EASTERN UKRAINE – FRONT LINE UPDATE

Thankfully it’s still all quiet on the eastern front.
I say all quiet, but we’re still getting sporadic single shots and limited firing from Russia’s forces. This appears to be on-going attempts to prompt Ukrainian return fire, but attempts which thus far have gone unrewarded. Ukrainian military report Russia’s forces have flown a number of UAV towards their lines, notably on the Mariupol front. This again is likely to be additional efforts to provoke Ukrainian fire to shoot the UAV down. Fires breaking out still remain a problem. With the region littered with seven years worth of UXO and mines, tackling front line fires is extremely hazardous work.

Ceasefire or not, the bloods still flowing.
The Ukrainian Military report for Sept 21st to 27th, lists 16 ceasefire breaches by Russia’s forces.
Highlighting the dangers of unexploded ordnance and mines, it states 5 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded by IED explosions. Some of these casualties are related to the explosion of shells and ordnance while soldiers were extinguishing fires and others due to probably mines etc. set off while on forward patrols.

But overall the July 27th ceasefire is holding and for that, those living along the 500km front line must be extremely grateful. Fingers crossed it lasts a little longer.

Sept 7th to 20th: Latest OSCE Status Report.
This confirms the ceasefire is largely holding.
A total of 120 ceasefire violations observed, compared to 254 in the previous 2 weeks.
Some ceasefire violations are occasionally attributed to military firing exercises near the front line.

OSCE Status Report. Link for Ukrainian and Russian translations.

Civilian Casualties.
On the plus side, once again no casualties have been reported due to combat firing.
Unfortunately, 6 civilian casualties have been confirmed, including one fatality. These are due to the handling of explosive devices – UXO, grenades etc. or having triggered a mine. Many of these tragic events occur in Russia-led eastern Ukraine, where one assumes the control of ammunition and mine awareness is less rigorously enforced.

Overall in 2020 – 70 civilian casualties have been corroborated, including 10 fatalities.
It’s important to note – the OSCE state “corroborated” casualties. Russia’s two sham Donetsk & Luhansk republics routinely claim Ukrainian military have either killed or injured civilians in their territory. Having made these bold claims, hospital staff in Russia-led territory often refuse to give OSCE info on alleged patients & OSCE monitors are stopped from visiting the location where people are said to have been injured/killed. From this we can rightly assume many of the Russia-led reports of civilian casualties are either made up or unrelated to Ukrainian gunfire.

COVID-19.
Russia-led eastern Ukraine continues to restrict access for people needing to enter their region, forcing people desperate to cross to sleep overnight in the open.

Repairs to civilian infrastructure.
The ceasefire continues to be a bonus for critical repair work to the supply of water gas and electric. This often requires the use of heavy diggers, cherry picker platforms and mine clearance, all things virtually impossible to use and do without a ceasefire. For this period the OSCE report repairs to water infrastructure for about 150,000 people on both sides of the line.

And lastly – OSCE Freedom of Movement.
Take a guess: Who stops the OSCE from monitoring the conflict the most times?
Is it the Ukrainian military or Russia-led forces?

Without fail, Russia-led forces are always responsible for the vast bulk of all Freedom of Movement restrictions. This time OSCE patrols were stopped 34 times, 32 of them by Russia-led forces. These restrictions usually occur when monitors are refused permission to pass through military checkpoints or when they’re ordered to leave an area, usually near the Ukrainian/Russian border. Only those with something to hide, feel the need to stop the OSCE from seeing what’s going on.

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