Ukraine Day 741: Russia’s “Other” Ceasefire Is Still Broken

February 28, 2016
Azov Battalion activists stage a protest with torches in front of the SBU building after one of their members, Stanislav Krasanov, and activist Oksana Shelest were arrested on February 28, 2016. Photo by Tamara Shevchuk

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


Azov Battalion Members Stage Protest at SBU Building After Crimea Blockade Activists Krasnov and Shelest Arrested

Members of the Azov Battalion staged a protest tonight with torches in front of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) building over the arrest of Stanislav Krasnov, one of their members, and another activist, Oksana Shelest reported.

Krasnov and Shelest were active in Azov-Krym which organized the citizens’ blockade of traffic into Russian-occupied Crimea. The two were arrested near the town of Chubinskoye and were reportedly in possession of explosives. Krasnov has been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.

Krasnov was a volunteer fighter in Peski. 

Azov has been controversial due to some of its members holding far-right views and wearing Nazi insignia.  Last year it was folded into the Ukrainian National Gard.

Andriy Beletsky, leader of the ultra-rightist Social-National Assembly, also considered to be a neo-Nazi organization was among those at the protest, Unian reported.

Police blocked off the street but law-enforcers did not intervene.

Some demonstrators set off smoke bombs.

2016-02-29 03:56:31

Tamara Shevchuk reported on her Facebook page two hours ago that people had already begun to disperse.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

Both Sides Accuse Each Other Of Ceasefire Violations

The Ukrainian Military’s office for the Anti-Terror Operation (ATO) reports this evening that as of 18:00 on Sunday their positions have been shelled 28 times in the last 24 hours.

The Russian state news agency TASS reports that the Russian-backed separatists are also accusing the Ukrainian military of launching its own attacks:

“The positions near the village of Kalinovka were shelled five times from the urban settlement of Luganskoye. The fire was delivered from infantry fighting vehicles, mounted anti-tank and automatic grenade launchers and small arms,” the news agency LuganskInformCenter quoted the LPR Defense Ministry as saying.

The Ukrainian military also opened fire twice on the area of the town of Pervomaisk from grenade launchers and a large-caliber machine-gun, the LPR Defense Ministry said.

We cannot verify these reports, but we do know that Ukraine has been much more aggressive in the last several weeks, responding to the alarming escalation in shelling conducted by Russian-backed forces. See our previous reporting here:

The Ukrainian government is fighting two very public wars — one on corruption at home and the other against Russian aggression. The government is also under intense pressure to show progress on both fronts. As such, every incoming Russian shell is a political liability.

But the areas reportedly under attack by Ukrainian forces hardly signal that a relaunch of an ATO offensive is underway. What this past week’s fighting does signal, however, is that the Ukrainian military is behaving less timid than it has in recent months. Their reluctance to take new territory has always been much more about not wanting to trigger a larger Russian invasion than anything else. With Russia trying to present itself as the peacemaker in both Syria and Ukraine, the Ukrainian government may be signaling that, at the moment, it’s willing to take the chance in small battles.

But will the battles stay small?  All we can look at are the trends. This weekend saw a decrease in the overall number of attacks from earlier in the week when ceasefire violations were at the worst in nearly six months.

James Miller