Ukraine Liveblog Day 159: Donetsk Citizens Flee As Fighting Increases

July 26, 2014
Ukrainian troops enter the village of Verhnyokamyanske in the Donetsk region on July 25 | AFP/Genya Savilov

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.

For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?

Below we will be making regular updates so check back often.

Europe Passes New Sanctions Against Russia

Yesterday the EU released its latest list of sanctioned individuals over Ukraine and Crimea. The list is comprised of 15 new individuals and 18 entities who have, or are, “undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine.”

The list of sanctioned individuals comprises the leaders and heads of Russia’s foreign and domestic security services (Mikhail Fradkov SVR, Alexander Bortnikov FSB), key members of Russia’s Security Council (including its head Nikolai Patrushev and former Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev), and political leaders (like Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov) for their vocal support of the Russian annexation of Crimea and Ukraine.
Additionally, the EU sanctioned key separatist leaders such as Vladimir Antyufeyev, first prime minister of Donetsk People’s Republic and former Minister of State Security in Transnistria, Fedor Berezin, deputy defence minister of Donetsk People’s Republic, and Pavel Gubarev, one of the leaders of Donetsk People’s Republic.
Along with the sanctioned individuals 18 “entities” were added to the list. These included the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics along with Federal State of Novorossiya which was created when the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics agreed to unite in the creation of this new state.
Other sanctioned entities include the various factions of pro-Russia separatists currently fighting in Easter Ukraine. They include the Cossack National Guard, Sobol, Donbass People’s Militia and the Vostok Battalion among others.
The other nine sanctioned entities were Ukrainian state assets that were seized during the annexation of Crimea. These state owned assets were unlawfully transferred to the new Crimean authorities contrary to Ukrainian law.
The full text and list of sanctioned individuals can be found here.

CNN Fixer Freed, But Reportedly Only After Being Forced To Lie For Russian TV
Some breaking news this morning — and it comes with an alarming claim:

LifeNews is a Russian television network that is well known for having direct connections to the Russian security apparatus. Because of this, LifeNews is also often given unparalleled access to information and breaking news in Russia. But as we’ve seen over the last few months, that privilege appears to extend beyond the border. LifeNews has been the favored outlet of the Russian-backed militants, who have made some of their boldest claims there. If LifeNews is implicated in procuring a false confession it would be a new low for Russian media coverage of this conflict.

The claim is unconfirmed, though CNN’s Kellie Morgan is tweeting that Skiba has been released.

Residents Flee Donetsk As Ukrainian Military Closes In

The Ukrainian government has announced the latest phase of their anti-terror operation (ATO) to retake separatist territory in eastern Ukraine. The newest target is perhaps the most important — Donetsk — and the Ukrainian army has been slowly surrounding the city for days. Now the ATO is in the final stages of preparation to storm the city. AP reports:

National security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Ukrainian forces were outside Horlikva north of the main regional center of Donetsk.

Lysenko said at a briefing Saturday that after taking Horlivka, “the direct route is open for the forces of the anti-terrorist operation to the capital of the Donbass region — the city of Donetsk.”

The Russian-backed militants have closed off most of the roads into Donetsk. The roads out of Donetsk are flooded with civilians trying to flee the fighting. Ukraine’s fifth largest city is on the edge of what could be a very dangerous battle.