By Irina Burya, Donetsk International News Agency, March 7, 2016, exclusive to Russia Insider
The situation on the contact line has taken a new, alarming turn. Kiev continues to shell the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, consisting of hundreds of rounds per day, mostly from mortars, but which has recently started to include the intensive use of artillery. According to the DPR Defense Ministry, the Ukrainian side has over the past week shelled the Republic 1,433 times, with about 1,000 shells from heavy artillery, including 100mm anti-tank “Rapira” guns.
The Ministry did not specify the casualties or level of destruction, but DONi reporters personally heard the shelling becoming heavier and more intense.
The DPR was forced to return fire. Over the past day the Ukrainian military press center reported 52 incidents of fire from mortars and grenade launchers on their position from the DPR side. At the same time, trying to justify the fact and intensity of using heavy artillery, Kiev announced that their positions had been shelled by the DPR from “Grad” rockets and even provided a video of this shelling.
Having analysed it, the DPR Defense Ministry officially stated that, taking into consideration the range of the weapon mentioned, if the video were true, the shelling should have been carried out from the opposite side of Donetsk city, and the camera should have shown its districts. Besides this, none of interviewed residents of the capital saw or heard any rocket volleys.
(Credibility – Donetsk International News Agency (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.)
The Ukrainian military also seem to have resorted to new tactics in choosing their targets. According to the international observers, over the past two days a Russian representative of the JCCC (Joint Centre for Control and Coordination) came under fire from grenade launchers from the Ukrainian positions. The OSCE observers were also shelled by mortars, with a shell exploding within 100m from their group, forcing them to immediately leave the area of inspection. It looks like Kiev is trying to prevent any official evidence of its war crimes.
Another “innovation” of the Ukrainian military is, according to the DPR intelligence sources on the ground, mobile mortar detachments that employ vehicle-mounted mortars. Their objective is to move along the contact line, shelling residential areas of Donetsk, or even the Ukrainian military positions, and then immediately leave the area. Such detachments provide Kiev with an opportunity to place the blame for such shelling on the DPR, with the OSCE observers invited to document the fact that the Ukrainian units never opened fire from the positions in question.
Having seized eight localities in the buffer zone, the Ukrainian side, according to local residents, is carrying out intensive engineering works there, preparing new firing positions. In addition, DPR intelligence reported that the command post of one of the Ukrainian brigades had been transferred to a seized locality situated only 2km from the contact line.
Following on from earlier information about the town of Kominternovo being completely blocked by the AFU, residents of another two localities recently occupied by Kiev reported that they were forbidden to leave their small towns under any circumstances. The locals also informed that the Ukrainian military command had positioned ammunition warehouses in their towns. Therefore, it seems that Kiev is using the local civilians as a shield against any attacks on its positions from the DPR side.
The Ukrainian side also continues terrorizing civilians in seized localities. Several weeks ago, according to Ukraine’s security agency, the SBU, a cleansing operation was carried out in a small town of Krasnogorovka, resulting in about 100 residents being arrested for “sympathizing with the DPR”. Later, the Ukrainian military press service reported that almost all of them had been released. But according to local residents, many arrested people are still missing.
In another small town near Gorlovka, a resident made a complaint to the police of marauding by the Ukrainian military that had started immediately after their seizure of the town. As a result, the following night, his house was reportedly set on fire by the Ukrainian special services.
On the territories of the DPR close to the front, an increase in Kiev’s subversive activities has been noted, in particular the setting up of weapon caches for later use in terrorist attacks. The DPR Defense Ministry reported that over the past two days, 150kg of explosives, 17 types of grenades, and about 1,600 rounds of ammunition of different calibers have been discovered in such caches. In addition, according to the DPR intelligence sources on the ground, on Kiev-controlled territory, the Ukrainian military has forged DPR seals for the purposes of providing subversive groups with false documents to facilitate their incursions.
At the same time, the Ukrainian side continues delivering weapons and equipment to the contact line and removing them from the storage sites, with no regard for the international observers. According to DPR intelligence, over the past two days, Kiev delivered to the front 41 tanks, 14 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 37 vehicles with ammunition, and up to 300 personnel.
In their latest report, the OSCE mission noted the withdrawal from the Ukrainian storage sites of nine 100mm anti-tank “Rapira” guns, fifteen 122mm “Gvozdika” howitzers, four 152mm “Akatsia” howitzers, and nine 120mm mortars (see below pictures of weapons mentioned). Earlier the OSCE observers had reported only one Ukrainian site where they had found guards and all the weapons and equipment missing; their latest inspection discovered three such sites.
Constant provocations by the Ukrainian military on the front line, together with subsequent accusations that the DPR is violating the Minsk Agreement, may well be seen as an indication that Kiev is looking for a pretext to start an offensive. Moreover, their further amassing of weapons, equipment and personnel in areas close to the front, together with the total disregard for the international observers, leaves the impression of intense preparations to escalate the conflict.
Information on weapons mentioned in this article (for photos, go to Russia Insider weblink above):
- A mortar is a tube-like cannon which fires a projectile which explodes upon impact. They have ranges of up to 3 miles
- An anti-tank cannon “Rapira”
- A MLRS “Grad”
- A tank T-72
- An armoured personnel carrier
- An infantry fighting vehicle
- A 122mm motorised artillery system “Gvozdika”
- A 152mm motorised artillery system “Akatsia”
The Donetsk International News Agency is a private, non-profit information agency founded in 2015 and located in the center of the city of Donetsk. It is headed by Finnish journalist, Janus Putkonen and has ten full time journalists on staff. Approximately half of them are natives of Western European countries. Its website is: www.dninews.com.
The above situation report is a frequent feature of DONi. For clarification of facts mentioned or additional information, please ask in the comments section or email the author at: [email protected].
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