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As Ukraine celebrates its day of independence, the military reports that fighting in the Donbass has dramatically escalated over the last 24 hours, after a lull towards the end of last week.
Ukrainska Pravda reports that General Boris Kremenetsky, the head of the Ukrainian delegation at the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC), said today:
“Over the last 24 hours, on August 23, there was a sharp increase in the number of ceasefire violations on the part of the militants – 82 incidents, including the use of Grads.”
At his daily press briefing in Kiev, military spokesman Colonel Andriy Lysenko said that Russian-backed forces had stepped up their shelling overnight, attacking Ukrainian positions south-east of Artyomovsk, in Luganskoye and Lozovoye.
Troitskoye, to the north-east, was pounded with Grad rockets at about 19:00. According to JCCC reports, Lysenko said, at least 40 rockets fell on the village.
The spokesman said that a noticeable quantity of military hardware had gathered in separatist-held territory near Pervomaysk, Irmino and Kalinovo.
On the western end of the Bakhmutka highway, Lysenko reported a deteriorating situation near Orekhovo and Zolotoye, with Russian-backed forces shelling the Ukrainian lines with 120 mm mortars.
According to Georgiy Tuka, the governor of the Lugansk region, one Ukrainian soldier from Vinnytsia was wounded by a tripwire mine in Zolotoye.
The ATO Press Centre also reported 120 mm mortar attacks on Ukrainian troops in Novozvanovka, north of Troitskoye, and Zaytsevo, north of Gorlovka.
To the north of Donetsk, both Avdeyevka and Peski were subjected to heavy artillery and mortar fire last night. According to the ATO Press Centre, apartment blocks in Avdeyevka were struck with 122 mm artillery at 22:30.
Leviy Bereg‘s Maks Levin visited Ukrainian positions outside Avdeyevka last night:
To the south of the region, Lysenko reported attacks, including one use of 152 mm artillery, on positions near both Starognatovka and Shirokino.
Novosti Donbassa cited social media reports last night of artillery artillery exchanges to the south of Donetsk, on the highway to Mariupol.
According to the report, gunfire was heard coming from the direction of separatist-held Yelenovka and Staromikhailovka while shells were also reported to be falling in the direction of separatist-held Dokuchaevsk.
But the most worrying reports have come from eastern end of the front line in the Lugansk region.
Colonel Lysenko said that there had been seven attacks on positions near Stanitsa Luganskaya, to the north-east of the regional capital, over the last 24 hours, most of them at night, conducted with mortars and howitzers.
At 6:16 GMT, the Lugansk Regional Military-Civil Administration reported that fighting was still under way around Stanitsa Luganskaya.
According to the report, Russian-backed forces had been firing on the town almost all night with mortars, self-propelled artillery and grenade launchers. Ukrainian troops were still engaged in shoot-outs with Russian-backed fighters on the southern banks of the Seversky Donets river.
Governor Tuka claimed that Russian-backed forces had deliberately targeted power infrastructure, and that electricity was down in Stanitsa Luganskaya and the nearby villages of Valuyskoye, Olkhovaya and Bolotennoye.
To the west, along the Seversky Donets, the village of Tryokhizbenka was fired on 62 times by a tank in occupied Smile, reported the Regional Administration.
— Pierre Vaux