Ukraine LiveBlog Day 145: Russian Forces Penetrate Ukrainian Territory?

July 12, 2014
Screengrab from video uploaded 11 July 2014 by Lenta novostei purporting to be Russian armored vehicles spotted in Belgorad Region near Ukrainian border.

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 regular updates so check back often.

Russian Foreign Ministry Claims Ukraine Shelled Russian Town

A shell has reportedly fallen on Russian territory from Ukraine, prompting a harsh denunciation from the Russian Foreign Ministry, reported. The incident follows a day of recriminations from the Ukrainian government against Russia for allegedly firing from Russian territory on to Ukraine. The Interpreter has translated the story:

A shell has fallen from Ukrainian territory into the Donetsk District of Rostov Region of Russia into the back yard of a private home. The incident occurred in the village of Dvadtsatka. As a result of the explosion, a man died, and two more people were injured, area law-enforcement agencies reported. Among them was an 80-year-old woman who was thrown by the wave of the explosion. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition, doctors are fighting for her life. Investigators of the Investigative Commitee are working at the emergency cite, Rossiya 24 reported.

Local medical personnel said that the man who was killed had his arm ripped off.  At that time one of the victims was in her home which was situated across [from him]. Another woman was leaving work, when the shrapnel from a shell hit her in the leg. Two private homes suffered damage from the explosion, Aleksandr Tito, representative of the regional government reported.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has made a sharp protest in connection with the incident. According to Girgory Karasin, deputy head of the foreign policy department, “our demarches will be harsh and specific.”

Shells have landed on Russian territory before. But this is the first time when such a landing led to deaths and injuries. Donetsk is also the name of a Russian city within Rostov Region with a population of 49,000 people. The Donetsk-Izvarino border crossing into Ukraine is located in this city.

‘There’s a Hole in the Border’

A Ukrainian blogger writing July 12 about the situation in the Lugansk Region says “there’s a hole in the border, and artillery is being drawn in from the side of the Russian Federation,” Ukrainska Pravda reported.

The reports were not confirmed.

The Interpreter
has translated the blog post by Sergei Ivanov, who says he has his own sources for this information.

Last night the last BTR [armored transport vehicle] burned down, which had come with the group for defense to pick up 300 (wounded). The vehicle burned for 8 hours. They wanted to pick up at least the ashes of the crew — they shelled from a trench that we ourselves had dug along the border. All night we could hear the tracks and noise of the vehicles from the RF side. It wasn’t clear where they went. The vehicles were being maneuvered around constantly. The border is covered only from the visible portion of the horizon, but where there are woods — it’s hell!

There were mines, tripwires. The motorized brigades set fire to everything, only an R-140 remained and that wasn’t working. They took the tanks away, fearing that someone would set them on fire, too. There were only border guards with firing arms and two radio operators who survived, they asked to remain with the border guards. That is all that is covering the border near Dolzhansky.

On the RF side, every day, there’s an ‘injection’ of artillery from the enemy or they themselves shoot from the ATGMs  [anti-tank guided missiles] themselves. It’s important to indicate that there isn’t the ability to bomb with aviation or heavy artillery — if even one mortar falls on a Russian village — they’re screwed, there will be an open invasion.

In a previous blog post on Facebook, Ivanov said:

Our border guards are being shelled from Russian territory at the Dolzhansky checkpoint. All the Ukrainian armored vehicles are destroyed by Russian ATGMs. The targeting is done with the help of drones. From the Ukrainian side, the terrorists are pressing hard. It isn’t that the border is closed; it’s that it doesn’t exist as such. The head of the [border] service is delaying the reinforcement for the second day. They aren’t sending planes, although as specialists say, the only way to save our border guards is to immediately evacuate them and burn the whole square from the air.

Mr. Helety [Ukrainian defense minister], WTF?

Earlier, Ukrainska Pravda reported that a column of heavy vehicles with Russian flags crossed the border twice, at 4:00 am and again at 11:00 am.

Dmitry Snegirev, a Lugansk activist, told Ukrainska Pravda:

No one is playing at conspiracy, the tanks are coming under Russian flags, they have vehicles with the latest modifications, including the T-90. Some of the vehicles went to Sukhodolsk, Sverdlovsk and Izvarino, some to Lugansk.

The Ukrainian Council on National Security and Defense said they were
still checking the information on the Russian tanks, and denied that
Ukrainians were unable to defend the border, Ukrainska Pravda added.

Poroshenko to Attend World Cup Final in Brazil

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has accepted an invitation from Brazil’s President Dilma Rouseff to attend the World Cup soccer championship final tomorrow, UNIAN reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is also attending, as well as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and all three leaders will be present at a special banquet for foreign guests at the end of the games.

The Kremlin confirmed that the Russian and German leaders will hold talks on Ukraine.

Russian Armored Vehicles Spotted Yesterday Heading Toward Russian-Ukrainian Border

We’ve geolocated another video purporting to show a column of Russian armor moving toward the Ukrainian border with the road sign “Razumnoye” at 0:37 which is a town close to the border north of Kharkiv in Ukraine.

