Ukrainian Liveblog Day 229: Ukrainian Forces Repel Russian-backed Militants at Airport

October 4, 2014
Screenshot of footage from Novorossiya TV October 4, 2014 of Russian-backed separatists with a tank and truck at their stronghold on Govorova St. across from the Donetsk Airport.

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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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.


OSCE Combats Misuse of Its Emblem, Cars and Name in Ukraine

The Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) has been struggling with misuse of its emblem, cars, and name in a number of incidents in Ukraine.

In its October 2 report published October 3, the OSCE SMM said a Russian officer had been caught in unauthorized use of its emblem:

Upon arriving at the “Joint Coordination Center for Ceasefire Monitoring” in Soledar, the SMM noticed that one military officer from the Russian Federation was wearing an OSCE patch on his uniform as well as carrying an ID card with the OSCE logo. The SMM  made the necessary demarches in response to this unauthorized use of OSCE insignia.

Bloggers also snapped some pictures of uniformed Russian personnel climbing into an OSCE vehicle in Donetsk:

OSCE then discovered the report was true and issued a statement:

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMMU) acknowledges that
a breach of its own internal security regulations occurred in early
September 2014 in Donetsk city involving one of our vehicles. The SMMU
regrets the incident where two uniformed individuals boarded our
vehicle. We have also undertaken all measures to prevent such a
regrettable incident from occurring again.

As can be seen from numerous comments, Ukraine-watchers had a lot of questions as to how Russian officers could gain keys to the OSCE vehicle.

OSCE is made up of 57 member states, and member states second staff to monitoring missions.

A fact sheet on the mission says there currently there are 250 members from 40 countries. There are no uniformed military personnel in the mission.

The current OSCE chair-in-office is Switzerland, which can choose the leadership of the mission and the staff. OSCE uses “geographical distribution” to staff in its offices and missions from all OSCE members. In this case, the fact that military personnel got into the cars is at issue.

In another incident involving false claims about a mass grave with 9 bodies which OSCE had observed outside of Donetsk — disinformation that continues to spread — the OSCE mission was forced to issue a disassociation from the pro-Russian Latvian activist involved:

Kazakh Amb. Madina Jarbusynova who currently holds the OSCE mandate of representative on human trafficking, also helped reinforce this Russian disinformation campaign on Ukrainian TV. Instead of explaining that the OSCE mission had disavowed Graudins and that there was no basis to his claims, Jarbusynova implied further investigation was required.

SBU Intercept of Russian-Backed Separatist Conversation about Killing of ICRC Worker

Here is our translation of the full transcript of the intercept by
the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) of the conversation about the shelling of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) building in Donetsk, which led to the death of one worker.

(See also our analysis in our past
Liveblog entry,  Intercept Reveals How Separatist Leader Plans with Moscow Reporter to Spin the Story of ICRC Worker’s Death.)

Yevgeny Poddubny, a war correspondent for Russian’s VGTRK (All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company) speaks with
Vladimir Kononov, the defense minister of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” and Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the DPR prime minister.

Poddubny:  Yes, Volodya.
Kononov:  Hello. I’ll give the phone now to Aleksandr Vladimirovich. Zakharchenko, he will tell you about this Swiss.
Poddubny:  Uh-huh, uh-huh. Go ahead.
Zakharchenko: Hello.
Poddubny: Greetings.
Zakharchenko:    How are you. Well, this Red Cross man is a Swiss.
Poddubny: Uh-huh. Born 1976. And what was he doing there?
[To another person in the room]: It’s open to everyone.       Well,
that I don’t know, I don’t know what he was doing, but I’m sick and
tired of the Red Cross.
Poddubny: Hmmm. I understand.
Zakharchenko:  Tomorrow we’ll write the condolences and all the rest.
Poddubny:  I understand.
We’ll say how bad the Ukrainian military are, they don’t know how to
shoot straight. We’ll show the Red Cross the fragment of the white
phosphorus bomb which, f**k, supposedly shot right through that guy,
their employee.
Poddubny: Hmmm. But they use Uragans, yes?
Well, they shot, well, a piece is laying there from that cluster crap,
in short, and they found phosphorus inside. So, tomorrow we will show
the whole world what they beat on Donetsk with.
Poddubny: I understand. You should somehow show the direction from where they are striking, well, some expert examination.
Zakharchenko:  Yes, they were from Avdeyevka, they struck.
Well, I understand, but it’s just that experts would find from the
nature of the craters and the…hmm…striking of the shells. They would
prove that this was shelling from Avdeyevka. Is there such a person,
some sort of experienced artillery man?
Zakharchenko: There is.
Let’s do this, so that we,  well…accuse people for cause, not
falsely, yes? So that some analysis is done. That will be good.
Zakharchenko: Well, okay. All right, Zheka [Yevgeny], talk to you later, then.
Poddubny: Okay, thanks a lot.

