Armed Forces

Donbass Crisis Intensifies. Russian Media Accuse Ukraine In A Preparation for An Offensive?

The warfare in the Eastern part of Ukraine is more and more intense. The number of the victims and the wounded is also on the rise.

Only on Friday, 1 civilian and 1 Ukrainian soldier were killed, while 10 others were wounded. It is a result of the increased offensive activities, carried out by the Russians/Separatists, who are using the equipment banned by the Minsk memorandum, including the Grad rocket launchers and tanks..

During the same period – i.e. on 1st and 2nd May, 60 strikes against the Ukrainian Army were reported, including shelling with the use of 82 and 120 mm mortars, 122 mm howitzers and the Grad system. The main targets attacked by the separatists include the Ukrainian forces in the areas of Donetsk and Shyrokine.

On the 1st and 2nd day of May Shyrokine was shelled almost constantly, without any pauses. Such information comes from the soldiers who are stationed along the demarcation line. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, it was at midnight of 2nd May, when Russian-Separatist reconnaissance and sabotage groups attacked the Ukrainian soldiers near the town of Maryinka (the Donetsk district). The enemy used grenade launchers and machine gun. A 59-year old civilian citizen of Ukraine was killed during that incident.

During the same period, the Russian media began a propaganda offensive, in which the Ukrainians are being accused of escalating the tension and intensifying the shelling, particularly in the Donetsk area. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims, in its official release issued on 3rd May, that the “Ukrainians shelled the Donetsk area with heavy artillery”. The Russian media, quoting the “separatist sources” claim that the Ukrainian Armed Forces shelled the area with the use of 155 mm artillery, which is “a calibre used solely by the NATO member states.” Earlier, on 1st May, some information had also been released, referring to “another series of Ukrainian offensive operations”. The Ukrainian media claim that such releases, published by the Russian media outlets, constitute a preparation of grounds for yet another offensive operation,  and that they may become a legitimization of termination of the cease-fire memorandum. The Russian-Separatist forces have not been acting in line with that memorandum anyway.

The Kiev’s stance and the orders for the Ukrainian soldiers remain unchanged. Fire back only if the enemy is attacking you in an intensive manner, or if the attack constitutes a danger for the Ukrainian civilians or the soldiers. Ukrainian ambassador in Austria, Olexandr Shcherba commented the above on 3rd May via his official twitter account: “Whoever conducted tonight's shelling of #Donetsk - neither acted in the interest of #Ukraine nor on Ukraine's command.”. 

What is more, on 3rd May, i.e. Sunday, number of the “militia” attacks was increased even more. The press office of the Ukrainian Counter-Terrorism Operation notes that a similar level was attained before the Minsk Memorandum entered force.  122 mm artillery was used five times near Avdiyivka, three times near the town of Wodyane and once at pother locations, including: Opytne, Shyrokine and Kamyanka. What is more, the shelling also involved 120 mm mortars, 5 times in the Pisky area and 3 times near the town of Avdiyivka. In case of the latter location, tanks were also used. Yesterday, at midnight the separatists have also employed 152 mm artillery, attacking the Ukrainian army near Novobakhmutovka. Also at midnight a 10-person team attacked the Ukrainians near Novoselivka. Finally, yesterday, around 4 PM, near the town of Katerynivka (Luhansk disstrict) a Ukrainian APC was destroyed by a mine. The explosion killed 2 Ukrainian soldiers, additional three of them are wounded.

Yesterday it was said that once the OSCE observers left the Shyrokine area, an intensive shelling with 122 mm and 152 mm artillery and 120 mm mortars has started. The shots were heard far away, in the city of Mariupol. Additionally anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, and grenade launchers were used, and, what is more, the snipers of the separatist forced are becoming more and more active. Despite the increased level of threat, the Ukrainian command states that it has no will of leaving the city. No information regarding the killed or the wounded has been released yet, however, we do know that there are some victims. According to Kyiv Post, starting from 12th February, when a memorandum regarding the ceasefire was signed in Minsk, more than 100 Ukrainian soldiers were killed during the operations.