Ukraine Liveblog Day 140: Shooting Returns to Maidan As Separatists Regroup in Donetsk

July 7, 2014
Ukrainian BTR-4E in the centre of Kramatorsk. Photo: Olaf Koens

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

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View Ukraine: April, 2014 in a larger map
For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

Below we will be making light updates due to the holiday weekend.

Did 14 Russian Soldiers Die While On ‘Vacation’ In Eastern Ukraine?

UPDATE: Several corrections and clarifications have been made to the end of this post.

According to a media report, 14 Russian spetsnaz [special forces]
soldiers from the 45th Airborne Troops Regiment of the Russian
Federation were killed, “suddenly,” while on “vacation,” or in other
words in battle, in eastern Ukraine. The report was published by, citing an eyewitness, and came accompanied with
pictures of their funeral (translated by The Interpreter):

unexpectedly with the activation of the ATO in Ukraine, in neighboring
and fraternal Muskovy, the funerals have become more frequent for all
kinds of Cossacks, soldiers of fortune, Orthodox warriors and also
fighters from the special assignment forces. Thus, in Moscow, family
members bid farewell to soldiers of the 45th spetsnaz Airborne Troops,
which simultaneously somehow all died under unknown circumstances.
Either there was a group accident, or they were killed during the ATO in

Taking into account the fact that, in recent days in
Russia, there were no special operations with the participation of the
spetsnaz, and there were no reports of deaths among the RF Airforce
troops, the answer to this question answers itself. But the relatives of
course are mum, not a word for the camera, and on the whole, what
Russian journalist will now cover the topic of the numerous loses among
the terrorists, including among the Russian mercenaries? After all,
these brave militiamen are hacking to pieces the Kiev junta, along the
way are leaving piles of broken metal and stinking carcasses with the ID
of the citizens of the RF. In short: our army is not there.

Update: At the end of the day we posted this update and then noted that RFE/FL’s Robert Coalson said that these photos were taken at a service in Ukraine. In fact, we never ran the article that Coalson posted through our translators. The article actually says that members of the “Vostok” battalion who were reportedly killed at Donetsk airport and were, indeed, buried in Russia.

The usually-reliable and must-follow Coalson and The Interpreter both made mistakes here.

On substance, the problem with the reports are that they rely on
bloggers and anonymous sources, and they also lack names and details. We
have, however, been unable to find these pictures posted online before
this spate of reports. has also posted photos of the reported bodies. That post suggests that these 14 were part of the new “cargo 200,” (read much more about that here) but it’s hardly airtight evidence that these men were Russian spetznaz. 

So at the end of the day this story has not been confirmed nor
denied, but merits more investigation. Our apologies for the confusion.

Ukrainian Officials Tour Slavyansk After Separatist Retreat
Christopher Miller reports:
There is widespread damage in Slavyansk:

Earlier, we reported that the Ukrainian military was conducting arrests in Slavyansk. Segodnya has more details (translated by The Interpreter) that suggest that the men were Russian citizens who were caught stealing:

Ukrainian forces in Slavyansk detained two men suspected of terrorism. During the distribution of humanitarian aid, under the guise of local residents, they had stood in line, taken groceries, and then were trying to leave when local residents recognized them and summoned soldiers. This is being written about in social networks.

“Two people had taken some sausages, and the locals start shouting, ‘Those are terrorists, catch them!!!'”. The Ukrainian soldiers quickly detained these two, and voila, they turned out both to be citizens of Russia, they had fought on the side of the separatists, and then come here when they had been abandoned and they had nothing to eat,’ photographer Anton Petrukov wrote on his Facebook page.

As social network users reported, the suspects were discovered to have passports from Russia.

We will recall that on 5 July, fighters left Slavyansk, and many of them moved to Donetsk and Lugansk.

Assassination Attempt On Separatist Leader In Lugansk

The vehicle of a separatist leader was ambushed last night. Ekho Moskvy reports (translated by The Interpreter):

The car of Alexey Mozgovoy, leader of the people’s militia of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s republic came under gunfire outside Lisichansk. He was supposed to be in it, however, due to a change of his work schedule he had cancelled the trip. The incident occurred at 21:40 Moscow Time.

