Donbass Update February 6, 2017

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Donbass Update February 6, 2017

Original by Yuriy “yurasumy” Podolyaka published at Naspravdi; translation from Russian by J.Hawk

Artillery activity has declined somewhat in recent days. Thank God there so far have been no major provocations with large numbers of casualties, so hope remains that further escalation can be avoided. But even then there is an absolute certainty that this is just a postponement of the inevitable.

Current military situation

A comparative calm has settled on the Donbass in recent days. On February 4 the intensity of shelling has declined by half in comparison with February 2 and 3. On February 5 there was an escalation but not comparable to the preceding days. Nevertheless, forces on both sides are occupying jump-off positions, ready to start active operations.

The greatest hot-spot remains the Avdeyevka industrial zone. That’s where the most tactically-motivated shelling is going on, rather than simple “exchanges of fire.” This is evident from the losses. It is from Avdeyevka and adjacent territories that the biggest flow of UAF casualties is coming. This is where the NAF has adopted layered fire attack tactics which entail simultaneous fire on enemy positions from tanks, BMPs, artillery, and mortars. This forces the enemy at occupied strongpoints to reveal themselves and suffer losses.

There are also reports of sudden fire strikes on UAF positions in the operational depth (10km behind the front line or more) which force the enemy to be on constant alert and suffer losses.

For example, the shelling of UAF positions near the village of Galitsinovka in the Maryinka district on the night of February 2-3 which blanketed the positions of the 80th Air Assault Brigade.

On other sectors of the front, in spite of the frequent but not systematic shelling, we have not observed that.

The NAF is also periodically probing UAF positions in the Avdeyevka industrial zone using short attacks, but with no tactical movement so far.

Humanitarian situation

Thank God Avdeyevka had one of its power lines fixed and now the city can breathe more easily. The city is also receiving heat at full capacity and also filtered water which, as of the morning of February 5, was sufficient to last for only 3-4 days at the rate of 1 hour of water delivery per day. Now there is the ability not only to supply water to the consumers but restore operational reserves in case the situation repeats itself.

Gorlovka’s power supply has also been restored after the high-tension lines from the Uglegorsk power station have been blown up. The situation in the city is still fearful but stable. The overall humanitarian situation is improving.

Prospects

Here there is little encouraging to say. Since the preconditions for repeating the events on the Svetlodarsk salient or near Avdeyevka have not gone away, future complications of this sort are practically inevitable. What is more, I don’t think that the Avdeyevka escalation is complete. Judging by the considerable troop movements, one can’t rule out a new round of escalation. Something could happen at any moment that might serve as justification in someone’s eyes.

Like two months ago, Kiev has not found a way out of the political dead end but it has to find one. Conflict escalation, even when under hopeless conditions, is one of these ways. It also can’t be ruled out that the new US administration, which is engaged in horse-trading with Moscow and might not be against using the Poroshenko regime to raise the stakes and the cost of the Ukrainian chip that  it will have to surrender to the Kremlin sooner or later, is prodding them in this direction.

 

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