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Air Force flights were suspended on Tuesday, July 15, after the crash of an Antonov-26 military transport plane in the Luhansk Region on July 14. “Now aviation is supporting our units on the ground where the fiercest fighting is going on,” Andrei Lysenko, spokesperson for the National Security and Defense Council, said on Wednesday, July 16.
Militia said earlier that the Ukrainian army was delivering airstrikes in the Donetsk Region.
Militiamen have also blocked the airport in Luhansk, the LNR army said. They have blocked the troops stationed at the airport and up to 40-45 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and self-propelled artillery systems.
As a result of the shelling, one civilian was killed and nine wounded in Luhansk over the past 24 hours. About three dozen houses and a department store were destroyed.
Martial law and a curfew have been imposed in Donetsk. “To avoid possible excesses and preserve the life and health of the peaceful people, the militia command is imposing martial law and a curfew in Donetsk as a measure to ensure law and order,” DNR militia commander Igor Strelkov said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the central authorities in Kiev are not considering imposing martial law in the whole east of the country. “This possibility is not being considered at the moment,” Andrei Lysenko, spokesperson for the National Security and Defense Council, said.
Valeriy Chalyi, deputy chief of staff of the presidential administration, also confirmed that there was no point in imposing martial law in the region. “The counter-terrorism operation would be quite enough. Martial law would hardly make a lot of difference. The decisions adopted by the National Security and Defence Council are enough to carry out the operation effectively,” Chalyi said.
The trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine has expressed regret that a videoconference with the militia could not be held on June 15 and called for resuming ceasefire talks.
However, the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic said they had not received any invitations to a videoconference with the Ukraine-Russia-OSCE Contact Group.
DNR parliament speaker Denis Pushilin also told ITAR-TASS that he had not received any invitations. “I have not received any invitations and no one contacted me. This may be a new populist move to indicate that they are allegedly doing something while in reality they keep killing peaceful people. But if this helps a real ceasefire, I am ready to take part in such videoconference,” Pushilin said.
The Contact Group was ready over the past several days to organise a new meeting in any place to discuss the situation. But it failed to do so. The question is who actually represents Donbas? We will negotiate only with those who has real influence on the situation Valeriy Chalyi Deputy chief of staff of the presidential administration Kiev said, however, that it would conduct negotiations only with “those who have real influence on the situation” in the east of Ukraine. “The Contact Group was ready over the past several days to organise a new meeting in any place to discuss the situation. But it failed to do so. The question is who actually represents Donbas? We will negotiate only with those who has real influence on the situation,” Valeriy Chalyi, deputy chief of staff of the presidential administration, said.
He stressed that those who “do influence the situation” are “not in Donbas”.
Ukraine “does not reject the format similar to that in Normandy”, he said, referring to the meeting between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine in France in June. “There are many options and we are considering different possibilities. What is important is that they should produce results,” Chalyi said.
The Ukrainian presidential administration is against severing diplomatic relations with Russia, administration deputy chief of staff Valeriy Chalyi said. “As a diplomat, I will advise the president to avoid a full-scale conflict. There are methods other than a breakup of diplomatic relations… we do not reject the Normandy format which includes the president of Russia,” he said.In early June, the presidents of Russia and Ukraine held a brief meeting at the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy during World War Two. The meeting lasted about 15 minutes and took place in the presence of the German and French leaders. The discussion focused solely on the crisis in Ukraine.
At the same time, Chaly sad Kiev would consider possible consequences of severing diplomatic relations with Russia. “The Ukrainian authorities are studying such possibility and the (subsequent) results of such step,” Chalyi said.
The relatives of the soldiers and officers who are taking part in the army operation in the east of Ukraine are holding picket in front of the presidential administration building in Kiev. More than 200 mothers and wives are demanding that the units fighting in Donbas be rotated and their sons and husbands be returned home.
“Only rank-and-file citizens are fighting on the frontline” while high-ranking officials keep their children away from combat, the protesters said. They were also angered by the conditions in which the troops were living, including the absence of drinking water.
Novorossiya parliament speaker Oleg Tsaryov told ITAR-TASS that “the Verkhovna Rada, as the highest representative body in Ukraine, must immediately stop the armed punitive operation in the DNR and LNR, withdraw all units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and all other controlled armed units from the independent states within 24 hours and refrain in the future from any threat of force or use of force against the people of Donbas and its sovereign republics,” Tsaryov said.
The parliament of Novorossiya also outlawed all Ukrainian army units on its territory. After the expiration of the 24 hours, “all illegal armed units remaining in the Union of the People’s Republics will be considered terrorists and relevant measures will be taken against them”.