Kyiv, 20 July 2014 – As of 7:00 AM this morning, 196 bodies remain at the site of the downing of Malaysia Flight MH17. Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Spokesman (RNBO) Andriy Lysenko presented this information at a briefing in the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
The search site has been expanded from a 25 to 34 km radius. It now includes the towns of Moskovs’ke, Rozsypne, Hrabove, Striukove and the Hrabovs’ke reservoir. Approximately 32 sq. km. have already been examined. 380 people are working in the search and rescue operation, using 20 pieces of specialized equipment.
Armed terrorists continue to hinder the search and rescue work. “Ukraine is ready to provide all necessary equipment and specialists for this mission, yet terrorists continue to remove bodies from the site on their own vehicles,” said the spokesman.
Ukraine’s State Service for Emergency Situations has set up a Headquarters in Kharkiv oblast, where the newly created National Commission is investigating the causes of the crash.
Russia is continuing to supply heavy military equipment and other forms of armaments to terrorists on Ukrainian territory, despite the situation with the downed Malaysian Airlines flight. Over the past 24 hours, 4 tanks, 3 infantry fighting vehicles, 3 “Grad” systems, 4 armoured transport vehicles, and a number of Ural transport trucks were spotted crossing from Russia (near Bilen’ke village, Krasnodon region) into the Luhans’k oblast of Ukraine.
Russia continues to build up its troops along Ukraine’s border. Sub-divisions of the 9th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade and the 288th Aartillery Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces are stationed in the Rostov and Belgorod oblasts that border Ukraine. Movements of 30 tank units were confirmed in the Brians’k oblast near the Ukrainian border, also large groups of armored vehicles are stationed near Novoshakhtyns’k in Rostov oblast.
Yesterday, Russian military set up formations made up of 4 tanks, 3 armoured transport vehicles and close to 100 soldiers not far from gas distribution station near Strilkove in the Kherson oblast. Also, in Russian occupied Crimea, 2 artillery sub-divisions were spotted moving from Simferopol in the direction of Dzankoi, heading to Perekop.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Armed Forces successfully gained control of more territory around Donets’k and Luhans’k airports, and consolidated control over new areas. In the last 24 hours illegal military groups attacked Ukrainian Armed Forces positions 25 times.
Numerous attacks against Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) forces were launched from Russian territory. 8 artillery shots were fired against the Ukrainian National Guard defensive position from near the Avilo-Uspenka village, Rostov oblast, Russia. At 11:30 a volley was fired at the Ukrainian Armed Forces position from a “Grad” systems from the area around Lenin village in the Rostov oblast. At 16:45 an ATO position was shelled by a “Grad” systems from near Novaya Nadezhda, Rostov oblast, Russia.
8 Ukrainian servicemen were killed in the last 24 hours, 50 were injured. All the injured were taken to medical facilities and given medical help. The RNBO spokesman expressed his condolences for the families of all those killed.
Lysenko also stated that the terrorists are forcing civilians to join their units in Luhans’k. Groups of 5-7 armed men are using lists prepared for the so-called referendum to locate military age men and forcibly enter their homes.
In Severodonets’k, Luhans’k oblast, terrorists are forcing residents of high-rises out of their homes and setting up firing positions in the buildings. The militants are using cars driven by women for their intelligence gathering. In Horlivka, Donets’k oblast, militants placed explosives on the bridge on B. Makukh blvd. It stretches over railway tracks near that 5th mine.
Yesterday, terrorists kidnapped Nigerian national V. Adihibenm who is studying at the Luhansk State Medical University. So far, the militants have not set any conditions for the foreign national’s release.
According to RNBO information, the terrorists continue to hold 396 hostages, their fate is unknown. Three of the hostages are journalists, 329 are civilians. Since the beginning of the conflict, bandits have seized 842 hostages, as of today, 446 have been released.
Latest reports show that a local opposition movement is growing in Donets’k and Luhans’k against the terrorists. “Men have had enough, watching bandits rob, terrorize, and kill civilians. They are forming into small groups, using captured arms, beginning to take revenge for the violence perpetrated against their wives and children,” Lysenko said. According to him, Ukraine’s active military offensive is stimulating a civil resistance movement. Panic is beginning to spread among the militants. Some of their leaders are starting to leave Ukraine’s territory.