Ukraine news/Archive/2015-02

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27.02 Zakharchenko question-answers session -English captions. Economic matters-economic blockade by Ukraine, Minsk agreement-political part will take Ukraine a long time to implement , etc. Once again confirms that water to Mariupol is supplied by Ukraine.

26.02 Zakharchenko gives an "ultimatum": if by 18:00 on 27.02 Ukraine will not start moving heavy weapons, DPR will move its heavy weapons back. Currently according to Zakharchenko DPR moved 90% of heavy equipment.

Neither side is willing to provide information on where heavy equipment is moved to. OSCE, 24.02:The Ukrainian CoS said that the Ukrainian Armed Forces would not initiate weapons withdrawal until a comprehensive 48-hour ceasefire had been observed along the line of contact, as foreseen by the Minsk agreements of September 2014. In the meantime, none of the signatories to the package of measures had provided the baseline information requested by the Chief Monitor that would enable the SMM to monitor and verify that all weapons had been withdrawn.

Near settlement Vodianoe, controlled by UAF, DPR fighters discovered 4 MLRS "Smerch" and one "Uragan". According to Basurin, after the discovery UAF announced that the terriotry is not controlled by them, and MLRS belongs to a "third side".

Columns of UAF heavy equipment spotted in Odessa, including S 300 anti-aircraft batteries

As if before Minsk 2, firefights in Peski reported, and Ukraine shells airport and Donetsk using artillery- (jccc report-rusvesna)

Gorlovka shelled overnight by "illegal pro-Kiev Ukrainian armed formations" from mortars and artillery; 2-3 salvos said to occur daily.

25.02 Poroshenko shopping for weapons in UAE (photos), said to be tens of millions $ in weapons purchase contracts

Evgenii Deidei , commander of Kiev 1 "punishers" battalion of MoI, Ukraine disappeared near Marinka with 2 other fighters, their burned car was found near Marinka, nobody inside.

24.02 UK will start a "joint infantry program" with Ukraine, to improve durability of its forces. Guardian-David Cameron’s evidence to the Commons liaison committee: "We are not at the stage of supplying lethal equipment. We have announced a whole series of non-lethal equipment, night-vision goggles, body armour, which we have already said that we will give to Ukraine. Over the course of the next month we are going to be deploying British service personnel to provide advice and a range of training, from tactical intelligence to logistics to medical care, which is something else they have asked for. We will also be developing an infantry training programme with Ukraine to improve the durability of their forces. This will involve a number of British service personnel, they will be away from the area of conflict but I think this is the sort of thing we should be helping with". "Up to 75 personnel will begin to deploy to Ukraine from next month as part of the training mission, the Ministry of Defence said. There will be four separate areas covered by the deployment - medical, intelligence, logistics and infantry training. Personnel involved in the training elements could spend one or two months in Ukraine, with a command and control deployment lasting up to six months".

Assisting with peace is not part of that mission.
Earlier, Cameron said "Russia must be in no doubt that any attempts by the separatists to expand their territory — whether towards Mariupol or elsewhere — will be met with further significant EU and U.S. sanctions," 23.02.15

Asked during U.S. congressional testimony if Russia was lying when it says it has no troops or equipment in Ukraine, Kerry replied: "Yes." Reuters.

Details/evidence of "lying" was not presented. -That was budget hearing

23.02 Zakharchenko back from hospital, gives a press conference. Considers peacekeeper and weapons requests by Poroshenko a de-facto admission of defeat. Says that DPR started pulling out heavy weapons, to show goodwill; while Ukraine moving weapons towards Donbas, from Kharkov, Zaporozhie, Dnepropetrovsk. Fears that Ukraine, after arranging some provocation, will abandon Minsk agreements, and restart hostilities; that may occur by the end of March-early April, when back roads will become passable. Says that US already sends weapons, captured items include small firearms (he has a trophy M4 himself), counter-battery radars; radiointerference equipment, ammunition (including 155 mm shells).

Poroshenko makes a tour for visiting dignitaries to show some equipment and documents; twitters that this is proof of Russian aggression in Ukraine. (One of ID tags said to be not use for 11 years; passports not too hard to acquire and too few to have much meaning, even if this is genuine. Equipment included a widely used, in particular by both sides in the conflict, T 72 tank and a Grad launcher; Shmel flamethrower (not really new and in use by a number of post Soviet Union states including Ukraine); a drone -which would be nonlethal, and a firearm, Dragunov sniper rifle, good one but introduced in 1963 and quite widespread. This shows that Poroshenko continues to misrepresent a civil war as Russian aggression; and continues to ignore or label as terrorists the other side in that war, appealing to foreigners instead and asking them for weapons. This is very dangerous and irresponsible path where foreign involvement claims may end up becoming self-fulfilling. He could stop that war by directly negotiating with the other side, which he persistently refused to do throughout the conflict.

