Kiev’s Use of “Grad” Deprives Ukraine of a Voice on the Future of Donbass

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The explosive nature of Kiev’s aggression with new power showed itself in Donbass. At the end of January, as a result of another tide of “Kiev brotherly tenderness” the front blazed all along the perimeter. Again there were killed and wounded, destroyed homes, again cities and villages shook, which the Kiev side hit with “Grad”. According to the operational command of the DPR, on 26th January fire from “grad” on the suburbs of Donetsk in the area of the “Volvo-center” was carried out from the position of the third battalion of the 79th separate airmobile brigade of the UAF from the direction of the village of Nevelskoye in the area of Avdeevka. On the same day shells of 122 and 152 mm and mortars of 82 and 120 mm were fired at South of the village of Sakhanka, Kominternovo, Leninskoye, Novaya Tavrya, and the village Verkhnetoretskoye near Gorlovka. On the eve of these shellings, Trudovskoye mine in Donetsk was also hit. For three years of war not a single house is undamaged, and in every house there are killed or wounded. And despite during the last shelling there were no casualties, a few families were left homeless. What these people say when addressing Kiev punishers cannot be published because of the profanity. Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops not only shell, but actually stage an offensive on all the perimeter of the front, and occupy “gray zones” – a kind of neutral zone between the opposing forces. From July 2015, the number of not-occupied-by-UAF “grey zones” was reduced from 8 to 7, i.e. only one is free. One of the “grey zones” recently captured by the UAF is located at the Svetlodarsk arc in the area of Debaltsevo. Regarding what happens there now, local resident Eugene speaks: “there is no calm. I didn’t repair my apartment for a long time, and didn’t replace the windows shattered by blast waves, I tightened them with polyethylene, and then a few months ago, I got glass, started to dream of a normal life and inserted them into the frames. They still are, but it seems that they will fly away soon. In the “gray zone” and around it the situation is not improving, on the contrary, now there, in addition to the UAF, there are also Georgian mercenaries with guns, every evening I only hear explosions, explosions, explosions and see the sky glow. Now it’s Novogrygorievka that is hit, and we have an arrival of shells at the allotments”. On 28th January, the official representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Donetsk People’s Republic Eduard Basurin stated that the situation on the front line in the DPR has a tendency to aggravate because the Ukrainian army over 24 hours violated the ceasefire 1270 times. At this time the group “Right Sector” can resort to terrorism by shelling close to Donetsk and Verhnekalmius filter station, which can lead to an environmental disaster.

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Some experts say that such activity of the UAF near Debaltsevo and in the “grey zones”, there is nothing threatening, because for the UAF it is just PR attempts. However, local residents, seeing that the troops of the junta [they are not called in another way than this] are already almost on the threshold of their homes, argue otherwise. The OSCE knows about it. Russia’s permanent representative to the OSCE Mr. Dmitry Balakin, speaking recently at a meeting of the OSCE permanent council, noted that the Kiev authorities have committed “sabotage or at least the inhibition of the Minsk process”. The representative stressed that in January, the OSCE recorded the transfer of UAF positions a kilometer ahead near Svetlodarsk, the capture of the village of Novoluganskoye, the pulling of heavy equipment near Kalinovka, and the deployment of firing positions in the settlement Vozrozhdenie. Kiev, without peeking at observers and ignoring their warnings and remarks, continues to pull heavy weapons to positions along the contact line. It is significant that this already tense situation on the front is exacerbated by the aggressive rhetoric of Kiev – the incessant sounded-by-the-capital of Ukraine statement of intent to return to the territory of Donbass under their control. In these statements there are constant hints that the UAF military need to be prepared for the upcoming battles and the “de-occupation”, and the state border service must be prepared to close the border with Russia at any time. Poroshenko established the new military air zone “East”. The new zone covers the Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk regions, almost all of Zaporizhia region, South-Eastern Sumy region, the Eastern part of Poltava region, and a small area of Kirovograd region. The political analyst Maksim Zharov commented on the creation of this new zone: “anti-Russian provocations from the Ukrainian side do not stop for a minute… the boundaries of the zone are dangerously close to air corridors used by Russian airlines for their flights in Crimea. Taking into account Poroshenko’s previously adopted decision to allow air defenses to open fire in the event of an unidentified flying object entering the Ukrainian airspace, we are actually talking about creating a no-fly zone over Donbass with clearly readable intention to extend it to the border of Ukraine with Crimea. This is a very dangerous provocation by Poroshenko, which, unfortunately, didn’t receive a decent reaction from both Moscow and from Washington.” Almost immediately after the signing of the decree on the establishment of the zone “East”, Ukraine held in the Odessa region a missile firing at the range located in the Tatarbunary area. Poroshenko also approved and admitted to the territory of Ukraine in 2017 units of the armed forces of other countries – up to 3,000 troops with weapons and military equipment.

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Kiev’s policy in general and in relation to Donbass looks so “peaceful” that against its background even the antics of the punisher battalions to block the railway pale in comparison. This blockade is now carried out by former fighters of the punisher battalions “Donbass” and “Aidar”. They announced their actions as “caring” about peace. Ukrainian prosecutors already opened a criminal case on the fact of the blockade of the railway station. Regarding the inadmissibility of the blockade, the odious Georgy Tuka already spoke, and his chief Vadim Chernysh, who, incidentally, said that about 17,000 people work for the Ukrainian rail company “Ukrzaliznytsya” in the LPR the DPR, and dispatching is carried out from the territory controlled by Kiev. It is not excluded that all like Semenchenko and Parasyuk, warm themselves on camera near campfires, fulfill a very specific task of the same SBU. Although Vasyl Grytsak stated that it’s not the SBU’s affairs, but the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine. But what if the LDPR announce the blockade of rail traffic? Will Akhmetov or Tuka and Chernysh, and then Groysman with Poroshenko howl? The stocks of coal for power plants of Ukraine will clearly not be enough for the remaining winter.

This week Martin Sajdik, the special representative of the OSCE in the Trilateral contact group on settling the situation in Donbass, expressed concern about the deteriorating situation on the front line in the DPR and LPR. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted on a resolution “On the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine”. The resolution in particular states the necessity for “Ukraine’s implementation of the Minsk agreements on the amendments to the Constitution concerning decentralization”. In unison, the Director of NISS of Ukraine Vladimir Gorbulin and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Elena Zerkal spoke about the danger of excluding Kiev from the negotiation process in Ukraine: “As we are talking about the future of our country, we don’t want to be excluded from negotiations. We don’t want to be a bargaining chip. We want to be an actor,” said Zerkal. On 25th January, the Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov, speaking at the government hour in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, stated that Russia still does not see signs of negotiability from the Kiev regime. Ukraine experts began to speak about “Yalta-2”, “little Ukraine”… in the context of changes in Europe. In the meantime, Poroshenko in Davos, Switzerland, Estonia, and Finland continued to “care” about the unity of the EU.

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All these antics of Kiev and the talk of peace already for three years afflicted exclusively to the people of Donbass suffering, against who Kiev started war with. Kiev is afraid that the President of the United States Donald Trump and the President of the Russian Federation in the process of improving relations between the two countries can exclude the representatives of Ukraine’s negotiations on the settlement of the situation in Donbass. And there are reasons for this. As was stated by the acting head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DPR Natalia Nikonorova, the Kiev authorities demanded the right to have a voice on the world stage when discussing the future of Donbass, however in two years of the Minsk process they haven’t managed define a clear position, which deprives Ukraine the right to a voice concerning the DPR and LPR.

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