One Ukrainian Soldier Killed, Nine Wounded; Attacks Intensify As Use of Grad Missiles Confirmed

August 30, 2016
A home destroyed in Donetsk August 29, 2016. Photo by David Hudziec

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


One Ukrainian Soldier Killed, Nine Wounded; Attacks Intensify As Use of Grad Missiles Confirmed

In the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed, nine were wounded and two suffered concussions, the spokesman for the presidential administration on ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] affairs reported.
Ukraine has been under heavy pressure from Russia’s aggressive military exercises near its border.
Russia brought bombers to Russian-occupied Crimea, says Ukrainian military intelligence.
There have been a number of sightings of Russian military convoys in Crimea. This video was uploaded on August 26 and describes a convoy moved by train in Crimea. The location is not known.

The commander-in-chief for the US Army Europe (CINCUSAREUR) visited the front line in the Donbass today.

Attacks on Ukrainian positions have stepped up considerable this week, and reports of the use of Grad missiles appeared once again. In the first 18 months of the war, the use of Grads was far more common, but after the second Minsk agreement, they were pulled back beyond the line of contact and not used as much.

Now they are back. 

The Ukrainian team of the Joint Coordination and Communication Center (JCCC) has documented the firing of Grad missiles on civilians areas in Krasnogorovka on August 27. Lt.Col. Vadim Bakay of the Ukrainian JCCC made a post on Facebook.
The Ukrainian JCCC experts says attacks “of a provocative nature” have increased recently on civilian areas and are “aimed at placing psychological pressure” on residents of areas near the line of contact — and also are attempts to force the Ukrainian army to fire back.
“This of course provides them the basis for accusing the Ukrainian army of using banned weapons,” says the Ukrainian JCCC regarding the Russian-backed forces.
The statistics for August 2016 indicated that the average daily number of uses of mortar-launchers and artillery systems fluctuates between 36-67 incidents. The greatest number of violations of the ceasefire are made by 82-mm mortar-launchers. Moreover, it is noted that the illegal armed forces are using banned weapons accompanied by a significant expenditure of shells and artillery ammunition. Thus, the average daily expenditure of mortars is 230-290, in addition to 89-120 artillery shells.
According to the information from the Ukrainian JCCC shifts on duty, each week, the enemy violates the ceasefire regime around 400-450 times, and about 160-170 times using weapons banned under the Minsk agreement, expending 1,800 units of artillery ammunition. And these indicators are persistent for large spans of time, which indicates a certain trend.
The JCC added that the militants were also using different tactics:
– short bursts of fire over a maximum possible area;
– conducting planned firings simultaneously from several different directions;
– using several types of weapons at once for attack (artillery systems, mortar-launchers) to combine the effect of various destructive factors of the ammunition;
– firing from residential areas, even densely populated.
“Using residential quarters in Donetsk, Gorlovka, Makeyevka and Yasinovataya is the main element of the artillery tactics of the ORDO/ORLO illegal formations,” said the Ukrainian JCCC, using the military acronym for “certain districts of Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.”
The Ukrainian JCCC believes that the Russian-backed separatists are focusing on the more densely-populated urban areas of Donetsk, Gorlovka, and Yasinovataya because then they can show maximum damage to housing, whereas south of Maryinka, the areas are more rural and less densely populated.
The militants maintain favorable conditions for this behavior by blocking the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in these areas most of all, says the Ukrainian JCCC. The urban settings also afford the militants lots of buildings to hide armor and ammunition boxes at garages, warehouses, and industrial zones. These facilities also provide areas for repair of armor as well.
The Ulrainian JCCC believes that the urban areas create the most opportunities for the militants to draw them into return fire, and even if they do not fire back, they can fake Ukrainian shelling for the media.
For these reasons, the OSCE SMM’s adamant position that they should not be blocked from monitoring is a serious challenge to the militants and that’s why they keep offering to “accompany” the OSCE SMM for “protection.”

Photos of recent devastation of homes in Donetsk have been uploaded to VKontakte by a pro-Russian Polish photographer David Hudziec

Translation: #Donetsk , Svetlichnaya 19 Street, aftermath of the shelling on the night of August 29-30, 2016. All the photos.

In its report early this morning, the ATO said militants fired 91 times on Ukrainian positions, about triple the amount of yesterday, and with heavier weapons including tanks.
On the Donetsk line, Nevelskoye, Avdeyevka, Keraminka, Peski, Zaytsevo, Dachi and Kadem were shelled, with 40 152-mm shells and more than 200 122-mm shells. From Nevelskoye to the Svetlodarsk Bulge, various weapons were fired including mortar-launchers, grenade-launchers and heavy machine guns, notably on Kirovo, Troitskoye and outside Avdeyevka. BTRs were used on Luganskoye as well as anti-aircraft systems, and tanks fired on Peski and Kamentsi. Snipers were active in Verkhnetoretskoye.
In Lugansk Region, mortar, grenade and machine-gun fire was conducted on Novoaleksandrovka, Krymskoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya. Grenade-launchers were used in Novozvanivtsi, Popasnaya and Zhyoltoye; a heavy machine gun was used in Zolotye and a BMP was deployed against Zhyoltoye. Snipers were active in Novozvanivtsi, Novoaleksandrovka, Zolotye and Zhyoltoye.
Along the Mariupol line, a volley-fire rocket system was used to attack Krasnogorovka. Mortar, grenade and machine-gun fire was waged against Shirokino. Mortar-launchers fired on Krasnogorovka, Pavlopol and Taramchuk; grenade-launchers and heavy machine guns were used on Maryinka; and firearms were used on Talkovka and Granitnoye. BMPs attacked positions in Talakovka, and there an attempt at aerial reconnaissance was discovered.
In its report this evening at 18:00, the ATO said the Russian-backed forces had struck 33 times at Ukrainian positions,
On the Donetsk line, 122-mm artillery was fired at Verkhnetoretskoye and Peski, and 82-mm artillery and heavy machine guns on Avdeyevka, Luganskoye and Peski.
In Mayorsk, armed provocations took place with grenade-launchers and firearms and a BMP was deployed in Luganskoye.
On the Mariupol line, 122-mm artillery was fired at Krasnogorivtsi, and 82-mm artillery, grenade-launchers, heavy machine guns and firearms were used on Shirokino. Mortar-launchers were fired on Krasnogorovka and in Maryinka, grenade-launchers and firearms were used; a sniper was active.

In Lugansk Region, mortar-launchers, grenade-launchers and firearms were shot until dawn at Novoaleksandrovka; machine guns were fired at Novozvanivtsi as well toward evening.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick