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Shelling at territory of Donetsk intensifies, after German and French foreign ministers visit Kiev

The ongoing military build-up, closure of checkpoints by Ukrainian security forces, mopping up operations in the near-front zone, and the intensified shelling and armed clashes along the frontline suggest that Ukraine’s Armed Forces are preparing an offensive, Alexander Matyushin (codename Varyag), the commander of a volunteer battalion “Russian Ostrog” told EADaily on February 24. He thinks the major blow will most probably target Gorlovka and Yasinovataya strategic directions.

“Since Sunday, clashes have continued in the area of Yasinovataya check point. Ukraine’s forces try to break through our defense and isolate Yasinovataya and Gorlovka from the other territory of the republic to complete what they started yet in 2014. The situation is very tense near Peski settlement,” Matyushin said. In his words, hostilities continue along the defense line with mortars, tanks, howitzer artillery and “Grad” multiple rocket launchers system being used along the front line. Constant clashes continue in Gorlovka, he said. “People in Yasinovataya have been spending nights in basements for already two days,” Matyushin said. In his words, hostilities flared up in the south, in Kominternove that has been included in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) by the president quite lately.

The sides no longer conceal dislocation of military hardware, which means that the situation is serious. “It is noteworthy (I will not disclose any military secret speaking about this now) that three days ago, military hardware was pulled through Donetsk openly, disregarding the OSCE, and was dislocated along the engagement line. Previously, official sources and media had been speaking of possible offensive by Ukraine, but no actions were taken and the armory and troops did not shift their location, only some not large groups of our army were on the frontline. Now, the DPR forces are being pulled to the front line openly and even not at night time,” Matyushin said.

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Varyag addressed the latest visit by the foreign ministers of Germany and France to Kiev saying the shelling, armed clashes and penetration attempts have just intensified along the front line after that visit.

“In the area of Spartak, the Donetsk airport and Maryinka, Ukraine’s troops have closed the checkpoints. Only Gruntovo checkpoint operates now. Actually, the checkpoints in the main directions of the prepared offensive have been closed so that the people driving along the given areas could not see the preparations for the attack. Ukraine’s forces have launched mopping up operations near the frontline, which also speaks of the future offensive. Nearly 80 people have been detained during the mopping up operation in Ugledar lately on suspicion of ties with the DPR,” Matyushin said.

He recalled that he had predicted the attack on Gorlovka since last December. “Gorlovka and Yasinovataya are two important areas. Yasinovataya is an important railway and motorway interchange. Therefore, the main troops of the Ukrainian army have been deployed there,” Alexander Matyushin said.

As for the risks coming from the staff reshuffles in Yasinovataya and Gorlovka where mayors have been replaced recently, Matyushin said the heads of administration no longer bear any relation to the military issues; they are responsible for social issues only. Meantime, the units protecting the given part of the frontline have sufficient manpower and ammunition.

EADaily reported earlier that military experts think the upsurge in tensions in Donbass may spark large-scale military actions. They link these tensions with the escalation of the situation in Syria. Some even say a large-scale military campaign may be launched in Donbass as early as in February-March.

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