Fighting In Ukraine Decreased But Remains At Elevated Levels

March 9, 2017

Ukraine Day 1116: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.


An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine


Ukrainian Soldier Shoots Sniper Near Industrial Zone Who Turns Out To Be Russian Citizen

A Ukrainian soldier with the call-sign “Zver,” shown here kissing his rifle, is quoted as saying “Thanks my little toy, that you didn’t let me down.”

Readers of our daily battle reports know that fighting has been fierce in particular in and around the industrial zone (“promzona“) near Avdeyevka (Avdiivka). Practically every day, there are descriptions also of snipers active along the towns of the front line, often causing the deaths of Ukrainian soldiers. reports that on the evening of March 9,  the tables turned when a young Ukrainian contract soldier shot to death a sniper near the Avdeyevka industrial zone who turned out to be a Russian citizen, and an officer of Russian military intelligence, according to a post from the 72nd Guard Separate Mechanized Brigade on Facebook.

The Ukrainian soldier, whose call sign is “Zver'” [Beast], age 19, said he shot the sniper, who was only a few dozen meters away from other Russia-backed militants at the line of contact, then dragged his body away for a search. He discovered that the man, age 33, whose name was not given, had a Russian Federation passport, a military card from the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” and sniper’s flash cards.

“Coal miners don’t make cards like that,” another Ukrainian soldier, whose call sign was “Khan” was quoted as saying in the 72nd Guard’s post.

“As much as we’ve been fighting, we don’t draw cards so perfectly as those firing cards were drawn,” he added.

He said the battles in the industrial zone were not subsiding at all. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin once declared that there were no Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, that there were only local separatist “coal-miners and truck-drivers”. 

Earlier Ukrainian journalist Andrei Taplienko told the story somewhat differently, noting that the Russian sniper had not lived after he was shot, although Ukrainian soldiers had taken him to a “no-man’s land” and tried to give him first aid.  He expressed regret at his death, saying “witnesses are needed in the Hague.”

Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Ukraine Submits to World Court Allegations that Russian Citizen Organized Attack on Volnovakha in January 2015
In four days of hearings at the International Court of Justice, known as the World Court, Ukraine has been presenting its case against Russia under international treaties against discrimination and the financing of terrorism.
According to a report, Dmitry Storozhuk, deputy general prosecutor, announced today at a briefing that Ukrainian investigators had determined that a Russian citizen whose last name was Sinelnikov, who had helped organized armed attacks on Ukraine and led militants himself, along with a Ukrainian citizen whose last name was Shpakov, were responsible for the attack on a civilian van that led to 11 civilian deaths.

In January 2017, Ukraine submitted its suit against Russia for mistreatment of Crimean Tatars and other minorities in Russian-occupied Crimea, and for funding illegal armed groups of separatists. Currently, Ukraine seeks an injunction from the judge ordering Russia to cease its violations, pending examination of the case, which may take years.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

A Significant Drop In Ceasefire Violations
After more than a week of significantly elevated levels of fighting along the entire front in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military reported on Thursday that there had been a significant drop in the levels of fighting over the previous 24 hour period.
According to, there were only 69 ceasefire violations reported by the Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) in the morning about the previous 12 hours, a large drop considering that there had been an average of more than 100 a day for at least a week.

Then in its evening dispatch, the ATO reported 39 attacks during the day, also a significant drop compared to previous days. Three soldiers were wounded and two concussed during this last 24-hour period.

On the Mariupol line, Russia-backed used mortar-launchers on Novotroitskoye, Vodyanoye, Pavlopol and Boganovka. Grenade-launchers and small arms were used on Lebedinskoye, Novogrigoryevka, Shirokino, Chermalik, Vodyanoye and Gnutovo. A sniper fired on Talakovka.

On the Lugansk line, militants attacked Novoaleksandrovka and Popasnyaya with mortar-launchers and used grenade-launchers and small arms on Novozvanovka and Stanitsa Luganskaya.

On the Donetsk line, mortar-launchers were fired on Avdeyevka, Dacha and Luganskoye. Grenade-launchers and small arms were used to attack Kamenka, Luganskoye, Peski, Nevelskoye, Zaytsevo and Troitskloye. Mayorsk, Avdeyevka and Zaytsevo came under fire from small arms and snipers.

As always, fighting is cyclical and temporary increases or decreased in fighting occasionally interrupt the trends. It’s also worth noting that 69 ceasefire violations is still a significant level of fighting compared to some of the more peaceful periods recorded in 2016. It remains a situation that requires significant monitoring to see whether violence is actually decreasing once again or whether this is a small period of deescalation.

James Miller and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick