Ukraine Liveblog Day 130: Poroshenko Signs Association Agreement as Separatists Seize Donetsk Base

June 27, 2014
Petro Poroshenko's signature on the economic portion of the EU Association Agreement today.

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

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NATO Secretary General Welcomes EU Association Agreements

Below is the press release from the press office of the NATO Secretary General:

I welcome the signature of Association Agreements between the EU and Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The Association Agreements, and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, will significantly deepen the political and economic ties between the EU and its three Eastern partners.

They contribute to the consolidation of freedom, stability and prosperity in Europe. They will allow close cooperation on strengthening the rule of law, advancing judicial reforms, fighting corruption, ensuring respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and strengthening democratic institutions. These are goals that NATO shares and supports through its own partnership with these countries and other partners.

Video Shows Border Patrol Checkpoint Attacked By Separatists
The Ukrainian border service has posted a video which they say shows the damage done to their troops and equipment near Marynivka.

A translation of the Ukrainian has been posted by Tania Kinal in the Open Newsroom.
Boroday Says Separatists Will Cease Fire Until June 30

The Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reports that Aleksandr Boroday, the self-declared prime minister of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (DNR) has announced that separatist fighters would cease fire until June 30.

They report (translated by The Interpreter):

Militia from the self-declared Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics promise to cease fire until June 30, announced the prime minister of the DNR, Aleksandr Boroday, on Friday after a conference in Donetsk on the de-escalation of the situation in eastern Ukraine.

“We have learned that (Ukrainian President) Poroshenko has decided to cease fire until the 30th. We, for our part,are ceasing fire for this same period,” said Boroday. 

Ukrainian Defence Ministry: Captured T-64 Came from Russia

Ukrainska Pravda reports that the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence has reported on their website that a T-64 tank, captured from separatist forces during an attack on Artyomovsk, came from Russia, not from Ukrainian reserves.

They report (translated by The Interpreter):

Following analysis carried out by specialists from the Ukrainian military police and the Armoury of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, it has been found that, according to its serial numbers, this T-64BV tank was produced in October 1987 at the Malyshev tank factory in Kharkiv.


According to archival data this unit was sent to a military unit, which at the time was stationed within the territory of Russia. 

This tank was not, and is not registered in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Similar conclusions have been drawn from other weapons seized from the terrorists.

“In particular, an RPO-A Shmel hand-held flame-thrower with the revealing inscription “From Russia with love”, seized from the militants, was also brought from the Russian Federation,” says the Defence Ministry’s announcement. 


Video Reportedly Shows IDs of 20 Dead Ukrainian Soldiers
Earlier today we posted video of two destroyed Ukrainian BTRs, filmed by the Russian news agency LifeNews. The report said that 20 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed. Now there is a new LifeNews video:

The video shows the commander of the army of the ‘Donetsk Peoples’ Republic,’ Igor Strelkov, showing off IDs taken from the dead Ukrainian soldiers. This is actually standard practice by the separatists as they often use the IDs and bodies to trade for their own casualties.

When showing the IDs to LifeNews, Strelkov tells the journalists to “take photos, or else they [Kiev] will say there aren’t any killed from yesterday. Otherwise they say they have no losses, or they say one killed, two injured. But here…”

“And look at this handsome fellow, the commander of the unit…”

Strelkov’s claim of 20 dead does seem to be lower than the claims Ukraine is making (see previous update, in which Kiev confirms the loss of two BTRs at the hands of separatist tanks).

Strelkov makes no mention of his own casualties, but is grilled by the narrator about the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed:

Narrator: Well, approximately, according to the milita, approximately, how many mortalities were there?

Strelkov: It’s complicated to say. But a platoon was destroyed for sure.

He then reads the names, listing soldiers from the 2nd division of 2nd platoon of the 1st Mobile Paratroopers Regiment.

He says that the separatists took no prisoners, but that they did capture a working and undamaged BTR which he promises to show the journalists later.

Strelkov also mentions that they may need to soon implement a ration card system.

