Tag Archives: Donetsk

6 killed, 15 wounded in east Ukraine city #Russia #Ukraine #Ceasefire


By LAURA MILLS.
Black smoke ascends around the Donetsk's International Airport as shelling continues between pro-Russian forces and the Ukrainian army on September 14, 2014.Black smoke ascends around the Donetsk’s International Airport as shelling continues between pro-Russian forces and the Ukrainian army on September 14, 2014. © AFP

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Shelling killed six people and wounded 15 others in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, the city council said Monday — the worst reported violence since a cease-fire between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian troops took effect on Sept. 5.

Nonetheless, the cease-fire deal has brought some normalcy to parts of eastern Ukraine and allowed prisoners on both sides to go home.

Another 73 Ukrainian soldiers were freed Sunday night in an exchange with the rebels, Col. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, said Monday. Donetsk rebel leader Andrei Purgin was quoted by Interfax news agency as confirming that 73 rebels had been released in return. It was the largest reported prisoner exchange amid the fighting that began in mid-April.

Fighting around Donetsk’s government-held airport has left many northern neighborhoods in the crossfire. Over the weekend, Ukraine said its troops repelled an attack of 200 rebel fighters, but suffered no military casualties.

A Pro-Russian rebels bike arranged with a communist flag, left and Russian motorcycle club A Pro-Russian rebels bike arranged with a communist flag, left and Russian motorcycle club “Night Wolves” flag is driven in a parade in the town of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Some semblance of normality is returning to parts of eastern Ukraine after a cease-fire agreement sealed between Ukrainian government forces and separatist rebels earlier this month, although exchanges of rocket fire remain a constant in some areas. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Two northern neighborhoods in Donetsk were shelled heavily Sunday, leading to the casualties and damaging both homes and offices, the city council said.

While the neighborhoods hit by shelling are under the control of the rebels, the Ukrainian government blamed the militants for the civilian casualties.

“Neither today nor yesterday nor in the previous days did Ukrainian forces shell any residential areas and settlements,” Lysenko said in Kiev on Monday.

Observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, who are overseeing the implementation of the cease-fire, said Sunday they were 200 meters (650 feet) away as four shells burst in Donetsk. The team saw one woman lying on the ground.

A Pro-Russian rebels truck with an anti-aircraft weapon is driven in a parade in the town of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Some semblance of normality is returning to parts of eastern Ukraine after a cease-fire agreement sealed between Ukrainian government forces and separatist rebels earlier this month, although exchanges of rocket fire remain a constant in some areas. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)A Pro-Russian rebels truck with an anti-aircraft weapon is driven in a parade in the town of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Some semblance of normality is returning to parts of eastern Ukraine after a cease-fire agreement sealed between Ukrainian government forces and separatist rebels earlier this month, although exchanges of rocket fire remain a constant in some areas. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

The first civilian casualties in Donetsk underscore how fragile the peace may be. Both sides have made it clear that they are rearming in case the fighting starts anew.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey told Channel Five that the delivery of weapons from NATO countries, agreed upon earlier this month, was “underway.” Those comments were also made by another senior official but later denied by four of the five NATO countries he had mentioned.

On Monday, Poland’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemonia said while Poland is not currently selling arms to Ukraine, an arms deal will be the theme of talks when Heletey visits Warsaw this month. He offered no date for the visit.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine began a month after Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March. It has claimed at least 3,000 civilian lives and forced hundreds of thousands to flee, according to the U.N.

A Pro-Russian rebels truck arranged with a communists flag, left and a flag with an Orthodox style icon depicting Jesus Christ is driven in a parade in the town of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Some semblance of normality is returning to parts of eastern Ukraine after a cease-fire agreement sealed between Ukrainian government forces and separatist rebels earlier this month, although exchanges of rocket fire remain a constant in some areas. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)A Pro-Russian rebels truck arranged with a communists flag, left and a flag with an Orthodox style icon depicting Jesus Christ is driven in a parade in the town of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Some semblance of normality is returning to parts of eastern Ukraine after a cease-fire agreement sealed between Ukrainian government forces and separatist rebels earlier this month, although exchanges of rocket fire remain a constant in some areas. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Associated Press.

