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Ukrainians flee war horrors, Kiev warns of final countdown for Donetsk & Lugansk
Sunday, August 10
Confrontation continues in eastern Ukraine as Kiev’s troops are trying to encircle Donetsk and Gorlovka. The focus of the confrontation is the city of Krasni Liman and its neighborhood.
The city is strategically important because taking it over would allow the Ukrainian troops to sever a road connecting Donetsk and Lugansk. On Saturday, Kiev reported capturing the city, but militia sources said the report was premature, as the city continues to switch hands.
Sunday hostilities also involved a battle for Illyuvaisk, a city some 20 km east of Donetsk, which Ukrainian forces failed to capture.
There are also reports of intensive fighting in Saur-Mogila, a strategically important height in the eastern Donetsk region, which was held by militia attacking an encircled group of Kiev troops in the neighboring Lugansk region. The monumental stela erected on top of a hill was seriously damaged in the fighting.
Ukrainian troops continue shelling Lugansk, Donetsk and other militia-controlled cities, targeting them with mortar fire, artillery shells and rockets fired by multiple-rocket launchers.
Overnight Russia handed over five officers of the 72th brigade to Ukraine, who were earlier released without charges in a case of alleged use of incendiaries against residential areas, Ukraine confirmed.
The officers were briefly detained by Russia on suspicion of shelling a Ukrainian city with phosphorous shells in violation of international law regulating warfare. Russia chose not to press charges, saying the detainees were forced to follow an order by their superiors.
A ceasefire by militias is only possible if Kiev’s troops take a similar step, a spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said on Sunday. The statement comes after a Saturday declaration that the region fighting against the Ukrainian military crackdown is prepared for a truce.
Further negotiations would be possible if Kiev withdraws troops from the Donetsk region and agrees to formal engagement in negotiations as opposed to informal consultations, the statement said.
Kiev earlier insisted that it would stop military action only if the militias unconditionally lay down arms.
Saturday, August 9
The Ukrainian army is shelling residential areas in Donetsk with multiple rocket launchers, self-defense forces told Interfax. Three targets were hit and two one-story buildings were destroyed.
The self-defense forces added that one person was injured and taken to hospital. The Grad system was reportedly used during the bombing.
Earlier, there were reports that self-defense forces hit several Ukrainian army bases.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a law extending the age limit of the country’s troop reserves, the president’s press service reported. The new age cap has been increased from 50 to 60 years of age for privates and from 55 to 60 years of age for junior and senior officers.
There will be no hot water during the winter in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Nikolaev, the city’s administration announced. The decision was prompted by efforts to save gas, Itar-Tass quoted local lawmakers as saying. There are more than 500,000 people living in the city.
Following the announcement, Mayor Yuriy Granaturov said that he believes “no one will freeze.”
Earlier, there were reports that Kiev turned off the hot water supply in the entire city due to lack of funds.
Self-defense forces have freed 12 “strategically important” residential areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, according to the Twitter account of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for “urgent measures for preventing an impending humanitarian catastrophe in southeastern regions” of Ukraine while speaking with his US counterpart John Kerry.
“John Kerry confirmed such work is being carried out with the Kiev authorities,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed during a Saturday telephone call that Russia will face additional consequences if it intervenes in Ukraine without Kiev’s consent. “The two leaders agreed that any Russian intervention in Ukraine, even under purported ‘humanitarian’ auspices, without the formal, express consent and authorization of the government of Ukraine is unacceptable, violates international law, and will provoke additional consequences,” the White House said in a statement.
Kiev may impose sanctions against Russia as early as August 13, Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko said.
“The Verkhovna Rada will adopt the law on Tuesday August 12, and on Wednesday August 13 the National Security and Defense Council will enforce the sanctions which were proposed by the government,” Petrenko said during the ‘Shuster Live’ program on Ukrainian television.
The list of Ukrainian sanctions, above all, include a ban on the transit of Russian gas through Ukrainian territory to customers in Europe.
NATO plane arrives in Ukraine with $4.5 mn worth of military aid for Kiev troops (VIDEO)
A massive Canadian transport plane has arrived in Kharkov carrying US$4.5 million worth of non-lethal military equipment to help Ukraine “protect its eastern border against Russian aggression.”
The equipment includes “helmets, ballistic eyewear, protective vests, first aid kits, tents, and sleeping bags,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement on Thursday.
Canada said it received the request from the Ukrainian government. “Ukraine has asked for this and once again we are delivering,” Defence Minister Rob Nicholson Nicholson said at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton.
The flight marks the first in a series, and all of the items will be delivered by the CC-130J Hercules plane. Canadian military personnel accompanied the equipment to Ukraine.
The technology provided will “allow Ukrainian security and border authorities to better detect and track the movement of illicit goods and people,” according to Harper.
The news comes after Russia banned the imports of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and dairy products from the 28 countries of the EU, the US, Canada, Norway, and Australia for one year.
Russia’s ban is set to cost Canadian pork farmers more than $500 million. But the Canadian government is continuing its current stance on the matter. “We will not be intimidated by these kinds of tactics,” Canadian Industry Minister James Moore said.
On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pledged that NATO will work with Ukraine on defense planning, as well as on how to reform its armed forces and institutions.
He also announced that NATO is planning joint exercises with Ukraine.The comments were made during a press conference in Kiev.
Rasmussen also mentioned that Russia has amassed 20,000 troops near the border and could be planning a ground invasion of its neighbor, mentioning that Russia “should not use peace-keeping as an excuse for war-making.”
In response, Moscow slammed NATO’s claims, calling them unsubstantiated.
“In Russia’s Ministry of Defense such statements only raise sympathy for the speakers of the Pentagon, the US State Department and NATO. It seems the people are serious, but they have to constantly improvise during their speeches to somehow add seriousness to their statements,” Ministry of Defense spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said.