At the end of the video he shows three shells which he says the separatists have seized. He then tells the camera that these weapons are used by the Ukrainian military to shell the city of Slavyansk.

All translations done by The Interpreter.

Ukraine Reports Capture of 2 Enemy Tanks

Andrei Lysenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (SNBO), announced at a briefing today in Kiev that Ukrainian forces have captured two tanks used by separatists in an attack in the Donbass.

The tanks are T-64Bs, the same model as those seen without markings, heading west from the Russian border.

Lysenko says that the tanks were captured during a night of heavy fighting as separatists mounted 11 attacks on Ukrainian checkpoints and positions in the Slavyansk, Artyomovsk, Krivyaya Luka and Kramatorsk areas.

Interfax-Ukraine reports (translated by The Interpreter):

As a result of the fighting, Ukrainian security forces have captured two T-64B tanks, which had been in service with the militants, one tank was knocked out, said the SNBO spokesman.

“The origin of these three vehicles is being cleared up,” said A. Lysenko.

The press office of the National Guard confirmed reports of five dead Ukrainian servicemen during shelling, and added that at least three security officers had been wounded.

“Five defenders of the Fatherland were killed by enemy bullets during the announced ceasefire,” said the National Guard press office.

“Four tanks from the enemy side took up positions on a dam and a road and began pounding Ukrainian army positions. The enemy fire disabled two Ukrainian BTRs,” says the statement.

The National Guard also noted that the Ukrainian forces had knocked out one of the militants’ tanks with several shots.

“With several shots, Senior Lieutenant Sergei Sidorin took the tank out of action. The courageous officer from the National Guard’s special forces, whose actions have already been highly praised by the interior minister, Arseniy Avakov, was wounded and is now in a medical facility,” says the announcement. 

Two reservists from the second reserve battalion of the National Guard were also wounded. The number of wounded paratroopers is unknown.

The battle lasted for around two hours, the security forces were forced to retreat, added the National Guard.

He also mentioned that on June 26, not far from the settlement of Nikanorovka (in the Donetsk oblast), border guards discovered a unmanned aerial vehicle, which had been roaming along the Ukraino-Russian border. As a result of shooting by the Ukrainian border guards, “the devices reconnaissance mission was thwarted.”

In turn, the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service reported that the UAV  was moving in Ukrainian airspace at an altitude of 500 metres along the Russo-Ukrainian border. “After the Ukrainian border guards fired on the UAV, it gained altitude and disappeared from view,” said the press office of the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service on Friday.

We do not know yet whether the damaged Ukrainian BTRs mentioned above are the same that LifeNews showed in the footage below

Russian Stocks Shrug Off EU Association Agreements

For all the talk in Moscow about how the EU Association Agreements signed by Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine would hurt the Russian economy — and for all the bluster from Western governments that sanctions against Russia would inflict enough pain to change Putin’s calculus, Russia’s stocks seem nearly indifferent today.

The MICEX is currently up .12% and the dollar-heavy RTS is down about .05%. The RTS is actually performing better than it was before this crisis started, and the MICEX was in the same boat earlier in the week, though it has been on a small slide since.

Russia’s long term economic outlook remains weak, but the bottom line is that this has very little to do with the EU or the crisis in Ukraine at this point.

LifeNews Publishes Video Of Two Destroyed Ukrainian BTRs

LifeNews, a Russian news agency with close ties to the Russian security apparatus, has posted this video which they say shows two Ukrainian BTR vehicles destroyed by separatists near Slavyansk. According to LifeNews, at least 20 Ukrainian soldiers died in the attack, and militants captured a mortar, an anti-tank missile (a 9K111 Fagot), three AGS-17 automatic grenade launchers, and several machine guns.

Each BTR can carry up to three crew and 7-8 soldiers, so it’s possible that 20 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in this attack. So far the details of this report have not been confirmed by the government in Kiev.

