Ukraine Liveblog Day 209: Shelling Continues in Popasnaya and Donetsk Airport

September 14, 2014
Donetsk in smoke on the morning of 14 September 2014. Photo by @euromaidan

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

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OSCE Monitors Report on Shelling of Donetsk Marketplace

The following is the spot report today September 14 from the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) regarding the shelling of the Putilovsky Market (AKA known as Putilovka):

14 September, at about 15:00 hrs, the SMM was on patrol close to the
Putilovka market, Kievskyi district, Donetsk city. The market appeared
to have been subjected to shelling prior to the SMM’s arrival. Smoke was
coming from one building and a fire brigade was at the scene. Members
of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) present at the location
reported that a total of four people had been killed in the incident.
About 20 m from its position, the SMM team could see the body of a
civilian woman lying on the street.

at the scene, the SMM team heard mortar shelling. Subsequently, four
shells impacted and exploded within 20 seconds about 200 m from the
team’s position.

SMM monitoring team stopped at another location about 1 km away from
the market. About 10 minutes later another mortar shell exploded about
100 m from the SMM’s position. The SMM team immediately left the area.

Heavy Shelling Continues in Donetsk; Marketplace, Railroad Hit; Airport Battle Continues

Heavy shelling continued throughout the day in Donetsk and into the evening.

Yesterday September 13, the Ukrainian army said it had “repelled” Russian-backed fighters from the Donetsk Airport, which it had under control, but the battle continues today.

As usual, the Russian-sponsored self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” attempted to portray the shelling as all coming from the Ukrainian army, uploading extremely graphic videos to pro-separatist websites and YouTube channels to reinforce this narrative of civilians killed. In the edited video, survivors are prompted to scream about the “Kiev junta” being responsible and that Kiev is “wiping Donetsk from the earth.”

Indeed, the Ukrainian army defending the airport is shelling, yet there were independent accounts that explain how the separatists themselves are shelling at the airport and in residential areas and breaking the ceasefire.

Translation: In Donetsk, the [separatist] fighters have organized a “Bloody Sunday”.

The photos in this tweet are from local news site

This video uploaded to YouTube by the Lenta Novostei channel was shot by young citizen reporters who say within the video that DPR fighters are shelling the  marketplace. The text explanation with the video says “In Donetsk, DPR fighters have shelled the Putilovsky Market, there are armed clashes between the terrorists, there is shell fire periodically heard in the city.”

Earlier today, we cited other reports from OSCE indicating that there is in-fighting among separatist battalions.

Here is an unedited citizen’s video of the shelling of the Putilovsky Market, uploaded to YouTube today September 14. The narrator says it was taken at 13:30. In this video, damage is visible, but people aren’t acting and screaming for the camera as they were for ANNA news, although the author labels the video “Putilovsky Market 14.09.2014 Donetsk. There are casualties.”

A number of reports mention Grads fired by the Russians and/or separatists at the airport:

Translation: Donetsk now. Grads hitting the airport.

A video uploaded today to YouTube claims to show Russian Federation forces firing Grads in the Donetsk area. While it is dated today and appears to be a new video not previously showing in Google images, we cannot confirm the video.

People recycle older footage at times like this, for example this tweet has a screen shot from a video actually shot in mid-August.

Translation: The railroad bridge was blown up over the road from Slavyansk to Donetsk and Mariupol.

This Twitter account which is often used for “official” announcements from the “Donetsk People’s Republic” reported casualties, citing DPR-appointed prime minister Aleksandr Zakharchenko.

Translation: Donetsk on Sunday was shelled about 38 times, the dead number about 20 civilians, 24 people wounded — Zakharchenko.

Here’s a citizen’s video of the shelling of the Donetsk Airport today:

This amateur video is labelled “14.09.14. Shelling of the railroad. Donetsk in smoke” and contains an agitated conversation spiced with plenty of cursing about whether the shells will fall on the area where the cameraman is.

This dark video uploaded by a citizen reporter three hours ago indicates the battle for the airport continued this evening.

OSCE Reports Russian-backed Fighters War With Each Other, Shell Pervomaisk, Donetsk Airport

This report from the observer mission of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), dated September 12 and distributed September 13, reports that while the POW exchanges are continuing, Russian-backed separatists are warring with each other in Popasnaya and people are hit in the cross-fire. Pervomaisk is under control of a Cossack fighter who is not answerable to the “Lugansk People’s Republic” — and who has taken responsibility for the shelling that is breaking the ceasefire in the belief there is a build-up of Ukrainian forces:

SMM observed a simultaneous release of 68 people in Donetsk; and monitored the non-use of weapons regime established under the Minsk

the early hours of 12 September, the SMM observed the simultaneous
release of 68 hostages/prisoners close to Avdeevka (18km north of
Donetsk city). The Ukrainian side handed over 31 members of the “Donetsk
People’s Republic” (“DPR”), whilst the “DPR” side handed over 37
Ukrainian servicemen. In addition, the SMM at 17:00 hrs that day
observed the handover of six more prisoners by the Ukrainian side to the
“DPR” at the same location, thereby balancing the figures. The releases
followed a verbal agreement between the sides made the previous evening
– as part of the implementation of the Protocol signed in Minsk on 5
September – at an SMM-facilitated session of the Tri-lateral Contact
Group held in Kyiv.

SMM – located close to Donetsk airport – heard what appeared to be a
number of detonations, seemingly coming from the direction of the
airport, at 11:00hrs. Local people told the SMM that sporadic fire of
automatic weapons had been heard throughout the night in the same area.

SMM observed a large crater near a bus-stop in the village of Gornikov
(15 km northeast of Donetsk city). Four people in the village separately
told the SMM that the crater was the result of shelling at 08:00 hrs
that morning. They said three people had been wounded as a result. The
SMM observed another crater in the neighbouring village of Khanjenkovo
(26 km northeast of Donetsk city), also caused by shelling at around
08:00 hrs, according to a local man whose home had sustained some minor
damage as a result of the shelling. No casualties were reported.

appeared to have been calm during the reporting period, with various
interlocutors in and around the city reporting no signs of fighting.

SMM received numerous reports– from Ukrainian military personnel and
local people in a number of towns in the vicinity of Pervomais’k (70 km
west of Luhansk city)
– that there had been small arms fire and shelling over the previous 24
hours in the area. The acting District Police Chief of one of the towns
– Popasna – later outlined several alleged incidents spanning the
period of 8 to 11 September, in which Popasna had been shelled. In
another of the towns in the area – Zolotoye – local people told the SMM
that four different separatist groups were engaged in a power struggle
in the area.

in Luhansk city, a senior representative of the “Lugansk People’s
Republic” (“LPR”) told the SMM that Pervomais’k was under the control of
a Cossack commander unanswerable to the “LPR”. The SMM subsequently
visited Pervomais’k, where they met the commander, the self-styled
Colonel Pavel Dremov. He confirmed that he had been involved in
shelling, saying he had done so because he had received information that
there had been a substantial build-up of Ukrainian military forces
around Pervomais’k, including at least 64 tanks. He said there were
about 700 Cossack armed personnel in the town, equipped with three D-30
artillery pieces.

In Stanitsa-Luhanska (24
km northeast of Luhansk city), the SMM observed a civilian vehicle
carrying at least half a dozen separatists, armed with a 122 m anti-tank
weapon, moving in the direction of a Ukrainian military checkpoint.

SMM, at around 09:30 hrs, observed Ukrainian military personnel laying
10 to 12 anti-tank mines, in two rows, on the road from Shchastye (24 km
north of Luhansk city) to Metallist (9 km north of Luhansk city).

The situation remained calm in Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk.

The SMM observed on 11 September people in Tavriis’k (80 km east of Kherson city)
digging trenches on the side of the main road connecting Kherson with
Crimea. There is also a hydro-power plant and a bridge over the Dnepr
River in the vicinity.

high-ranking Ukrainian military official told the SMM in Odessa that
there had been a significant recent build-up of Russian military forces
in both Transdniestria and northern Crimea.

The situation remained clam in Chernivtsi.

The SMM in Ivano-Frankivsk city,
observed 1,000 college students, wearing yellow and blue t-shirts,
moving along the streets, singing Ukrainian patriotic songs and chanting
slogans. The participants dispersed peacefully.

The situation remained calm in Lviv and Kyiv.

Russian ‘Humanitarian Convoy’ Crossed Into Ukraine Without Permission: OSCE Monitors

The Observer Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has issued a revised report of the Russian ‘humanitarian aid’ convoy of 216 vehicles that crossed into Ukraine without permission at the Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints:


On 12 September 2014 starting at 22:20 (Moscow time) and throughout
the night, a Russian convoy of 216 vehicles, including 189 cargo trucks,
entered the Donetsk Border Crossing Point (BCP) and crossed into
Ukraine in six groups. By 13 September at 07:45, all the vehicles had
crossed into Ukraine. According to the Russian Ministry for Emergency
Situations (MES), the convoy is carrying only food products and heading
to Luhansk.

The first group of 36 trucks were quickly checked by the Russian
border guard and customs services. The 180 other vehicles were not
inspected. All vehicles crossed into Ukraine without being inspected by
Ukrainian border guard and customs officers or the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).


On 12 September 2014 at 22:10 (Moscow time), the Observer Mission
(OM) observed the arrival of vehicles belonging to a second Russian
humanitarian aid convoy.

At 22:10, two cars arrived at the BCP. One of the passengers
introduced himself to the Observer Team (OT) as an official of the MES
of the Russian Federation (RF). He explained that soon a humanitarian
aid convoy consisting of 200 vehicles loaded with food products but
without medicines, would arrive at the BCP. The MES official added that
the vehicles would undergo a control by the RF customs and the border
guard services. According to him, the process would not involve
Ukrainian customs and border guard officers who are still present in the
vicinity of Donetsk BCP. He also stated that the convoy was due to
cross the border on 13 September at around 06:00 hrs.

The convoy entered the BCP compound in groups as detailed below:

At 22:20, a first group of 36white coloured trailer trucks
accompanied by one workshop truck, one tow truck and one spare truck
tractor entered the BCP. By 23:30, Russian border guard and custom
checks were completed and all vehicles were parked in the buffer zone
between the Russian and Ukrainian BCPs (outside of OSCE sight).

At 03:50, a second group of 34 cargo trucks accompanied by one
workshop truck, one tow truck and one spare truck tractor entered the
BCP. The second group of vehicles joined the first group parked in the
buffer zone between Russian and Ukrainian BCPs (outside of OSCE OM’s

At 04:50, a third group of 25 cargo trucks accompanied by five fuel
trucks, one ambulance, two workshop trucks, one tow truck, and one spare
truck tractor entered the BCP and joined the other two groups.

At 06:00, the fourth group of 30 cargo trucks accompanied by one
spare tractor, one ambulance and one tow truck entered the BCP and
joined the rest of the convoy.

At 06:45, the fifth group of 33 cargo trucks accompanied by one
spare truck tractor and one workshop truck entered the BCP and joined
the rest of the convoy.

At 07:00, the sixth and final group of 31 cargo trucks accompanied
by one ambulance, two spare trucks tractor, two workshop trucks and one
tow truck entered the BCP.

By 07:45, all vehicles of the convoy had crossed the checkpoint and exited into Ukraine.

The movement of the first groups into Ukraine must have started
earlier because of the lack of space in the aforementioned buffer zone.
Since this area was out of sight, the OM cannot confirm the exact time
of departure of the convoy. Most of the trucks were marked with a
Russian flag.

Total number of vehicles which crossed into Ukraine: 216 (189 cargo trucks and 27 support vehicles).

Russian-Backed Fighters Continue to Shell Donetsk Airport

There are continued reports of the shelling of the Donetsk Airport this morning by Russian-backed fighters.

A citizen has uploaded a video to YouTube, and says artillery fire can be seen in the Kuybyshev District of Donetsk, located here on Google Maps.

Local news site reports that about 11:00 am, Russian-backed separatist fighters attempted a new storming of the airport in Donetsk.

Local residents report:

“Just now there were two volleys in a row from
Howitzers apparently somewhere from the direction of Bakin, explosions
at the airport…For some reason at Putilovka, it has become louder than

There are also reports of Grad shelling with the help of tanks, report locals:

“Six tanks have passed the station at the airport…Two
Grads have passed along Universitetskaya Street in the direction of the
airport…Apparently they are shelling from the slag heap on Kuybysheva
Highway and from Durnaya Balka at the airport…Volleys against the airport are coming from the Khimreaktiv [Chemical Reaction] plants”

Translation: #Donetsk #News Fighters in Donetsk have begun a new storm of the airport – 6 tanks are taking part in it.

Translation: At 10:20 am 4 tanks with Russian flags and one BTR passed through Azotny in the direction of Lidiyevka.

This live feed from Ruptly now shows a recording from earlier in the day:

Fighting Continues in Popasnaya and Donetsk Airport

The press service of the ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) issued a notice on its Facebook page that Russian-backed separatists were shelling the positions of Ukrainian forces in the city of Popasnaya (Popasna in Ukrainian) and the Donetsk Airport, UNIAN reported.

Popasnaya, a town in the west of Lugansk Region near Pervomaisk, has already suffered a lot of shelling and many people have fled.

Translation: #Popasnaya #destruction

Translation: Yesterday, several of the latest cotton shells flew at the train-car repair plant. But the destruction is from various shellings.

“Cotton” is a pejorative term Ukrainians use about Russians, from the cotton jacket worn by Russian workers.

Translation: #Popasnaya on the brink of war. Life in the city before and after liberation.

Popasna.jpgPopasnaya in August 2014. Photo by

Ukrainian journalist Pavlo Babenko traveled to Popasnaya right before the ceasefire 5 September and found many homes ruined and people struggling. He confirmed that shelling is done by separatists as well as Ukrainian forces. The Interpreter has translated an excerpt from his report:

The Popasnaya bus station greets us with a crater from a mortar in the earth and broken windows in the buildings next to it. From the lay of the crater it was easy to determine the direction from which the mortar had flown — from Pervomaisk and Irmino controlled by the [separatist] fighters. Yet neither this fact, nor the city police department located nearby which was likely the target could convince local residents who stubbornly claimed that their city was being shelled by the Ukrainian army.

Babenko said the city was without water, half the homes were damaged, and that doctors were walking 15 kilometers to the next towns to try to get medicines. Yet when Ukrainian troops came to liberate the town, they remained in their basements, fearing propaganda about “banderaites,” i.e. supposed followers of controversial World War II Ukrainian war hero Stepan Bandera, who would kill them. Finally they emerged.

But when the shelling continued, they continued to believe it was the Ukrainian army; while the reporter was there, mortar fire fell near them and they retreated into the cellar:

After the shelling was over, we came out on the porch of the entrance. The empty courtyard gradually filled with residents of the building coming out from cover. The reflex to run into the cellar at the sound of explosions was already fairly-well instilled in the locals: many of them even sleep in their clothes so that in the case of danger they can leave more quickly, and they never close the doors to their improvised shelters.

“Where were they shelling from?” a neighbor asks the medic.

“From the direction of Pervomaisk, somewhere.”

“For sure? And not the National Guard?” She simply couldn’t believe that the militia could bomb cities whose population they were supposedly called to defend from the so-called “junta.”

With Zhirinovsky Water, Half-Empty Russian ‘Aid’ Trucks Arrive in Lugansk

Some 200 trucks in the Russian ‘humanitarian aid’ convoy arrived in Lugansk — and then departed as quickly as they had come. live-blogged the convoy throughout the day,
and said that contrary to Russian state media reports, observers from
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the
trucks were not authorized to clear customs. The
OSCE’s spot report later confirmed this:

On 12 September 2014 starting at 22:20 (Moscow time) and throughout
the night, a Russian convoy of 220 vehicles, including 193 cargo trucks,
entered the Donetsk Border Crossing Point (BCP) and crossed into
Ukraine in six groups. By 13 September at 07:45, all the vehicles had
crossed into Ukraine. According to the Russian Ministry for Emergency
Situations (MES), the convoy is carrying only food products and heading
to Luhansk.

The first group of 40 trucks were quickly checked by the Russian
border guard and customs services. The 180 other vehicles were not
inspected. All vehicles crossed into Ukraine without being inspected by
Ukrainian border guard and customs officers or the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Huffington Post also reported that
the convoy, while not resisted, was not approved:

A convoy of more than 200 white trucks crossed the Russian border to
deliver humanitarian aid to a battered Ukrainian city on Saturday, a
move made without Kiev’s consent yet met with silence by Ukraine’s top

“Early in the morning, we entered Ukraine to bring aid to
Luhansk,” said Yury Stepanov, a Russian who was overseeing the convoy.
“We came in around 215 vehicles,” he added, as workers unloaded boxes
into a local warehouse.

The crossing at Izvarino
is one that Russian military convoys also routinely use without
resistance, and OSCE has reported numerous armored vehicles and armed
men going back and forth across this border without obstacle in recent

As with the first convoy, the trucks were reported as half-empty:

Russian media makes the argument that lighter loads are required to speed up travel or to prevent wear and tear on new trucks. While trucks may require a lighter load to stop faster in a convoy and prevent crashes, they can reach high speeds with full loads. The convoy could have simply taken another day or two or broken up the chain to avoid these ostensible issues.

The real reason seems to be to haul things back to Russia. Speculation has run rampant on what cargo could go be returned in such trucks, but the Russian media itself confirmed that an entire factory in Lugansk was dismantled and moved to Russia with the last convoy.

Among the items in the cargo were sacks of sugar, grain, and warm clothes. And an AP reporter found bottles of water from the notorious Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s ultranationalist party, the ill-named Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. The Russian initials “LDPR” can be seen on the bottles. In May, Zhirinovsky sent an armored jeep to the Russian-backed separatists as well.

The convoy deliveries were handled by the fighters themselves in Lugansk. The International Committee of the Red Cross had declined to become involved, as we reported yesterday.

Then the convoy quickly departed.

Among the strangest claims regarding this convoy was that inside the trucks were smaller trucks. Twitter blogger @a_snezhok claimed to have snapped a picture of such a truck, which appears to be new and has not been in Google images before.

Translation: Humanitarian aid should be humanitarian.

The mission accomplished — distracting from ongoing fighting in Donetsk.