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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukraine Live Day 657

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
OSCE Monitors Threatened by Russian-Backed Militants Near Lugansk
Russian-backed separatists fired on Ukrainian positions 17 times in the last 24 hours, reported, citing the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] on its Facebook page (translation by The Interpreter):

"Today the terrorists once again fired with 82-mm mortar-launchers banned under the Minsk agreement. The shelling came along the Zheleznaya Balka line toward Novgorodsky. They could have been considered provocative, but the shells flew to the edge of the city."

During the day, militants also fired with large-caliber machine guns, grenade-launchers and firearms on Zaitsevo, Mayorsk, Luganskoye, Opytnoye, Marinka and Avdeyevka. 

Furthermore, they fired on  Krasnogorovka from the direction of Staromikhailovka with 82-mm mortar-launchers, BMP-1s, large-caliber machine guns and firearms and also from grenade-launchers and firearms on Ukrainian positions near Avdeyevka. 

In the evening, using 82-mm mortar launchers, pro-Russian mercenaries fired on Verkhetoroetsky.

Bloggers reported the sound of shell fire and gunfire around Donetsk and Marinka.

Translation: VK #Marinka "16-39 - booms can be heard far off from the north side 17:13 booms and gunfire toward the boarding school."

Translation: FB #Donetsk 18-32 "Tektilshchik [region of Donetsk] hears powerful single shots from heavy artillery from the northwestern side of the city.

Translation: People from Donetsk and Gorlovka write that the separatists are banging away with something heavier than 82 mm.

Reuters reported today that when the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM)  attempted to approach a group of howitzers in separatist-controlled Yurivka, 26 km southeast of Lugansk, armed men fired into the air. The howitzers were among the heavy weapons that were supposed to be withdrawn under the Minsk agreement:

The mission said in a statement that the incident took place on Saturday at a field in the vicinity of Luhansk People's Republic (LPR)-controlled Yurivka, 26 km (16 miles) south-west of Luhansk. The SMM had observed 12 towed howitzers there, evidence of violation of the agreed withdrawal line.

"When the SMM further continued driving towards the howitzers and was at 80-100m distance, one of the armed individuals released a burst of fire into the air with an automatic rifle and another individual pointed his automatic rifle at the SMM," it said in the statement.

The monitors left the area and there was no injury or damage to either staff or their vehicle

The OSCE SMM has frequently been barred from access to heavy weapons' depots or if allowed in to see them, have reported weapons missing mainly from the separatists' side, but also on the side of the Ukrainians. 

Today is not the first time the monitors faced firing -- a year ago in November 2014 they were fired on by Russian-backed separatists with RPS from Gorlovka.

Russian-backed separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko claimed in March of this year that Russian Col. Gen. Aleksandr Lentsov and others in the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination, a Ukrainian-Russian military body to monitor the cease-fire, were fired on near Mariupol.

News emerged today according to the ATO  about a battle outside of Mayorsk on December 4, when 100 Russian-backed militants attacked the Ukrainian position, reported. The ATO says they did not use weapons banned under the Minsk agreements to fire back. The Ukrainian soldiers reportedly "destroyed two dozen [separatist] fighters" says InfoResist. The report has not been confirmed. and TCN also reported about a battle outside Gorlovka today in which supposedly 30 separatists were killed after they attempted an offensive. It was after this battle that separatists fired near the OSCE monitors, says 

For its part, the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DNR) news service reported first that Ukrainian soldiers fired on their own positions near Gorlovka,  then at 20:00, fired on the Gagarin Mine, Zheleznaya Balka, Shirokaya Balka and Ozeryanovka from a position in Novgorodskoye using 120 mm banned artillery and anti-aircraft weapons, BMPs, grenade-launchers and firearms.

We are verifying the reports.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick