Continuation of the military actions is the most probable scenario of developments in Donbass. The reports from the Donetsk People’s Republic say the tensions on the frontline intensify and the sides are pulling more weaponry to the engagement line.
According to the commander of Russky Ostrog detachment Alexander Matyushin (better known as Varyag) who is on the frontline now, it was rather tense overnight. He says the Horlivka, Avdeyevka and the Yasinovataya checkpoint are still the hotbeds of tensions.
“The outskirts of Donetsk in the direction of Peski are being shelled at. What remained from the Donetsk airport and the Kiev district of Donetsk are being shelled from the direction of Avdeyevka. The situation is rather tense in the area of Maryinka. The Ukrainian forces have intensified shelling at both Kirov and Petrov districts of Donetsk and the positions of the DPR army,” Alexander Matyushin says.
In the area of Yasinovataya checkpoint, he says, they often use mortars, tanks, self-propelled guns, artillery systems that should have been pulled back yet long ago under the Minsk Agreements.
“The DPR Army is building up. Military hardware is being pulled to the positions at nighttime, which shows how serious the situation on the main strategic directions of our front is,” he says.
In the area of Avdeyevka, Varyag says, the reconnaissance continues reporting re-deployment of the adversary’s large forces, new units, and Ukrainian equipment, mainly tanks and MRLS, to the engagement line.
Alexander Zhuchkovsky, a militia man, coordinator for the non-humanitarian aid, is sure that continuation of the military is the most probably scenario of developments because of two reasons. “First, there is no tendency of ceasefire or reduction in weapons on the frontline. Second, the Minsk process has come to an evident stalemate, as Kiev refuses to pass the law ‘On special status.’ The sequence of the implementation of the Minsk agreements is not observed. The ball is in Ukraine’s court i.e. further developments depend on the adversary,” Zhuchkovsky says.
In his words, it is hard to forecast Kiev’s steps, as they will depend on the talks at various levels, arrangements and guarantees of the various sides, including the Russian one.
“I think the so-called Normandy and Minsk meetings is the tip of iceberg. It is most likely that representatives of all sides (Russia, U.S., and EU) regularly hold various ‘consultations’ with Ukraine, develop strategies of their actions and adopt decisions on what to do next. Will there be war or not is a political issue. It is senseless making forecasts basing on the capability of the sides (pulling of weaponry, intensified fire and others). Ukraine has been technically ready for a ‘big war’ for already six months. However, it does not venture to launch a blitzkrieg in the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics so far and will hardly venture to do it, unless it has guarantees of success. Hardly would they want another Ilovaysk and Debaltsevo,” he says.
Addressing the situation in Yasinovataya – one of the hottest points on the map of military actions in Donbass, Zhuchkovsky says: “What is happening now in Yasinovataya is connected with the fact that the hands of the militia are tied with the Minsk Agreements. It would not be hard to throw the adversary out of the industrial zone (wherefrom it constantly targets the highway and triggers local clashes), if we could use the necessary arms. What we can do now is to ‘snap at’ their artillery shelling and launch counterbattery fire in case Ukraine’s Armed Forces intensify shelling, targeting residential areas,” Zhuchkovsky said.
In his words, casualties are big in this area. “Many are now comparing what is happening in Yasinovataya with the situation at the Donetsk airport in late 2014 – early 2015 when we had to fight for a relatively small part of the frontline and suffer big casualties as long as military actions shifted to larger distances,” he said.
Within the month of the fighting, at least 70 were killed and up to 200 were wounded. During the last two days, 7 were killed and 13 were wounded.