Ukraine Liveblog Day 121: Poroshenko Offers Ceasefire

June 18, 2014
Smoke rises above the gas pipeline explosion in the Polatava region yesterday. Photo: @euromaidan

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

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For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

Below we will be making regular updates. Be sure to check back often and hit refresh.


The Interpreter Is Ruining RT’s SEO

Some may have noticed that RT, and both its editor in chief Michael Weiss and its managing editor James Miller, were criticized yesterday on the Russian propaganda network RT. Actually, if you follow us on Twitter, you would notice that this is hardly the first time RT and its staff and supporters have attacked us.

One reason that they are so upset is because we have been writing articles about their guests, “experts” with shady resumes and ever-changing job titles to match the occasion. But as we point out, many of these articles are now showing up very high in Google search results, displacing RT’s own articles and disrupting their search engine optimization (SEO).

Read about it here:

Ukrainian Report Says Evidence of Explosives Found at Site of Pipeline Blast

The Ukrainian State Emergency Management Service (GosChS) has discovered evidence of explosives at the site of yesterday’s pipeline explosion.

This was described by Sergei Bochkovsky, the head of GosChS, in a report to the interior minister, Arseniy Avakov. The document has been photographed and reported on by RBK-Ukraina.

An excerpt from the report reads (translated by The Interpreter):

“While examining the scene of the incident, it was found that external interference was the cause of the explosion. According to the results of our inspection of the pipeline components, there are no traces of wear or corrosion, but the debris exhibit signs of the blast effects of explosives.”

RBK report that Gazprom believes that the explosion was the result of pipeline corrosion.

Ukraine Demands Explanation of How Russian Missiles Ended up in Donetsk Region

Ukrainska Pravda reports:

Ukraine has demanded that Russia provides an explanation of how Igla MANPADS from a Russian military base fell into the hands of militants in the Donbass.

The statement was made by Ukrainian representatives at the regular OSCE Forum on security issues today according to the press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID).

The ministry explained that on June 6, after fending off a terrorist attack on the Marinovka border post in the Donetsk region, a case of Igla MANPADS was found at the scene of the fighting


[Russian Iglas – Photo Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affaris]

“A packing slip, which was found in the case, indicates that the MANPADS indicated had been stored since 2001 at an Air Defence base of the Russian armed forces – Russian Military Installation Number 33859 (in the the town of Yeysk in the Krasnodar region)” said the MID.

The last note verifying their presence in the warehouse at military installation number 33859 was dated April 12, 2014.


“Therefore, missiles which had still been stored in a Russian military base in Yeysk on April 12 have already been used on June 6 by terrorists during their attack on the Marinovka border checkpoint” said the outraged Ukrainian diplomats.

“The transfer by the Russian Federation of MANPADS to the terrorists not only confirms the fact of direct intervention by the Russian Federation in the internal affairs of Ukraine, but also Russia’s support of terrorism”, says the statement. 

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that it was a gross violation of Russia’s international obligation to control the storage and transfer of MANPADS.

Translation by The Interpreter.

Ukrainian Spokesmen Report Loss of Tank and 15 Soldiers, Claim Russian T-72s in Donetsk Region reports that the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence has informed them that 15 Ukrainian soldiers were killed last night in clashes with separatist fighters in the Lugansk region. The fates of another 13 are unknown. 

According to a “senior source” at the Ministry, there was a major battle near Schastye, resulting in the deaths of 11 servicemen from the 128th Mountain Rifle Brigade (based in Mukachevo) and the 80th Airmobile Regiment (based in Lviv). Four members of a Territorial Defence Battalion were also killed. 9 soldiers from these units were wounded.  

UNIAN reports that Vladislav Seleznev, the spokesman for the government’s Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) told Information Resistance by telephone that a Ukrainian T-64B tank had been knocked out in a separatist attack.

“There have been several clashes between ATO forces and militants and mercenaries from Russia over the past day. As a result, we have suffered losses, in particular, a T-64B tank was knocked out”, he said.

Seleznev also reported that there were many dead and wounded among the terrorists and that the ATO forces had destroyed enemy firing positions.

We do not know as yet whether the T-64B Seleznev refers to is the same filmed in this video yesterday:

The Interpreter has translated the dialogue in the video of the tank:

[Videographer] Oh, this gives me nostalgia, gosh.
[Woman] We had a battle on our street here.
[Videographer] I’m nostalgic. I served [in the army] in tanks like this.
[Voices] [Inaudible]
[Videographer] The house. Then I’ll shoot from there, only closer.
[Woman] It was a capture.
[Man] What do you mean, capture? He just didn’t manage…
[Videographer] Here is a tank, with blood. And the crew, they’re done for, right?
[Man] Two were taken captive and two others who up and [inaudible] were [inaudible]
[Videographer] But a crew is made of 3 men, where did 4th come from?
[Man] What?
[Video] But a crew is 3 people.
[Man] The crew…[inaudible]
[Videographer] So the 2 inside the house are done for? So the commander made the shot?
[Man] The commander shot his own man, and then blew himself up. [Inaudible]
[Videographer] Ah, that’s clear. So they spoke Ukrainian? or Russian? Western? Well, Ukrainian speech then. By the way, Seryozha, do you need any TNT? Some TNT? How do I know? Well, in these blocks, there’s some TNT.
[Man] And the bulwark?
[Videographer] The bulwark is rubber. This is called “active armor”.
[Man] What?
[Videographer] It’s called “active armor”. There is explosive inside. And if a mortar falls on it, it explodes and bounces off. In this building, there say there are two tank crew members. It’s a pity for the guy. It’s a pity for the guy, of course. They’re saying the very tank commander himself shot the soldier, then blew himself up. And the two others surrendered into captivity.
[Woman] They had packages of preserves. Oh, don’t film us.
[Videographer] Alright. I’ll erase it. Well, then give some commentary at least this way [off camera].
[Woman] Seryozha, you know, they found a packet, with preserves, with American packaging.
[Man] You know, ‘road meal,’ they call them? [MREs]
[Videographers] Oh, those, what are they called?
[Man] those dry rations the Americans have?
[Videographer] Oh, those dry rations? They [Americans] do give them out to them [the Ukrainians].
[Woman] You know, everything is preserved there, and they had those preserves.
[Videographer] Definitely. American dry rations, definitely.
[Woman] A vehicle is coming to get this.
[Man] First they said it was Belarusian.

Meanwhile another UNIAN report says that Vladimir Chepovoy, a spokesman for the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, had reported at a briefing:

“Yesterday separatists transferred two Russian T-72 tanks into Donetsk”, he said.

In addition, Chepovoy stressed that this type of tank is not in the Ukrainian army’s inventory.

Poroshenko Proposes Replacement of FM Deshchytsia

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has proposed to the Verkhovna Rada that the acting foreign minister, Andrii Deshchytsia, be replaced by the current ambassador to Germany, Pavel Klimkin. 

Ukrainska Pravda notes that Poroshenko’s plans to replace the acting heads of the Foreign Ministry and the National Bank were reported on Monday this week.

Ukrainian journalist Mustafa Nayem had suggested that day that Klimkin would get the post of foreign minister and Valery Gontareva, the chairman of the board of directors of the Investment Capital Ukraine group, would take over the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU).  He also suggested that Deshchytsia may be made an ambassador to a European state, “perhaps Great Britain, but this is still under discussion”.

Today Interfax-Ukraine reports that President Poroshenko has indeed submitted a motion nominating Klimkin for the post of foreign minister and proposed the dismissal of the incumbent NBU governor, Stepan Kubiv. No announcement has come yet as to whether Gontareva will get the post. Vitaliy Yarema, the first deputy prime minister of Ukraine, has also been nominated by Poroshenko for the post of prosecutor general. 

Andrii Deshchytsia’s replacement has come after he faced severe criticism from Russia for joining in the popular chant “Putin’s a dickhead” while trying to calm protesters outside the Russian embassy in Kiev.  

However Claudia von Salzen, of Germany’s Der Tagesspiegel, stressed that the decision to replace Deshchytsia would have been taken prior to the embassy protest on June 14.

Poroshenko Offers Ceasefire

AP report that the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, has proposed a ceasefire:

Poroshenko was quoted as saying this would be the first step in the peace plan he has proposed to de-escalate the conflict. Poroshenko’s spokesman was not immediately available to confirm the offer of a unilateral move.

The president was quoted as saying: “The plan will begin with my order for a unilateral cease-fire.” He added that “shortly afterward the plan will receive support from the other participants.”

The proposal, reportedly disclosed during a visit to an army academy in Kiev, comes after a telephone call between Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in which a cease-fire was discussed.

The country’s defense minister, Mikhail Koval, was quoted as saying the cease-fire could begin “literally within days.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking in Baku, Azerbaijan, said that any cease-fire should be “comprehensive,” not temporary. However, he said that if it was followed by negotiations “then it could be the step President Poroshenko has promised and which in general we were all waiting for.” 

Interfax-Ukraine reported:

“The [president’s peace] plan starts with my order of unilateral ceasefire. We should gain support to the president’s peace plan by all the participants in the Donbas events immediately after that. Very quickly,” Poroshenko told reporters in Kyiv on Wednesday.

The ceasefire will be very brief and during this period the illegal armed groups must be disarmed and order must be restored in the region, he said.

The announcement comes after a telephone conversation between Presidents Poroshenko and Putin last night.

Ukrainska Pravda reports that Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president’s spokesman had said that (translated by The Interpreter):

“The heads of state discussed urgent issues of bilateral Russo-Ukrainian relations. The topic of possible ceasefire in the zone of military activities in the south-east of Ukraine was touched upon.

Putin expressed concern over the tragic deaths of the Russian journalists in the Lugansk area and stressed the the necessity to unconditionally ensure the safety of media representatives working in the conflict zone in Ukraine.

Poroshenko expressed his condolences for the deaths of the Russian media representatives and assured Putin that an investigation will be conducted, and also that the necessary measures to ensure the safety of journalists were taken.”

Poroshenko’s spokesman, Svyatoslav Tsegolko, said that:

“The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, also called for the Russian president to assist in the release of all detained journalists and activists.”