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DECEMBER 2020

Eastern Ukraine Conflict Zone Became Hotter In Late August, Early September

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Eastern Ukraine Conflict Zone Became Hotter In Late August, Early September

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On July 22, the sides in the conflict in eastern Ukraine – the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) and forces the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) reached a “harvest” ceasefire agreement.

Despite this, the situation in the period from July 22 to August 8 was tense with little signs of the establishment of a real ceasefire in the area.

In the following period, from August 9 to September 1, the military situation remained same with the UAF openly violating the ceasefire almost on a dailiy basis and DPR-LPR forces responding to these violations.

According to the Kiev government, in the period, there was some significant activity from the DPR and LPR against its forces.

On the first day of the period, the UAF claimed that the first phase of mine cleaning efforts in Luhansk was completed, but OSCE reports from August 13th threw some shade on that claim, saying that there was no actual mine clearing efforts.

In general, most, if not all, of the violations of the “harvest ceasefire” were carried out by various grenade launchers, heavy machine guns or small arms. This was the claim in every single report of aggression.

In total, in the period 258 ceasefire violations were recorded by the Ukrainian side. Throughout the entire period, the Ukrainian side lost 5 soldiers and 14 were wounded.

The day with most violations was August 31st, with 20 violations.

On August 25th, Ukraine had its “worst day” as it lost 1 soldier and 3 were wounded, amid 13 violations.

Notably, on August 13th, Nikolai Alekseev, an OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) observer from the Russian Federation who reportedly “wished death on Ukrainians” in his social media posts and publicly supported self-proclaimed republics in Donbas was removed from Ukraine.

On August 15th, the Ukrainian side accused the DPR and LPR forces of allegedly deploying heavy weapons, including howitzers, anti-tank guns and Grad MLR systems, as well as tanks beyond the withdrawal line. In later dates, no fire from the hardware was reported.

On September 2nd, the Ukrainian Armed Forces boasted some success in Horlivka, allegedly forcing the DPR forces to withdraw from some of their outposts.

As per the DPR’s official website, Horlivka remained the region that is under the most pressure. As the Donetsk People’s Republic is much closer to the frontline, it receives the brunt of the hits from the UAF.

The DPR doesn’t mention any injuries or deaths in all of the reviewed reports. In total it came under attack in violation of the ceasefire agreement 255 times between August 9th and September 1st.

Starting off from August 9th, the Head of the DPR Denis Pushilin said that Ukraine carried out massive shelling on residential areas in the south. Nobody was killed.

The day with the heaviest pressure was August 31st, with 37 violations taking place.

On September 1st, both the DPR and LPR reported that the OSCE SMM’s representatives, as well as JCCC representatives came under Ukrainian shelling and their lives were endangered. There were no injuries or casualties, however.

On the LPR’s side, throughout the entire period it only reported on one injury of a soldier. The LPR is under much less pressure than the DPR, simply because it’s further from the hottest points of the conflict like the countryside of Donetsk.

LPR territory came under fire 44 times in violation of the ceasefire, with the days with most aggression were August 30th and 31st, both with 4 attacks each.

On August 13th, it came under fire by grenade launchers and a house in Zaytsevo was completely destroyed, there were no casualties.

On August 31st, one soldier was reported as wounded, after massive shelling by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

On September 1st, the LPR reported that the OSCE SMM and the JCCC representatives were subject to Ukrainian shelling, but there were no casualties.

The OSCE SMM reports cover a period between July 29th and August 11th, as well as August 12th and August 25th.

It should be reminded that, the Ukrainian side, as well as the DPR and LPR predominantly present 1 violation as one event of shelling or any sort of fire towards its side. It can be comprised of one shot or more. It is deemed as 1 violation. In contrast, the OSCE reports each separate shot as a single violation, thus the numbers vary greatly.

In the first period the OSCE saw a decrease in violations compared to the period between July 15th and 28th. In the second, there was a significant increase.

Between July 29th and August 11th, there were 2,700 ceasefire violations. On average, 195 ceasefire violations were recorded every day over the reporting period compared to a daily aver-age of about 720 in the week prior to the recommitment to the ceasefire which came into effect on July 21st.

A school in Horlivka came under heavy-machine-gun fire by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Mission observed 126 weapons in violation of the agreed withdrawal lines (83 in non-government-controlled areas), as well as mines and unexploded ordnance. There were T-72 Ukrainian tanks, among other things.

In the second period, between August 12th and August 25th, the SMM recorded 5,400 violations, including approximately 1,100 explosions. Much higher than the previous period.

In addition, the SMM said that 123 weapons were in violation of the withdrawal lines, and out of them 111 were outside of the government-controlled areas.

Essentially, it appears that in the later part of August, the “harvest ceasefire agreement” does not really work and the sitaution in the region remains tense depspite declarations by the Kiev government that it’s ready to work to settle the conflict via political measures.

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