Kiev had chipped away at the rebels' territory, then screamed "Russian aggression" as they tried to take it back
At the same time however, it is public knowledge in Ukraine that for weeks before Kiev's forces had been steadily pushing forward using special infiltration tactics.
And why wouldn't it be? Naturally the government and military would be eager to advertise their activities and gainst to their domestic audience -- even as they call on their foreign backers to stick the blame for the unfreezing of the conflict on Moscow.
Take for example the reporting of the popular local news portal the Ukrainian Pravda:
Escalation in Avdiyivka Sunday January 29 began after the collision of ATO's ['Anti-Terrorist Operation'] reconnaissance and sabotage unit with the militants.
This was revealed to Ukrainian Pravda by the source in the intelligence structures familiar with the situation.
The source said the fighters of the intelligence garthering unit encountered DPR militants nearby.
"The battle began. Militants requested artillery support. Therefore, to save soldiers, Commander (23-year-old captain, deputy commander of a mechanized battalion of the Cornel Andrew Ombre 72 -red.) was forced to lead men forward and play a role as fighters," said the UP source.
According to the UP source the militants are now trying to regain from ATO a strategic position (the position of the militants called "Diamond 2" - Ed.), since it fully controlls the roads Donetsk, Lugansk and Donetsk, Gorlovka.
As most everyone in Ukraine knows the current battle around the town of Avdiyeevka begun when Ukraine took over the strategically impotant "Diamond 2" section of the rebels' defenses. (You can see the editor inserted the name -- he already knew exactly which strategic position the source was talking about.)
The intelligence officer Ukrainian Pravda talked to spun a particularly movie-worthy tale but he ends up confirming this basic fact. Supposedly Ukrainian commandos were sneaking around doing reconissance when they were suprised to "encounter" said rebels in their front line trenches and a firefight broke out.
So to save the commandos the Ukrainians were forced to send in a mechanized unit, and then 'accidentally' ended up with a prime peace of front line real-estate.
Whether you belive the Ukrainian gain was an accident - the result of a reconisance mission gone bad - or not the fact remains that in Avdiyevka the Ukrainian side had chipped away at some of the rebels' territory first.
Heck even The New York Times reported as much (albeit carefully burried deep inside the article):
The fighting intensified during a battle for control of a military position on the edge of Avdiivka called Almaz-2, or Diamond-2, which had been under rebel occupation.