22.02 Kharkov . An explosion occurred during a pro-Ukrainian march in Khrakov, 2 or 3 peeople said to be killed (BBC) . Right after that, 4 people were arrested by SBU, and an ATO regime was established in Khrakov, according (rusvesna, quoting Turchinov) . Lubkivskyi announced suspects arrest, apparently at 4:45 AM Pacific Time, 14:45 in Kharkov. Details that 4 were arrested and a "grenade- launcher" found appeared on by 15:58, before dark. An after -dark video showing "arrest" of several suspects, and a "discovery" of "Shmel flamethrower (or RPG 22)

Philip Ekoziants reads a message from Khrarkov partisans: explosion was not done by them, they will not target civilians no matter what political beliefs they have. Partisans blame Avakov for organizing this, in order to introduce ATO in Khrarkov. "Dear residents of Kharkov ! A year ago, the power in Ukraine was taken by moral deviants, sadists and killers. In order to achieve their goals, they sacrifice common folks, the Ukrainian people. We are just a small change in their horrible game. But we will win!"-that was an urgent message from Kharkov partisans --Philip Ekoziants.

"Armed Research" Kharkiv Bombing Raises Questions on Ukrainian SBU's Credibility offers a detailed analysis of the different claims, video evidence, and suspicious arrest video of supposed Russian agents, who say their next task was to be an RPG attack on a shopping center in Odessa, with a launcher provided by the Russians, safely confiscated now.

OSCE spot report. They were watching the march, they watch as many marches as they can, on Kiev side anyway. 100 meters away, they heard it, and got ehre in a few minutes. 2 dead right away, one died later, including one policeman. The blast was near the head of the line, injured several Kharkiv policemen, didn't damage any buildings. They hear the bomb was inside a plastic bag and is being called terrorism. There were no craters or directions to study, and no explicit blame.

Shelling of Donetsk still continues, despite the ceasefire. Many incidents reported, heavy MLRS (Uragan) said to be used. It is said that Ukraine still tries to take back the Airport (despite that going against Minsk agreements, and having no rational reason behind)

Gorlovka was also shelled Report blames territorial battalions (as well as the National guard), which are not under control of MoD. OSCE reports Feb. 3 on shelling against Lugansk, January 27, that hit a 1.5 sq km area of the city with munitions including cluster bombs. Only one man was killed, another person died of heart attack, two serious injuries. Fire came from the north-northwest. No explicit blame.

Maidan commemorations and interviews

  • March of Dignity in Kiev. Foreign dignitaries including Baltic republics, Georgia, Moldova, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, EU (BH Levy also there). Talk about Russian aggression heard from presenter--blamed for Maidan as well as Donbas warfare.
  • On the previous day, Poroshenko gave a commemorating speech ; was separated from people (going against Maidan spirit despite claiming otherwise) , well guarded, and booed on his way (video) „Ганьба!" (ukr) = (shame!). In the meantime, Nalivaichenko blamed Surkov for being in charge of Maidan snipers (Surkov expertise is political technologies; he also has some experience as writer, director, and actor; soft power advisor to Putin; in attendance of Minsk 2 meeting. No experience with special operations though).
  • Former Ukrainian prime minister Nikolai Azarov gave an interview to Russian NTV, claimed that change of power a year ago was foreign -scripted. Claims that when signing of association agreement with the EU was delayed, reasons were explained, but there was a lot of Western pressure on his government, including perceived veiled threats (was told that in that case it will be signed by a different government). In an earlier interview, November 2013, he did try to explain why EU association agreement was problematic (insufficient funding commitment by IMF coupled with severe austerity measures pressed; and undermining trade with Russia, the largest partner). After the coup a year ago, Azarov escaped to Austria. He was subsequently included in the Western sanctions; moved to Russia prior to that. Currently, he is on Ukraine and Interpol wanted list (as well as Yanukovich). His arrest in absentia was ordered by a court in Kiev on 20.01.2015.

21.02 Prisoner exchange took place, 35 prisoners on DPR side for 37 on Kiev side. One Ukrainian prisoner refused to be exchanged and stayed on DPR territory. More exchanges planned.

Final prisoners swap count for today: Novorossia released 139 prisoners (over hundred from Debaltsvo; 5 kiborgs). Kiev released 52 "separatists" ; it is said that as previously, only about 50% of released are soldiers, others are randomly held civilians; many of those released were in poor condition and there were signs of ill treatment and torture.

