Ukraine Live Day 432: Fighting Intensifies with Grads; 1 Ukrainian Soldier Killed

April 25, 2015
T-72 tanks observed entering Donetsk April 24, 2015. Photo by Petr Shelomovskiy

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Fighting Intensifies with Mortar, Grad Attacks in Donetsk Region; 1 Ukrainian Soldier Killed, 2 Wounded

Fighting intensified over the night of April 24-April 25, the Ukrainian ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] reported on its Facebook page.

One Ukrainian soldier was killed and two wounded, reported, citing the ATO spokesman Andrey Lysenko.

Russian-backed separatists attacked 24 positions of Ukrainian troops with mainly small arms and mortars. But they also began firing Grad missiles near the town of Granitnoye (Hranitne) in Donetsk Region and near the town of Starognativka in the Volnovakh District. Ukrainian forces also clashed with the militants’ diversionary group at Pesky (Pisky) and militants made four attacks on the ATO position with 120-mm mortars.

Attacks were also observed near Popasnaya and Avdiivka (Avdeyevka) and continued shelling with 122-mm mortars near Shirokino (Shirokine).

A correspondent on the scene reported tank movement that indicates the mandate of Minsk-2 to pull back heavy armor is not being observed:

We have been reporting the increase of fighting and Russian armor movement in the last week.

The Institute for the Study  of War believes a Russian-backed offensive is imminent, Business Insider reports

A renewed pro-Russian offensive may be imminent in eastern Ukraine.

Russian-backed separatists appear to have abandoned the February 12
ceasefire agreement after redeploying banned heavy weapons to the front
line and intensifying their attacks on Ukrainian positions.

Separatist attacks have escalated most significantly around the
destroyed Donetsk airport, the most advanced Ukrainian positions to the
separatist stronghold of Donetsk, and Shyrokyne, the closest separatist
position to the key Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

Both areas have seen indirect fire exchanges and skirmishes over the
past two months but fighting escalated this week to a level not seen
since the separatist victory at the rail hub of Debaltseve.

Attacks by previously withdrawn “Grad” multiple launch rocket systems
and other heavy weapons on Ukrainian-held populated areas also indicate
the separatists’ abandonment of the ceasefire agreement and possible
efforts to clear civilians from the area in preparation for an

The US State Department accused Russia of building up forces despite the cease-fire agreement, Business Insider and Reuters reported:

“This is the highest amount of Russian air defense equipment in
eastern Ukraine since August,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf
said in a statement.

She said the increasingly complex nature of the training exercises “leaves no doubt that Russia is involved.”

“The training has also incorporated Russian UAV’s (unmanned aerial
vehicles), an unmistakable sign of Russian presence,” Harf added.

Reuters reprinted some maps of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) which is a good reminder of just what the peace process has actually led to since September 2014: more grabbing of Ukrainian territory by Russia and “the People’s Republics”:


On April 29, the Trilateral Contact Group consisting of OSCE Amb. Heidi Tagliavini, former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma and Russia’s envoy to Ukraine Amb. Mikhail Zurabov are to reconvene, and will speak to the heads of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Lugansk People’s Republic” via video conference, Unian reported.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick