Ukrainian border in Dmitrovka in the Shakhtersk district. The post office has been seized. Militants are using residential homes as their quarters and are demanding land maps (land registry data) from the local management, says the regional state administration’s press service. According to the 2001 census, the population of Dmitrovka is 3,370.

Gazprom Extends Prepayment Deadline to June 16

The Russian gas giant Gazprom, in which the Russian government has a controlling stake, has extended the deadline by which Ukraine must begin making payments in advance for further gas supplies until June 16. 

Alexei Miller, the CEO of Gazprom, told Russian state TV that the deadline had been pushed back 6:00 GMT on June 16 to enable talks to continue. 

Those talks, held in Brussels, stalled yesterday as Ukraine rejected a Russian proposal to cut the price of gas by $100 per 1000 cubic metres. Ukraine is currently charged this amount, introduced as export duty following the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea, on top of the $485 per 1000 cubic metres price established in 2009. Ukraine pays by far the highest prices for Russian gas in Europe.

Today Yatseniuk told his cabinet:

“We are standing on the same positions: revise the contract and establish a market price for gas. We aren’t going down that road again.”

Speaking to Interfax Ukraine, the Ukrainian energy minister, Yuriy Prodan, said that Ukraine’s Naftogaz was not planning to pay its debt until a package agreement had been reached.