A tweet which reportedly shows the vehicle:

US Body Armor And Non-Lethal Aid Reach Kiev
A non-lethal aid package from the United States has reached Ukraine.

An excerpt from the statement from the US Embassy in Kiev:

2,000 sets of Interceptor body armor given by the United States as assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine have arrived in Kyiv. Once it clears customs it will be handed over to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense for transport to its final destination. The body armor will increase soldier survivability during military operations in the field, saving lives. Interceptor body armor is the same model provided to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, developed for better protection and lighter weight than earlier types, making it more effective in combat operations.

Other recent deliveries of U.S. assistance include 1,000 sleeping mats and 3,600 camouflage jackets, while 400 boxes of gauze bandages and 1,000 helmet covers will be delivered shortly. These shipments are part of a U.S. non-lethal aid package for Ukraine totaling more than $23 million and also including first aid kits, night vision goggles, communications equipment, and other materiel to facilitate the operations of the Ukrainian military and State Border Guard Service (SBGS) to assist them in their efforts to halt acts of terrorism in eastern Ukraine. U.S. security assistance to Ukraine is ongoing and further assistance shipments are planned.

While the objections of the critics of the move are probably obvious, supporters of the move are probably asking the age-old question: better late than never?

Ukrainian Forces Bringing Food And Order to Slavyansk

On Sunday, we posted multiple photos of a humanitarian relief mission led by the Ukrainian military in the newly-recaptured Slavyansk. One surprising thing is the size of the smiling crowd. While there’s no denying that the separatists had a lot of popular support, their pro-Russia rallies were always relatively sparsely attended, and the Russian media which was embedded with the separatists consistently failed to find the residents of the town who just wanted this to end.

But there are also reports today that the Ukrainian military is making arrests.

Slavyansk, devastated by the separatist occupation and months of heavy fighting,  is now the problem of the Ukrainian military. The outcome of that process is still very much undetermined.
Three Bridges Leading to Donetsk Destroyed
Three different bridges have been destroyed that lead to Donetsk. 
RT reporters can play coy, but the bridges were destroyed in front of the anti-terrorism operation, a move which will hinder the Ukrainian military advance, in multiple locations in what appears to have been a coordinated effort.
Separatists Claim to Have Captured a Ukrainian Su-25 Jet
The Russian state-owned news agency ITAR-TASS reports that the ‘defence minister’ of the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic has announced the capture of a Ukrainian Su-25 attack aircraft.
ITAR-TASS report (translated by The Interpreter):
According to the defence minister of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR), Igor Plotnitsky, the militia will soon have its own air force.

“One Ukrainian aircraft, an Su-25, was forced to make an emergency landing and was captured by us. It needs some light repairs, after which, it will be operational. The army of the LNR will at last have its own air force,” said Plotnitsky. He did not specify exactly where the aircraft was captured, neither did he say where they plan to take off from following the repairs.
However, according to Ukrainksa Pravda, the Ukrainian military denies this. 
They write (translated by The Interpreter):
Sources at the ATO headquarters denied reports of the hijacking to Ukrainska Pravda. “Two planes arrived at Lugansk airport, dropped off their cargo, were fired on, but have returned to their base,” said a source.

At the same time, Alexei Dmitrashovsky, a press officer for the ATO, denied this report in comments to Ukrainska Pravda.

“No, this is not true. To use aircraft, one needs special equipment and training. An aeroplane is not a car. Plus one needs aviation fuel, which is very expensive. 
However the governor of the Lugansk oblast, Irina Verigina, did not rule out the possibility that the Russians could use Ukrainian equipment in a provocation, including aircraft, captured from Ukraine in Crimea.
She also noted that the ATO headquarters denied any reports of a Ukrainian aircraft being forced to land in the Lugansk region:
“There is an aircraft that made an emergency landing, but this was in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast, not in Lugansk.

We have all of our planes. They have none of our aircraft. But they have moved our Ukrainian equipment, which was in Crimea. They have moved it to Millerovo in the Rostov region.