Western weapons on way to Ukraine #CeaseFire #Russia #Ukraine


by Voice of America.
A pro-Russian rebel walks by a burnt-out plane at the destroyed airport in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Sept. 14, 2014.A pro-Russian rebel walks by a burnt-out plane at the destroyed airport in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Sept. 14, 2014.

KYIV – Ukraine’s Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said Sunday weapons are on their way to Ukraine from Western countries – which he would not name – to help the country in its fight against Russian-backed rebels. 

The claim came as sporadic fighting continued in eastern Ukraine, despite of a nine-day-old cease-fire.

Heletey said the shipments were agreed to in secret at the NATO summit 10 days ago. He said the new weapons will help Ukraine defend itself against potential Russian missile attacks from across the border.

The minister indicated the shipments include a missile-defense system capable of stopping any rockets launched toward Ukraine in what he called “a matter of seconds.”

Ukraine has accused Russia of launching artillery shells across the border, and of sending troops to support the rebels. Russia denies the charges.

Sporadic fighting

The Ukrainian defense minister’s comment came amid reports of some continuing fighting Sunday in the east, after an intense exchange of fire on Saturday at the airport outside the key rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

Ukrainian government forces control the airport.

Each side has accused the other of numerous violations of the cease-fire, which is supposed to pave the way for negotiations.

Ukraine, Russia and rebel representatives signed the accord on September 5, including a 12-point peace plan. But there are huge differences on what the outcome of the talks should be.

Ukraine wants its sovereignty restored and promises more regional autonomy in the east. Russia and the rebels want the area to be independent, or at least fully autonomous and able to establish strong links with Moscow.

Analysts say Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to be able to destabilize Ukraine any time he decides it is becoming too politically close to Western Europe.

But both sides have reasons to go to the negotiating table.

Negotiations

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he wants to stop the bloodshed, and analysts say he has realized Putin will not allow the separatists to lose on the battlefield.

Russian exile and military expert Igor Sutyagin, now at London’s Royal United Services Institute, said Putin wants to avoid further Western economic sanctions, which are already hurting the Russian economy.

“It was necessary to fix the situation, to force, and Putin openly said that, to force Kyiv to sit at the table and negotiate with the separatists,” he said.

In spite of the violations, the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine has significantly reduced the violence and casualties, and could provide a chance for the leaders to find a way out of the crisis.


Voice of America.

Shells rock east Ukraine city despite cease-fire #Russia #Ukraine #CeaseFire


by The Associated Press.
A picture taken on September 9, 2014 shows a Ukrainian tank destroyed by shelling from pro-Russian militants in the eastern Ukrainian Oblast of Lugansk.A picture taken on September 9, 2014 shows a Ukrainian tank destroyed by shelling from pro-Russian militants in the eastern Ukrainian Oblast of Lugansk. © AFP.

LUHANSK, Ukraine — Months of daily shelling reduced the east Ukraine city of Luhansk to a ghost town, silent but for the explosions.

On Sunday, following a cease-fire agreement signed Sept. 5, residents in the second-largest city held by pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine emerged in a rare show of jubilation that was half celebration, half simply relief at the reprieve in the violence.

The same wasn’t true of the largest rebel stronghold of Donetsk, where fighting around the government-held airport has caught many residential neighborhoods in the crossfire. The city council of Donetsk confirmed in a statement Sunday that there were civilian casualties, but couldn’t specify how many.

Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Volodymyr Polyovyi told journalists that government troops had repelled an attack on the airport by about 200 fighters.

The cease-fire deal has been riddled by violations from the start, and both sides have made it clear that they are regrouping and rearming in case the fighting starts anew.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone late Sunday and “expressed concern about violations of the cease-fire regime,” according to a statement published on the Ukrainian leader’s website.

In Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in March, residents voted for regional parliamentary elections dominated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s backers, although the results weren’t yet available.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey told Channel Five on Saturday that delivery of weapons from NATO countries, agreed upon earlier this month, was “under way.” Another senior official announced the arms deal last week, although four of the five NATO countries he had mentioned denied those claims.

But despite repeated violations of the cease-fire and tough talk on all sides, the peace deal has allowed for a return to some kind of normalcy for cities like Luhansk, as shell-shocked residents emerge from the basements where they have been hiding for weeks and come to grips with the damage incurred by nearly five months of fighting.

Luhansk’s population of about 250,000 people, reduced because of the war, celebrated “city day” on Sunday, which opened on a somber note as priests led hundreds of residents in prayer in commemoration of those killed during a government-mounted siege of the city.

Damage to basic infrastructure left much of the city without power and running water since early August. Around Luhansk, smashed windows, burned-out buildings and craters in the road are testimony to an imprecise, often indiscriminate shelling campaign.

Across the road from the regional military enlistment office, now transformed into the headquarters of a rebel battalion, the roof of a multistory apartment building was caved in from a direct strike. Many such civilian facilities, such as restaurants, gas stations and car showrooms, are now reduced to shattered shells.

After a garbage recycling plant was damaged, trash began piling up on the streets. But while the damage remains, the streets have begun to be cleared away and electricity has returned to some parts of the city as the fragile peace sets in.

Speaking at the open-air service outside the Lady of Sorrows Church, local separatist leader Igor Plotnitsky mourned those who had been killed and in an unusually conciliatory public statement called for forgiveness for those responsible.

A Russian aid convoy carrying mainly food arrived in Luhansk on Saturday, and men in camouflage standing under a scratched-out sign reading “Strong Ukraine” on Sunday were handing out chocolate, drinking water, soap, toilet paper, diapers and other supplies to a large crowd of residents patiently waiting in line. At a nearby table, war veterans were poured complimentary shots of vodka.

As the men in fatigues handed out wares, their guns lay nearby, some propped up against the wall. Their efforts appeared as much an aid initiative as a public relations exercise necessary to prop up local support in a city where the rebel presence has caused such intense misery.

A rebel official, a Muscovite who gave his name only as the nom de guerre Makhra, told The Associated Press the aid was from Russia.

“People have gone hungry here for almost two months. We decided to celebrate city day,” he said. “In a few days, power and water should be turned back on. So people are being given hygiene products so they can properly feed themselves.”

Lilya Miroschenkovo, a 73-year old retiree waiting in line, said she hasn’t received her pension since May and has had to make do since then with her last monthly payment of $85.

“It is a good thing that vegetables were more or less affordable this year,” she said. “Meat, sausages, oil — I have bought nothing like that. It is just vegetables in one soup after another.”

At midday, a group of rebel fighters led a motley convoy made up of Night Wolves biker gang members and several battered military vehicles on a ride through the city. While a Night Wolves truck modified to look like a wolf leading the column blared out cacophonous heavy metal, vans trailing at the back played rousing Soviet-vintage military songs.

The caravan toured the city, and residents came out to wave and cheer. As it reached its final destination by the city hall, itself bearing evident signs of a bomb strike, the convoy was greeted rapturously by a crowd of several thousand people.

As conceded by even one separatist fighter, originally from the Crimean Peninsula, support for the armed rebel movement has been far from universal in Luhansk.

“Many people come to us and ask: ‘When will the war end?'” said the fighter, who identified himself by the nom de guerre Maestro, while sitting atop an armored personnel carrier.

“Our answer is always the same,” he said. “As soon as you get … off the couch, stop swilling beer and go fight instead.”

Laura Mills reported from Kiev.


The New York Times.

