Ukraine Liveblog Day 237: While World Speaks Of Russian Promises, Grad Rockets Rock Donetsk

October 12, 2014
The Vergelevskaya mine, northeast of Debaltsevo, damaged by shelling on October 10.

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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View Ukraine: April, 2014 in a larger map
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.

Gubarev, ‘People’s Governor’ of ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ Shot, Critically Wounded

Pavel Gubarev, the former “people’s governor” of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic,” has been shot and critically wounded while traveling in his car on the highway from Donetsk to Rostov-on-Don, LifeNews and @press_dnr reported.

Anastasiya Tsyplakova, press secretary of Yekaterina Gubareva, Pavel’s wife, said the car crashed into a pillar after he was struck by bullets.

Gubarev is said to be unconscious in a hospital in Rostov.

Translation: Unknown persons have shot the automobile of Pavel Gubarev/Novorossiya.

According to the blogger Colonel Cassad, this assassination attempt has occurred after Gubarev tried unsuccessfully yesterday to register his own political party in upcoming DPR elections. He said Gubarev did not suffer gunshot wounds, but trauma from the car crash. reports that the incident occurred on territory controlled by the DPR. This is not the first time Gubarev has been attacked; on June 2, someone shot at Gubarev’s office with a grenade launcher, but missed.

Aleksandr Prosyolkov, an advisor to Gubarev, was assassinated in August in Krasnodon.

As the Muscovite leadership of the DPR has been dismissed in recent months (Igor Strelkov, Aleksandr Boroday, Viktor Antyufeyev, and Denis Pushilin), Gubarev has also been disappearing, dividing his time between Moscow and Donetsk.

Recently he has been giving interviews and making educational videos, stressing that the separate “principalities” of “Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics” should be united in an overarching “Novorossiya.” His wife has been involved in major fund-raising for the DPR fighters.


Gubarev’s last update on his Facebook page 15 hours ago called the news that his party registration was rejected “a fake” (translation by The Interpreter):

Regarding the refusal of registration of me as a candidate for the position of head of the DPR…

This is a fake. I didn’t submit my documents  yet. I plan to do that tomorrow.

Translation: 14 hours ago Pavel Gubarev promised to make a major announcement. And the assassination attempt came immediately after.

The announcement was made on his Facebook:

Tomorrow I’ll make a very important announcement! Repost!

President Poroshenko Dismisses Defense Minister Heletey

Yesterday October 11 rumors flew that Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey was resigning and were then refuted.

But today October 12, it was confirmed on President Petro Poroshenko’s web site that Heletey had submitted his resignation. Poroshenko said “it was time to change the leadership of the military ministry.”

Translation: Heletey was with Porokh today in Severondonetsk.

Porokh, which means “gun powder,” is one of a number of popular nicknames for Poroshenko.

The president will submit his proposal to parliament for a
new minister on Monday, October 13, and he hopes to have approval by
October 14, he said in the statement on his web site.

“I am confident that we will not drag out the voting for the
candidacy of the new minister. I am counting on it going through on

The president also made a number of other changes,
firing the leadership of the Border Services, creating the Committee on
Intelligence Issues and appointing as its head Igor Smeshko as chairman.

was appointed minister in July, but came under heavy criticism for
Ukrainian losses in defense against Russia’s invasion, particularly the
battle of Ilovaisk
in which more than a 100 Ukrainians lost their lives.

In an interview with on October 10, Heletei said (translation by The Interpreter:

There was not a single serious mistake there. There were lapse, but not a single serious mistake.

said the first signs of a Russian presence in Donbass were noted in
early August and by August 25, there was a full-scale invasion of
Ilovaisk. He also urged journalists “not to succumb to the information
war on the part of Russia.”

Russia Says Its Withdrawing, But Grad Rockets Again Rock Donetsk

Today, a simple search-engine news search about Ukraine will result in a flood of news stories about how Russia has pledged with withdraw 17,000 soldiers from the border with Ukraine. A more critical reading of that story, however, and one would realize a few things that the headline disguised. The first is that those troops which are supposedly pulling back (their pullback has not been independently confirmed) were part of a military drill in the Rostov region which has now concluded. However, simply having drills near the border with Ukraine without advanced prior warning is a violation of several treaties between Russia and Ukraine.

Still, this news could be read as a deescalation of the conflict, if, of course, Russia carries through with its pledge to withdraw. And, to be sure, since the ceasefire agreement was reached over a month ago things have deescalated significantly.

At the same time, however,  the conflict is not frozen and violations of the ceasefire, a daily occurrence, are actually escalating in the last week. 

RFE/RL seems to be one of the few media outlets that adequately represents the tensions between the headlines. Their liveblog today is carrying a report from the AFP about how US Secretary of State is cautiously optimistic about Russia’s pledge to pull its troops back:

Western allies should learn in the next few days if their punishing sanctions on Russia have softened its stance on Ukraine enough to justify lifting the drag on Europe’s increasingly fragile economic recovery.

Recent signals from Moscow have been encouraging.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday ordered 17,600 troops performing drills near the Ukrainian border back to their bases. And the number of weekend attacks by pro-Kremlin insurgents in the former Soviet state’s separatist east sharply fell.

At the same time, they carry fresh reports of fighting in Donetsk:

The Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council is also reporting more breaches in the ceasefire — and note their report about Russian collusion with the separatists:

Time will tell whether Russia is serious about the totally freezing this conflict, or whether the Russian-backed separatists will make good on their pledges to renew their quest to carve off eastern Ukraine and make it independent territory.

Either way, it looks as though a full Russian and separatist withdrawal from eastern Ukraine is no longer a priority for the United States, and a frozen conflict is preferable to a hot conflict for the international community — and many of the headline writers for the major news agencies.