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Fighting continues in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions where, according to UN data, at least 1,129 people have been killed since April. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is urging for snap parliamentary elections in the war-torn country.
Tuesday, August 19
Ukraine has banned 14 Russian television channels including Russia Today and Life News from broadcasting on cable networks in Ukraine, accusing them of spreading war propaganda, Ukrainian interior ministry aide Anton Gerashenko said on Tuesday.
The fourteen channels are banned temporarily for “broadcasting propaganda of war and violence,” Gerashenko said in a Facebook post. (Reuters)
Artillery fire started early in the morning in the town of Makeevka, located to the east of Donetsk. Reuters reported residents as saying it was the first time there had been shelling in the area. The town’s railway station came under heavy fire, and most of the local residents have gone down to basements or shelters.
The bodies of 15 refugees killed in the shelling of a convoy to the southeast of Lugansk on Monday morning have been identified, Ukraine’s Security Council said Tuesday, blaming militiamen for their deaths. The self-defense forces in Eastern Ukraine denied the accusations, saying that they have neither force nor the means to conduct such an attack. The prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexandr Zakharchenko, called the Kiev’s statement “a pure and simple fake”.
Civilians were killed and injured as a result of shelling which nearly destroyed the central part of Lugansk on Tuesday night. No numbers are given in a message on the city council’s website, which cites reports of the city’s residents. It calls the situation in the town critical, as only the most essential products are on sale, and people face waiting in long lines to get bread. There has been no water or electricity, and mobile and landline phone lines have been down for 17 days. High temperatures may trigger infections in the city, due to a lack of fresh water and piles of garbage.
Ukrainian troops have shelled the center of Lugansk, apparently aiming for the city council building, rebels reported. They also denied a report of gunfights in the city center which was voiced on Tuesday morning by a Ukrainian police official.
Washington has recognized the need for Russian humanitarian aid in eastern Ukraine, according to comments by the US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.
“We agree that the people of that region are in need of aid,” Harf said during a briefing on Monday, adding that US wants the contents of the aid convoys checked.
“We want to make sure this is actually aid, though. We understand there is an agreement that the aid will be inspected by Ukrainian border guards and customs officials before being transferred in batches to representatives of the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross].”
Monday, August 18
The US State Department condemned the alleged shelling of a convoy in eastern Ukraine on Monday that killed dozens of people, but said it could not confirm who was responsible for the attack.
“We strongly condemn the shelling and rocketing of a convoy that was bearing internally displaced persons in Lugansk and express our condolences to the families of the victims,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a news briefing. “Sadly, they were trying to get away from the fighting and instead became victims of it.”
The Ukrainian government accused anti-Kiev rebels of targeting the convoy, which it said was bearing white flags. The rebels denied responsibility.
The self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk has introduced the death penalty for the most grievous crimes, the republic’s press service said.
The regulations for military courts and the criminal code have been approved during the first meeting of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.
The newly-applied two-level court system will “greatly facilitate the fight against looting and banditry,” the press service said.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Karaman said that the republic would take “the path of humanization of its the criminal code” after the war is over.
The representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have delivered humanitarian aid to needy people in southeastern Ukraine, Andrey Lysenko, the spokesman for country’s National Security and Defense Council, said.
“The International Committee of the Red Cross has reported that humanitarian aid has already been delivered to 10 cities in the Donbass,” Lysenko said, without making clear if it was the Russian humanitarian cargo that he was talking about.
The People’s Republic of Donetsk has denied an allegation by Kiev that the self-defense forces have opened fire at a column of refugees in eastern Ukraine, leading to numerous casualties.
“The reported assault on the column of refugees is disinformation. None of the refugee columns were fired at by the forces of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk,” said Aleksandr Zaharchenko, prime minister of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.
Dozens of people, including women and children, were reportedly killed on Monday when a refugee convoy of buses was hit by rocket fire near the eastern city of Lugansk, a Ukrainian military spokesman said.
Ukraine has accused rebels of targeting the convoy, but the anti-Kiev forces deny responsibility.
“The rebels were expecting the convoy and destroyed it entirely. We haven’t been able to count the number of victims … dozens (were killed),” spokesman Andrey Lysenko said in a briefing to journalists. (Reuters)
Ukraine: Water supply cut in Donetsk as humanitarian crisis looms
Kiev claims that the militia forces have attacked a refugee convoy in the Lugansk Region.
The column was transporting people from the towns of Khryaschevatoye and Novosventlovka on Monday morning when it was hit by intensive mortar and rocket artillery fire, military spokesman Anatoly Proshin told the media. He added that the Ukrainian military responded with artillery fire of their own.
Militia sources would not immediately comment on the information. The region has witnessed fierce fighting in the past several days.
The EU and NATO will not be able to provide military aid to Ukraine, Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb told Yle television.
“Of course it’s not possible. Not from NATO because NATO only provides military assistance to its members, and that’s well known. And the EU doesn’t have the capacity to provide this kind of support,” he believes.
Stubb was commenting on a request voiced Sunday by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin, who said Kiev would welcome military aid from NATO and the EU in an interview.
Fighting in Ukraine close to the Russian border caused a wildfire, which threatened the Russian border checkpoint at Voloshino, the Russian Customs Service told ITAR-TASS. The fire almost ran out of control before firefighters could intervene, due to hot windy weather in the area.
Sunday, August 17
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned the Ukrainian conflict could soon escalate into open warfare between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Berlin, Sunday.
He emphasised this must be avoided at all costs and underlined the importance of the central government and anti-Kiev forces reaching a credible ceasefire, pointing out that previous agreements have been violated.
Steinmeier met with his Russian, German, French and Ukrainian counterparts in the hope of developing a new “road map” on achieving peace and bringing stability to the country.