Contact Group meeting on Ukraine scheduled for today subject logo: DONBASWAR
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By Chris Covert

Both Lugansk and Donetsk breakaway republics will send representatives to Minsk for talks on the Minsk Accord today, according to Russian language news reports.

Since the end of last year, talks on ending the fighting in Donetsk and Lugansk have been stalled repeatedly over the issue of "completing" the agreement, as Ukrainian president Piotr Poroshenko has termed it. Despite the general lack of agreement on how to end the war, prisoner exchanges and humanitarian aid to the region have gone forward without any protest from any of the sides.

Completing the Minsk Accord is total disarmament of the rebel forces, something the rebels will refuse to do without specific guarantees. Last month, Lugansk president Igor Plotinitsky said that his goal was the incorporation of Lugansk into the Russian Federation. His position has created conflict within his own country, some commanders and rank and file of which want independence.

The president of Lugansk and the president of Donetsk, neither one will appear in Minsk today, mostly because, according to a report in, they do not expect anything substantive to come from the talks.

13th Bus attack victim dies

According to a news report which appeared in the pro Russian Voice of Sevastopol, a 13th victim succumbed to wounds sustained in an attack on a bus in western Donetsk. The victim was not identified.

A video posted on the internet purported to show an interview with a male survivor of the attack who said he heard "two or three explosions". According to a separate video, another victim said that several buses were at the checkpoint near where the attack took place, and that ten victims in the explosions were killed "instantly".

The victim saying he heard several explosions takes away credibility from both sides in the conflict -- the Ukrainians and the rebels of Donetsk and Lugansk -- as to what actually took place and who was responsible.

Rebels say that the attack was a Ukrainian "provocation" intended to mark the rebels as terrorists.

Fighting continue at Donetsk Airport

Television news reports from Donetsk claim that the rebels have seized the new terminal at the airport. Russian military journalist Boris Rozhin says that the airport is still not cleared of Ukrainian forces.

According to a video posted on the internet, rebel forces have taken the fourth and the first floor of the massive new terminal building, and continue to attack Ukrainian positions on the second and third floors using small arms and RPG fire.

According to a news report in, Ukrainian forces have set up a defensive perimeter in one room in the new terminal, and have reported the situation as "dire". The report adds that rebel artillery used to support the fighting for the rebel side are not being suppressed. The meaning of that statement is that the destruction of the control tower has had its intended effect: to limit the effectiveness of Ukrainian counterbattery and supporting artillery fire.

Yesterday, a key Ukrainian army position at the airport, the control tower was destroyed by rebel tank gunfire, eliminating a platform for artillery observers to direct artillery fire at rebel targets in Donetsk city. As of Tuesday, reports are that rebel artillery continues to pound the control tower.

According to a separate report which appeared in, Ukrainian troops, specifically elements of the 80th "Lvov" Airmobile Brigade have abandoned their positions at Peski. The significance of this news is that one of two settlements used to support troops at the airport have been eliminated. Peski has been used since the very start of the hostilities in May as a marshaling point for defensive operations at the airport.

According to rebel news sources, light mortars positioned at Peski continue to fire on rebel targets in the area.

According to Ukrainian military journalist Dmitri Tymchuk, rebel forces were hit at Spartak by Ukrainian artillery. Spartak, which directly adjacent to the airport, had been used as a marshaling point for the rebels for operations against Avdievka and at the airport. He said that some rebel forces, including a Russian-manned tank unit were forced to retreat due to Ukrainian artillery fire.

It has been said by various rebel sources that if Avdievka falls then the entire Ukrainian defensive operation at the airport will collapse. So far, despite numerous repeated attacks on Ukrainian troops at the settlement, Ukrainian troops remain.

Tymchuk also said Ukrainian troops captured two unidentified Chechens near the airport.

Rebels say that Ukrainian artillery hit several sectors of Donetsk city including Oktyabrsky district, Kievsky district, the "Volvo Center", Petrovsky district and at Polevoy Stan. One civilian was reportedly killed.

Fighting in northern Lugansk

According to rebel report, rebel forces have been advancing all along the northern front in Lugansk, attempting to push Ukrainian units to the northern bank of the North Donetsk River, continuing the operation conducted from the previous days. Rebel artillery hit Ukrainian army positions, especially near Schastye and Stanitsa Luganskaya.

According to rebel reports Ukrainians have been trying, despite rebel artillery fire, to move more forces towards Schastye. Rebel forces have been attempting pincer operations from positions along the North Donetsk River to prevent further reinforcing of Schastye and outlaying settlements, which the Ukrainian army routinely uses to support defensive operations.

Dmitri Tymchuk said that rebel forces near Schastye have received reinforcements consisting of a tank company and a reinforced rifle battalion. Rebel say they are preparing to attack Ukrainian positions on the North Donetsk River as well as locations farther north.

Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for He can be reached at You can read past articles about the 2014 war in southeastern Ukraina by clicking here.

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