As ceasefires in eastern Ukraine go, it lasted longer than most, but still only 5 weeks.
Sunday Sept 6th, Russia-led forces killed one Ukrainian soldier and wounded another.
Since the current ceasefire started on July 27th, Russia-led forces have engaged in sporadic firing, mostly from small arms. This has been reported as not targeted fire, that is to say it’s simply directed in the general direction of Ukrainian held territory. Yesterday however the firing was targeted at Ukrainian military positions. Wounding one Ukrainian soldier, Russia-led forces first used grenade launchers to fire on Ukrainian positions at the village of Krasnohorivka. Then later in the day, small arms fire was directed at the village of Prychepylivka, killing one soldier. Following on from this serious ceasefire breach, today Russia-led forces are due to fire on Ukrainian positions as the village of Shumy (read more below). Incredibly, they actually announced they’d be doing this today on Sept 5th.
With the wounding of soldier at Krasnohorivka, the Ukrainian military put out a strong statement on FaceBook claiming if Russia-led forces fired on them again, “they’ll return fire with all available forces & means.” With the death of a Ukrainian soldier later in the day, it’s as yet unclear whether they followed through with that threat. Traditionally, both sides attempt to take revenge for any military loss of life.
In a bid to prolong the ceasefire, there’s a chance Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy will order restraint and curtail any substantial return fire. Such a move may have political implications, as it would likely be seen as weak on Russia. With this still relatively light firing, the Kremlin may simply be testing the resolve of Ukraine’s president and that of the Ukrainian military.
Soon, Russia hopes to open two new front line civilian checkpoints in the Luhansk region. During the ceasefire, the OSCE has reported construction work has started on both of them. Increased firing will certainly delay their opening, with Russian occupied Ukraine being the main loser because of this. So what happens next has implications for both sides.
Below is an article from the sham, Donetsk republic website. Dated Sept 5th, its puppet leader Pushilin claims he’s ordered Russia-led forces to open fire today on Ukrainian positions at Shumy. The laughable reason given for this pre-announced ceasefire breach is due to Ukrainian forces allegedly having breached the ceasefire, by constructing new positions. I say laughable, because the OSCE has reported numerous new military constructions built by both sides all along the front line. It’s what both sides have always done during ceasefires. You repair, improve and create new military positions. If followed through with, this announcement looks to be another Kremlin attempt to push the Ukrainian military into returning fire.
As I write this, the morning Ukrainian military update has just been posted. Reports – some grenade launcher fire on Shumy last night, but as of 7am this morning, no firing by Russia-led forces.
So it’s a classic case of wait and see what happens next.
I’ll post an update tomorrow on today’s events.
As seen below, in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, the village of Shumy (middle top) lies West of the occupied town of Horlivka. Again Russia-led forces have a height advantage here. On Horlivka’s western side, they’re positioned high up on several mine slag heaps. This makes it easier for them to observe movement beyond their positions and fire down on Ukrainian forces.