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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 506
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Conflicting Claims And Protests Against Ukrainian Withdrawal From Shirokino
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There have been conflicting statements from Ukrainian volunteer fighters and the military leadership in Mariupol today with regards to the possibility of withdrawing troops from the war-torn village of Shirokino, about 10 km east of the port city.

Russian-backed troops withdrew around 2 km east on July 2, but Ukrainian forces have remained in their original positions in the west of the village.

Yesterday, a statement was posted on the Facebook page of the volunteer-based Donbass Battalion, part of the Ukrainian National Guard (NGU). According to the post, there was talk that the Ukrainian military leadership had decided to conduct a withdrawal from Shirokino. 

The Donbass Battalion's post said that any withdrawal of troops from the village would be considered "state treason" by both residents of Mariupol and fighters for abandoning the place that "fighters had lost their brothers and split their blood for peaceful skies above Mariupol."

This morning, a Twitter user, presenting themselves as company sergeant in the Donbass Battalion, claimed that troops had received the order to withdraw:

Translation: Good morning, timeline. We have just heard that all units in Shirokino must leave their positions. Donbass, Azov, Pravyi Sektor and the 37th battalion said FUCK!!!

Translation: Today the volunteers of Mariupol have decided to hold a protest rally against the surrender of Shirokino. The Donbass Battalion has decided to join it.

However Mariupol news site reported that the press office of the Azov Regiment, another volunteer unit of the NGU, said that, while their were rumours of withdrawal, no official order had been received.

Yaroslav Chepurnoy, press officer for the Ukrainian military in Mariupol, said that the claims were rumours intended to spread panic in the city.  

A post on the Donbass Battalion page this morning said that the unit had now left the front on rotation.

This afternoon Mariupol and Shirokino residents, backed by members of the Donbass Battalion and Pravyi Sektor, held a meeting in the city, calling on the Ukrainian military leadership not to withdraw from the village.




The commander of the 'Mariupol Druzhina' Viktoriya Pridushchenko, said that she had been informed by sources in the General Staff that Colonel General Hennadiy Vorobyov, first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was allegedly considering withdrawal from Shirokino and supports the idea of demilitarising the village.

The representatives at the meeting said that such a move would place Mariupol at risk of bombardment from the strategic heights in Shirokino.

Pravyi Sektor and Donbass members at the meeting said that, while they had not received orders to withdraw, they wanted to prevent such an order being given. Their members, they said, would not execute the command.

One representative from Pravyi Sektor said that, starting today, volunteers were arriving in Mariupol in response to a call for mobilisation. A thousand people would, they said, join the ranks of the volunteer brigades to defend the city.

The only circumstances under which the speakers would accept the demilitarisation of Shirokino would be the withdrawal of separatist forces behind the demarcation line established by the September 5 Minsk agreement, and the removal of all Russian troops beyond the border. They added that neither the OSCE or Russia could guarantee the implementation of such an agreement and therefore the withdrawal of troops from the village was impossible.

Activists at the meeting said that, were the order to withdraw Ukrainian troops received under the present circumstances, civilians would drive to the Shriokino and block exit roads to prevent departure.

-- Pierre Vaux