Massive Escalation In Fighting Yesterday, With Focus Back On Shirokino

June 28, 2016
The former resort village of Shirokino, photographed earlier this year by Olena Bilozerska, activist and fighter with the Ukrainian Volunteer Army.

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Massive Escalation In Fighting Yesterday, With Focus Back On Shirokino

The Ukrainian military reports a dramatic escalation in fighting yesterday, claiming 71 attacks were conducted by Russian-backed forces in the Donbass. For comparison, the highest daily figures in recent days have been around 50, with 36 reported over Sunday.

Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, told reporters in Kiev today that one Ukrainian soldier had been shot dead in the Avdeyevka industrial park by a sniper, and that six others had been wounded, five of them by a tripwire mine blast near Starognatovka.

According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, the heaviest fighting was seen around the village of Shirokino, on the Azov coast east of Mariupol.

Here, the report says, 15 attacks were recorded over the day, with Russian-backed fighters using mortars, self-propelled artillery and small arms.

During a skirmish near the village yesterday afternoon, troops from the Ukrainian Volunteer Army, supported by the regular army’s 54th reconnaissance battalion, defeated a group of Russian-backed fighters were were attempting to move across the front line. 

Censor.NET editor Yuriy Butusov reported last night that three Russian-backed fighters were killed and eight captured. Yuriy Tandit, and adviser to the head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) told the 112 news channel this morning that the captured fighters were being interrogated by the agency and that some of them had been armed with “modern Russian weaponry.”

Mortar attacks were also reported by the ATO Press Center near the neighbouring villages of Lebedinskoe, Vodyanoye and Chermalyk.

Positions both on the outskirts of Mariupol, near Talakovka, and to the northeast, near Pavlopol and Starognatovka, were attacked with automatic grenade launchers and heavy machine guns.

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On the highway between Mariupol and Donetsk, Russian-backed forces in Dokuchaevsk reportedly shelled Ukrainian positions near Novotroitskoye with 122 mm self-propelled howitzers.

To the west of separatist-held Donetsk city, positions in the suburbs of Maryinka and Krasnogorovka were shelled with mortars.

To the north, Ukrainian troops near Opytnoye and Peski were shelled with 82 mm mortars, while those near Avdeyevka, where one soldier was killed by a sniper, were reportedly attacked with 120 mm mortars, automatic grenade launchers and machine guns. 

Meanwhile the separatist-backed administration of the Kuybyshevsky district of Donetsk city reported this morning that five residential buildings had been struck by shells fired by Ukrainian forces overnight, with several other houses damaged by shrapnel.

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In the Gorlovka area, the ATO Press Centre claims that Russian-backed forces attacked positions near Zaytsevo, Mayorsk, Luganskoye and Troitskoye with automatic grenade launchers, while those near Kirovo were shelled with 82 mm mortars.

Finally, in the Lugansk region, Ukrainian troops on the front line between the villages of Krymskoye and Sokolniki, which both lie on the southern banks of the Seversky Donets river, were attacked with small arms.

Moving westwards, positions near Orekhovo, on the Bakhmutka highway, were fired on with anti-aircraft artillery, while those further on near Novoaleksandrovka and Popasnaya were bombarded with automatic grenade launchers.

— Pierre Vaux