By Irina Burya, Donetsk International News Agency, March 11, 2016, exclusive to Russia Insider
Checkpoint at Yasinovatsky attacked by troops tanks; city of Gorlovka shelled; Right Sector paramilitaries arrive at front lines
The situation on the frontline is steadily deteriorating. The DPR Defense Ministry reported that Kiev had made another attempt to seize the Yasinovatsky checkpoint, situated between Donetsk and Gorlovka, with the attacking group reinforced with tanks and armored vehicles. The attack failed, but both sides suffered serious casualties. The medical staff of Donetsk hospitals stated that they had received up to two dozen DPR soldiers with shrapnel and bullet wounds. According to a radio intercept, the Ukrainian forces left behind a number of dead soldiers upon retreating.
The international observers tried to intervene and stop the attack. According to the Russian representatives of the Joint Centre for Control and Cooperation (JCCC), they personally called the Ukrainian general in charge of troops in this sector with a demand to cease fire. They received the answer that fire would cease upon the DPR giving up the town of Yasinovataya, an important railway junction between Donetsk and Gorlovka. The Ukrainian commander’s reaction made it clear that the attack had not been a spontaneous skirmish carried out by unruly radicals but a conscious violation of the Minsk Agreement.
Moreover, the OSCE mission could not get to the checkpoint after the first attack. According to their representatives, they were prevented by intense sniper fire from inspecting the results of the clash. The DPR Defense Ministry noted that the Ukrainian snipers’ activity increased upon the approach of the OSCE observers, in spite of their vehicles being clearly marked. It looks like Kiev did not want the OSCE to document the Ukrainian military’s attack as well as their use of heavy weapons, including, according to the Ministry, 40 mortar bombs landing in the area of the checkpoint, 20 of them of the heavy 120mm caliber.
This conjecture is supported by information from the LPR Defense Ministry reporting that the Ukrainian military in the Lugansk region opened fire on the OSCE drones carrying out inspection flights over the contact line.
However, it also cannot be excluded that the Ukrainian authorities were making an attempt on the lives of the international observers, with the intention of blaming the DPR and having that correspond with the explanation given by Kiev of the clash. According to the Ukrainian mainstream media, a group of several dozen DPR soldiers wearing Ukrainian uniforms crossed the frontline and engaged in a provocation, opening fire at their own positions. It is not clear, however, how such a large subversive group, accompanied by armored vehicles, could penetrate unnoticed into Kiev-controlled territory and why the Ukrainian military authorities did not react to an attack unauthorized by them.
After the failed attack at the Yasinovatsky checkpoint, the Ukrainian military attempted another breakthrough at night in the area of the airport in the north of Donetsk. According to the DPR Defense Ministry, Kiev used heavy artillery in this attack. DONi reporters personally heard these shells throughout much of the night. This attack, however, may have been a diversion to draw DPR forces away from the strategically important Yasinovataya, the seizure of which would cut off the capital from Gorlovka, the second biggest city of the DPR.
(Credibility – DONi closely follows the reports of the governments of the DPR and their Ukrainian counterparts and secures independent confirmation when possible. In our experience, the DPR’s claims are correct approximately 95% of the time, whereas official Ukrainian reports are almost never correct, and for all appearances, deliberately so.)
At the same time, the Ukrainian side intensified shelling of Gorlovka from the north. According to residents of the northern suburbs of the city, they have recently started to again spend nights in basements, something they have not had to do since the battle at Debaltsevo the previous winter. It seems like Kiev plans an offensive at Gorlovka, from both the north and the south, in order to conduct a siege of the city and seize the northern part of the DPR.
Shelling never stops along the entire frontline. The DPR Defense Ministry reports that over the past two days there have been 607 incidents of shelling, including 408 yesterday, with 207 bombs from 82mm and 120mm mortars, 15 shells from tanks, and 132 rounds from infantry fighting vehicles. According to local authorities, one residential house was totally destroyed and 13 were damaged as a result of the shelling, two civilians were wounded, and a woman who was injured by a land mine later died in hospital.
The DPR returned fire. According to the Ukrainian military press service, over the past day the Ukrainian positions were fired upon 49 times, mostly from mortars, grenade launchers and small arms, although 10 shells from a 122mm self-propelled artillery system, and an unspecified number of rounds from an infantry fighting vehicle, were mentioned.
Ukraine also continues amassing weapons and equipment on the contact line, with not only their number increasing but their destructive capacity as well. DPR intelligence has reported that over the past two days alone, four T-64 tanks, 40 “Cougar” MRAP infantry mobility vehicles, and six 300mm “Smerch” MLRS have arrived on the Ukrainian side of the frontline. In addition, according to the OSCE’s latest report, Kiev has removed from the sites of prohibited weapons storage one 152mm “Akatsia” self-propelled artillery system, six MT-12 “Rapira” 100mm guns, one 152mm howitzer MSTA-B, five 152mm “Giatsint” howitzers, and six 120mm mortars (see below pictures of weapons mentioned).
Due to the low morale of the Ukrainian soldiers, Kiev also continues to concentrate highly motivated nationalist radicals near the frontline. In particular, DPR intelligence reports that about 300 members of the “Right Sector” Volunteer Ukrainian Corps arrived yesterday in the area of the city of Donetsk.
The Ukrainian side’s seizure of areas in the buffer zone, constant provocations in strategic directions, the obstruction of OSCE inspections, and concentration of weapons and radicals on the frontline, clearly indicate that Kiev has no intention of resolving the conflict in Donbass peacefully.
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