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Russo-Ukraine War - 2014
Kiev achieved major military gains in early July 2014 by taking control of important militia strongholds – the cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. Government forces were prepared to storm the regional capitals of Donetsk and Lugansk, with an adviser to Interior Minister Stanislav Rechinsky promising that the military operation would be successfully completed in a month.
But Russia continued to escalate the direct military support to the separatists. As Nick Butler observered "The macho, shirtless leader cannot afford a failure in Ukraine having made the issue such a test of virility.... After nearly 15 years in office as President or Prime Minister he has already exceeded the normal lifespan of leadership. Actuarially he is living on borrowed time and is dependent on continued success. In the current situation the line between success and failure is very narrow..." Putin would find it hard to justify backtracking on Ukraine to a domestic audience fed for months on media propaganda reminiscent of the Soviet era.
Ukrainian forces struck at pro-Russian separatist bases in eastern regions with air and artillery strikes on 01 July 2014 after President Petro Poroshenko announced he would not renew a cease-fire but go on the offensive to rid Ukraine of "parasites." Within hours of Poroshenko's early morning announcement, the military went into action against rebel bases and checkpoints in the east which has been in separatist ferment since April. Putin, Poroshenko said that Ukraine had not seen "concrete steps for de-escalating the situation, including strengthening controls on the border." Russia warned authorities in Kyiv they would be held responsible for the ongoing military operation against separatists in eastern Ukraine after they refused to extend a unilateral cease-fire.
The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France agreed 02 July 2014 on a package of steps for a resumption of the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine. In a joint statement after talks in Berlin on July 2, the ministers said the steps include reopening talks no later than July 5 on a cease-fire to be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) left the cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk on 05 July 2014 and headed to the south of the region, according to the republic’s headquarters. A column of DNR militia arrived from Slavyansk - which had been surrounded by the Kiev military - to Kramatorsk, and later left Kramatorsk as well and headed towards areas in the Donetsk region – such as the city of Gorlovka - which remained under militia control. “Kramatorsk was difficult to defend because of its poor location. That’s why the Command decided to leave the city,” a representative of the DPR headquarters said.
Ukraine's government said 06 July 2014 it would quickly seize more territory from rebels after re-taking the separatist stronghold of Slovyansk in what President Petro Poroshenko called a turning point in the fight for control of the country's east. Government forces routed pro-Russian rebels in the flashpoint city and raised the blue and yellow national flag over what had for months been a separatist redoubt. The seizure appeared to dim hopes for a cease-fire in the fighting. Ukrainian forces shelled parts of the rebel-held town of Luhansk near the Russian border.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed 09 July 2014 to retake remaining rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine, but says government forces will exercise restraint. Speaking while visiting troops in the former rebel stronghold of Slovyansk, the president said there would be "no street fighting" in Donetsk. He called pro-Russian insurgents "just an annoyance" to residents of that eastern city, saying the only way forward is through peace, disarmament and amnesty. Poroshenko also said that the situation was aggravated by Russia, as militants continued to receive weapons from across the border. Russia's strategic objective is to prolong the conflict.
Ukrainian troops control 13 out of 18 districts of the Donetsk region and 10 out of 18 regions of Luhansk region, the National Security and Defense Council’s press service announced 10 July 2014, citing the organization’s secretary Andriy Parubiy. “Today, Ukrainian troops control 13 out of 18 districts of the Donetsk region and 10 out of 18 districts of Luhansk region,” Parubiy was quoted as saying. Territory controlled by the independence forces diminished over the past week, the press service reported.
Four hundred and seventy-eight civilians, including seven children, had been killed in Kiev’s military crackdown on the eastern regions of Ukraine, the country’s deputy health minister said. A further 1,392 people were injured in the fighting, with 104 women and 14 children among them. Earlier in July, Ukraine’s National Security Council said that 200 soldiers and law enforcement officers had been killed and over 600 injured during the “anti-terrorist operation.”
Ukrainian war planes bombarded separatists along a broad front on 12 July 2014, inflicting huge losses, Kyiv said, after President Petro Poroshenko indicated that "scores and hundreds" would be made to pay for a deadly missile attack on Ukrainian forces. In exchanges marking a sharp escalation in the three-month conflict, jets struck at the "epicenter" of the battle against the rebels close to the border with Russia. The planes targeted positions from where separatists using high-powered Grad missiles bombarded an army motorized brigade the previous day, killing 23 servicemen. Warplanes also struck at targets near Donetsk, the East's main town where rebels have dug in, destroying a powerful fighter base near Dzerzhinsk, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the "anti-terrorist operation" said. "According to preliminary assessment, Ukrainian pilots ... killed about 500 (rebel) fighters and damaged two armored transporters," Lysenko told journalists. In an earlier air attack on a base near Perevalsk, north of Donetsk, two tanks, 10 armored vehicles and "about 500" rebel fighters were destroyed, he said.
Poroshenko had vowed to kill "hundreds" of gunmen for every lost soldier and ordered an air-tight military blockade of Luhansk and Donetsk - both self-proclaimed capitals of their own "People's Republics" that want to join Russia. Kyiv said it killed hundreds of rebels in air strikes, although there was no independent confirmation of such high casualties and the rebels denied suffering serious losses.
On 14 July 2014 NATO confirmed that Russia had continued to build up troops along its border with Ukraine. According to current alliance assessments, Russia now has between 10,000 and 12,000 troops in the area, up from below 1,000 in mid-June. Forces include a wide range of combat capabilities, including infantry, armored forces and tanks, artillery, logistics and supply personnel and vehicles, as well as special forces. Accusing Russia of embarking on a course of escalation in Ukraine’s eastern regions, on 15 July 2014 National and Security Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko told journalists: “In the past 24 hours, deployment of (Russian) units and military equipment across the border from the Sumy and Luhansk border points was noticed. The Russian Federation continues to build up troops on the border.”
Separatists claimed responsibility for hitting a Ukrainian Su-25 with a missile on 16 July 2014. The pilot of that plane managed to bring it down safely. Also, the Ukrainian military said a missile fired by a Russian warplane hit and brought down a Ukrainian Su-25 flying over eastern Ukraine, but that the pilot safely ejected. In the five days starting with July 12, self-defense forces have shot down four Su-25 aircraft and one Antonov An-26 military transport plane, according to reports of the Donbas militia. The Ukrainian army, however, confirmed only one instance involving an Su-25 shot down on July 12.
New US sanctions targetted parts of Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors. They include freezing the assets of several Russian defense companies and blocking new financing to major energy companies, like Novatek and Rosneft. They also hit eight Russian firms that produce weaponry, including small arms, mortar shells and tanks. The US announcement came amid Pentagon reports that Russia had increased its troop presence along the Ukraine border to at least 10,000, up from about 1,000 troops last month.
Russia considered the latest package of sanctions against it issued by the US as revenge for the failure of Washington’s schemes in Ukraine and blackmail. Moscow reserved the right to retaliate.
Despite to the situation with the shoot-down of the Malaysian Boeing, Russia continued to supply heavy military equipment and other weapons to separatists on the territory of Ukraine. Spokesman of the Information and Analytical Center of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Andriy Lysenko told a press briefing at the Crisis Media Center on 20 July 2014. "During the day, four tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, three multiple rocket launchers Grad, four armored vehicles and several Ural vehicles with ammunition were sent from Russia through the village of Bile, Krasnodon district, Luhansk region,” he said.
For the past day, shelling of the ATO positions was carried out several times from the territory of the Russian Federation. Spokesman of the Information and Analytical Center of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Andriy Lysenko told at a briefing at Ukrinform. "In particular, yesterday, eight shots from mobile artillery units were made on the stronghold of the National Guard of Ukraine on the territory of Ukraine, in the direction of Ukrainian settlement Manych, Donetsk region, from the position of the nearby settlement of Avilo-Uspenka, Rostov region. At 11:30 a.m., from Russia, from the area of settlement Leninsky, Rostov region, a volley from the Grad was made on the stronghold of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the territory of Ukraine towards the towns of Kamyshevakha, Donetsk region," he said. In addition, according to Lysenko, at 16:45, from positions near the town Novaya Nadezhda, Rostov region, in Russia, three Grad multiple rocket launchers bombarded positions of the Ukrainian security forces.
