Ukraine Liveblog Day 264: Donetsk Shaking From Artillery As Tanks Roam The Streets

November 8, 2014
"RT @NoahSneider artillery + truck convoy rolls casually through cntrl #Donetsk "

Yesterday’s live coverage 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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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.

Shelling In Donetsk Still Intense After Hours And Ukrainian Airstrikes

The city of Donetsk has been rocked by shelling tonight. Conflict Report has pulled several clips off of RT’s live video feed from northwest Donetsk near the International Airport which is controlled by Ukrainian soldiers and has been surrounded by the Russian-backed separatists for months:

This report, meanwhile, is three hours old. 

But the fighting at Donetsk Airport is not new. The separatists have been shelling Ukraine’s military outpost there for months, despite the ceasefire, and Ukraine has returned fire often. Civilian casualties are a regular occurrence. Fighting has been escalating for days, and now the Ukrainian government has said that it has killed as many as 200 rebels in airstrikes artillery strikes which were a response to increased attacks. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Ukraine’s military said its forces killed as many as 200 rebels in fighting in Donetsk as dozens of tanks and other military vehicles crossed the border into Ukraine from Russia.

“Insurgents who were shelling Ukrainian troop positions at Donetsk Airport yesterday were killed by government troop artillery strikes,” Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said on its website. “Four separatist tanks, two armoured personnel carriers, two howitzers, and an infantry combat vehicle were destroyed, and up to 200 insurgents were killed.”

The death toll, which couldn’t be independently confirmed, is the biggest reported number of troops or fighters killed since the start of a September 5 truce. Earlier, the Ukrainian government said it had suffered more than 100 killed and about 600 wounded since the cease-fire came into force.

UPDATE: The Sydney Morning Herald does not say that Ukraine conducted an airstrike as was previously reported. Either The Sydney Morning Herald changed corrected their reporting or we misread it. We apologize for the confusion.

James Miller

Igor Bezler, Infamous Separatist Former Commander, Reportedly ‘Eliminated’ By Russian Security Services

If true, this story could be a major bombshell. Euromaidan Press is reporting that Igor Bezler, the former rebel commander who claimed he was a lieutenant of the Russian army and who was heard on a leaked audio tape bragging about a “birdie” in the sky the morning that MH17 was shot down, has been killed, reportedly assassinated by Russian Security Services:

Oleksandr Danyliuk, former advisor at Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, reported on Facebook that Russian security services have eliminated the terrorist Igor Bezler for refusing to cooperate with Russian military authorities.

“According to available information, the gang leader Igor Bezler ( “Bes”) has been eliminated by Russian security services,” Danyliuk wrote on his Facebook, November 7. “The reason for his elimination was  his refusal to submit to the Russian military command and his intention to publicly acknowledge that the Horlivka-Makiyivka conglomerate controlled by his gang is Ukrainian territory and to urge members of other gangs to seek a compromise with the Ukrainian government.”

According to Danyliuk, the organizer of the murder plot was a senior Russian officer named Suvorkin, but the specific location of the murder has not be determined. Apparently, Bezler left Horlivka to meet with an unknown person in Donetsk and disappeared en route. “In fact his deputies disappeared as well, as did his bodyguards who accompanied him” Danyliuk said. However, he did not provide sources for his information.

As we reported on November 7, Bezler abruptly resigned from his post. However, his resignation was announced by one of his aids and was carried on the Russian news outlet Lifenews, which has suspiciously close ties to Russia’s security apparatus. To our knowledge, Bezler has not been heard from since, fueling various speculations about his fate.

We have no way of confirming this report at this moment. 

 James Miller

Ukraine Was Reporting Escalations this Morning. Things Got Worse
The Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council was already reporting increased fighting on behalf of the Russian-backed militants at this morning’s briefing. As we’ve been reporting, the situation has only intensified since then.
Now here is announcement which has unclear consequences. The government in Kiev has recently suspended funding of certain subsidies designated for rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. Gas subsidies, however, were expected to continue. Now there is this tweet:
James Miller
Associated Press Witnesses Large Convoys of Military Equipment Moving Through Eastern Ukraine

The Associated Press has released this photo and one other which they say shows a large convoy of military equipment spotted on the roads in eastern Ukraine:


The pictures were described by the AP:

Unmarked military vehicles travel along a road outside the separatist rebel-held town Makiivka, 25 km (16 miles) from Donetsk, eastern Ukraine on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. AP reporters saw more than 80 military vehicles on the move Saturday in separatist-controlled areas, indicating intensified hostilities may lie ahead. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov) 

James Miller

Donetsk Shaking From Artillery As Tanks Roam The Streets

Things in Donetsk have intensified significantly today. RFE/RL reports that armored convoys have been spotted in both Donetsk and Snizhne, indicating that there is a widespread mobilization of Russian-backed militants today:

More than 80 unmarked military vehicles were seen moving through parts of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists on November 8, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reports.

AP reporters took photos and video of three columns of armed vehicles and other military hardware: one near the city of Donetsk and two near Snizhne.

Most of the vehicles were transport trucks but there was at least one armored personnel carrier.

The AP said several of the trucks were carrying troops.

At this very moment reporters in the city say that the walls of the city are shaking under the almost constant explosions: 

There has never been a true ceasefire, but there has been a limited one. All week even that has been crumbling, but today it appears as though the truce has shattered.
James Miller