Speculation Runs Rife Following Release of Flight #MH17 Report


By Ivan Nechepurenko.
The final report will be published within a year of the crash, meaning Kiev and the rebels — as well as Russia and the West — likely have months to continue spinning the catastrophe in their respective favorsThe final report will be published within a year of the crash, meaning Kiev and the rebels — as well as Russia and the West — likely have months to continue spinning the catastrophe in their respective favors. Marko Djurica / Reuters.

As pro-Russian separatists and official Kiev cobbled together a fragile cease-fire agreement last week, an international team of investigators put the finishing touches on a preliminary report on the downing of MH17. It did little to elucidate the tragic event, which many anticipated would serve as a game-changer in eastern Ukraine.

“A large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from the outside,” caused the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet to break apart high over the battlefields of Donetsk, killing all 298 passengers and crew members inside last July, according to the report.

These findings are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that emerged almost immediately after the crash that the jet was shot down by a missile that detonated before reaching the target and sprayed shrapnel over it.

The report stopped short of placing blame, assigning liability or disclosing evidence that would tip the scales in favor of either side of the ongoing Ukraine conflict.

The investigative team — comprised of representatives from Australia, Malaysia, Ukraine, Russia, Britain, the U.S. and the Netherlands — also made clear that they had not recovered components of the aircraft for forensic examination.

Their conclusions were thus based on photographic evidence and data obtained from flight recorders and air traffic controllers, as well as on personnel, aircraft and meteorological information.

The final report will be published within a year of the crash, meaning Kiev and the rebels — as well as Russia and the West — likely have months to continue spinning the catastrophe in their respective favors.

“Ukraine will say that the report provides evidence of the rebels’ culpability. Russia will say that nothing is clear and that everybody is innocent until proven guilty. All sides will try to use the report to some extent, though not excessively as the whole topic is fading from public interest now,” Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of Russian think-tank the Center for Political Technologies told The Moscow Times.

The Moscow Times interviewed two prominent Moscow-based military analysts, whose diametrically opposed views on the tragic affair attest to the truth in Makarkin’s comment.

Russian ‘Support’

Independent military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer believes that the evidence proffered by the report makes a case for the theory that the rebels downed the plane with technical support from the Russian army.

“Today we know that there were no Ukrainian jets near the airliner, and that it was hit by a surface-to-air missile,” he said in a phone interview.

“Theoretically any kind of anti-aircraft missile could have done this, but in practice only a Buk missile system was in the vicinity,” he said.

The BBC’s Panorama program reported on Monday that a Buk missile launcher was seen near the crash site mere hours before the Malaysian jet was hit. Three so-called “eye witnesses” told the BBC that the system had been operated by Russian nationals. By way of proof, the interviewees claimed the operators had “pure Russian accents.”

Earlier reports also suggested that Buk missile systems were transported in the area at the time of the incident. An unidentified high-ranking rebel told the Associated Press that insurgents were responsible for the crash. According to other reports the plane was downed after being mistaken for a Ukrainian military transport plane.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the crash, and also claimed it had evidence that a Su-25 Ukrainian air force jet had been cruising in proximity to the Malaysian plane.

“This investigation will not be able to yield conclusive results, as the investigators must come to Russia to do an inquiry here too. Russia will deny its involvement, so we will only find out the truth once there is a regime change in Moscow,” Felgenhauer concluded.

A man carrying the remains of his infant son, who was killed in the MH17 crash, in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.A man carrying the remains of his infant son, who was killed in the MH17 crash, in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. Olivia Harris / Reuters.

Lack of Evidence ‘Points to Ukraine’

Offering a perspective that stands in stark contrast to Felgenhauer’s, retired Russian army Colonel Mikhail Khodarenok believes the fact that international investigators have thus far failed to provide conclusive evidence suggests that they have something to hide.

“You can find out what kind of missile was used against a downed plane one day after it was crashed,” the retired colonel told The Moscow Times. During his career, Khodarenok operated S-75 and S-200 air defense systems.

“Each missile type has its own shrapnel imprint. The shrapnel should have been preserved in the elements of the aircraft itself as well as in the bodies of the victims,” he said.

Khodarenok also pointed to the fact that a Buk missile would have hit the aircraft from above, while evidence suggests that it was hit from below. He explained that the missile system operates in such a way where a missile is shot up to great heights, and is designed to hit its target during its descent.

The preliminary report contains images of the fuselage from below the left cockpit window, the cockpit floor, and the cockpit roof, all indicating punctures caused by high-energy objects that penetrated the plane from the outside.

According to Khodarenok, the absence of meaningful clarity in the preliminary report provides the strongest evidence that the jet was not downed by the rebels.

“They do not want to conduct a full and serious investigation, as its results will question the official [Western] version that was declared almost immediately following the crash — that it was all Russia’s doing,” he said.

No Surprises

According to Yevgeny Miasnikov of the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies, the investigation is emblematic of the Ukraine crisis, where splinters of evidence are used to fuel politically motivated speculation.

“What we know is that the airliner was shot down. Everything else lacks substance,” he said in a phone interview.

“The problem is that the public has no access to the evidence,” he said.

(Contact the author at i.nechepurenko@imedia.ru).


The Moscow Times.

Flight #MH17: Wreckage scattered in #Ukraine as inquiry released. #DSB


By PETER LEONARD and MIKE CORDER.
A Pro-Russian rebel looks at pieces of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane near village of Rozsypne, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.A Pro-Russian rebel looks at pieces of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane near village of Rozsypne, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. The Dutch team investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Eastern Ukraine says the crash was likely caused by the plane being hit by multiple “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft.” The preliminary report published Tuesday by the Dutch Safety Board stopped short of saying the Boeing 777 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, but its findings appear to point to that conclusion. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) — A child’s jump rope, its yellow handles blistered and charred. A burned book in Tagalog. Chunks of twisted fuselage. More than seven weeks after being shot from the sky, the wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 still lay strewn Tuesday across the fields of eastern Ukraine.

As evidence of the July 17 aviation disaster that killed all 298 people on board remained exposed to the elements, investigators hundreds of miles away in the Netherlands — who have not yet visited the crash site because it is deemed too dangerous — released a preliminary report that left key questions unanswered.

The plane had no mechanical or other technical problem in the seconds before it broke up in the sky after being struck by multiple “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft,” the report said.

A commemorative wreath is laid at the foot of a cross, near the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane seen outside the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.A commemorative wreath is laid at the foot of a cross, near the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane seen outside the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

There were multiple punctures in the cockpit and front section of the fuselage, it said — damage that could be caused by a missile that detonates in front of its target and peppers it with small chunks of metal. However, investigators did not identify the source of the fragments or say who fired them.

Although the report drew no conclusions about responsibility, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the findings were consistent with “our original assessment, that it was likely shot down by one of these surface-to-air missiles fired from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.”

“I’m unaware of other objects or ways that it could be brought down that are consistent with that finding,” Harf said of the report. “It highlights questions for which Russia must still answer.”

A burned book from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane is seen near village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)A burned book from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane is seen near village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

The slow pace of the inquiry, its cautious preliminary conclusion and the fact that wreckage and human remains are still lying in Ukraine frustrated and angered victims’ families.

“Well, I don’t know what to say about this,” said Samira Calehr, a Dutch mother who lost two sons, 11-year-old Miguel and 19-year-old Shaka, in the crash.

She said that she wants the people responsible for downing the plane brought to justice “as soon as possible,” pausing for emphasis on every word. “I want to know who killed my children.”

Zenaida Ecal, a 53-year-old resident of Pagbilao in the northeastern Philippines who lost her best friend, Irene Gunawan, expressed frustration that the report discloses only what many already knew — that the Malaysian plane came under fire — but fails to identify the perpetrators.

A burned magazine from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane is seen near village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)A burned magazine from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane is seen near village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

“We just want all of the victims to be found, identified and given a proper burial. We want the perpetrators to be identified and punished. As long as these don’t happen, all the families and friends of the victims will continue to suffer,” Ecal said. “It’s taking so long.”