20.02 Control on heavy weapons withdrawal was agreed. UAF forces Kiev forces and Donbas leadership seek to withdraw weapons from the contact line as soon as possible, Russia's envoy at Joint Center for Ceasefire Control and Coordination says. Joint groups consist of representatives of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Russia’s Armed Forces and also the representatives of Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics in the joint center for ceasefire control and coordination (jccc)

Situation in Debaltsevo stabilized, almost no firefights; it is said that UAF withdraw.

19.02 Donetsk shelled overnight from 3 directions by Ukraine, using MLRS, mortars, artillery, firearms. There are wounded civilians. Not something which should be happening during ceasefire. Opolchenie considers revenge for Debaltsevo as the motive. (rusvesna).

Gazprom started direct deliveries of gas to Novorossia. The day before, Ukrainian Naftogaz stopped their gas deliveries to Novorossia, blaming damage to pipeline infrastructure as a result of warfare. According to LPR/DPR, only gas vents on Ukrainian side are irreversibly damaged (irony indicating sabotage suspicion). Gazprom presented direct deliveries as fulfilling the contract with Ukraine. That likely means that they may reduce gas deliveries to the rest of Ukraine, in effect billing Ukraine for the direct deliveries.

Naftogas refused to pay for deliveries made by Gazprom to Donbas. Putin says Gazprom breached no contract terms with gas supplies to east Ukraine (TASS-English) , calls stoppiang gas deliveries "smelling of genocide" ; calls for Ukraine to decide and bear responsibility or openly give up on Donbas.

Zakharchenko: Debaltsevo mop-up is finished. Alexander Afendikov is appointed new mayor of Debaltsevo; reconstruction work will start at once.

18.02 Withdrawal of heavy weapons began. Photos show opolchenie moving MLRS, artillery from Elenovka, Telmanovo.

Up to 40 armored vehicles managed to break throw (exact number disputed), while many vehicles were destroyed and soldiers killed in a nighttime escape attempt. According to Poroshenko, "80 % " of soldiers managed to leave the cauldron; this is probably a gross exaggeration. Dragon-first count gives 6 tanks, 28 BMP/BTR/MTLB , 5 BRDM, one Grad, 5 self-propelled artillery escaping; with an estimate that true number may be up to 25% higher. This would be an infantry battalion and few extra companies; while details are a bit sketchy, considerably more was supposed to be there initially.

Unusually, a NYT report about escape attempts, not fully negative on opolchenie.

153 soldiers Ukrainian, including 12 officers, surrendered (rusvesna)

There was a big tank battle in the night of 18.02 near Debaltsevo, lots of tanks destroyed (photo, video)

17.02 Most of Debaltsevo controlled by opolchenie. UAF said to receive orders to exit in small groups on their own, destroy weapons. Many taken prisoners (report). But there are also reports on Ukrainian rearguards opening fire on their own, to prevent surrendering.

Putin in RT interview, in answering question on possible US weapons deliveries to Ukraine: foreign weapons are already being delivered to Ukraine. However that will not change the situation, since Ukrainian military does not want to participate in fratricidal war, while opolchenie is highly motivated to protect their families.

Zakharchenko was at Debaltsevo, got lightly wounded (ankle), now at the hospital and doing alright.

Heavy weapons pull-out have not started yet, due to continued fighting in isolated areas

16.02 DPR raised issues with heavy weapons withdrawal from the airport, which is too close to the city of Donetsk; withdrawing heavy weapons from the airport will open up the city. Also, cannot withdraw where it can open the cauldron. Need ceasefire to hold and simultaneous moves by Ukraine and DPR for heavy weapons withdrawal to happen

Canada has plans to send military instructors -rusvesna quoting Global News

15.02 In Debaltsevo, NAF seized 4 Ukrainian Grad launchers and large quantities of Grad munitions Basurin at 2:01. All were moved away from the city.

Novorossia evening report notes that Ukraine is using ceasefire to reinforce troops trying to break cauldron at Debaltsevo, and positions nearby Donetsk and Luhansk. 16 violations of the ceasefire listed, not just at Debaltsevo. Some violations include heavy weapons use -artillery, tank fire.

The Normandy Four discussed implementation of the ceasefire on the phone; a lot was about Debaltsevo. Also OSCE role was discussed -TASS

OSCE briefing: in the past 12 hours, ceasefire mostly observed -TASS. According to Basurin, ceasefire mostly observed with some violations by UAF at Debaltsevo.

