In Ukraine

By Irina Burya, Donbass International News Agency, exclusive to Russia Insider, March 21, 2016

DONETSK–The situation on the frontline remains tense. According to the Ministry of Defense of the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR), the Ukrainian military has shelled the territory of the Republic 677 times over the past three days, firing 407 82mm and 120mm mortars and an unspecified number of rounds from grenade launchers and small arms. Donbass International News Agency (DONi) reporters personally heard this shelling in the northern and western suburbs of Donetsk.

According to the local authorities of Gorlovka, the second-largest city in the north of the DPR, the shelling resulted in two residential houses being burned down and another ten seriously damaged. Fortunately, no civilian lives were lost.

Map showing Yasinovatsky (Yasinovata)

Map showing Yasinovatsky (Yasinovata)

Three days ago, a group of OSCE observers headed by the deputy chief of mission Alexander Hug inspected the checkpoint at Yasinovatsky , the current hottest spot on the frontline. According to DPR soldiers present, immediately after the departure of the OSCE observers, the area of the checkpoint was massively shelled by mortars, following which the Ukrainian military made an attempt to break through using flame-throwers. The attack was repelled, but it claimed the life of one DPR soldier and five were wounded.

It is not excluded that using flame-throwers in the open was Kiev’s sadistic way of training its soldiers, as this weapon is more effective in urban areas. However, DPR intelligence reveals that a Ukrainian firm had received an order to produce 5,000 jet engines for RIFT (rocket infantry flame-throwers) use. It looks like Kiev is decidedly preparing to fight in urban areas, which can only mean massive Ukrainian attacks on Donetsk and Gorlovka.

The OSCE mission also visited the Donetsk filter plant supplying water to a number of localities on both sides of the front line. The international inspection provided an opportunity to restart the operation of the plant, which had been suspended by the DPR authorities due to constant shelling. However, according to the staff at the facility, as soon as the OSCE observers left the area, it was shelled again by the Ukrainians.

The manufacturing process of filtering water uses highly toxic liquid chlorine, the total at the plant amounting to about three tons. Any failure of the equipment, let alone a direct hit by a shell, would inevitably lead to an ecological disaster. Therefore, the manufacturing process has to be controlled in all circumstances, even under shelling. To minimize the risk to the staff at the plant, the DPR authorities prescribed bulletproof vests and helmets.

The DPR authorities also repeatedly asked the OSCE to establish their observation posts within the vicinity of the plant in order to insure the safety of its civilian workers who ensure the uninterrupted work of the strategically important infrastructure. So far, all such appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

No less questionable was the OSCE reaction to the Ukrainian military openly and in broad daylight unloading two Ural trucks with ammunition within 500 meters of DPR positions near the Yasinovatsky checkpoint. When DPR authorities drew their attention to such a blatant violation of the Minsk Agreements, the OSCE observers noted in their report that the Ukrainian side had been unloading foodstuffs as well as wood for heating there, even though the incident occurred in the buffer zone where no military of either side are supposed to be found.

Encouraged by the international observers’ “blindness”, Kiev continues amassing weapons and equipment near the frontline. According to the LPR Defense Ministry, over the past three days the Ukrainian side delivered to their positions 12 infantry fighting vehicles, one tank, and four “Uragan” MLRS (click on weblink above for photos of weapons mentioned). Moreover, LPR intelligence sources on the ground reported that the Ukrainian military has placed equipment near hospitals, using the medical staff and civilian patients as human shields.

DPR intelligence reported the arrival of 20 Ukrainian infantry fighting vehicles within 500m of the contact line as well as a train consisting of nine train cars containing ammunition for MLRS, tanks, self-propelled artillery systems, and mortars. It appears that the relative decrease in intensity of Ukrainian shelling, attributable to a shortage of ammunition, is now coming to an end.

During this period, the DPR Army returned fire only in response to direct attacks. Even the Ukrainian military press service continues to note a decrease in the extent of DPR shelling on their positions. On March 18 the press service reported 32 rounds and bombs from mortars, grenade launchers and small arms; on March 19 only 11; while yesterday, March 20, their report mentioned five mortar bombs landing near their positions and an unspecified number of rounds from grenade launchers, large-caliber machine guns and small arms.

Due to the decreased intensity of shelling from the DPR side, the Ukrainian press center reports either no casualties at all or a minimal number, such as two soldiers killed and six wounded over the past three days. In reality, the losses of the Ukrainian army are much higher. According to medical staff at  the Kharkov military hospital, over the past three days they have received 36 wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

According to the DPR Defense Ministry, over the past three days in the area of the Yasinovatsky checkpoint, Kiev lost eight soldiers killed and 15 wounded, including three severely wounded who needed urgent hospitalization. The commanders, however, refuse to evacuate their wounded men so as not to reveal the real number of casualties and be subject to the investigation begun by the Ukrainian General Staff and the SBU inquiring into the heavy losses.

DPR intelligence reports that Kiev also continues to thoroughly conceal non-combat losses, the number of which is constantly rising, mostly due to the heavy mining of the near-front area, a lack of discipline, and clashes between the regular Ukrainian soldiers on the one side and nationalists and mercenaries on the other.

Near Donetsk, a Ukrainian reconnaissance group of five men accidentally wandered onto their own mine field, leaving no survivors. A Hummer hit another Ukrainian mine on a side road, leaving three soldiers killed and two wounded.

Another Ukrainian reconnaissance group went on an unauthorized mission and was destroyed by “friendly” mortar fire from a nearby regular Ukrainian unit that took them for a DPR subversive group.

Volunteers delivered military equipment to a Ukrainian unit situated near Donetsk, including an experimental drone. The Ukrainian military decided to turn it into an attack drone, attaching grenades to it inside a tent. One of the grenades exploded, killing three soldiers, wounding four, and burning down the tent as well as the newly delivered equipment, including the drone. The explosion additionally caused panic among the Ukrainian soldiers, who, firing around, wounded another five soldiers.

DPR intelligence also reported that over the past two days, up to 75 radicals from the Right Sector and up to 50 nationalists from the “Dnepr-1” battalion arrived on the frontline. Their main task is to force the regular Ukrainian units to fight. Their latest attempt to push the Ukrainian soldiers to the frontline ended up in a firefight, resulting in three killed and four wounded, two of the killed belonging to the Right Sector.

Mercenaries also contribute to the increase in non-combat losses in the Ukrainian military. DPR intelligence sources on the ground in the direction of Mariupol to the south of Donetsk repeatedly report of numerous clashes between mercenaries and the Ukrainian Marines. The Marines were tasked with bringing to order marauding mercenaries. The clashes usually ended with the Marines losing men, and in the end, the Ukrainian military authorities were reportedly forced to send a special-services unit of 200 men to disarm the mercenaries.

It seems like the deadly weapons, bloodthirsty fanatics and foreign killers that the Ukrainian military have brought to Donbass to subjugate its people are becoming a Frankenstein’s monster turning against them.

To contact the author of this report:   [email protected]. Daily reports of the military situation in Donbass are published by Donbass International News Agency here.

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