LifeNews Publishes Video Of Two Destroyed Ukrainian BTRs

LifeNews, a Russian news agency with close ties to the Russian security apparatus, has posted this video which they say shows two Ukrainian BTR vehicles destroyed by separatists near Slavyansk. According to LifeNews, at least 20 Ukrainian soldiers died in the attack, and militants captured a mortar, an anti-tank missile (a 9K111 Fagot), three AGS-17 automatic grenade launchers, and several machine guns.

Each BTR can carry up to three crew and 7-8 soldiers, so it’s possible that 20 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in this attack. So far the details of this report have not been confirmed by the government in Kiev.

Ukraine’s Ceasefire Goes Up In Smoke
A must-watch video from Vice News — once again, Vice’s teams have captured scenes from the war in eastern Ukraine, but also the fears of local residents who live in a place that looks more and more like Syria every single day.
Ukraine Extends Ceasefire by 12 Hours Despite 4 Deaths Last Night

The Guardian‘s Alec Luhn reports:

Ukraine’s national security council has extended Kiev’s ceasefire in the east of the country by 12 hours in an apparent attempt to jump-start negotiations.

The ceasefire, announced by President Petro Poroshenko one week ago, was due to end at 10am on Friday, but the deadline was moved to 10pm after the tentative truce broke down this week.

The interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said there would be an “adequate and harsh” response to those fighters who did not lay down their arms within the newly extended deadline.

However, with today’s assault, supported by a tank, on a Ukrainian military base in Artyomovsk, the prospect that the separatists will down arms in the next few hours seems remote.

Exemplifying the severity of the situation, Dmyto Tymchuk of Information Resistance reported that 4 Ukrainian servicemen were killed and 5 wounded in a separatist attack in Kramatorsk last night.

UKRinform reports (in English) on Tymchuk’s report:

“The terrorists carried out a massive assault on roadblock No. 1 near Kramatorsk last night. Eight Russian tanks were used in the assault. There was simultaneous mortar fire on the roadblock. Law enforcers retaliating against the attack destroyed one tank of the terrorists and seized another tank. Four servicemen were killed and five were wounded. The militants blew up four armored personnel carriers and one mortar of ours,” reads the statement.

There are no figures about casualties among the terrorists, Tymchuk wrote.

The militants also fired at the positions of the anti-terrorist operation forces on Mount Karachun near Sloviansk, with a sniper wounding one soldier.

Separatists Use Tank in Artyomovsk Attack

Vecherny Bakhmut, an Artyomovsk-based news site, has reported today on a separatist attack on a military site in the town in the Donetsk region.

They report (translated by The Interpreter):

The town has been woken again by the sounds of automatic gunfire and frequent explosions.  Numerous eyewitnesses report an armoured vehicle (a tank?), which moved through the town and fired on military base A2730. Heavily shelling began at 5:10 and ceased at 5:30 [2:10-30 GMT], however the first reports of gunfire were received at around 3:25 [00:25 GMT].

Military installation A2730 stores tanks and a large arsenal of weapons and ammunition. Witnesses reported that the site had been shelled with heavy weapons before the attack was abandoned.

Vecherny Bakhmut has photos, collected from social networking sites, of the site today:




KAMAZ truck carrying separatist fighters on Levanevsky street.


Remnant of a fired RPG shell.


T-64BV tank seen near the Avantgarde Stadium heading in the direction of Gorlovka.

This is perhaps the first time we have seen separatist tanks engaged in offensive action.

There were also reports from locals that separatist fighters had attacked another military base, to the north of Artyomovsk in the village of Paraskoveevka:

Local residents confirm reports of the shelling of military base A4176 in Paraskoveevka. The shelling was very heavy: the headquarters building was severely damaged and power and communications cables were cut by shrapnel. As a result, the village is without electricity. The shelling of the base started at around 4 in the morning [1:00 GMT], the attackers then left in the direction of Artyomovsk.

On his Facebook page, Dmytro Tymchuk of Information Resistance reports that there were no losses on the Ukrainian side.