Memoirs on DKO raid on the depot of the Debaltseve-Sotrirovochnaya train station, see also 8 and 13 Feb, all collected here.

14.02 Both sides gave ceasefire orders. It is said to be getting mostly quiet in Donetsk and Debaltsevo at night past ceasefire deadline (rusvesna). However later reports tell about fire by UAF in Gorlovka, Enakievo, and Donetsk Airport (rusvesna). Report on Cassad say that fire started in Debaltsevo. Opolchenie responds to fire.

Massive random shelling of Donetsk reported. Fighting rages in Mar'inka nearby. Donetsk shelling by Ukraine goes past the midnight deadline; said to calm down some 7 minutes after that (rusvesna)

13.02 In the morning, UAF ammunition storage was destroyed in Debaltsevo, with dramatic photos emerging. In the evening, LPR entered Debaltsevo- Life News video report. Intensive fighting continues, casualties on both sides. An opolchenie member is telling that they will not stop until Debaltsevo is mopped up; that may go past ceasefire deadline. Four attempts by UAF to break the siege at Logvinovo, all of them failed. Heavy shelling of opolchenie positions near Mariupol from heavy weapons. For the day, UAF lost 4 tanks, 15 BMP/BTR, up to 100 killed in total Basurin, DPR . Donetsk, Gorlovka were shelled, 2 civilians killed and 8 wounded in Donetsk. In Gorlovka, 2 civilians killed, 1 wounded.

Memoirs about "Prizrak" assault squad and DKO volunteers offensive on Debaltsevo, which started on 13 Feb.

12.02 Ukraine throws reserves, said to be up to 3 battalion groups and 40 tanks, to retake Logvinovo. Opolchenie controls hills overlooking the area and so can inflict a lot of damage with artillery. From military perspective, Ukrainian attack is essentially suicidal, and taken for (wrongly interpreted) political and reputation reasons. First attack was repelled at a closed range near the village; the last two tanks were destroyed about a 100 meters from opolchenie positions (if a tank reaches trenches, its machine gun can kill those in the trench, otherwise chances are not very high). Second attack was repelled by NAF tanks counter-attacking; advancing UAF infantry had high losses. After this, fighting became an artillery duel (opolchenie member Shurygin battle account). According to evening report by Basurin (DPR), UAF lost 127 killed, 200 wounded , 7 tanks, 11 BMP and BTR. Further 42 UAF were killed in night battles . Elsewhere, intense shelling of Lugansk from Grads, at least 4 civilians killed and 7 wounded. 3 children killed in Gorlovka . There is a word that plans of a "black night" for Novorossia was discussed on Ukrainian sites (severe shelling of Novorossia cities from all weapons), before the ceasefire deadline. That discussion was than deleted by Ukrainian sites administrators (noted at the end of Shurygin report)

Heavy clashes in Logvinovo (closing of Debaltsevo cauldron). Ukraine uses all weapons, including "Pions" and heavy MLRS; says Logvinovo it is retaken; NAF says they still control it. Video appears to show NAF is still in control in Logvinovo.

Putin and Poroshenko could not agree on whether there is cauldron at Debaltsevo, according to Putin press conference statement. So now many attacks may happen to figure this out. (Putin called for calm to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. But reports from Debaltsevo appear to show different actual development).

Novorossia intelligence warned about a possible provocation against civilians in Stanitsa Luganskaia, to disrupt Minsk agreements.

11-12.02 at night, Luhansk was shelled with Smerch MLRS. Video shows un-exploded missile removal; OSCE on the scene

10.02 US President calls Russian President (WH readout) (Kremlin readout) and President of Ukraine (WH readout) (President of Ukraine readout)

Russia's OSCE representative Andrei Kelin confirmed that a demilitarized zone in Eastern Ukraine is discussed (extending Minsk, where only heavy weapons were supposed to be moved). It will be either totally free from weapons and controlled by police, or personal firearms allowed. No definite decision yet.

09.02 Village of Logvinovo taken by NAF. This fully closes the cauldron at Debaltsevo. NAF entered parts of Debaltsevo, took the railway sorting station.

08.02 Turchinov reviewed new military equipment given to UAF. That included BTR 80 and Ukrainian BTR Spartan armed with rockets "Stugna" and 12 mm machine gun. Turchinov said that new equipment is needed to stop aggressor ("Russian terrorist group") and liberate ceased territory.

