Over the last few weeks, the Kremlin’s propaganda has been all out blaming Ukraine for the increased fighting and shelling. This of course is nothing new. Everyday for the last 5 years, Russia’s accused Ukraine’s army of all sorts of outlandish things, but their main propaganda focus remains – the accusation the Ukrainian army deliberately targets civilians.
This new widespread disinformation effort hopes to link Ukraine’s new President Zelenskyy to the recent upsurge in shelling. The below Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweet neatly summing up this cynical effort. “It’s time to call his uncontrolled Ukrainian military to account.”
So, with Russia doing a smash and grab raid on the moral high ground, it’s probably not a good idea for Russia’s forces to be seen shelling Ukraine held territory in broad daylight. Or be seen using heavy, self-propelled artillery (SPA). Artillery which under the Minsk agreement signed by Russia, are banned from the front line area.
To provoke a Ukrainian military response, Russia’s forces routinely use provocation fire. The more destructive and heavier the firing is, the more likely it’s guaranteed to get a response. Hence the use of heavy artillery such as SPA guns. As detailed in this post, much of this provocation fire deliberately takes place near civilian houses/property. The hope is any return fire will either kill/wound civilians, or at the very least cause damage to property. Russia’s state media, propagandists, useful idiots and trolls then go to work, telling everyone about the wicked Ukrainian army.
A Ukrainian army UAV video revealed two Russian SPA guns. They’re seen firing towards Ukraine held territory, just east of Mariupol city. Located on the Azov Sea south coast, this coastal area has long endured Russia’s forces shelling. In July of this year, they’ve already hit an ambulance killing 2 medics in the village of Vodyane, fired on the nearby village of Hnutove killing one Ukrainian soldier, and July 11th, killed a civilian man in the village of Chermalyk, a little north of Hnutove.
Fresh blood stains left by the man killed in Chermalyk. He died in hospital.
The deceased mans house and another were both hit by shell fire. Report on the shelling.
SPA guns Location using Google Earth.
Mariupol city is out of shot on the left (west).
Ukraine holds the front line villages of Vodyane & Hnutove.
Everything on the right (east) is occupied by Russia’s forces.
Red square – field SPA guns fired from.
Yellow square – spot where SPA drove (about 3km) back to, and then promptly got shelled by Ukrainian artillery.
My Google Earth search for the field. Red square is area SPA fired from.
Coordinates: 47 10 11.96 N 37 53 23.86 E.
Distinctive field formations and well-used tracks used by Russia’s forces vehicles helped pinpoint its location. By deliberately firing close to the village of Vesele, Russia no doubt hoped any Ukrainian return fire might hit it, or cause damage to the field, such as setting fire to crops.
Clip from the video showing the two SPA guns firing from the field.
The vehicle tracks show they first drove through Vesele, before entering the field.
As seen in the below picture, the guns look to be – Gvozdika 2-S1 122mm howitzers. In 2014, Russia sent hundreds of these into Ukraine. A third vehicle (above image, middle bottom) can be seen in the video. This is an infantry armoured vehicle. Presumably it was there to shoot down any Ukrainian UAV; a task in which it failed miserably.
Russian SPA gun inside the occupied city of Donetsk.
The YouTube UAV video. It’s good quality and well worth a watch.
Close-up of one the SPA guns in the field.
Close-up of the armoured vehicle in the field, parked behind the SPA.
The SPA have driven back from Vesele. Coordinates: 47 9 42.55 N 37 55 17.87 E.
Well away from any civilian houses, here they came under fire from Ukrainian artillery.
Close-up of one of the SPA guns. Smoke is from an artillery strike.
Close-up of one of the SPA being towed back from the front line.
At the end of the video, we see a tow truck suffer a direct hit from Ukrainian shell fire.
To hide them from OSCE monitors and Ukrainian forces, much of Russia’s front line hardware such as these SPA guns, are hidden in buildings. Using civilians as human shields, these buildings are all too often located next to civilian houses.
My video on Russia’s attempts to smear the Ukrainian army.