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Donetsk Blog April 4: Dozens of Homes Destroyed - Mass Grave Detected - Civilians Driven to Mine Field

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

This is a new, and, we hope, not long-lived feature on Russia Insider.  Ukraine’s civil war is still very much ongoing.  Both sides are exchanging fire. Civilians and soldiers continue to die on both sides.

DONi was recently founded by a Finnish journalist and Russian businessman whom we know, and we have every reason to believe that their reporting can be relied on as truthful.  More information about the agency follows below this report.

Due to its slow, simmering nature, events in Novorossiya rarely make headlines, so people forget there is a real war going on.

Donetsk, Monday, Apr 04, 16.30 pm. Exclusive to Russia Insider

(Attn readers: this is frequent feature - if you would like to have clarification of facts mentioned here, additional information, more explanation of why certain events are happening, please ask us in the comments section, or email the author at:   [email protected]   This will help us provide you with information you want to have.)

Donbass has survived another hard week. The Ukrainian military shelled the territory of the Republics day and night.

The areas of most intense bombardment were Gorlovka, the second-largest city in the north of the DPR; the northern and western suburbs of Donetsk; and the area of the Yasinovatsky checkpoint, situated between the two cities. Shelling was less intense to the south of Donetsk. Each subsequent bombardment involves heavier weapons, commencing with mortars and then escalating to various forms of heavy artillery.

If the previous week it was Makeevka, a satellite town of Donetsk, which was shelled indiscriminately. This week the northern suburb of Gorlovka received the same treatment, in spite of the DPR army never having been situated there.

On March 31 the Ukrainian military shelled Gorlovka using mortars and artillery. Eight civilians were wounded as a result and more than 30 residential houses destroyed. A children’s playground, a culture center and a boiler house were also destroyed. The next day, representatives of the DPR Defense Ministry,  the OSCE mission, and journalists came to inspect the area. Almost all windows in the nearby houses had been shattered, fallen trees were strewn everywhere, and a number of gas pipes were seriously damaged.

The OSCE observers inspected the shelled area without engaging with the local residents, who were unfriendly to them. Residents instead informed journalists that the shells had been coming from two or three different directions, knowing the Ukrainian positions from which the shelling they were accustomed to emanated. The DPR Defense Ministry stated that the mortar shelling from one of the directions had been carried out as a cover for the artillery shelling. The OSCE representatives documented only the fact of shelling and the approximate direction from which it came.

The Ukrainian military press service stated that the shelling of this suburb of Gorlovka had been carried out by the DPR Army. The next day the same suburb was shelled again.

The Ukrainian military storming units have apparently not stopped attempts to break through the DPR defenses in the north of Donetsk and the area of the Yasinovatsky checkpoint. In spite of the intense artillery preparation beforehand, according to DPR soldiers, all attempts of a breakthrough have been unsuccessful, with both sides suffering losses. The DPR Army report four men dead and five wounded. The exact number of losses of the Ukrainian side remain unknown, as the Ukrainian military press service has made no such mention in their reports. DPR soldiers, however, claim to have found up to 10 Ukrainian soldiers killed and left behind.

One possible explanation for the discrepancy between what the Ukrainian military press service says and what the DPR Army claims is that the Ukrainian side may be burying their dead in mass graves to conceal their losses. A mass grave containing several dozen bodies of Ukrainian soldiers was found yesterday near Debaltsevo, which may suggest that these dead soldiers were buried in such a manner a year ago to conceal Ukrainian losses.

The location of this mass grave lies within the area of the authorities of the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), who ordered the exhumation of the bodies for further identification at the morgue Debaltsevo. The exhumation, however, was interrupted by Ukrainian military shelling. The OSCE observers neither visited the mass grave nor the morgue.

In the LPR sphere of responsibility on the front, hostilities have also increased. LPR Army positions were shelled by Ukrainian artillery on April 2.

The authorities of the Republics talk of provocations carried out by the Ukrainian side on civilians in order to force them to respond. They point in particular to the Ukrainian military, on March 28, opening fire on two civilians crossing the contact line at a checkpoint in Kiev-controlled Stanitsa Luganskaya, where OSCE observers were present nearby.

On March 31 in Kiev-controlled Volnovakha, the Ukrainian military are reported to have shot dead, in broad daylight, three locals who were outraged by the boorish behaviour of Ukrainian soldiers.

On April 1 the Ukrainian side unilaterally opened a checkpoint in the area of Zolotoye in the Lugansk region. Because this checkpoint had not been agreed upon with the LPR, the part of the road in the buffer zone lying between the new checkpoint and the LPR checkpoint had not been checked for mines. Local residents coming from Kiev-controlled territory to the LPR were allowed to cross the contact line only at the new checkpoint, which placed the lives of several dozen people in danger.

For several months now Kiev has been observed delivering heavy weapons to the front line. Lately their number has even increased. According to the DPR intelligence, self-propelled artillery systems, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armoured personnel carriers, “Grad” MLRS, and anti-tank systems are now delivered to the front in the dozens, with ammunition delivered by trains and trucks (see below pictures of weapons mentioned). Yesterday the DPR intelligence sources on the ground provided a video of a train carrying tanks, self-propelled artillery systems and "Grad" MLRS via Kiev-controlled Slavyansk towards Donetsk.

Kiev, it can be observed, is already using all weapons previously delivered to the front to shell towns and villages of the Republics, including armoured vehicles withdrawn from the designated sites of storage. The sharp increase in the amount of weapons delivered to Donbass, the constant delivery of the new Ukrainian military units there, together with the growing intensity of shelling, leaves little doubt that Kiev is determined to resolve the conflict in the Donbas not through negotiation but through force.

Information on weapons mentioned in this article

Image icon maxresdefault.jpg
A mortar is a tube-like cannon which fires a projectile which explodes upon impact. They have ranges of up to 3 miles
Image icon sau.jpg
A 122mm motorised artillery system “Gvozdika”
Image icon 2s3-akatsiya-sajjiouau-03.jpg
A 152mm motorised artillery system “Akatsia”
Image icon bmp-2.11609.jpg
An infantry fighting vehicle
Image icon aacb513e1bac893dede07d5236a91a3e.jpg
An armoured personnel carrier
Image icon ural-43202.jpg
An Ural truck
Image icon kamaz-6350op.jpg
A KamAZ truck
Image icon 3dabd2b705eed6fd729b5f5f546623881423204606.jpg
An 100mm anti-tank cannon “Rapira”
Image icon 1424187184_6.jpg
A MLRS “Grad”


The Donetsk International News Agency is a private, non-profit information agency located in the center of the city of Donetsk. It is headed by Finnish journalist, Janus Putkonen and has 10 full time journalists on staff. Approximately half of them are natives of Western European countries. Its website is:



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