Ukraine said it believed Russian forces operating inside Russia shot down two of its fighter jets 23 July 2014. The claim of direct Russian involvement in the eastern Ukraine conflict came from the spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Colonel Andriy Lysenko. He told a news conference in Kyiv the fighter jets were flying more than 5,000 meters above rebel held territory when they were shot down, far above what he said is the maximum capability of separatist anti-aircraft weapons. Lysenko said Russian troops were firing at Ukrainian forces across the border. He said cross-border shelling was nearly constant at night in some areas. Lysenko later softened earlier accusations that one of them may have been shot down with a missile fired from Russia. Kyiv was “not accusing anyone,” but only considering possible scenarios, he said. He also said that the jets’ pilots had survived.
Russian military involvement appeared to indicate that President Vladimir Putin was not willing to allow the separatists to lose in eastern Ukraine. The United States accused Russia of firing on Ukrainian military positions in troubled eastern Ukraine from inside Russia. And Washington contended Moscow intended to supply pro-Russian rebels with bigger and more powerful weaponry to fight Kyiv's forces. A US Defense Department spokesman said Russian forces fired artillery shots into Ukraine on 24 July 2014. He described the Russian assault as "a clear escalation" of weeks-long fighting in eastern Ukraine between separatist rebels and the Ukrainian military attempting to retake control of rebel-held cities.
European Union ambassadors met on 25 July 2014 in Brussels where they voted to extend Ukraine-related sanctions, targeting top Russian intelligence officials and leaders of the pro-Russia revolt in eastern Ukraine. Among the 15 new people sanctioned was the head of Russia's Federal Security Service. Eighteen companies were also added to the sanctions list.
As many as 325 servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been killed and another 1,232 have been injured since the anti-terrorist operation was launched in the eastern regions of Ukraine, the spokesman for the country's National Security and Defense Council, Andriy Lysenko, said at a press briefing on 25 July 2014.
United States officials released satellite images on 27 July 2014 they said showed that Russia has fired rockets against Ukrainian forces in the last week, in support of separatist rebels. The images, which were prepared by the Director of National Intelligence and forwarded to reporters by the State Department, showed what the US government said are multiple rocket launchers and self-propelled howitzers on Russian territory. Others images showed impact craters near military positions on the Ukrainian side of the border and what Washington said is Russian-supplied heavy weaponry being fired by separatists from within Ukraine between July 21 and July 26.
Some 1,129 people have been killed and nearly 3,500 wounded in eastern Ukraine since the start of the Kiev's military operation in April, according to UN estimates reported 28 July 2014. The report also stated that these are the minimum casualty toll estimates by the UN monitoring mission and WHO.
European Union countries reached agreement on 29 July 2014 to impose new economic sanctions against Russia, targeting its oil industry, defense, dual-use goods and sensitive technologies. The measures will also shut state-owned Russian banks out of European capital markets. The EU had been reluctant to impose sectoral sanctions on Russia fearing the move might adversely impact the economies of its member states, but the recent downing of a civilian airliner over Ukraine, resulting in the deaths of 298 people, seemed to have strengthened the bloc’s resolve.
President Barack Obama announced new sanctions against Russia, just hours after the European Union expanded its own punitive measures over what the West sees as Moscow's continued efforts to destabilize Ukraine. Citing Russia's unrelenting support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, Obama said that, in coordination with European partners, the U.S. was imposing sanctions on more Russian banks and defense companies, as well as on the country’s energy, arms and finance sectors. The measures, he said, “will make a weak Russian economy even weaker.”
A total of 363 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 1,430 more injured since the start of the punitive operation in the south-east of the country, according to the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.
The United Nations had not received any hard evidence that Russia supplied pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine with weapons, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said. "We were unable to get hard evidence of the supply of weapons," Pillay said in comments carried by ITAR-Tass. "We consider it [Pillay's statement] as yet another confirmation of the fact that all accusations against our country over its alleged role in the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis are groundless and unwarranted," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
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