Official: Ukrainian forces killed after ceasefire
Maintaining a complete and comprehensive ceasefire in Donbas can be very hard work, observers say
From 00:00 on July 27 in the Ukrainian Donbass another big truce came into force, which should become the first implementation of the decisions of the December summit of the leaders of the Normandy format countries in Paris. Then, on December 9, 2019, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany agreed on several specific measures along the path of de-escalation: an effective ceasefire in Donbass already before the New Year holidays, the exchange of prisoners according to the formula of all for all within the same timeframe, and the definition of three new sites for the disengagement of forces and equipment on the line of contact and the withdrawal of troops there, strengthening the role of the OSCE Monitoring Mission in Ukraine
Eight months after the summit, of all the agreements, only a limited ceasefire was achieved for the second day the front line lives without killed and wounded.
The unprecedented regime of a complete and comprehensive ceasefire lasted for the first full 24 hours in Donbas. On the morning of July 28, the Ukrainian headquarters of the Joint Forces Operation in Donbass acknowledged three shelling of its positions, the first of which began with heavy infantry weapons near the village of Vodyanoe (this is the former summer cottage village of Mariupol) just 20 minutes after the ceasefire was introduced. Ukrainian positions were also fired at on the morning of July 27 from heavy machine guns and heavy grenade launchers in the area of the village of Yuzhny. Among the provocations associated with the big truce can also be attributed to remote mining with the help of hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers with POM-2 antipersonnel mines of positions of Ukrainian soldiers near the village of Novomikhaylovka on Sunday 26 July. Anti-personnel mines are prohibited by the Geneva Convention, POM-2 are produced only in Russia, but this is not the point; these mines have a self-detonation mode set before being installed for 4 to 100 hours. That is, they would begin to explode in the depths of the positions of Ukrainian soldiers already during the tough ceasefire, provoking return fire.
The DPR representative office in the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the Ceasefire (JCCC) reported in turn that during the first days of the ceasefire, they did not record a single shelling.
Ukraine starts direct contacts with the self-proclaimed republics?
The sudden appearance in the reports of the DPR and LPR representations in the JCCC may become the main and only big news in the current Minsk process. A big truce was agreed on July 22 at a videoconference within the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk. Its conditions can be called draconian: the use of any weapon, including personal small arms, is prohibited, engineering work on equipping positions, mining, the actions of sniper and reconnaissance and sabotage groups, flights of unmanned aerial vehicles over foreign territory, the placement of any heavy military equipment in settlements
Taking into account the accumulated experience, the mechanism for fixing violations and the promise of at least disciplinary sanctions against violators tried to clarify and describe. It is assumed that the military will be able to open fire only in the event of an enemy attack and only by order of their command, which in turn must first contact the OSCE coordinator and try to stop the enemy’s aggressive actions with the help of consultations.
A key and completely new clause of the current agreement is the creation and use of a coordination mechanism for responding to violations of the ceasefire regime with the assistance of the JCCC in its current composition. The main words here are the current staff The Joint Center for Control and Coordination of Ceasefire and Stabilization of the Line of Contact (JCCC) was created from Ukrainian and Russian officers in September 2014. After that, the stabilized contact line began to move, and in February 2015, pro-Russian forces captured the city of Debaltseve and villages near Mariupol, since April 2015, the Russian and Ukrainian units of the JCCC finally lost mutual trust and began to keep separate logs of their own fixing violations of the ceasefire regime, and in December 2017, all 75 Russian officers left Donbass.
Since then, the Ukrainian part of the JCCC has existed, and armed people from the self-proclaimed republics entered the offices in the uncontrolled territories, who began to call themselves the representative offices of the DPR and LPR in the JCCC. Thus, Russia pushed Ukraine to direct contacts with the authorities of the self-proclaimed republics. For three years, the Ukrainian part of the JCCC worked autonomously, fundamentally ignoring unrecognized and illegitimate colleagues..
In the course of the current big truce, the LPR representatives in the JCCC suddenly became de facto part of the ceasefire control process..
The military is under control
In the 1st and 2nd army corps of the self-proclaimed republics, which in Donetsk and Lugansk are called the people’s militia, and the Ukrainian military consider an integral part of the 8th Guards Combined Arms Army of the Russian Federation, draconian measures to control the ceasefire regime consist mainly of tough orders and a special new form When bringing them to the personnel, the soldiers write personal receipts stating that they are familiar with the order not to open fire. The self-proclaimed republics are a space with limited use of law, local military men here sometimes end up in the Izolyatsia concentration camp together with the fighters for Ukraine. There is information about the existence of a separate concentration camp for the guilty military on the territory of the still closed Soviet Donetsk Military-Political School of Communications named after Marshal Epishev.
What else is fundamentally new in Donbass? The Ukrainian government is trying to clearly demonstrate its peacefulness to its Western partners and for this has introduced unprecedented, sometimes just demonstrative measures of control in relation to its own army. So Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the emergence of a kind of UN peacekeepers, Ukrainian officers who participated in armed UN peacekeeping missions, were sent to active units as controllers with special powers. It was reported about the withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the front line and the termination of any enemy reconnaissance..
According to local sources, the situation on the southern and northern sectors of the front looks like this:
All mortars and armored vehicles with cannons and heavy machine guns were withdrawn, but the BRDM (armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicle is often equipped with 7.62mm machine guns), for example, was left. Boots were removed (as the troops call Soviet recoilless guns SPG-9), hand and heavy grenade launchers in positions, there are no anti-tank missile systems, but there are all standard small arms.
All modern anti-tank weapons were taken away from us, sniper pairs and our anti-sniper groups were taken away from the front, all equipment and mortars were removed. It turns out that you have a machine gun, go, if anything, and fight! told a source in one of the brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, fighting in the Debaltsevo area.
The mood in the Ukrainian army is complex. There is also an opinion that, trying at any cost to demonstrate peacefulness to the external circuit and realize President Zelensky’s desire to simply stop shooting, the authorities thereby undermine the authority of the armed forces.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have to defend the front line of 400 kilometers against the enemy, which is not bound by obligations such as open access of journalists to positions or withdrawal from the front line of mortars with infantry fighting vehicles with cannons and large-caliber machine guns.
On the very first evening of the new truce, a large protest rally gathered at the Presidential Administration in Kiev. The sporadic shelling of the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the first day of the armistice in the Office of the President of Ukraine is called possible excesses that did not lead to injuries to the servicemen. Maintaining a complete and comprehensive ceasefire in Donbas can be very hard work that will become hopeless if the first casualties appear..