Right now our Ukrainian aircraft are in Millerovo. They can now make all their air sorties with our Ukrainian aircraft. The same thing as with the Grad systems. 15 sets which were captured in Crimea,” said Verigina.
It should be noted that there are no operational airfields currently in separatist hands.
Separatists Abduct 5 Policemen in Severodonetsk

UNIAN reports that Andrei Lysenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, has told reporters from Espreso TV that 5 policemen have been kidnapped by separatist militants in the city of Severodonetsk

Amongst those captured yesterday were the head of the Operational Investigations department of the Severodonetsk city police, his deputy and 3 colleagues.

Ukrainian Defence Ministry Reports 10 Attacks Over Past 24 Hours

The Ukrainian Defence Ministry has announced that there have been 10 attacks on Ukrainian positions over the last 24 hours.

Interfax-Ukraine reports that the Defence Ministry described the areas of highest tension as Donetsk, Gorlovka, Lugansk, Snezhnoye, Antratsyt, Krasnodon and Severodonetsk.

The Defence Ministry announcement says (translated by Interfax-Ukraine):

Illegal armed units conducted ten gunfire attacks on roadblocks and positions of the Ukrainian army in the past 24 hours. The terrorists are being successfully deterred. Last night they opened mortar and automatic fire on roadblocks near Amvrosiyivka, Dovzhansky and Rubizhne and in the area of Kreminna.

Dmytro Tymchuk of Information Resistance also reported on the attacks last night in more detail.

He writes on his Facebook page (translated by The Interpreter):

 – ATO checkpoints near Amvrosiyevka and Rubezhnoye were fired on last night with small arms. There are no casualties amongst the security forces.

 – An ATO defensive position near the Dolzhansky border crossing was shelled. The shelling came from mortars. In total, the militants launched around 30 mortar shells. There were no security forces casualties.

 – A bombardment was carried out against ATO positions near Kremennaya. One security officer was wounded.

The Interfax-Ukraine report also described efforts by Ukrainian forces to clear recently captured areas of weapons and explosives, left behind by the separatist fighters:

Meanwhile, engineering units are de-mining roads, bridges and buildings, the ministry continued. Some 700 122mm munitions were taken out from Krasny Lyman and ten howitzer shells, 30 detonators and three RGD-5 grenades were destroyed. Two truck loads of ammunition and two kilograms of WWII explosives were found in Sloviansk.

“A tonne of TNT and ammunition were found in Mykolayivka yesterday. Three MON-100 anti-personnel fragmentation mines and three anti-tank mines were also detected there,” the ministry said.

Shooting During Confrontation on Maidan Last Night
Ukrainska Pravda reports on a shooting incident last night on the Maidan in Kiev. They report that the Facebook page of the ‘Central Rada of the Hundreds of the Maidan’ described a “provocation with gunfire”.
“The attackers covered their faces with balaclavas. The alarm raised, the Hundreds drove the attackers away, but a fresh attack cannot be ruled out until the morning.”
Translation: Altogether. 40 people in masks. Attacked in 2 groups – from Shevchenko and Grinchenko alleys. They were grabbing people of non-Slavic appearance. They did not take down the tents…
Translation: From an eyewitness: 40 people came in balaclavas, they wanted to bring order to the Maidan. They dragged people from tents with the words “We’re looking for blacks.”

The same Twitter user claims that in response to the attacks with chains, bats and brass knuckles, defenders of the Maidan fired first into the air, with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, and then at the attackers.

This YouTube video shows crowds gathering and repelling another group on the Maidan. At about 35 seconds in, the cameraman says to his friend:

Look, he’s got a Kalashnikov! Can’t you see it?

No I can’t see anything.

In the white football shirt, he’s got a Kalashnikov, you see?

[Shots are then heard]

He’s shooting. 

There’s shooting with automatic weapons…

A group then starts running, pursued by others. 

Meanwhile there were reports this morning from police and medics that four members of Maidan self-defence had been brought into hospital with wounds from ‘traumatic weapons’ (which fire rubber bullets).