On January 17, 2020, the Ukrayinsky Tyzhden Web site published a next regular survey done by the volunteers of the InformNapalm international community, dedicated to the escalation of events in the Donbas region’s areas from where the Ukrainian troops had been withdrawn in fall 2019.
It’s now the sixth year of the Donbas remaining to be a hot spot on the European map. Just like experts and military professionals have predicted, in no case a withdrawal of the Ukrainian forces makes the adversary lower their activity; on the contrary, it only fuels their courage to intensify the aggression.
Next “Bilateral Withdrawals…”
On January 15, the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky had a telephone conversation with the chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, where they discussed, in particular, the issue of peace settlement in the Donbas. He noted that Ukraine has already made a list of the points where the next troop withdrawals will take place. Meanwhile, in Minsk, during sessions of the security section of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) they discussed 9 possible points of the bilateral withdrawal. According to journalists’ testimonies, so far the sides have decided only on one actual withdrawal site, the one near the Hnutove entrance-exit checkpoint. In these negotiations, Russia insisted on withdrawal of the troops in the areas of Schastia, Veselohorivka, Rozsadky, Shyrokyne, and in the vicinity of Avdiivka and Hnutove checkpoint. In turn, the Ukrainian side offered to withdraw troops neat the railroad bridge in Stanytsya Luhanska, near Avdiivka, Novoselivka Druha, and the Hnutove checkpoint. We need to remind our readers here that in May 2018 it was the Hnutove checkpoint that was shelled with guided anti-tank missiles PTUR by the Russian terrorist armed units, when there were civilians at the checkpoint.
The Enemy Goes for Escalation
However, the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops that had been accomplished previously did not result in creation of the security zone as it had been declared. For example, in the beginning of November 2019, a withdrawal of the Ukrainian troops and their military facilities was completed near Zolote township of the Luhansk district. Nonetheless, just this week the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and the headquarters of the United Forces’ Operation reported yet another series of episodes when the armed Russian terrorist units opened fire using heavy artillery in that area. The Ukrainian military specialists identified the units on the other side that kept covering our positions near Orikhove and Zolote with mortar shells. And on January 16, 2020 the Russian occupational troops fired at the Ukrainian positions near Orikhove (4.5 kilometers from Zolote) with heavy artillery guns of the 152 mm and 122 mm caliber, and with 120-mm and 82-mm caliber mortars.
How Does the Enemy’s Heavy Artillery Work
Numerous investigations done by the InformNapalm international volunteers’ community revealed that the Artillery systems of the 152 mm caliber were, occasionally, used by the Russian terrorist troops. For example, in February 2019, they found that the terrorists used a modern Russia-made 152-mm guided artillery shell of the Krasnopol type, with a 9E421 semi-active self-targeting warhead. During the attack with the use of this weapon, the Russians hit the house of a peaceful civilian called Viktor Frolov. The building was completely ruined.
In November 2019, our volunteers’ aerial reconnaissance clearly documented transportation of at least four heavy artillery guns 2A36 Giatsint-B (Hyacinth) of the 152 mm caliber. The InformNapalm volunteers also have proof that these guns were towed by Russian military trucks Ural-632301, which never were on the list of weapons assigned for the Ukrainian army and thus cannot be described as “trophies” allegedly seized from the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Donbas.
Regarding the 122 mm artillery, the InformNapalm volunteers also have revealed, many times, the sites of its concentration, and even have compiled the complete list of the personnel and the weapons of the self-propelled artillery division of the Russian terrorist troops.
Russia Increases Her Influence in the Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE in the Donbas
Formerly, the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) rather frequently used to highlight the uncovering of the heavy artillery systems beyond their officially agreed locations in the Donbas. However, in the last half-year the reports about the violations by the Russian occupational troops became conspicuously fewer. Instead, the SMM observers began, in their reports, to shift the focus towards the reports about the Ukrainian military devices that are, in fact, located far away from the demarcation line and are a part of the anti-aircraft defense, like the anti-aircraft missile systems 9K33 Osa.
The InformNapalm volunteers noted that this re-orientation of the SMM observers was strange and suggested that this could be related with an increase of the number of Russian citizens among the SMM observers in the Donbas. Overall, by December 2019, the number of Russian citizens among the SMM observers grew to 41, while the mission also includes 5 observers from Belarus, 2 from Armenia, 23 from Kyrgyzstan and 15 from Serbia – the countries that have traditionally and routinely voted in favor of Russia’s interests in the UN and have close political and economical ties with Moscow. For example, in the beginning of December 2019, these countries voted, together with the Russian Federation, against a UN resolution that urged Russia to withdraw her troops from the Crimea peninsula. Meanwhile, there are no Ukrainian citizens among the SMM observers. This situation means that Russia, the aggressor, has much opportunity to manipulate the information in the SMM reports. Russia can add data or delete the data that are inconvenient for the Russian Federation.
Of course, as long as it has representatives from other countries, the OSCE mission retains its potential for accumulating important data about the Russian military aggression, and it does every now and then publish, among other, the data that are absolutely uncomfortable for the Russian Federation. For example, at the end of the year 2019, they published the data about the contemporary Russian EW systems located in the Donbas.
On January 15, 2020 there were also communications from the war zone about the Russian snipers beefing up their activity. There was a separate survey from InformNapalm, called “Sniper Fire an Propaganda Smokescreen.”