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Other activists reported that it caused traffic jams last week.
Then there is this video, reportedly taken on July 5th. The Strela appears at the 1 minute mark, after a long convoy of other separatist armored vehicles. The flag on one of the vehicles, which we mistook for a Ukrainian flag at the time, is actually the Imperial Flag of Russia:
The 9K35 Strela-10 is a vehicle-mounted surface-to-air missile, one of the Soviet Union’s more advanced air defense systems, and one that is responsible for knocking jets out of the sky in Angola, Operation Desert Storm, and Kosovo. It is more than capable of destroying Ukrainian helicopters, transport craft, or even jet fighters. A Strela has not, to our knowledge, been reported missing by the Ukrainian military. A Strela is not on a list of weapons, published by RIA Novosti, reportedly captured or destroyed in Ukraine. And yet today a 9K35 Strela-10 was seen rolling down the streets on Donetsk — being driven by Russian-backed separatists.
LifeNews, a news agency with close ties to Russian intelligence and security forces, publishes this video. It shows a significant amount of heavy weaponry in the hands of Donetsk rebels as they construct a barrier to defend the city against Ukraine’s advancing anti-terror operation (ATO). The Strela is clearly visible:
This could be the most obvious — and blatant — piece of evidence that the Ukrainian separatists are being militarily supported by Moscow. It’s not the only piece of evidence, though.
Is it a coincidence that Russian ultranationalist leftist Sergei Kurginyan, who berated the separatists for retreating from Slavyansk, has recently promised more support from Moscow?
RIA Novosti, a Russian state-operated news agency, has posted a story that says separatist leaders are preparing to evacuate parts of Donetsk in advance of the predicted Ukrainian military assault on the city (translated by The Interpreter):
DPR authorities were preparing a partial evacuation of “some districts of Donetsk,” DPR Prime Minister Aleksandr Boroday said at a briefing.
“We were forced to do this. Russia must prepare for several hundred thousand refugees. They practically all want to go to the Russian Federation,” said Boroday.
According to him, the evacuation will be voluntary and it can begin in a few days.
Earlier Kiev authorities said that they would encircle Donetsk.
RFE/RL reports that, according to Ukraine’s government, Russian helicopters have crossed the border into Ukraine. Then Kiev makes a threat — illegal aircraft in Ukrainian airspace will be destroyed:
National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko says Ukrainian border guards reported the brief presence of six Russian helicopters just inside Ukrainian airspace. Lysenko said Ukrainian mortar positions and ammunition were reinforced after the helicopters were spotted, apparently making demonstrative flights.
Council chairman Andriy Parubiy says that any aircraft illegally entering Ukrainian airspace will be destroyed.
Interfax-Ukraine reports that the ATO press centre has announced that 3 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and around 30 wounded in the last 24 hours.
A Ural truck came under machinegun fire near the town of Muratove, Luhansk region, at around midnight, the report said. “The truck was ambushed. One serviceman was killed and three were injured,” the press service reported.
It came under fire from an AGS-17 grenade launcher and automatic weapons at a roadblock in the Luhansk region after midnight. A militant was taken prisoner. The servicemen did not suffer any casualties.
The Ukrainian infantry engaged in a shootout with the militia near Siversk, Donetsk region, at about 1 a.m. Two mortar crews were destroyed. Two servicemen were wounded, and a tank was damaged, the press center said.
Mortar and automatic gunfire was opened on the town of Dolzhansky from the village of Biriukove on Wednesday night. “Seven servicemen were wounded. Two of them are in a serious condition. Four of the injured are border guards,” the press center said.
Dmytro Tymchuk of Information Resistance went into more detail on several of the incidents on his Facebook page.
He writes (translated by The Interpreter):
A BTR-80 of the ATO forces was blown up by a landmine near the village of Chervonaya Zarya (in the Donetsk region). 5 members of the security forces were injured.
In this same area a BMP-2 was blown up by another landmine. The ammunition inside the the combat vehicle was detonated. 2 servicemen were killed, 6 wounded.
In addition, terrorists carried out a mortar attack on the Dolzhansky border checkpoint. Militant snipers also attacked security forces. 5 servicemen were wounded.
A convoy of ATO forces was ambushed. 1 serviceman killed, 3 wounded.
Overnight, 5 ATO checkpoints at various points in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions were fired on. One security officer was injured.
Vladislav Seleznev, the official spokesman for the Ukrainian government’s Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO), has written on his Facebook page that separatist fighters in Severodonetsk have shelled Ukrainian positions and residential areas.
Ukrainska Pravda reports that Seleznev wrote (translated by The Interpreter):
“Having fired several rounds at the positions of the Ukrainian troops, the militants deployed their mortars in the opposite direction and opened fire on residential areas of the city,” wrote Seleznev.
According to operational data, there are no civilian casualties, but “a few buildings in the city were damaged.”
According to the spokesman for the ATO, the terrorists have used this tactic to turn the local population against Ukrainian forces.
We would stress here that Seleznev’s report of the separatists firing on civilian areas in order to tarnish the image of the ATO is not, as yet, verified by any material evidence.
Here is another video filmed yesterday which shows a large Ukrainian column en route from Mariupol to Donetsk:
Donetsk was awoken by an artillery barrage this morning.Several days ago elements of the Ukrainian armed forces – the Dnipr-2 and Donbass battalions – carried out a successful operation, destroying terrorist fortifications and firing positions.Today, the same team, using armoured vehicles, is making a decisive attack on the same section of the front. We will provide information on the progress of the situation later.