By Irina Burya, Donetsk International News Agency, May 20, 2016
Ukrainian military base destroyed, DPR army command structure changed, and Victory Day parade on May 9
Over the past three weeks, the Donetsk People’s Republic experienced another “quiet mode” that was daily violated; a change in the command structure of the army units; and a parade that included the Immortal Regiment rally on Victory Day on May 9.
On the eve of May 1, on the occasion of Orthodox Easter, another ceasefire was declared in Donbass, the only result of which was a temporary reduction in the number of bombardments with heavy artillery on the part of the Ukrainian army. As for the mortars, grenades launchers and small arms, the DPR Defense Ministry reported that Kyiv did not stop using them along the entire front line for a single day, forcing the DPR to return fire.
During one such clash, the DPR army managed to destroy a Ukrainian military base to the south of Donetsk. According to official information from the ‘ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) headquarters, six multi-purpose armoured towing vehicles were destroyed as well as an infantry fighting vehicle and Kamaz truck. It should be pointed out that according to the Minsk Agreements, the area mentioned should be free of any heavy equipment.
The destroyed base belonged to the Ukrainian brigade that had shelled Elenovka, a locality near Donetsk, in April. As a result of the shelling, five civilians were killed, including a pregnant woman. The Ukrainian military command officially announced that the equipment had been destroyed by accidental fire, but decided to immediately relocate this brigade from the front line in Donbas and send it to a landfill in the west of Ukraine.
In spite of the temporary suspension of using heavy weapons, Kyiv continued delivering them to the front line. According to DPR intelligence, during the first week of May alone, the Ukrainian side delivered over 150 pieces of military equipment, including tanks, 152-mm motorised artillery systems, 122-mm and 152-mm howitzers, and “Grad” rocket systems. In the direction of Mariupol, south of Donetsk, the DPR sources on the ground informed of the arrival of about a hundred foreign mercenaries and about a thousand radicals of nationalist battalions.
The Ukrainian side also continued to seriously strengthen its rear and tighten the occupation regime there. In particular, Kyiv delivered military builders, construction machinery and materials to the south-west of Donetsk. The Ukrainian media say that another “underground city” for the military is being created there.
According to DPR intelligence, in Kramatorsk where the ATO headquarters is situated, Kyiv has significantly increased the number of patrols. Each patrol consists of three persons, with one representing the army, another the police and the third is taken from either the Ukrainian Security Service or a neo-Nazi battalion.
On the eve of May 9, on Victory Day, Kyiv dropped even the appearance of complying with the ceasefire. The ATO spokesman, Lysenko, announced that military equipment used in the parade in Donetsk would be “neutralised” by the Ukrainian army, for which Kyiv had “all the reserves, armoured vehicles and means of destruction needed”.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observer mission announced it would consider the presence of military vehicles in the parade a violation of the Minsk Agreements. The DPR authorities replied that the parade would include only equipment unfit for combat, and invited the OSCE observers to inspect it. However, if such an inspection took place, no OSCE report provided any information about it.
Due to the high probability of military aggression by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the DPR authorities changed the corps system of command of the troops and units into an operational command. The DPR Defense Minister, Vladimir Kononov, said that in modern conditions of warfare, this reorganisation would allow the commanders to make decisions more quickly and perform the tasks more efficiently. It seems that efficiency can be achieved by providing commanders with a possibility to make on-the-spot decisions during the fighting, without first having to go through the chain of command to the Corps headquarters.
In addition to direct threats of attack, the Ukrainian military authorities intensified subversive and terrorist activities. In particular, on one of the roads near Donetsk, where mainly civilian vehicles move, a Ukrainian subversive group set their yellow-blue flag and mined it. Another group tried to undermine a fuel warehouse, located in one of the districts of Donetsk, right on the day of the parade.
Nevertheless, the Victory Day parade in Donetsk gathered tens of thousands of DPR citizens. The strongest part of it was not the march of the republicn army units or the passage of military vehicles but rather the Immortal Regiment procession. By the estimation of the DPR authorities, it was attended by about 10,000 people, and it lasted twice as long as the parade itself.
Like in similar marches in 39 countries around the world, those marching were descendants of the fallen soldiers of the Great Patriotic War carrying, portraits of their ancestors in their hands. Unlike with other cities, in Donetsk it was relatives of those who died in Donbass in our time, protecting its life and freedom, who brought the rear of the procession.
After May 9, the intensity of shelling of the territory of the Republic by the Ukrainian army started to grow steadily. According to DPR soldiers on the frontline, in the course of these bombardments, Kyiv not only used mortars, grenade-launchers and heavy machine guns but also infantry fighting vehicles, tanks and artillery.
When the DPR army was forced to return fire with, as reported by the ATO headquarters press centre, mortars, grenades launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms, ATO volunteers immediately reported on social networks that “Donetsk terrorists” were endlessly shelling the neighbourhood of Donetsk and Gorlovka “in order to break through the defenses of the Ukrainian troops”.
Kyiv is also continuing its “mine warfare” against the civilian population of Donbass. According to locals, a few days ago a car driven by a local resident blew up on a country road near Donetsk. Apparently the landmine was planted the night before, as the road had always been considered safe.
The OSCE observers also informed in their report of booby-traps placed near private civilian houses in government-controlled localities near the contact line. According to statistics, due to explosions on wire-traps, mines and other unknown explosive devices, 30 civilians were killed, including four children.
DONi News (Donetsk International News Agency) provides English translations of the daily reports of the Donetsk and Lugansk republic’s militaries on the ongoing violations of the military ceasefire agreed in Minsk, Belarus in February 2015. Read the reports here.
Less complete but nonetheless informative are the daily reports of the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), here.
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