Respected Cossack commander "Plastun", said to be now in charge of "Batman" RSG gave an audio interview. UAF at Debaltsevo is in cauldron; there are two escape points still not closed but they are controlled by NAF artillery. A ceasefire was agreed with UAF to evacuate civilians, however UAF broke it and shelled NAF positions with Uragan; NAF had casualties. In response to question that ceasefire may be asked to evacuate foreign equipment, Plastun stated that UAF use "a lot" of foreign made weapons, and "yesterday, we were even shelled from Apache helicopter, operated by highly professional crew". (Apache is US made, and operated by some Asian and Middle Eastern countries in addition to NATO). There is no visual confirmation, just the verbal claim of Plastun.

Redkodub taken by NAF. A big column of UAF military equipment is moving from Dnepropetrovsk towards Donetsk (Basurin)

Some details of an unsuccessful attempt by opolchenie to capture Novogrigorievka and to complete cauldron under Debaltsevo, describing losses of DKO volunteer detachment, part of Mozgovoi's "Prizrak" battalion.

07.02 "President Petro Poroshenko has held trilateral negotiations with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden.The parties have discussed the development of negotiations on the peaceful resolution in the Ukrainian Donbas in the context of joint proposals on the fulfillment of the Minsk agreements elaborated in the course of the meeting between President Poroshenko, Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande in Kyiv. President Poroshenko, Chancellor Merkel and Vice President Biden have coordinated future steps and emphasized the need for immediate ceasefire and continuation of dialogue on the implementation of all items of the Minsk agreements. The interlocutors have underlined the necessity of compliance with joint transatlantic position on the situation in Ukraine"- (Poroshenko web site).

06.02 Debaltsevo evacuation "disrupted" by Ukraine, civilians not notified, only 40 showed up to board buses to Donetsk. Some shelling still occurred despite agreed ceasefire. 3 civilians were wounded in Chernukhino. Ukrainian news give brighter picture; but people interviewed appear confused where they are going, and not aware there have a choice. (Donetsk is often shelled, this may be a practical consideration; but none of that is discussed in interviews) . Another report on evacuations from Debaltsevo. Ukraine is said to evacuate 296 people from Debaltsevo in one day, 05-06.02 (including 30 wounded, 2 children)

Humanitarian corridor in Debaltsevo agreed starting at 9 am. In Chernukhino, it is reported that UAF is not allowing civilians to leave (mines roads, said to pour gasoline into water wells to make them not usable). Lots of shelling on the previous day throughout Novorossia; nother UAF plane is reportedly shot down. Heavy shelling of Starobeshevo at night, UAF attack in that direction feared.

05.02 Opolchenie tanks defeated Ukrainian fortified position at Debaltsevo. Earlier, Ukraine, OSCE, UN proposed a local ceasefire to evacuate civilians at Debaltsevo (dire civilian situation at Chernukino and Gorlovka not mentioned); while opolchenie proposed a different ceasefire plan. An agreement was not reached. Opolchenie warned about a planned provocation against civilians at Debaltsevo, which they learned from interrogation of UAF prisoner.

Hollande, Merkel will travel to Kiev with a new peace solution proposal; on 06.02 they will visit Putin. Hollande stated that NATO membership for Ukraine is not desirable, and sale of weapons not planned (TASS)

Kerry visited Kiev today (report, video). Russia is blamed; so far, weapon sales not announced.

04.02 Hospital number 27 in Donetsk was hit by Ukrainian shell, at least 15 people reported killed, hospital damaged (map)(street view near hospital) .

03.02.15 Opolchenie entered Debaltsevo from the West. Fighting continues in Chernukhino for the 4 day; many civilian casualties feared; the number can increase if there is no rescue operation as many are injured. Civilian convoy trying to escape Chernukhino was fired on from BTR and small arms fire; 5 civilians killed, the rest had to turn back.

Basurin shows NATO -type shells used by Ukraine in Gorlovka, 155 mm from M109 A1 (US made;-- Switzerland and Middle Eastern states are known as current operators), and a 75 mm MLRS missile fragment. Both shells are not in use by Ukraine or Russia. video

Gorlovka was shelled from heavy MLRS (Uragan). New 2 meter deep craters appeared. Donetsk shelled with Smerch.

02.02.2015.opolchenie map (also File:MapDragon010215.jpg ) (1): Ukrainian Tochka U downed.

01.02.15 opolchenie map. (1): Nikishino taken by NAF ; (9): Uglegorsk fully controlled by NAF.

Mobilization planned by Novorossia in some 10 days, up to 100 thousand may be called for duty (Cassad)

Strelkov applied to be mobilized based on wife's Donetsk residency, listing military skills.

Opolchenie repeats that they are ready for a ceasefire, based on the actual front line. Ukraine insists on the line from 19 September memorandum. (That line was never implemented-Airport has to go to Novorossia, for example, and shelling of cities did not stop.)