Donbass blog, July 29: Minsk Talks Fail - Situation in the South Aggravates - US Supply Kiev with Ammunition
By the middle of the week, on the front in Donbass, the number of bombardments of the Republic's territory by the Ukrainian army sharply decreased. At the beginning of the week, according to the DPR Defense Ministry, the Ukrainian military opened fire up to 1,000 times per day; yesterday they made a bit more than 100 attacks, with no artillery used, while on Monday, July 25, about 90 artillery shells landed on the territory of the DPR.
The DPR authorities attribute this "calm" to the Contact Group meeting held in Minsk this week. It is not the first time when Kiev pretends to be committed to the Minsk Agreements during such meetings, each time increasing the intensity of the attacks after their completion.
However, even the significantly reduced number of attacks by the Armed Forces of Ukraine resulted in casualties. The military authorities of the Republic reported three DPR soldiers dead and another two wounded. There were also wounded three civilians: a man born in 1962 in Donetsk and two residents of Kominternovo, in the south of the Republic.
According to the Republican army soldiers, the losses of the Ukrainian side made, in recent days, at least 15 men: 10 killed in the Donetsk area, 4 in the Mariupol direction and 3 in the LPR. The reports of the press service of the ATO headquarters contain no available information about the Ukrainian losses.
In the LPR, a group of journalists came under attack from the Ukrainian side. While they were interviewing a soldier of the Republican army, a sniper opened fire them.
The shelling by Kiev also caused further destruction. According to the DPR authorities, over the past three days 16 houses were damaged, mostly in Gorlovka, the largest city in the north of the Republic, and in Dokuchaevsk and Kominternovo in the south of the DPR. Most of the destruction occurred in the northern outskirts of Gorlovka, which, according to local residents, was shelled with a Ukrainian tank.
In addition, the bombardments of Donetsk from the Ukrainian positions resulted in damage to a pipeline, leaving over 500 homes without gas.
The DPR Ministry of Construction reported this week that, in the two years of Ukraine’s armed aggression against Donbass, only in the DPR there had been damaged almost 24 thousand houses and social facilities.
Kiev’s intention to destroy the Donbass infrastructure is evidenced not only by Ukrainian targeted attacks on its facilities, but also by the fact that the Ukrainian side is doing everything possible to prevent their restoration.
Last week, the Ukrainian artillery damaged the Donetsk filtration plant, which resulted in the broken water supply of the DPR capital and many surrounding localities, with a total of 4,000 inhabitants. So far, the plant has not been restored yet because of attacks on repair crews from the Ukrainian side.
In Dokuchaevsk, the DPR authorities declared a state of emergency due to a breakthrough of the main pipeline on the Ukraine-controlled territory, which resulted in more than 20,000 civilians on both sides of the front left without water.
In addition, according to the DPR intelligence, on the Kiev-controlled territory to the north of Donetsk, the Ukrainian troops blew up the dam at the lake which is a strategic water reserve storage for Donetsk, Gorlovka and Yasinovataya located between them.
Kiev also refused to give security guarantees for repairs on power lines in the Dokuchaevsk area, damaged by a bombardment from the Ukrainian side last week.
From the south, Mariupol direction comes little official information. However, war correspondents bring from there disturbing news about the methodical, ongoing for several months, shelling by the Ukrainian side using heavy artillery, mortars of all calibers, infantry fighting vehicles and tanks, with the consequent large-scale destruction in nearby localities. The OSCE observers, according to the DPR soldiers on positions, almost never come there to document bombardments and destruction.
Having reduced the intensity of fire for the time of negotiations in Minsk, the Ukrainian command uses this time for the rotation of their units and providing them with additional personnel and equipment. According to the DPR intelligence, in the last few days, Kiev delivered to the front about 80 units of equipment, including heavy mortars, motorized artillery systems, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, and 10 trucks with ammunition, as well as up to 1,000 personnel, including more than 100 Lithuanian mercenaries.
The LPR Defense Ministry reported that Kiev delivered to their sector of the front a penalty unit composed entirely of released convicts.
In addition, the DPR intelligence reported that the West secretly supplies Ukraine with lethal weapons. In particular, this week, the US Air Force brought to Kiev an allegedly humanitarian cargo, which, in addition to 5 tons of medicines, contained 16 tons of ammunition for small arms, namely, about 2 million cartridges, signal flares and smoke grenades.
The Ukrainian side also intensified reconnaissance operations by UAVs, 5 of which were discovered over Donetsk only yesterday, as well as sharply reduced its activity on the radio.
According to local residents, to the north of Gorlovka, in the area of the only entry/exit checkpoint there, the Ukrainian military are equipping a new military checkpoint, despite the fact that it is located in the "gray" area. The passage of civilian cars at this checkpoint is closed, the locals are allowed to pass only on foot, in small groups. Yesterday evening, the Ukrainian military several times opened fire at them from automatic weapons.
As a result, queues of civilians waiting to pass in the 30-degree heat, substantially increased at the remaining three entry/exit checkpoints. Yesterday, a civilian died of a heart attack at one of them.
The Contact Group meeting held this week in Minsk resulted in nothing. According to Denis Pushilin, the head of the DPR delegation, for almost two years since signing the Minsk Agreements, out of their 13 clauses Kiev has fulfilled only one, namely, the clause on the establishment of working groups on various aspects of the settlement of the conflict in Donbas. In recent negotiations the Ukrainian delegation did not provide even oral proposals for such a settlement, let alone documents adopted in Kiev and agreed with the Republics.
Head of the OSCE Special monitoring mission, Ertugrul Apakan announced at a meeting of the Organization Permanent Council that the parties had failed the cease-fire, as evidenced by the constant availability and use of prohibited large-caliber weapons in the alleged "security zone".
Locals on the Kiev-controlled territories report that the Defense Ministry of Ukraine is creating territorial defense units consisting of 150-200 men, performing different rear functions and considered a combat units reserve. Officially, these units are formed on a voluntary basis, but according to reports from the ground, the local police are forced to join them under threat of dismissal.
In the Ukrainian media recently appeared reports from the east of the country, in which they say that the Ukrainian army has advanced by 3 or 4 km and the soldiers are just waiting for the order on a further, full-scale offensive.