Putin Adviser Glazyev Calls Poroshenko a Nazi

In an interview with the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg, Sergei Glazyev, an adviser to Vladimir Putin, said that the entire Ukrainian government, including President Petro Poroshenko and the prime minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk, were Nazis.

He also denied that Russia recognises the Poroshenko government as legitimate.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

GLAZYEV: At least half of Ukrainian population do not want association agreement with Europe.

Poroshenko himself is illegitimate, at least half, err, one quarter of Ukrainian population do not see him as a legitimate president. They didn’t participate in the elections.

ROSENBERG: Moscow recognises him as the legitimate president?

GLAZYEV: Why do you think so? There is not any official information. We speak with him, but we speak with him as a person who is leading a part of Ukraine at the moment, by effect, but not by law.

But Europe is trying to push Ukraine to sign this agreement by force. They organised a military coup in Ukraine. They helped Nazis to come to power – now in Ukraine we have a clear Nazi government. This Nazi government is bombing the largest region of Ukraine.

ROSENBERG: Are you saying that President Poroshenko is a Nazi?

GLAZYEV: Of course. He supported Nazis. He was in Maidan. He sponsored the so-called Right Sector and so forth…

ROSENBERG: And Prime Minister Yatseniuk is a Nazi?

GLAZYEV: Of course. Who is Nazi? It’s not only those who proclaim Nazi slogans… Mr Yatseniuk and Mr Poroshenko, their coming into power is closely related to the government coup which happened in Ukraine on the basis of Nazi slogans.

ROSENBERG: Do you accept that, after the signing of this association agreement with the EU, Ukraine will leave Russia’s sphere of influence irreversibly.

GLAZYEV: I think, after the signing of the agreement of association between Ukraine and the European Union, European public will be too much surprised when this Nazi Frankenstein, which was born by the Euro bureaucrats and some politicians, will knock on the European countries’ doors.

Glazyev has long made aggressive statements with regards to Ukraine’s ambitions to develop closer ties with Europe.

In September 2013, while the EU association agreement was still planned to be signed by the Yanukovych government, Glazyev warned that if Ukraine moved towards the EU and the Russian speaking population resisted such a move, then Russia would be “legally entitled to support them”. This suggestion clearly foreshadowed Russia’s support for the separatist fighters in the Donbass.

Separatists Capture Donetsk National Guard Base

Separatist fighters captured a Ukrainian military base, that they had been laying siege to yesterday, late last night. 

Ukrainska Pravda reports that the separatists bombarded the base with mortar fire before the defenders ran out of ammunition.

They write (translated by The Interpreter):

Later on, the commander of the National Guard, Lieutenant-General Stepan Poltorak, addressed the personnel and ordered them, in the case of an escalation in the confrontation, to “provide an adequate response” to the attackers.

After an almost 7 hour battle with the armed terrorists, all the ammunition in the military base had been used up.

As a result, despite significant resistance by the troops at the site, the base was captured by the militants.

The commander of the battalion is now in captivity and the battalion personnel were moved to another military base for the soldier’s safety, reports  the National Guard’s press office.

Despite reports yesterday that the attackers were from the infamous Vostok battalion, Ukrainska Pravda reports that the assault was in fact mounted by another group, called the Kalmius battalion.

Poroshenko Signs EU Trade Deal

The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, has signed the economic section of the EU Association Agreement in Brussels today. The signing marks the completion of the initial accords for Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU, alongside Georgia and Moldova, whose leaders also signed today.

The decision to suspend preparations for the Association Agreement in November was the initial cause of the protest movement against Viktor Yanukovych, which ultimately led to his downfall. 

Poroshenko used the same pen originally given to Ukraine’s presidential office for the earlier intended signing in Vilnius, which was abandoned by Yanukovych. 

Reuters reports that Poroshenko said:

“Over the last months, Ukraine paid the highest possible price to make her European dreams come true.”

Reuters goes into the detail of the agreement in an article here.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Russia has reacted negatively to the signing:

Russia said that while the signing of the deal was the right of any state there could be grave consequences.