Ukraine’s civil war is still very much ongoing. Both sides are exchanging fire. Civilians and soldiers continue to die on both sides.
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Due to its slow, simmering nature, events in Novorossiya rarely make headlines, so people forget there is a real war going on.
Donetsk, Friday, July 18, 16.30 pm. Exclusive to Russia Insider
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Over the past week, the intensity of Ukrainian shelling of the territory of the Republics has not decreased. Kiev mostly used mortars, grenade launchers, infantry fighting vehicles, and small arms, but the number of strikes with heavy artillery has been growing with each passing day.
According to the DPR Defense Ministry, over the week the Ukrainian military fired about three thousand projectiles on the territory of the Republic, about two-thirds of which were made with heavy weapons. The Ukrainian side attacked in three main directions: in the area of Gorlovka in the north, Donetsk in the center, and Mariupol in the south. Near Gorlovka DPR soldiers positioned there regularly reported of tank attacks from the Ukrainian positions.
According to the authorities of the Republic, as a result of the bombardments, three DPR soldiers were killed and another three wounded. Among civilians, one person was killed and 14 received wounds of varying severity, including a 15-year-old boy and two elderly women. The attacks by the Ukrainian side also caused the complete destruction of 19 homes and another 184 were partially damaged.
However, the DPR military authorities note that the main feature of the past week was the intensification of provocations by Kiev. Over two nights last week, the Ukrainian military conducted five attempts to break through DPR military defenses, or possibly as reconnaissance operations. All the attacks were successfully repelled by the DPR soldiers, with the Ukrainian side losing about 20 men killed and five wounded.
Having failed in advancing deep into the "grey" area, the Ukrainian military turned to the tactics of daily attacks on civilian localities situated there. The territory of one of them, to the north of Gorlovka, with destroyed houses and numerous craters, is reminiscent of the immediate aftermath of a field of a battle, with its residents saying without doubt that those shells came from the Ukrainian side.
In the Yasinovataya area, located between Donetsk and Gorlovka, in the strategic direction if one wants to cut off the north of the center, infantry fighting and mortar bombing have long been ocurring around the clock. On July 15, at the DPR army positions in this sector, Alexander Zakharchenko, the Head of the Republic, arrived to personally inspect the observance of the Minsk Agreements regarding the ceasefire.
Immediately after the arrival of the DPR leader, the Ukrainian side opened fire on the positions of the Republican army from heavy artillery. The witnesses counted 18 shells launched from 122mm D-30 howitzers and 120mm mortars. This bombardment ended with no casualties, but it occurred a few days after the President Poroshenko of Ukraine had declared from a European rostrum that Ukraine had fulfilled 95% of the Minsk Agreements terms.
Yesterday, Kiev again bombarded with mortars the northern outskirts of Gorlovka, where, as a result of direct hits, three houses caught fire. Firefighters who arrived could not extinguish the flames because of the tight sniper fire from the Ukrainian positions.
Seeking to provoke at all costs return fire from the Republics, the Ukrainian army shells the position of the army, civilian homes and infrastructure. In the middle of the past week, during a severe bombardment of Donetsk, some Ukrainian units focused their fire on an Orthodox church and a cemetery next to it.
In addition, DPR intelligence reports that Kiev is planning a large-scale provocation on the buried chemical waste located next to the Ukrainian-controlled Dzerzhinsk. In the case of hitting it, as the Ukrainian side has repeatedly done to their own units, accusing the DPR army of the attack, toxic waste will enter the Seversky Donets River, which will carry it all over Donbass. One can only hope that making these plans public might prevent an environmental disaster on the territory of not only Ukraine but also that of neighboring countries.
Information about constant provocations on the part of Kiev also comes from the Lugansk People's Republic. On July 15, the Ukrainian military once again shelled the only crossing point in the LPR on the contact line, which resulted in a civilian and a LPR soldier wounded. According to the authorities of the Republic, at the time of the shelling, on the Ukrainian positions were Nadezhda Savchenko, amnestied in Russia, and the former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yatsenyuk.
The LPR Intelligence also reports that in the same area, a Strela-10 anti-aircraft missile system, located on the Ukrainian positions, is deployed facing the direction of Russia.
The Kiev authorities definitely feel that time is working against them. A few days ago, one of the capital's political scientists announced that in Donbass a new identity of the Republics is is developing, one that has nothing to do with Ukraine and might result in a few years to Donbass being lost to Kiev forever.
Three days ago in Mariupol, the largest industrial center in the south of Donbass seized by Kiev in May 2014, the local pro-Kiev authorities announced the formation of a militia which will be led by the former head of the local prison.
Two days ago, the head of the National Police of Ukraine in the Donetsk region said that the local authorities of the Kiev-controlled Dzerzhinsk are preparing the town "to meet the rebels and join the DPR".
The Prime Minister of Canada announced that his country would not prolong the work of the training mission in Ukraine after March 2017, in spite of Poroshenko’s personal request to do so.
The "Samopomosch" ("Self-help") political party, representing western Ukraine, stated in Parliament that the powers of the Commander-in-chief should be transferred from President Poroshenko to Andriy Parubiy, the speaker of the Parliament, who during Maidan had been the leader of its radicals, specfically those who opened fire on their own comrades later lionized as the "Heavenly Hundred".
Kiev has no intention of resolving the conflict in the Donbass peacefully. Speaker Parubiy said yesterday that not a single bill on local elections on the territories beyond Kiev’s control had been submitted to the Parliament, despite the fact that such a bill was to have been presented for approval to the Republics at the Contact Group meeting held in Minsk last week.
At the same time Kiev continues to deliver to the front line heavy weapons, radical nationalists, and foreign mercenaries.
According to local residents, to the Gorlovka area Kiev delivered a battalion of Tatar radicals, while in Mariupol about 100 nationalists of the Right Sector Ukrainian Volunteer Corps arrived. A Ukrainian soldier who came over to the LPR side spoke about hundreds of mercenaries in the Ukrainian army in the Lugansk sector of the front, most of them Poles and some of themm wearing stripes with Arabic inscriptions.
According to DPR intelligence reports, over the past week the Ukrainian army in Donbass received 122 and 152mm howitzers and self-propelled artillery systems, 85 and 100mm cannon artillery, 122 and 220mm MLRS's, as well as 15 trucks containing ammunition. LPR intelligence reported of the arrival to the contact line of a Ukrainian train with carrying Grad rockets (see below pictures of weapons mentioned).
The OSCE observers documented once again the absence of heavy arms and equipment at the Ukrainian weapons storage sites, including 10 MLRS's, nine tanks, 69 howitzers, and 10 units of cannon artillery.
The permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE also said that Kiev is delivering to the front line heavy equipment and weapons, including tanks and Tochka-U missiles.
Information on weapons mentioned in this article
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: www.dninews.com
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