Yesterday, Feb 18th saw the heaviest fighting in eastern Ukraine for many a month.
In the Luhansk Oblast (province), early in the morning, Russia’s forces launched a heavy and sustained bombardment of Ukrainian defences protecting villages and towns around the so-called Zolote disengagement area. Using artillery cover, infantry also advanced and attempted to capture forward positions. Ukrainian reserves were thrown in and the attack was repulsed.
To give you a feel for the intensity of the fighting, the OSCE put the number of explosions observed in the Zolote area as over 2,300. We’ll get a fuller report from them later today.
During the fighting, it’s reported, 1 Ukrainian soldier was killed and 6 wounded. This morning the wounded were reported as not having sustained life threatening injuries. Of those known, Russia’s forces losses are put at four killed and six seriously wounded. To collect their dead and wounded, yesterday Russia’s forces reportedly asked for a local ceasefire. Which is ironic, as there is supposed to be a ceasefire in place now, one which Putin agreed to on Dec 9th 2019.
Situation report for Feb 18th firing. The explosion graphics in the Luhansk Oblast (blue), indicate Russia’s forces shelling around the Zolote disengagement area.
In total, Russia’s forces launched 22 firing attacks, the highest number for 2020. Ukrainian military report around 400 shells were fired by Russian artillery, tanks and mortars, with the majority hitting the Zolote area. Added to this total will be the large-scale use of automatic grenade launchers & anti-tank rocket fire; the latter widely used to knock out bunkers and vehicles.
Seen below, Maxim Khitaylov was sadly killed during yesterdays attack. A 22 year old Ukrainian soldier, he died defending the town of Popasna.
The Zolote disengagement area was established back in Oct 2019. A cluster of 5 settlements centered around the larger village of Zolote, four are held by Ukraine. This was a front line hot spot, suffering frequent shelling and firing.
Read my post on the three established disengagement areas created so far.
Initially all went well. Both sides withdrew roughly 1.5km from each other along a 4km front. Demining of the area and the preparation of new military positions outside the area then took place. However, peace was not to last. Notably this year, Russia’s forces commenced frequent shelling and firing at Ukrainian positions defending the settlements just outside the disengagement area. Over recent weeks this firing substantially increased.
My Google Earth map above shows the Zolote disengagement area within the red lines. The yellow line marks each sides territory within it. No soldiers are expected to enter this area, or use it to fire from. Note the town of Popasna, bottom left where Maxim was killed.
The wider area around Zolote.
Close-up. Along with Popasna, defences around the Ukraine held villages of Orikhove, Novotoshkivske & Krymske were all hit.
So, it’s clear Putin’s not interested in bringing about peace in eastern Ukraine and is using the creation of disengagement areas as just another means of increasing the fighting, increasing the suffering of Ukrainians.
I do hope the ever-growing Putin appeasement brigade is listening?