On February 18th, an escalation took place between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Luhansk People’s Republic militia in the area near Zolote.
Zolote is the position where a separation of forces took place on October 29th, 2019, but it apparently is proving ineffective.
According to official information, one Ukrainian serviceman died and four others were wounded.
As a result there are two contrasting positions regarding what actually transpired, that of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and that of Kiev.
According to the LPR, the armed forces of Ukraine made another attempt to destabilize the situation along the contact line.
Early in the morning of February 18th, a Ukrainian sabotage group of 10 people advanced in the direction of LPR positions in the area of Golubovsky.
There are is also a video of the clashes:
The militia detected the movements and continued to actively monitor their activities.
“When approaching our positions, the group was blown up in a minefield, as a result of which at least TWO fighters were killed and THREE were wounded.”
In order to evacuate the dead and wounded from the place of the explosion, the command of the 93rd brigade was instructed to deliver a massive artillery attack on the Luhansk settlements.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces inflicted a massive artillery strike using 82- and 120-mm mortars, 122 and 152 artillery in the areas of the settlements of Golubovsky, Sokolniki, Donetsk and Smeloe.
The soldiers of the 93rd brigade of the Armed Forces under the command of Bryzhinsky fired more than fifty shells and mines across the territory of the republic.
“During the shelling period, the enemy noted the active use of unmanned aerial vehicles; our air defense units shot down ONE enemy UAV, correcting fire on settlements of the Republic,” the LPR statement read.
In addition, according to LPR data, the command of the operation of the combined forces involved journalists from Ukrainian TV channels Channel 5, 1 + 1, TSN, and ICTV to shoot video materials in order to prepare videos that accused People’s militia of violating the ceasefire.
“We urge the observers of the OSCE Mission to record the facts of violation by Ukraine of the ceasefire, as well as to influence the Ukrainian armed forces in order to stop the provocations.”
On the side of Kiev, as it has become used to playing the victim, this time was no exception.
The Joint Forces Operation (JFO) issued a statement, claiming that the Ukrainian positions were simply attacked by the “Russian-backed forces.”
“The combat near the settlements of Novotoshkivske, Orikhove, Krymske and Khutir Vilnyi has currently ended. The Joint Forces units have delivered an adequate response to the enemy and maintained full control over the situation. Unfortunately, one of the Ukrainian defenders was killed, and four others sustained light wounds. They are being provided with medical aid. The enemy has one dead and five seriously wounded. The enemy has requested a ceasefire. The positions of the Ukrainian defenders have not been lost,” the report reads.
According to the report, the Luhansk People’s militia attacked with weapons prohibited under the Minsk agreements, such as 120mm mortars, grenade launchers of various types and heavy machine guns.
Under this massive support, and counter to any common sense, the “Russian invaders” launched an offensive operation and attempted to advance through the contact line.
“Today, at 05:00, Russian troops attacked Ukrainian strongholds near Zolote. Now, as of 08:00, heavy fighting is ongoing with the use of all weapons, including 152mm artillery, 120mm mortars. The enemy is attacking the combat units of the 72nd and 93rd mechanized brigades near the disengagement area of Zolote-Orikhove-Novotoshkivske. There was a close fight with a Russian assault group at a strongpoint. Our artillery fired back, reserves are being brought up,” Journalist Yuriy Butusov wrote on his Facebook page, which confirms the LPR claims that there were reporters accompanying the subversive group.
The Ukrainian side immediately played the victim, after it carried outs very obvious provocation, and it even lost a soldier (2 according to the LPR).
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a statement about the aggravation at the front. He called it an enemy provocation aimed at disrupting peace negotiations. He said that he was convening the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) in this regard.
But he noted that the course towards peace remains unchanged.
“The soldiers of the Armed forces of Ukraine gave a worthy rebuff to the aggressor. Unfortunately, there are losses on our part. As of now, the battle is over.
This is not just a cynical provocation, the purpose of which is to dissolve the Debaltsev wound, which will never heal completely. This is an attempt to disrupt the peace process in the Donbass, which began to advance, albeit in small, but uncontrollably steps.
We are gathering a meeting of the NSDC today. We will discuss and make decisions on further steps. Our course towards ending the war and devotion to international agreements remains unchanged – as does our determination to repulse any manifestations of armed aggression against Ukraine,” the statement said.
Despite initial claims that all was in order, Ukraine lost two strongholds during the escalation in the Donbass. This was announced by member of Ukrainian parliament Irina Gerashchenko and demanded that the Minister of Defense be called to parliament so that he would report on the situation at the front.
Incidentally (and of course the escalation happened purely by chance just a day prior), a meeting of the UN Security Council will be held in New York on February 19th, in connection with the fifth anniversary of the Minsk agreements, the convening of which was initiated by Russia.
The meeting will be entirely devoted to the topic of Ukraine.
The OSCE, in its daily reports says that the violations of the ceasefire are happening constantly, and starting from February 15th, there was an increase in hostilities along the contact line near Luhansk, and a reduction in Donetsk. However, it is very apparent that the situation remains tense, with constant fire exchange and little progress.
February 18th, also marked the day that the Maidan shooting began in 2014.
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