Ukraine Live Day 638: Ukrainian Military Reports Grad Attacks On Residential Areas

November 17, 2015

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Ukrainian Military Reports Grad Attacks On Residential Areas

The Ukrainian military claimed this morning that Russian-backed fighters bombarded residential areas with Grad rockets last night.

Last night we covered unconfirmed reports from Donetsk of Grad usage.

Today, the ATO Press Centre reported that Grad MLRS were used twice between 20:00 and 21:00 last night.

According to the report, 12 rockets were fired in total, falling on the outskirts of Krasnogorovka and Gornyak, to the west of Donetsk.

Later today, Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, told reporters that the Grad launchers used in the attacks were located in the separatist-held Donetsk suburb of Staromikhailovka. Three of the rockets had struck Krasnogorovka, he said, while nine landed on Gornyak, which lies 14 kilometres from the front line.

Motuzyanyk also reported that Krasnogorovka had come under fire from 82 mm mortars and BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles.

Both Motuzyanyk and the ATO Press Centre report described attacks across the front line around Donetsk last night, with anti-aircraft artillery and grenade launchers fired towards Marinka, Troitskoye, Verknetoretskoye, Peski and Avdeyevka.

Pro-Kremlin propagandist Graham Phillips uploaded video this morning which purportedly shows Russian-backed fighters firing on the front line near Donetsk last night. Phillips claims that this is “return fire.” 

Phillips also claimed that a separatist fighter was killed in combat yesterday.

The ‘defence ministry’ of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claimed today that Ukrainian forces had violated the ceasefire six times over the last 24 hours, shelling Staromikhailovka, Spartak and the Abakumova neighbourhood of Donetsk, in addition to the outskirts of Gorlovka, to the northeast. 


The most recent report from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) does indeed suggest that shelling is going both ways, describing recent shelling damage to houses near the front line in Staromikhailovka:

On 15 November, positioned at Donetsk railway station, the SMM heard a total of 229 explosions (anti-aircraft gun, one impacting 120mm mortar round, and undetermined weapons) mainly at locations 3-5km north, north-north-west, north-west and west of its position, as well as at least 250 bursts of small arms and heavy machine-gun mainly at locations west, west-south-west of its position.

The SMM observed damaged houses and heard about casualties as result of shelling. On 14 November, in “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (16 km west of Donetsk), 35 residents (the majority of them middle-aged and elderly women) told the SMM that shooting and shelling had intensified in the past weeks and had been constant over the previous three nights. The SMM observed that almost all the houses in the area close to the contact line had suffered some damages – walls and windows were partially broken and some of them were fresh.

Today, residents of Donetsk report continued fighting.

Translation VKontakte Marinka: “12:40 – somewhat noisy this afternoon, gunfire practically incessant since the morning. There is no complete silence”

Away from Donetsk, the Ukrainian military reported attacks on Zaytsevo and Mayorsk, north of Gorlovka,  as well as Novgorodskoye, to the west.

To the south, Colonel Motuzyanyk reported that three mortar rounds had been fired at Ukrainian positions in the village of Shirokino, on the Azov coast.

Leviy Bereg‘s Oleksandr Rudomanov was told by Ukrainian marines deployed outside Shirokino that the 82 mm mortar attack had begun after sunset. On this occasion the marines said that they had returned fire.

Over the last 24 hours, Motuzyanyk said, three Ukrainian soldiers have been wounded.

Meanwhile a separatist Twitter account associated with the former DNR military leader Igor Girkin, aka Strelkov, and still active and cited by pro-separatist social media accounts, put out the following, ominous tweet at 9:33 GMT today:


Translation: Don’t panic, we’ll have to put up without petrol for a little. There isn’t no fuel because of theft, all fuels are going to a good cause: for an offensive.

The tweet has since been deleted and the claim is not from an official source, but it does exemplify the aggressive rhetoric becoming more and more commonplace in the Donbass as fighting worsens.

— Pierre Vaux