ICRC Suspends Operations in Donetsk; Shelling Stops OSCE Observation of Site

The International Committee for the Red Cross announced today that it is suspending operations in Donetsk for a time due to the killing of their employee in Donetsk, reported:

“We have suspended operations for a few days, because now the most
important things for us are, first of all, ensuring the safety of our
employees in Donetsk, and, secondly, to deliver the body of our worker
(Laurent DuPasquier, 38) to his family in Switzerland,” Alina Murzaeva, ICRC’s press secretary in Ukraine, told RIA Novosti news agency. 

Yesterday October 3, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission went to the site where DuPasquier was killed by a missile but were unable to complete their observation, according to today’s report:

In Donetsk city and its surroundings the overall
security situation remained tense. The SMM heard shelling, though at a
lower intensity than the previous day, concentrated in the northern part
of the city. The SMM visited the site where an International Committee
for the Red Cross (ICRC) staff member was killed the day before as a
result of shelling (See Spot Report 2 October). Whilst visiting the
area, the SMM heard an explosion consistent with an unspecified incoming
shelling about 200m from its position. It was a single explosion,
presumably from a large calibre mortar. Due to security concerns, the
SMM left the area.

The OSCE mission reported earlier on October 3:

In Donetsk heavy shelling occurred intermittently
during the day and until dusk in the northern part of the city. At
approximately 18:00hrs, the SMM heard a quick succession of five
incoming rounds, which caused unusually powerful explosions. An
international staff member of the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) died during the shelling (see SMM Spot Report 3 October).
The SMM facilitated the evacuation of the deceased by ambulance.

The Spot Report for October 2 provides more detail:

From 17:15 to 18:00hrs, on 2 October, at intervals of every fifteen
minutes, the SMM heard very loud explosions somewhere in the north of
Donetsk city. At around 18:00hrs, the SMM heard a quick succession of
five incoming rounds, which it assessed to have been Uragan rockets, again in the north of the city.

Fifteen minutes later the head of the local branch of the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Donetsk, calling on
the phone from Kyiv, told the SMM that the ICRC office in Donetsk city
had just been shelled and one staff member had been killed. 

At 18:30hrs, the Emergency Services of the “Donetsk People’s
Republic” (“DPR”) called the SMM, confirming that they had arrived at
the ICRC office – located 2.7km north-west of the city centre – and had
found a corpse. According to the Emergency Services, the ‘DPR” police –
also at the scene – having discovered identification papers that
identified the deceased as a Swiss national.

Russian Military Convoy in Occupied Crimea Near Ukrainian Border

Following up on reports of the Russian military convoy in Russian-occupied Crimea, there is a video uploaded to YouTube October 2 titled “CRIMEA, convoy of Russian military vehicles once again has gone toward the Ukrainian-Crimean border, AR Crimea, Krasnoperekopsk.” The video has not previously appeared in Google image search.

The convoy is about 20 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

The video is geolocated to the Krasnoperekopsk bus station area here on Google Maps.


Here’s a picture by Oleg Okorokov from Google Street View of the green Kabluchok store and the bus station.


The Kabluchok store is at 0:20:


At 1:43 is the bus station sign:


The large convoy has Russian and Russian Navy flags.



This might be related to a report about Russian military vehicles near the Ukrainian border, but the positions marked are different than the video and we have not located the source.


The video was moved to “private” and unfortunately we do not have a copy, and only had the screenshots shown here.

Separately, we have found a report on Facebook describing an eye-witness of the same convoy:

The Interpreter’s translation:

Good day. I don’t know where to write so I’ll write here. I was just speaking with a friend from Crimea (Krasnoperekopsk). This morning, there was a huuuuge convoy of military armor under the FLAGS OF NOVOROSSIYA!!! heading toward the “border.” Unfortunately, there is no photo, but the people are reliable. Guys from Donbass reading this, take note, please!

Russian Armor Headed Toward Ukrainian Border

A Russian military convoy has been spotted on the M3 highway in Rostov Region heading in the direction of the Ukrainian border.

A video has been uploaded today October 4 to YouTube with the title, “Convoy of vehicles. Rostov-Taganrog Highway 4/10/2014.”

At 0:20 a sign can be seen that says “Priyut 18 km.” This is the turn-off for the road to Priyut.


That would put the geolocation of the car following the convoy here on Google Maps.


This position is approximately 80 km from the border of Ukraine. If past practice is any indicator, e.g. Russian incursions into Ukraine in July, the Russian convoy could be headed toward Novoazovsk, the town on the road to Mariupol. Of course, the convoy could also remain in Rostov. The vehicles in the convoy have license plates.

The drivers note the following in their video:

An insignia of a white square with a circle inside:


An insignia with a white circle:


Loaded Grad missiles:


According to another report, a Russian convoy is in Russian-occupied Crimea by the Ukrainian border, but this could not be confirmed.

Two Aidar Battalion Fighters Detained by Ukrainian Police on Charges of ‘Kidnapping’ Separatist LPR Minister

Two fighters from the Aidar Battalion have been placed under temporary arrest and their status will be determined by the military prosecutor and Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) in the next 72 hours, Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry announced today, reported.

The two Aidar fighters were detained as they were transporting Pavel Malysh, the former deputy health minister of the self-proclaimed “Lugansk People’s Republic.” The detention led to accusations of kidnapping by the Russian-backed separatists and also to protests by Aidar supporters that they had been unfairly jailed.

Both the Aidar fighters and Malysh are in detention now pending investigation.

In a post on his Facebook page
, Gerashchenko stated (translation by The Interpreter):

I personally spoke several times today with Sergei Melnichuk, commander of the Aidar battalion. He said that the Aidar fighters detained Malysh with the consent of the SBU [Ukrainian Security Service] leadership in Lugansk Region. That Malysh gave a confession of separatism, and that he had traveled to Crimea and received some sort of instructions there. To my question as to whether there was an assignment by the SBU to the Aidar battalion fighters to convoy Malysh to Kiev, Melnichuk answered affirmatively.

To avoid insinuations and provocations before the start of the fast [Yom Kippur] I will report that on the status as of now, both P. Malysh and the two Aidar battalion fighters who brought Malysh to Kiev from Lugansk at 4 in the morning were detained at Malysh’s apartment. The military prosecutor is investigating the issue.

He added that Malysh had left his position as deputy health minister and moved to Kiev. He was then invited by the new leadership of the Lugansk Region administration to discuss restoring the health sector in Lugansk in the part still under control of Ukraine. He was then detained by the Aidar battalion members. Malysh was intoxicated at the time of the arrest because the Aidar fighters plied him with vodka, said Gerashchenko.

In a situation when the law-enforcement agencies do not perform their jobs to the satisfaction of society in stopping the work of separatists, the fighters from the volunteer battalions and representatives of the patriotic organizations try to take on themselves these duties.

Supporters of Aidar picketed the Interior Ministry today, enraged that police had arrested fighters who they believed were doing their jobs

Gerashchenko responded to the protesters as follows:

But if the police get a report of a crime, the police must stop this crime and investigate it and them determine if this is a kidnapping of a person or his detention is lawful.

I want to build in Ukraine a state in which no one has the right to indulgence — not the President, or a parliamentarian or a minister or any other citizen including fighters from voluntary battalions, the creation of many of which I have participated in.

The Aidar battalion fighters who brought Malysh to Kiev did not have due process documents confirming that the detainee was detained under the law under a procedure and with the consent of the SBU.

Aidar fighters have been provided a lawyer who has confirmed that they have not been beaten, Gerashchenko added. He concluded:

If the SBU confirms that the Aidar fighters acted in concert with them, and deprived Malysh of his freedom not on their own initiative, then the guys from Aidar are great guys and heroes.

But what if it is the opposite?

Therefore I urge you to stop the hysteria and wait for the official reaction of the SBU and military prosecutor!

For example, I’m interested in the question why they had to come to the apartment at 4:00 in the morning and why they had to ply the separatist with vodka until he was incapacitated?

Picket at the Interior Ministry building.

Ukrainian Forces Repel Russian-backed Separatists Attack on Donetsk Airport

Russian-backed separatists attacked the Donetsk airport and occupied it for a time today before being repelled by Ukrainian forces. LifeNews reported rebel leader Motorola saying he had raised the flag of ‘Novorossiya’ at the Donetsk Airport but then had been pushed back by Ukrainian troops.

Translation: Donetsk Airport

Translation: Donetsk Airport under control of militia but shelling of the city continues.

The reference is to Russian-backed militants who call themselves the “self-defense militia.”

Translation: In battles for the airport in Donetsk, 12 terrorists killed. The battle for the Donetsk airport continues.

Translation: Semyonchenko: Donetsk airport is a symbole of the struggle for Donbass. Its surrender would mean political loss.

The Russian-backed separatists’ attempt to storm the airport ended in failure with 12 dead, Ukrainska Pravda reported at 13:26 today,
citing Andrey Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security
and Defense Council (NSDC). He said two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and the
number of wounded was still being determined.

“A priority goal
for the terrorists remains the Donetsk airport. The militants have
attempted several failed storms of the airport in a row, after which
they continued to shell it. The ATO forces have repelled all attacks and
destroyed 12 terrorists. During the storming, the attackers used smoke
bombs, which is why there was information about the supposed use of gas
on social media.”

Lysenko added that reinforcements have arrived to rotate the Ukrainian soldiers out and the defense of the airport is maintained.

In recent days, the separatist divisions from the Givi and Motorola
divisions have repeatedly attacked the Donetsk airport and been rebuffed
by Ukrainian forces. On Friday, October 3, one Ukrainian soldier was
killed and three were wounded, according to Ukrainska Pravda. On
September 2, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 9 wounded. Separatist videos also show several of their fighters wounded.

supporters uploaded a video to Youtube today that shows fighters from
the Givi and Motorola divisions in an apartment building they have
occupied near the airport which we have reported and geolocated in the past from Russian state media reports.

Today’s video shows the fighters on their way to the airport in a T-72 tank of the type that can only be obtained from Russia, then outside the airport with a tank and truck. They then return to fire from a top floor of the apartment building.