Here we look at another probable incident involving Russia-led forces in eastern Ukraine having fired on OSCE monitors.
On April 13th, the OSCE independent Monitoring organisation reported, a “patrol comprising four members and two vehicles was positioned outside the railway station in Yasynuvata (non-government-controlled), to monitor adherence to a localized ceasefire to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk).
Despite security guarantees having been provided that a localized ceasefire would be adhered to, at 13:23, two SMM patrol members standing outside the vehicles heard nine undetermined explosions and six bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 1-2km west, as well as three whistling sounds assessed as caused by small-arms fire or pieces of shrapnel at varying heights overhead. Subsequently, from its position, the SMM heard three impacts: one on the exterior wall of the railway station building about 20-50m south; one on the ground about 50m west; and one on a railcar about 100m south. Link to OSCE report.
Now, OSCE patrols getting shot at and shells landing near them in Russia-led territory is nothing new. The frequency of this happening when Russia-led forces know the OSCE are in a specific area tells its own story. Naturally, the Russia-led Donetsk republic & Russian OSCE delegation were both quick to blame Ukrainian forces for the firing.
So let us look at the facts.
1: In Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast (province) the town of Yasynuvata and its rail station are on the outskirts of the Russia-led city of Donetsk (see above map).
2: Ukrainian forces hold the town of Avdiivka (west of Yasynuvata, on the left ), with their front line positions in the now devastated industrial centre marked in yellow. The forward positions of Russia-led forces are a few hundred metres away (red line). The blue line marks an elevated dual carriage-way road. Dug into and under this road are the main defensive positions of Russia led forces. Yasynuvata railway station is green.
3: A close-up view of the dual carriage-way road. Built on an elevated embankment, it blocks all line of sight of the Russia-led territory beyond (on the right), including the Yasynuvata rail station.
4: Not only does the raised road (blue) block all view of the railway station from Ukraine held territory, it makes the targeted and in this case, the extremely accurate firing of small arms at it virtually impossible. The nearest Ukrainian positions are at least 3km away. Added to which, the station is also shielded by numerous strips of dense woodland, houses & rail buildings/structures.
It’s interesting how the Russian OSCE delegation & Donetsk republic both failed to mention how the Ukrainian army knew OSCE monitors would be at the rail station at that exact specific time because they sure couldn’t see them.
Close-up of the station seen on the right (red roofs). The trees and buildings on the left give you some indication of how hard it would be to hit the station from 3km away with just a few bullets.
5: The OSCE reported they “heard nine undetermined explosions and six bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 1-2km west, as well as three whistling sounds assessed as caused by small-arms fire or pieces of shrapnel at varying heights overhead.” Using Google Earth, the distance from the station to the main Russia-led positions along the dual carriage-way road is over 2.5km.
6: So, all the evidence points to Russia-led forces having again ambushed the OSCE.
First, they fired possibly a grenade launcher to mimic Ukrainian incoming shell explosions & then one of more Russia-led soldiers positioned in the line of sight of the station opened up with small arms. As the OSCE report states & the below picture posted by the Russian OSCE delegation allegedly shows, the handful of small arms shots managed to hit the station with remarkable accuracy.
Russian OSCE delegation Twitter post. Note how they failed to mention the “forward positions” of Russia-led forces “are located” nearest the rail station in a “westerly direction.”
Image posted by the Russian delegation.
Russia-led Donetsk republic website post. Note no mention of the their forces being permanently “located near the railway station.”