The dash cam video was uploaded yesterday, July 11 by the local news service Lenta novostei.

OSCE Monitors Report Fighting at Donetsk Airport

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has filed the following report today about fighting at the Donetsk Airport:

situation in the central-southern part of the Luhansk region and the
central part of the Donetsk region remained volatile. Other parts of the
country remained calm.

In Kharkiv, the situation remained calm.

In central-southern Luhansk and the central Donetsk regions, the situation remained volatile.

Fighting in the Donetsk airport
area continued during the night of 10-11 July. The SMM heard explosions
from the direction of the airport and saw two pillars of smoke. Road
access from the east and south to the airport area was blocked by
‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (‘DPR’) forces. The SMM saw ‘DPR’ fighters
moving in an armoured personnel carrier from the east of the city
towards the airport; and two military trucks carrying armed ‘DPR’ forces
moving from the city centre towards the airport area.

At a press conference on 11 July
in Donetsk, the ‘prime minister of DPR’, Alexander Boroday, introduced
the new ‘first deputy prime minister’, Vladimir Antyufeev, who will be
in charge of security services, the Interior Ministry, courts, justice
and customs.

On 10 July the SMM was told by
the acting chief of police that 40 to 50 people had been detained in
Sloviansk by ‘DPR’ forces while 31 people were unaccounted for. He also
suggested that some detainees had been forced to join the ’DPR’ armed

The overall number of police in
Sloviansk, the acting police chief said, is in the process of being
restored. By 10 July, the number of police had risen to 136 out of the
mandated 333. The acting chief of police told the SMM that the city was
not suffering from serious crime.

Unexploded ordnance (UXO)
remains a problem in and around Sloviansk. On 10 July the SMM observed
UXO in those parts of the city where fighting had taken place.

The SMM met the head of the
local council in Starobylsk. He explained that people in the city
suffered from a lack of cash due to the fact that the regional bank
headquarters in Luhansk city had been occupied by forces of the “Luhansk
People’s Republic” ( ‘LPR’).

The SMM met the chief of the
social services department in Starobylsk Municipality and discussed the
IDP situation in the region. According to him, the estimated number of
unregistered IDPs in the Starobylsk district amounted to 4,000 people.
He said that a task force dealing with IDP social issues had been
established. The task force would help IDPs to access social services
and find housing.

The SMM learnt that a task force
dealing with damage, security assessment and humanitarian needs had
been set up in the former office of the mayor of Sloviansk. This task
force comprises of commanders from the State Services on Emergency
Situations, Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) officers, the police, and
members of the city council. It is headed by the first deputy governor
of Donetsk region.

Reports of Russian Forces Penetrating Ukrainian Territory

There have been numerous reports in the last 24 hours of Russian troops massing at the Ukrainian border, and accusations that Russia forces may be firing from inside Russian territory on to Ukraine.

Now at 20:09 local time, Ukrainskaya Pravda has published a story headlined “RF Troops Penetrated into Ukrainian Territory, Organized Ambush,” citing Ukrainian Council on National Security and Defense Andrei Lysenko.

The story has not been confirmed by other sources.

The Interpreter has translated the story:

Russian Federation troops have penetrated three kilometers into the territory of Ukraine in Lugansk Region and organized an ambush there. Andrei Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Council on National Security and Defense (CNSD), announced this, Channel 5 reported.

The CNSD suspects that the aggressors are thus trying to create a corridor to bring in vehicles and mercenaries to the territory of Ukraine.

Thus, according to Lyshenko, many people are remaining in the basements of their homes in Marinka in Donetsk Region due to shelling of apartment buildings by [separatist] fighters.

‘The fighters have shelled the settlement of Marinka from Grads. The scale of destruction, according to eyewitnesses, is enormous. People are remaining in their basements. The terrorists are preventing their rescue and continuing the shelling,’ said Lysenko, Radio Svoboda reported.

According to Lysenko, the Marinka apartment buildings are being shelled by Grads, but the streets of Donetsk are being shelled from a large-caliber mortar launchers which is being moved around on a MAN truck.

“Moving from area to area, there is firing on the apartment buildings of the city from the mortar launcher. The gang leaders are trying to pass this off as artillery shelling from the Ukrainian military,’ said Lysenko.

The CSND added that there was information that the male population of Marinka was being forced to participate in the illegal armed formations, and are supposed to guard Donetsk and Lugansk.

According to another report, last night due to active shelling, mines fell on the grounds of the power lines in Marinka district and the power station, switchboard, and cable connections were damaged.

Earlier today there were reports of Russian forces massing near the Ukrainian-Russian border near the village of Geyevka in Stanichno-Lugansk District, UNIAN reported. And a video was uploaded to YouTube yesterday by Lenta novostei purporting to show more than 100 armored vehicles moving through the town of Pyatnitskoye in Belgorod Region of Russia in the direction of the Ukrainian border.

We were not able to confirm or geolocate the video: