Ukraine Liveblog Day 215: Ukraine and Russian-backed Separatists Reach DMZ Agreement

September 20, 2014
Parties to Minsk peace talks (L-R): Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, Prime Minister of self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic"; Heidi Tagliavini, Swiss diplomat and OSCE negotiator; Russian Federation Amb. Mikhail Zurabov, Igor Plotnitsky, head of self-proclaimed "Lugansk People's Republic" Photo by Yegor Yeremov/RIA Novosti

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Donetsk State Chemical Products Plant Reportedly Explodes

Although an agreement was reached this morning on implementation of a ceasefire and creation of a 30-kilometer demilitarized zone, explosions and shelling continued in Donetsk, just as a third unauthorized Russian humanitarian convoy was arriving in the city.

Translation: Humanitarian convoy travels across Budyonny Square. #Donetsk

Translation: Two powerful explosions thundered in Donetsk.

Translation: VK: “Store on Abakumovo, windows flew out along with the frames. #Donetsk, aftermath of an explosion at DKZKhI [Donetsk State Chemical Products Plant] 20/09/14.

Translation: Friends just phoned, the humanitarian convoy is standing, starting from the metro toward the exit from the city, they could count a minimum of 30 vehicles.

Translation: A huge pillar of smoke is rising over Donetsk, the Donetsk State Chemical Products Plant is burning.

Translation: Now beyond Stalinskaya.

Interfax reported this morning that there were “two missile strikes” on Donetsk just as the convoy was arriving. Two explosions have been heard, and there is a cloud of smoke near Svoboda Square.

Both sides have exchanged accusations of breaking the ceasefire, says Interfax.

The Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) has complained of shelling in more than a dozen cities including Schastye, Stanitsa Luganskaya and Nizhnetepoloye as well as the Donetsk Airport.

Yesterday September 19, Gennady Dubovoy,  videographer for the Russian-backed separatists, filmed the division led by the fighter whose nom de guerre is Motorola as they moved into place with heavy weapons north of Donetsk.

We were unable to verify the video’s exact location, but at 5:04 there is a distinctive, large pipe.


 The men walk across a bridge along this pipe.

This is the ammonia pipeline coming from the plant in Gorlovka, shown on Wikimakia here:


The blogger @djp3tros from Ukraine@War has marked on the map here the first bridge in red and marked in yellow some of the possible candidates for the fighters’ crossing shown in the video, that indicate some possible areas where Motorola’s brigade may have been:


Third Russian ‘Humanitarian Convoy’ Enters Ukraine Without Kiev’s Consent

While everybody was busy with the Minsk peace talks, President Petro Poroshenko’s visit to Washington and his speaking before Congress, and Russian aircraft invading the air defense space of Europe, the US and Canada, Russia has launched a third “humanitarian convoy” into Ukraine without permission.

RIA Novosti reports:

Some 30 trucks of the Russian humanitarian convoy have crossed the
border with Ukraine at a checkpoint in the Rostov Region, where trucks
have previously gone through customs control. The Russian side has
repeatedly invited Ukrainian customs officials and representatives of
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to inspect the
cargo, but was turned down without explanation.

The ICRC did make an explanation in the past, however, which is that not all its requirements were met and security could not be guaranteed with continued shelling along the route. And today it did make a statement on this third convoy:

“So far, Ukraine and Russia have not reached a final agreement on the
terms and conditions of a cross-border aid operation. In the absence of
such agreements, we cannot facilitate the passage of convoys from
Russia. However, we are continuing to advise on and facilitate the
distribution of aid by the local authorities,” Laurent Corbaz, head of
ICRC operations in Europe and Central Asia, said, according to the ICRC
report published Friday. “We remain in contact with the Ukrainian and
Russian authorities on their humanitarian initiatives,” he added.

The ICRC has been working on its own in Lugansk:

And in order not to validate Russian military presence, the Ukrainian
government did not approve the last two “humanitarian convoys” which
were run even as military convoys entered other border crossings to
invade Ukraine and take part in battles.

“The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has demanded Russia stop sending
with humanitarian aid to southeastern Ukraine, calling them
‘provocations,'” comments RIA Novosti.

Indeed they are, as the convoys
have involved 200 half-empty trucks going into Ukraine without
permission along a route that Russia has been using repeatedly to aid
insurgents. They have returned to Russia the first time with an entire factory
dismantled from Lugansk Region.

Even as the white-painted Russian trucks in the humanitarian
convoy were moving toward Ukraine and crossing over the border
despite lack of consent from Kiev, there have been reports of continued
movements of Russian-supplied armor driven by the separatists in

Translation: Convoy of armor of the Novorossiya Armed Forces in Lugansk People’s Republic.
Russian-Backed Separatists and Ukraine Reach Peace Agreement on DMZ

Ukraine and the self-proclaimed “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk reached a peace agreement this morning September 20 after 7 hours of talks that began yesterday September 19, RIA Novosti and AFP reported.

The parties have agreed to a ceasefire and an end to offensive operations and have agreed on a demilitarized zone (DMZ). All foreign fighters are supposed to be removed from this 30-kilometer buffer zone, which will be under the observation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The two sides met in Minsk with the mediation of Russia and the OSCE and agreed to a ceasefire and a special status for certain districts of Donetsk and Lugansk Regions on 5 September (the 12-point Minsk protocol). Then they re-convened this past week and drafted a memorandum for implementing the agreement today, September 20.

Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma read the text of the memorandum after the talks, stipulating that the terms will go into effect “within a day.”

To create the 30-kilometer buffer zone, both sides are to withdraw heavy weapons of 100-milimeter caliber or higher to a minimum of 15 kilometers from the DMZ and from populated areas, and artillery systems of 100-milimeter caliber to a distance of the maximum firing range.

The parties are also to remove explosive devices from this zone and not bring in new ones. Military flights and foreign flights are also banned from the buffer zone.

Foreign armed formations, military armor, soldiers, and mercenaries are to be withdrawn from the territory of Ukraine. Amb. Mikhail Zurabov, Russia’s envoy Kiev, who represented Russia at the Minsk talks said (translation by The Interpreter):

“Mercenaries, it must be admitted, are present from both sides. And these facts have been repeatedly cited by our colleagues. Those whom we call mercenaries are present.”

An OSCE mission which will be deployed as soon as the memorandum goes into effect will observe the conditions in the area, and only OSCE will be allowed to conduct flights over the buffer zone.

Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of the “Lugansk People’s Republic,” said the agreement should lead to the creation of “a zone of complete security,” AFP quoted him as saying. But Plotnitsky also said the question regarding the status of rebel-held Lugansk and Donetsk regions was not broached at the latest round of talks in Minsk. The Ukrainian parliament recently passed a law on special status for certain regions of Donbass, but questions remain about the demarcation of the areas.

A key issue will be what kind of “militia” or “police force” the
Russian-backed militants will be allowed to have, as they have taken
over all the Ukrainian police forces in the cities and towns under their
control and essentially replaced them with a Russian-backed army.

As ATO & Crimea, a publication of Ukrinform recently commented,

The special status is valid for three years within an area defined by
the head of the Anti-Terrorism Campaign of the State Security Service.
According to Iryna Herashchenko, the president’s representative on the
settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine, the government extends
the remit of local government areas that are still under the control of
militants. The law also directs the Cabinet of Ministers to develop the
by-laws and regulations needed to implement this law.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk commented that the government was not party to the negotiations:

“I want to clearly
declare that any armed groups, police departments, national and
municipal police must act only within the limits and in the manner
determined by the laws of Ukraine. The jurisdiction of Ukrainian
legislation should extend to the whole territory of the Ukrainian state
and all law enforcement officers and employees. ”

Even as the agreement was being negotiated last night, there were reports of continued fighting in Mariupol.