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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 483
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
OSCE Says Violence Continues To Intensify Near Donetsk And Elsewhere
5 years
Two Soldiers Wounded In Lugansk Region As Shells Strike Residential Areas

The OSCE continues to see alarming increases in violence in parts of eastern Ukraine. Below are some excerpts from their latest dispatch, dated last night, June 14, at 19:30 Kiev time.

Earlier we reported that there were protests in Donetsk against the status quo, with citizens growing tired of the fighting:

As we see from the OSCE's report, the citizens have good cause to be concerned:

During the weekend, fighting intensified in Donetsk, with substantially more shelling observed. The level of violence in areas around “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport remains high.

Over a period of two days, the SMM at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at Donetsk central railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre) observed a total of at least 594 explosions caused by incoming and outgoing artillery and mortar fire, as well as small arms and light weapons (SALW), including heavy machine-gun fire. The SMM concluded that the explosions occurred at locations to the north, north-west, north-east, west, and south-west and at distances ranging between 2 and 10km from its position. 

At the JCCC headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north-north-east of Donetsk) the SMM was presented with separate ceasefire log files covering 11 June by representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and representatives of the Russian Federation Armed Forces. The Ukrainian Armed Forces had logged 99 violations and reported six Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers killed and eleven wounded in action, and the Russian Federation Armed Forces had logged 103 violations. While the majority of violations in the Ukrainian Armed Forces log targeted Ukrainian positions in and around Donetsk airport, violations were also recorded in Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 37km north-east of Donetsk) and in the Luhansk region.  

But it's not just Donetsk which is impacted by escalating violence:

From observation points located 1.5 and 3.5km west of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), over two days the SMM observed a total of 180 explosions caused by 82mm and 120mm mortars, automatic grenade launchers and artillery, as well as small arms, including heavy machine-gun fire. An SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted six mortar positions in Shyrokyne on 13 June. 


During the weekend, the overall situation in Luhansk remained calm. On 14 June, while stationary in government-controlled Toshkivka (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard a series of 10 to 12 incoming and outgoing explosions from a south-easterly direction 10km from its position.

On 14 June, five kilometres north of government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed four impact craters, each with a diameter of 3-5m and a depth of 1 to 1.5m. The SMM observed the remains of a rocket and identified it as having been fired from a multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) (BM-21 “Grad”, 120mm). The positioning indicated that the rocket was likely fired from an east-north-easterly direction.

On 14 June, in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM was told by residents about early morning grenade and Grad rocket explosions. The SMM observed a hole in the roof of an abandoned building. On the ground near the building the SMM observed metal pieces from the rockets. Five metres south of the village’s main road, the SMM located a crater with a Grad rocket casing. Another crater was observed approximately 30m from the road in the area of the local tuberculosis hospital. The SMM observed several metal pieces around the crater. Based on analysis at the scene, the fire had been incoming from the south-west. No casualties were reported.

The Minsk agreement may effectively be dead -- the separatist leadership has said that it does not want reunification with Ukraine and the Ukrainian military says it has been forced to move its heavy weaponry within the line of demarcation in order to respond to threats -- but the OSCE still operates as if Minsk is in operation, and their observations can tell us something about the movement of forces close to the front lines.

During a two-day period, the SMM revisited seven “DPR” weapons holding areas, whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At five of them, all weapons previously observed were in situ. Two of them, each of which had previously stored six 122mm howitzers, were abandoned. At one of the sites, only one SMM patrol member was permitted to enter the venue.

On 14 June, the SMM was not granted access to a Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area as the commander was not present nor reachable via phone despite several attempts.  The SMM revisited three Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas in the vicinity of Soledar, whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At the first site the SMM was initially denied entry. Following intercession by the JCCC, the SMM was granted access and observed only two self-propelled howitzers (2S1 “Gvozdika”, 122mm) and two self-propelled howitzers (2S3 “Akatsiya”, 152mm) at the site, where nine 2S1 and eight 2S3 systems were previously recorded. Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel stated that the missing weapons were used for training in the area. The SMM also noted that two anti-aircraft missile systems (9K35 “Strela-10”) previously present at the position were now absent. The SMM visited another Ukrainian Armed Forces holding area where twelve anti-tank guns (MT-12, 100mm) had previously been present. This site was found to be unoccupied. At a third holding area, the SMM confirmed that five MT-12 guns remained in place in accordance with SMM records.

Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed weapons in areas that are in violation of Minsk withdrawal lines. On 13 June, the SMM observed two MBTs (one T-64, the other unidentified) being transported southward from Luhansk city on trailers. On 13 June, on the outskirts of Amrosiivka (“DPR”-controlled, 53km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed six self-propelled howitzers (122mm, 2S1) heading south. In Ternove (60km south-east of Donetsk, “DPR” controlled), the SMM observed a shooting range used by the “DPR” on both 13 and 14 June and on both occasions saw 18 stationary main battle tanks (MBT) (T-64s and T-72s), and other military vehicles.

On 14 June, the SMM observed ten self-propelled howitzers (2S3 “Akatsiya”, 152mm) moving away from the line of contact along the road from Soledar to Sloviansk (government-controlled, 95km north of Donetsk). On 14 June, an SMM UAV observed a concentration of 53 MBTs (unknown type), six towed howitzers (D30, 122mm) and ten military trucks in Torez (“DPR”-controlled, 60km east of Donetsk); seven MBTs (unknown type), 23 armoured personnel carriers (APC) and at least nine trucks and other vehicles in Komsomolske (“DPR”-controlled, 43km south of Donetsk); four self-propelled howitzers in Vasylivka (“DPR”-controlled, 50km south-east of Donetsk); one MBT (unknown type), 14 APCs, and six military trucks in Bezimenne (“DPR”-controlled, 28km east of Mariupol). In addition, an SMM UAV observed six covered artillery pieces in Paraskoviivka (government-controlled, 29km south-west of Donetsk) and additional surface-to-air missile systems in the region.

Note the large amount of armor and artillery spotted south of Donetsk within territory controlled by the Russian-backed fighters, including T-72 Main Battle Tanks which have almost certainly been supplied by the Russian military. The observations of the OSCE continue to provide evidence to the theory that the area south of Donetsk and north of Mariupol is a new objective for the Russian-backed fighters.

While it may not have a significant impact on the escalating violence, the OSCE observed a parade in Mariupol, led by the volunteer Azov Battalion, which is none-the-less noteworthy:

On 13 June, the SMM observed a military parade held in Mariupol (government-controlled, 103km south of Donetsk). The parade was organized by the Azov volunteer battalion within the Ministry of Internal Affairs to mark the first anniversary of what the Ukrainian authorities refer to as the liberation of the city of Mariupol from “DPR” forces, and was attended by the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council and the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine as well as other high-ranking government officials. There were some 100 regular Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel and Azov battalion members present. The parade consisted of three trucks pulling artillery pieces (one 100mm 2A29 “Rapira” and two 122mm D30 howitzers), present in violation of Minsk withdrawal lines; one armoured personnel vehicle (BTR); one “Spartan” armoured vehicle; and twelve pick-ups with “Azov” insignia. Four vehicles were pulling mortars (2B11 “Sani”, 122mm). The military parade was followed by a concert attended by up to 1,000 people.

The entire report can be read here

-- James Miller