A separate Dutch-led criminal investigation is underway aimed at bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board that is leading the international investigation, acknowledged the preliminary report — mandated by international aviation guidelines — did not shed much new light on the downing of the Boeing 777.

“Perhaps you could say we are a little bit behind, but we are not behind with the truth. We try to make a report that’s for the next of kin — very important — but also for history,” he said.

A stack of preliminary reports by the Dutch Safety Board on the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is displayed at the board's headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)A stack of preliminary reports by the Dutch Safety Board on the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is displayed at the board’s headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)

“I understand a lot of people say, ‘Why don’t they work a little quicker?’ But this will take its time,” he added.

Governments whose citizens died on Flight 17 were left in little doubt about what happened.

“The findings are consistent with the government’s statement that MH17 was shot down by a large surface-to-air missile,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement.

Christopher Yates, an aviation safety specialist at Yates Consulting, told The Associated Press the report “is extremely consistent with damage from a missile for the simple reason there are penetration marks.

“It must have been moving at very high velocity to create the damage,” he said. “It could only be a missile of the type that would reach the altitude that would have struck the aircraft — potentially a BUK missile.”

Pieces of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane are seen near village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)Pieces of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane are seen near village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

The Dutch report came a day after the BBC’s “Panorama” show cited residents who said they saw a BUK M-1 missile being offloaded in a town in eastern Ukraine, near the place seen in photos released by the Ukrainian army that showed a BUK launcher heading east. They said that the crew handling it had Russian accents.

The report added to a growing body of evidence that pro-Russian rebels were involved.

Just three hours before the plane was shot down above rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, the AP reported on the passage of a BUK M-1 missile system — a machine the size of a tank bearing four ground-to-air missiles — through the rebel-held town of Snizhne near the crash site.

Dutch Safety Board Chairman Tjibbe Joustra poses at the board's headquarters in The Hague, after publication of its preliminary report into the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)Dutch Safety Board Chairman Tjibbe Joustra poses at the board’s headquarters in The Hague, after publication of its preliminary report into the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)

A highly placed rebel officer told the AP in an interview after the disaster that the plane was shot down by a mixed team of rebels and Russian military personnel who believed they were targeting a Ukrainian military plane. Intercepted phone conversations between the rebels released by the Ukrainian government support that version of events.

In those tapes, the first rebels to reach the scene can be heard swearing when they see the number of bodies and the insignia of Malaysia Airlines.

Nearly two months later, those insignia and other poignant reminders of the 298 lost lives are still scattered around the crash site.

Samira Calehr said she was disappointed with the pace of progress.

Pieces of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane are seen near village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)Pieces of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane are seen near village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

“I think that if this had happened to citizens of the United States, they would make a faster move than here,” she said. “Because I think — I’m so sorry for saying it like this — I think the Dutch government, they are safe players. They don’t want to have an issue.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the head of a mission to bring back human remains and belongings would travel to Ukraine on Wednesday. But the region is still deemed to unsafe for the Dutch Safety Board staff.

Shelling continued overnight in eastern Ukraine despite a cease-fire, injuring one woman, the city council of Donetsk said.

The council for the rebel-held stronghold said a school and several residential buildings were hit by shelling, imperiling the already shaky cease-fire between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces.

Local resident Viktor stands on shell crater on the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane crash side, near village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)Local resident Viktor stands on shell crater on the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane crash side, near village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Col. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, told journalists Tuesday that five servicemen had been killed and 33 wounded since the cease-fire was declared on Friday.

A Malaysia Airlines miniature plane with a text reading A Malaysia Airlines miniature plane with a text reading “RIP MH17” is displayed at a memorial site for the victims of the MH17 air disaster at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

(Corder reported from The Hague, Netherlands. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Washington, Toby Sterling in Almere, Netherlands, and Jim Gomez in Manila contributed to this report).


Associated Press.