Update: *APPARENT SHELLING REPORTED NEAR UKRAINIAN PORT OF MARIUPOL: AP
Journos set off to Mariupol E checkpoint got across bridge by Azovstal, saw cars shot up - unclear by who - people dying from bullet wounds.— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) September 6, 2014
- PROLONGED ARTILLERY FIRE HEARD TO EAST OF MARIUPOL PORT IN EASTERN UKRAINE DESPITE CEASEFIRE - REUTERS
As far as I understand from what officials there have said, the @press_dnr account is official. So DNR officially admits breaking ceasefire.— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) September 6, 2014
??????????? ???? ?????????? ????? ?????????.— ??? ?????????? (@press_dnr) September 6, 2014
Perhaps unsurprisingly, numerous reports (from both sides) state that the long-awaited cease-fire in Ukraine is over. As RIA reports, the pro-Russian separatists noted Ukrainian special forces continued shelling towns and militia positions in the Donetsk region late Friday despite the ceasefire established hours before. Several reporters in the strategic 'land-bridge' city of Mariupol claims to have seen flashes from explosions and heard powerful detonations, where tanks are moving rapidly towards the eastern checkpoint. France24 also reports the Ukraine military is now accusing rebels of violating the cease-fire. AP further confirms sustained explosions outside the city of Mariupol with journalists reporting "people dying of bullet wounds."
As we noted previously, Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky explains how Ukraine's Cease-Fire Is Putin's Victory.
...As for Russian President Vladimir Putin, he has secured a ringside seat and may settle down with a bowl of popcorn. Any outcome suits him as long as Ukraine struggles to get out of its impasse alone. He will be happy to see the Lugansk and Donetsk regions turn into a frozen-conflict zone, precluding Ukraine's further integration into NATO and the European Union, and equally pleased to have them gain broad autonomy from Kiev and a veto on major political decisions. A military solution suits him, too, since the West has refused to engage him except in the form of ineffectual sanctions.But late last night, RIA reports Ukrainian forces begin shelling again...
Make no mistake about it: The ceasefire is a victory for Putin, a vindication of his aggression and duplicity. I just hope it ends the bloodshed.
City authorities of Donetsk reported that shelling continues in the city despite ceasefire that came into force at 15:00 GMT Friday.
"As of 18:00 [local time, 15:00 GMT] situation in Donetsk remains far from being calm, sounds of explosions are heard. At the moment, artillery shelling is under way in the city’s Petrovsky district," the city council said in a statement.
Ukrainian special forces continued shelling towns and militia positions in the Donetsk region late Friday despite the ceasefire established hours before, the militia forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said Saturday.
"The people's militia's subdivisions in Horlivka and Makiivka fell under mortar shelling in the Donetsk direction at 20 hours 15 minutes [17:15 GMT]," said in the DPR headquarters.
Some 1.5 hours later, the Ukrainian forces attacked the city of Yasynuvata, and at 10:30 p.m. (19:30 GMT), the positions of the militia forces' at the Donetsk airport, according to militia.
"Along the whole contact line with the enemy, [militia forces] adhered to the commander's order not to fire back," the DPR representatives said.
Several reporters note flashes and explosions...
Sounds of shelling audible in #Mariupol— Will Vernon (@BBCWillVernon) September 6, 2014
But as France24 reports, the Ukrainian army points the finger at the pro-Russian separatists for breaking the cease-fire...
A top Ukrainian defence official accused pro-Russian insurgents on Saturday of violating a ceasefire the two sides signed up to in a bid to halt nearly five months of bloodshed.
"We have recorded a series of provocations by the rebels. They fired on our anti-terrorism units on 28 occasions (on Friday), with 10 of those coming after the ceasefire," National Security and Defence Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters.
Witnesses in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol are reporting sustained explosions outside the city and a volunteer battalion of Ukrainian fighters says Grad rockets are being fired at its positions.
The reports Saturday night come little more than a day after Ukraine and Russian-backed separatist rebels signed a cease-fire after more than four months of fighting in the country's east.
The cease-fire had appeared to largely been holding during much of the day.
But late Saturday, witnesses in Mariupol told The Associated Press by telephone that heavy explosions were coming from the city's eastern outskirts, where Ukrainian troops retain defensive lines against the rebels.
The volunteer Azov Battalion said on Facebook that their positions were hit by Grad rockets, but did not give details.
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So, Rebels blame Ukraine... Ukraine blames Rebels... back to square 1 we go
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So it looks like more sanctions will be coming on Monday (European blowback any minute), no Mistral delivery (French losses), and a NATO rapid response team engage (more costs for Europe), leaving Putin with some decisions to make - move now, or wait til winter...