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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 395
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Fighting On The Banks Of The Seversky Donets River
5 years
Ukrainian Military Reports Attacks Near Donetsk and Gorlovka

The stand-off on the northern bank of the Seversky Donets river near Stanitsa Luganskaya, north-west of Lugansk, continues this morning. In the evening of March 16, Russian-backed fighters crossed a damaged bridge across the river, which divides Ukrainian and separatist-held territory in the area, and began preparing defensive positions.


A failed attempt was also made on the night of March 17-18 to cross the river to the west, near Tryokhizbenka. The advance across the river risks becoming the flashpoint for an escalation in fighting as the river forms the demarcation line in this area for the Minsk ceasefire agreement. 

Ukrainian troops were reported to be prepared to use force to repel the Russian-backed fighters, but afraid of reacting to provocations to break the ceasefire. On March 17, the two sides had reportedly set up positions around 300 metres from each other on the northern banks.

This morning,  the press secretary for the Ukrainian military's Northern Operational Command, Anatoly Proshin, told Ukrainska Pravda that fighting had broken out. 

The Interpreter translates:

"Our forces are now working to get the militants to withdraw. There is chaotic small arms fire. As of this morning, it was unknown whether they had withdrawn back across the bridge or not," said Proshin.

Proshin claimed that Ukrainian troops had prevented the Russian-backed fighters from establishing a bridgehead or fortifications.

The press secretary said that the militants, by not abandoning their attempts to advance across the demarcation line into Ukrainian-held territory, were violating the Minsk agreement.

The press office of the governor of the Lugansk region, Hennadiy Moskal, reported that fire-fights with automatic weapons had broken out several times on the outskirts of Stanitsa Luganskaya, near the bridge.

Both Proshin and Moskal's office reported shelling and attacks across the wider front in northern Lugansk.

Proshin told Ukrainska Pravda that two attacks, with small arms, had been made on Ukrainian defensive positions near separatist-held Slavyanoserbsk. Proshin claimed that both attacks had been repelled by Ukrainian fire.

Moskal's office reported that there had been shoot-outs with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades between the Ukrainian-held village of Krymskoye and Sokolniki, which is occupied by Russian-backed fighters from the so-called 'Army of the Don Cossacks.'

In Tryokhizbenka, where Russian-backed fighters had failed to cross the river, there was intermittent fire throughout yesterday from artillery and mortars. Moskal's office said that the last blasts were heard at 21:00 (19:00 GMT).

To the south, along the Bakhmutka highway, blasts from mortar shells were heard periodically. 

Artillery fire also fell on Ukrainian positions on the outskirts of Troitskoye, north-east of Debaltsevo, and was heard in Popasnaya, to the north.

The governor's office said that the last weeks had seen a significant increase in attacks from Russian-backed forces in the region.


-- Pierre Vaux