The following are two reports on the situation in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, including the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. They are published in ‘Novorossiya Vision’ on August 6 and 9, 2016.
Assassination attempt on LPR head; More evidence of Ukraine’s terror against residents of Donbass; Armed provocation on border with Crimea
By the end of the past week, there was a lasting impression that Kiev had finally moved to a policy of terror against its own population, and not only in Donbass.
The Ukrainian troops continued to bombard the peaceful population. According to the DPR Defense Ministry, over the past week, the Ukrainian army opened fire on the territory of the Republic about 4,000 times, of which about 3,000 rounds were made from 122 and 152mm heavy weapons.
Especially intense was the shelling from the Ukrainian side of Donetsk and of Gorlovka, which is the largest city in the north of the Republic.
Two days ago, residents of the northern, western and southern outskirts of the DPR capital reported in social networks on the incessant volleys of heavy artillery from the Ukrainian positions, which were heard until the morning.
According to yet unconfirmed information, yesterday the Ukrainian military shelled the outskirts of Gorlovka with MLRS ‘Grad’ rockets for the first time since signing the ‘Minsk-2’ agreement a year and a half ago.
The DPR military authorities reported that as a result of the shelling, three soldiers of the DPR army were killed and another two wounded. Among the civilians, the casualties amounted to two people dead and 12 wounded by shrapnel.
According to the local authorities, the attacks also led to the destruction or significant damage of 68 houses. In addition, a penal colony located to the south of Donetsk was damaged by shelling yesterday, with two prisoners injured.
At the same time, Kiev continues to strengthen its group with weapons and personnel in all three directions of the front. According to the DPR intelligence, tanks, 122 and 152mm howitzers, motorized artillery systems and MLRS (‘Grad’ multimple launch rocket systems) are being delivered to the Ukrainian units on the forefront in dozens. In addition, over the past week at the Donetsk segment of the front arrived about 200 radicals of the «Right Sector».
The observers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperaton in Europe (OSCE) mission also noted in their weekly report the absence of 60 tanks, 50 152mm howitzers, 24 122mm motorized artillery systems, 17 100mm anti-tank cannons and over 10 Grad MLRS at sites of Ukrainian weapons storage.
Residents of Mariupol, the largest Kiev-controlled city in the south of Donbass, informed that on the outskirts of the city, the Ukrainian military were hastily building new defenses. The local residents were surprised by the fact that these defenses were not located in the direction of the DPR but that of Ukraine. It appears that Kiev does not intend to defend the city in case of a counter-offensive of the DPR army, but seeks only to prevent its further advance after the liberation of Mariupol.
In the Lugansk segment of the front, the international observers documented the absence of 27 Ukrainian tanks, 14 152mm howitzers and 10 Grads from their storage areas. The LPR intelligence reported the arrival at Ukrainian position sof 45 tanks, 10 MLRS «Grad» and about 50 Chechen mercenaries.
In addition, LPR intelligence sources on the ground informed that the Ukrainian military were mining banks of the Seversky Donets River, which forms the contact line, and continued to seize areas of the buffer zone.
In one of the Kiev-controlled Kiev localities of the Lugansk region, the Ukrainian military seized a local clinic. Locals, who are now banned from entering it, explain this by increases in the number of non-combat losses in units of the Ukrainian army.
However, on the whole, the situation in the Lugansk segment of the front was all this time considerably calmer than in the Donetsk Republic. According to the LPR People’s Militia, over the past week, the Ukrainian side opened fire on the territory of the Republic about 900 times, including about 100 rounds from the heavy artillery.
In particular, at the beginning of the past week, the town of Stakhanov was shelled with the 152mm artillery, which resulted in four civilians wounded and 23 houses seriously damaged.
The OSCE observers documented the consequences of the bombardment and, on the following day, went to inspect a unit of the AFU 152mm artillery, which had allegedly shelled the town. However, on the outskirts of the artillery battery territory, they were stopped by the Ukrainian military who, threatening them with firearms, forced them to go back.
The relative calm in the LPR ended on August 6, when an attempt was made on the Igor Plotnitsky, head of the Republic. On the route of his vehicle, there was set a bomb which was remotely exploded when his car was passing by. The explosion was so powerful that the blast and shrapnel shattered windows in nearby houses and damaged the facade of one of them. The car was not burned, but badly mangled. The head of the Republic survived, but is still in hospital.
It is noteworthy that on the same day, the head of the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) officially confirmed the information about the assassination attempt on the leader of the LPR, received, according to him, ‘from sealed sources’.
At the same time, according to preliminary data of the investigation held in the LPR, the bomb was handmade. It is not excluded that the Kiev authorities unleash terror in the Republics by the hands of radical nationalists who have repeatedly, on the air of Ukrainian television, spoken about the need and their willingness to carry out terrorist attacks on the territory uncontrolled by Ukraine.
Over the past year and a half, in Donbass, four prominent military leaders of the LPR were killed. Several attempts have been made on the speaker of the DPR Parliament and the head of the Donetsk Republic.
Moreover, the radical nationalists openly admit that they are waging the war in Donbass only against men who have taken up arms but also against women, children and the elderly. They call tortures, rapes and murders of civilians in the Kiev-controlled areas, for which they are now on trial in Kiev the struggle against the ‘separatism virus’.
Due to resistance of the people of Donbass, Kiev failed to launch a blitzkrieg. Now, with every passing day of the Republics’ defense, the information about what is really happening in eastern Ukraine is becoming increasingly common in the world.
Last week, the head of the UN monitoring mission on human rights in Ukraine arrived in Donetsk . She visited places where Ukrainian prisoners of war are held and had an opportunity to talk with them personally. After her inspection, she said that she did not have any claims to the conditions of their detention.
At the same time, a delegation of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Ukraine was not allowed in places of political prisoners detention, after which it left the country in protest.
Last month, international observers from Germany, Finland and Serbia came to monitor the opening of the election primaries in the DPR. After spending several days in Donetsk, they made an official statement about having heard the nightly bombardments of the city from the Ukrainian side and seen their devastating effects.
Some time ago, the Ukrainian website of “enemies of the country” ‘Mirotvorets’ (Peacemaker) published personal data of journalists, including Western reporters, who had received accreditations for work in the DPR. The publication caused a negative reaction in the world.
Last week, the website of the Ministry of Information DNI was hacked again, and a new list of journalists working in the DPR was published, however, in a less known resource.
At the same time, Kiev continues to lay the blame for its own provocation on the Republics.
After the shelling of the town of Stakhanov in the LPR, in spite of the documentary evidence by the OSCE observers, the official Ukrainian media announced that the town had been shelled by the LPR People’s Militia.
Two weeks ago, the DPR army repelled 10 attacks of Ukrainian subversive groups, and a week later, the press service of the ATO staff made a statement about the revitalization of sabotage and reconnaissance activities on the part of the Republic.
Ukraine daily delivers to the frontline weapons and equipment in dozens, and on 5 August, the Secretary of the NSDC (National Security and Defense Council) of Ukraine said that, in case of aggravation of the situation in Donbass, another wave of mobilization [conscription] would be announced in the country.
On the same day, the Head of the DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko announced that if Kiev resumed the full-scale hostilities, the army of the Republics would move to an offensive which would not be followed by a ‘Minsk-3’.
The next night, a Ukrainian subversive group crossed the border between Ukraine and the Crimea, which was followed by a firefight between the group and Russian border guards, with one of them killed and several wounded. A part of the group is still at large.
These situation reports from Donetsk and Lugansk are a regular feature by author Irina Burya published in ‘Novorossiya Vision‘. For clarifications of facts, additional information or further explanations of events, you can write to: [email protected].
Less complete but nonetheless informative reports are published daily by the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), here.
Detailed information in French language on the situations in Donetsk and Lugansk is available here.
Ukrainian deserters kill their commanders – Kyiv encourages financial attacks; DPR warns that hostilities could resume
Situation report by Irina Burya, Novorossiya Vision, August 6, 2016
In July 2016, Alexander Turchynov, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine, announced the possibility of imposition of martial law in the country on August 1st. It was not the first time that such a threat was sounded’ Like the previous ones, it remained unrealized. However, Kiev continued to increase the intensity of the attacks on the territory of the Republic, which grew dramatically at the end of the past week, after the completion of the Contact Group negotiations in Minsk.
During the night of July 31 to August 1, the Ukrainian military opened heavy fire on Yasinovataya, situated between Donetsk and Gorlovka, and on the north-western outskirts of Donetsk. According to the DPR Defense Ministry, the fire on localities of the Republic was opened more than 800 times, with over 100 rounds from the 122 and 152mm artillery.
The local authorities reported that 14 houses had been damaged by artillery fire. In Yasinovataya one of the shells hit the yard of a house, with one civilian killed and another wounded in the explosion and subsequent fire. There were also wounded two DPR soldiers.
After the shelling, according to the DPR soldiers, cannons started to explode on the positions of the Ukrainian howitzer battery responsible for the attack.
According to the DPR Defense Ministry, all the days that followed, the intensity of attacks on the Ukrainian side ranged from 500 to 900 rounds per day, with a quarter of them made from heavy artillery. The all three directions were under attack: Gorlovka in the north of the Republic, Donetsk in the center and Dokuchaevsk in the south of the DPR.
As a result of the bombardments, four civilians were wounded, two of them in Donetsk.
The bombardments also caused the further destruction of residential areas and infrastructure. The local authorities reported that, from 1 to 4 August, 2016, 36 residential houses were damaged in the DPR frontline localities. There were also damaged power lines on the western outskirts of Donetsk and at the Donetsk filter plant, resulting about 900 homes left without electricity in one of the city districts, and the water supply stopped in another two districts, as well as in Yasinovataya and Kiev-controlled Avdeevka.
The DPR army, according to the command, lost two soldiers killed during the first four days of August.
In July 2016, the official losses of the DPR army amounted to 11 soldiers killed and 21 wounded. Among civilians, the Republic lost one person killed and 25 wounded.
The official losses of the Ukrainian army in July, according to the press service of the ATO Staff, totaled 40 men killed and 182 wounded. At the same time, the Ukrainian public organization ‘Sisters of Mercy’ reported that in July, one hospital in Kharkov alone received over 300 wounded.
Kiev has already openly admitted that a significant part of Ukrainian losses are non-combat. According to the DPR intelligence, in the last four days alone, the Ukrainian army lost two soldiers dead and three wounded in the front segment to the west of Donetsk, due to the detonation of a 120mm mortar shel, caused by violation of safety requirements. In addition, due to an error in the spotting of the fire, one of the Ukrainian Army units shelled another, with the latter having lost over 20 men killed and wounded.
In addition, the DPR intelligence sources on the ground reported that due to the overcrowding of the Ukrainian military in the Donetsk segment of the front, there occurred an outbreak of dysentery. In the past three days, over 50 soldiers were sent to nearby hospitals. Apparently, the situation with the epidemic is worsening,because the AFU command have sent epidemiologists to the Donetsk segment of the front.
As a result, the number of deserters in the Ukrainian army has recently increased dramatically. The DPR intelligence reported that, in the first three days of August, 10 Ukrainian soldiers left their positions on the front line, taking their weapons with them. Another three, when officers tried to stop them, killed one of them and wounded another.
From the LPR also come reports about the deterioration of the situation on the contact line, which was hitherto considerably calmer than in the DPR. Soldiers of the Republican army attribute this fact to the replacement of the AFU units on the front line with nationalist battalions. As a result, there were dramatic increases to the number of attacks on the territory of the Republic, during which the Ukrainian side again began to use infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft systems, as well as heavy artillery.
In particular, during the night of August 1 to 2, the LPR near front town of Stakhanov was shelled with 152mm artillery. According to witnesses, one of the shells hit the courtyard of a residential house, which resulted in three civilians wounded. The condition of one of them is still assessed by doctors as severe.
In addition, soldiers of the LPR army reported constant provocation from the Ukrainian military. In particular, the Ukrainian subversive groups enter the LPR territory and hang there flags of Ukraine and the ‘Right Sector’. These actions may aim at luring the LPR soldiers out, in order to open sniper fire on them while they are removing the flags, or at creating scenery for the Kiev media reporting the next ‘liberated piece of Ukrainian land’.
Meanwhile, the LPR soldiers firmly declared that any attempts of the Ukrainian military to seize parts of the “grey” zone are decidedly repressed.
Soldiers of the Republican armies have repeatedly pointed out that, during the shelling, the target of the Ukrainian side is much more likely to be residential areas of Donbass than their position. The same policy of terror is applied by Kiev to both areas controlled by its army and entry and exit checkpoints on the contact line.
Local residents report that at checkpoints, which are closed at nightfall, the Ukrainian military force them to spend the night in the buffer zone, not letting them pass to Ukraine and, at the same time, forbidding them to come back for the night to the territory of the Republics. At night, the Ukrainian side starts shelling the LPR, hiding behind civilians as a living shield. Last week, a woman received shrapnel wounds at one of these checkpoints in the Gorlovka area.
Residents of one of the front-line villages in the Lugansk region inform that they try not to go out after 3 pm, especially after the AFU military were replaced with volunteer battalions. Nationalists, usually drunk, stop people in the streets, ask them provocative questions and can beat a person looking at them ‘without due respect’.
Two days ago, the OSCE monitoring mission stated that their employees going for an inspection in one of the AFU units had been stopped by drunken Ukrainian military. Threatening the international observers with weapons, the Ukrainians forbade them to travel further and forced them to go back.
Massive attacks by the Ukrainian army on the DPR localities at the end of July 2016 caused such extensive destruction that the OSCE mission demanded in its report an investigation and punishment for those responsible. The investigation revealed that the AFU commanders on the front line are entitled to personally make the decision to open fire according to the situation. At the same time, in those days when the Ukrainian military come under return fire, Kiev pays them combat bonus to salary.
At the same time, at the negotiations in Minsk, the sides failed to agree on the issue of weapons withdrawal from the contact line for the distance defined in the Minsk Agreements, as the Ukrainian side claimed not to have sufficient authority.
Moreover, Kiev still continues to deliver to the front line weapons and equipment. According to the DPR intelligence, in just the past three days, the Ukrainian units in the Donetsk and Gorlovka directions received up to 20 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, 6 152mm motorized artillery systems “Akatsia”, 5 122mm howitzers D-30, 15 tanks and about 20 120mm mortars.
Two days ago, the Ukrainian military authorities reported that NATO countries had provided Ukraine with EUR 1 million worth demining equipment as logistical support under the program “Science for Peace and Security».
After the fruitless negotiations in Minsk, Denis Pushilin, the DPR representative in the Contact Group, made an official statement, which says that if at least the first three points of the Minsk Agreements, namely, complete cease-fire, the withdrawal of weapons and the OSCE supervision of it, are not implemented, the hostilities will resume in Donbass through the fault of Kiev.
The same day, the head of the press service of the General Staff of Armed Forces of Ukraine announced that the General Staff already has an ‘adequate response plan’ to react to ‘an attack aiming at expanding the territory’, the preparation of which in the Republics the head of the Defense Ministry intelligence of Ukraine had announced earlier.