The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine has spotted a military column entering the Ukrainian city of Luhansk which is currenly under control of Russian-backed separatists.
As reported earlier, an armored personnel carrier and a group of armed men without insignia, some are equipped with hand grenade launchers, took positions outside the headquarters of the former Ministry of Internal Affairs in downtown Luhansk. Later, TV, radio and mobile communications were shut off.
The patrol observed a convoy of vehicles consisting of at least six military style trucks, two APCs, a mounted ZU-23 and over 20 civilian cars without registration plates with at least 50 armed men on the road near Debaltseve (Donetsk region). A similar convoy, likely the same was observed later by a different SMM patrol in Vesela Tarasivka (15km west of Luhansk) moving in the direction of Luhansk city, the SMM statement reads.
Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic, fled to Russia after armed men appeared in the city on Tuesday.
Igor Kornet, the ‘interior minister’ of the unrecognised republic, who had been fired a day before, reportedly squared off against Plotnitsky. Later, however, Kornet denied the reports on his resignation and any internal conflict and stated that overnight into Tuesday they prevented a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group from entering the territory of Luhansk region.
“According to my sources, the leader of Luhansk terrorists Igor Plotnitsky has fled to Russia. Spiders in the jar continue to eat each other,” Artem Shevchenko, a representative of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, said on Facebook.
He also recalled that in January 2017 Plotnitsky’s predecessor Valery Bolotov passed away in Moscow – allegedly of a heart attack. However, according to Bolotov’s wife , he died after drinking a cup of coffee at a ‘business meeting’.