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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Situation in Eastern Ukraine remains tense amid the ongoing anti-terrorist operation and increasing Russian involvement

Ukrainian soldier on the border checkpoint
(Image: State Border Service)
Anti-terrorist operation, launched by Ukrainian Armed Forces, National Guard, SBU and security forces in Eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions is ongoing, as Western European leaders, including the German and French officials, continue pressuring Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko urging him to hold the talks with the so called “separatists”.

Meanwhile, the situation in Donbas region remains extremely tense, as an anti-terrorist operation is in its active phase, and Ukrainian army advanced towards many cities in the region, freeing them one by one, but the terrorists still control several cities including Donetsk and Luhansk and also have their positions along the border. Fierce fights occur every day between Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian fighters and Russian terrorists in the zone of ATO (anti-terrorist operation), and the terrorists face serious losses, according to the spokesperson of the ATO headquarters.

In addition to that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has ordered recently to change the tactic of the ATO and appointed also new figures on the leading positions in the ATO commando. Thus, Ukrainian army continues cleaning the region of the terrorists, as the majority of the Donbas cities, including Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and others, are already freed, and the works for restoring the destroyed infrastructure of those cities is ongoing. ATO soldiers encircled the terrorists now and surrounded them, trying to cut them from the border and from the sources of their weapons.

But Ukraine and Ukrainian army faced also terrible losses during these days, as Ukrainian airplane was hit by a rocket two days ago, and two of the members of its crew are reportedly held captive by the terrorists, while other five were rescued. Attacks of the ATO positions and checkpoints along the border occur also on the daily basis, leaving dozens of Ukrainian soldiers killed and many injured. Ukrainian army in its turn responds with fire, destroying the terrorists’ positions.

Russia continues to deploy its troops and military technique along the border with Ukraine, and NATO reported there are about 10-12 thousand of the troops and heavy military technique, while in the last month there were only several thousands. In addition to that Russia continues to violate Ukrainian air space, as Ukrainian army hit several Russian drones on its territory already and reported also about Russian military helicopters.

Ukrainian tank in the ATO zone
(Image: Hromadske TV)
Two days ago Ukrainian territory was infiltrated by a column of Russian tanks and military technique, now with the Russian flags and marks, which was allowed to cross the border by the Russian army. A recent bombing of a Russian city of Donetsk, located in Rostov oblast, close to the Ukrainian border, was carried out from the Ukrainian side, claimed Russian officials, and this incident could have serious consequences, according to Russia. There were though no evidences that the rockets hit Russian Donetsk came from Ukrainian Army.

On the contrary, there are more and more evidences of Russian direct and financial involvement in the war in Eastern Ukraine, as it not only sends the troops of mercenaries to Ukraine, and many of those mercenaries appear to be former Russian soldiers and GRU and FSB officers, but it also continues to support Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, designated as terrorist organizations by Ukrainians government, with the modern and heavy arms and technique. Ukrainian head of SBU Mr. Nalyvaychenko announced recently that Ukraine has enough evidences of this involvement and that Ukraine is ready to present them.

Meanwhile, US State Department representative accused Russia of a direct involvement in the war in Eastern Ukraine and of financing the terrorists. USA officials claim they support Ukrainian anti-terrorist operation and that they continue talks and consultations with the EU partners regarding the new package of the sanctions against Russia, as Russia doesn’t makes any attempts to deescalate the situation but on the contrary only tries to deepen the crisis and to destabilize the situation in Donbas region. EU officials also claim they are considering the possibility of the new sanctions, though European officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, urge Ukrainian government to resolve the problem peacefully and diplomatically and to hold the talks with the groups representing the side of the terrorists as well.

In addition to that OSCE announced that the organization is ready to send its observers to monitor the situation on the border checkpoints.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
(Image: Foreign Policy Journal)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in his turn calls for EU and Western politicians to give and official estimation and description of what is going on in the zone of the ATO currently, with the columns of Russian military technique crossing the border and invading actually Ukrainian territory.

Ukrainian border soldiers suffer daily attacks from the Russian side, and at the moment of writing this post, Ukrainian border checkpoint in the city of Amvrosiivka is being shelled from the GRADs from the Russian side.

Ukrainian city of Snizhne in the zone of ATO was hit by the aerial strike in the early hours of Tuesday, leaving casualties, many injured and much destruction. Ukrainian air forces didn’t work in the zone of the ATO since two days, so it couldn’t be Ukrainian aircraft, and as terrorist do not have the airplanes officially, the strike could be probably made by the Russian side, according the experts. Ukrainian military observer and reporter Dmytro Tymchuk, who is a head of a group Information Resistance and is currently in the zone of ATO, also claimed the attack could be carried out by Russians.

Thus, the situation remains extremely tense, with soldiers and civilians dying every day. Ukrainians National Security and Defense Council has reported earlier that 258 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the zone of ATO, while 922 soldiers were wounded. As for the casualties among the civilians, these numbers aren’t officially disclosed yet.