Ukraine attacks LPR villages, full-scale offensive expected in near future

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June 7, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

By Eduard Popov – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

Recent articles on Fort Russ, including the Donbass News Round-Ups prepared by The Cossack Herald from the Lugansk People’s Republic, have taken note of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ “creeping offensive” on the republics of Donbass. Despite the optimism expressed by some Russian experts, the conclusion has been drawn here and elsewhere that a new, full-scale UAF offensive is likely.

Today’s events seem to have confirmed our pessimistic forecast. Let us cite the news reports coming in from the Lugansk People’s Republic. The official spokesman and colonel of the Lugansk People’s Militia, Andrey Marochko, has reported that Kiev’s punitive forces have started an offensive on the village of Zhelobok in the Slavyanoserbsk district of the LPR. “The enemy has begun an offensive on the residential area of Zhelobok, at the same time shelling the residential areas of nearby towns,” Marochko reported. Further: “At the current moment, the People’s Militia is successfully holding back the enemy’s offensive.” Earlier, Ukrainian media reported that Kiev’s security forces had captured a number of sections in the neutral “gray zone” on the contact line, including in the vicinity of the village of Zhelobok. The People’s Militia of the LPR has refuted these reports. We do not claim that the Ukrainian punitive army’s long-expected offensive has begun, but these events are genuinely disturbing.

To recall, in an interview for Russian media at the end of last year, I claimed with an accuracy of 90% that in 2017 the UAF would undertake a full-scale offensive on the Donbass republics. The alarming reports of the past week or two confirm the obvious fact that Ukraine has not accepted defeat and still intends to solve its “issue” with Donbass exclusively by force. Increasing artillery bombardments and bellicose rhetoric on the part of certain propagandists of the Ukrainian punitive army are the facts currently confirming this. Certain state officials, such as the architect of the war in Donbass and the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Turchynov, have also issued some frightening statements. It is difficult to explain in any other terms the concentration of Ukrainian military equipment and manpower along the borders of the Donbass republics.

All of this, in my opinion, speaks to the growing threat of a resumption of full-scale fighting in the relatively near future. 

According to reports from my sources in the Lugansk People’s Republic, such as The Cossack Herald, the Ukrainians’ seizure of gray zones has in some places practically brought them to a distance from Donbass forces of only 200 meters. From these captured footholds, it is easier for the Ukrainians to attack. I see no other explanation of this practice besides the interpretation that the Ukrainians are preparing more convenient springboards for a future offensive. 

My friends in the LPR who until recently were skeptical as to the prospects of a UAF offensive, have recently changed their opinions. Nevertheless, it is difficult to assert with full confidence that today’s events mean the beginning of this offensive. This is more like an establishing of the preconditions for an offensive. After all, in my opinion, Ukraine is no specialist in military matters and still counts on launching a blitzkrieg – a rapid and powerful attack on several key fronts simultaneously in both the DPR and LPR. The “offensive” on Zhelobok rather resembles trench warfare and seizing bridgeheads all the while under the guise of fulfilling the Minsk Agreements. 

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No small role in Ukrainian plans is allotted to the seemingly senseless (not to mention cruel) shelling of civilian areas in Donbass. The idea behind this is creating a climate of fear and provoking a humanitarian catastrophe, as well as dealing painful blows to the population and infrastructure of the Donbass republics. Every such bombardment leads, in the very least, to the destruction of homes and social infrastructure, and in the worst cases to the death of civilians. It bears remembrance that the population of Donbass is not so large, so even this kind of “ceasefire” is literally destroying the future of the republics, particularly their children. In this sense, the Ukrainians’ calculations are fiendishly precise. In his time, Hitler gave the orders to constantly bomb London to create an atmosphere of fear. Ukraine today is a defective Reich with all the brutality, but without the organizational quality.

Meanwhile, it can be pointed out that the OSCE does not “notice” Kiev’s open violations of the Minsk Agreements. If the OSCE did not even “notice” Ukrainian tanks near its own vehicle in Avdeevka, then the OSCE is genuinely blind. The Donbass republics have repeatedly documented for OSCE officers evidence of violations of the Minsk Agreements by Ukraine, but in vain. The observatory mission’s officers themselves, as the bitter joke in the Donbass republics goes, have the gift of foresight – they always manage to leave the scene half an hour to an hour before shelling begins. Such cases are not isolated, but have even become systematic. The Cossack Herald has attentively recorded all cases of shelling of the LPR and the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission’s reactions. 

Overall, I believe that it is no coincidence that the UAF’s “creeping offensive” picked up none other than today, on the day of the Minsk group’s meeting. Ukraine is literally teasing the Donbass republics and Russia with its impunity, all the while publicly claiming to be fulfilling the Minsk Agreements. The Ukrainian side’s own statements on its seizure of gray zones in fact represent Ukraine’s own notion of “fulfilling the Minsk Agreements” – in Kiev’s view, the whole Debaltsevo area should belong to Ukraine, even though in February 2015 Ukraine itself requested the ceasefire in order to withdraw what was left of its battered army out of the Debaltsevo cauldron, and Minsk 2 fixed the dividing line according to the real state of affairs on the front. 

Why is Ukraine “teasing” Donbass and Russia? Perhaps Kiev is hoping to break their nerves, provoking them to go on the offensive first – something which Kiev and some Western capitals so eagerly desire.

Lastly, when this material was being prepared, I contacted the editorial board of The Cossack Herald based out of the city of Stakhanov in the LPR. According to them, the whole city lives in anticipation of an Ukrainian offensive, as heightened activity and vehicle and troop movements have been observed on the Ukrainian side. The LPR, in turn, is preparing to repel a possible attack. 

Thus, there are few reasons to be optimistic. 

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P.S. – The city of Stakhanov and neighboring towns are currently being subjected to intense artillery fire.

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