Kyiv, March 21, 2017.
Overall, the number of ceasefire violations ranged between 50 on Sunday, March 19, and 112 on Friday, March 17.
The situation on the frontline did not change significantly. “Most active hostilities, during the previous week, took place at Krymske, Novoaydar district, in Avdiivka and its outskirts and in the south of the Mariupol sector”, stated Vilyen Pidgornyy, Ministry of Defense spokesperson during a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The share of enemy indirect fire episodes last week remained unchanged in comparison with the preceding week and amounted to 44%. In contrast, incidents of enemy sniper fire decreased in actual numbers and reached 12, comparing to 22 over the foregoing week.
Last week Russia-backed militants engaged Ukrainian Armed Forces in the sector with mortars and cannon artillery. The enemy remains consistent while choosing their target areas week after week: Krymske, Popasna area and Troitske regularly came under enemy fire of low and medium intensity. “However, on March 16 there was an unexpected development in Lobacheve. At 20:30 pro-Russia proxies opened fire with 82 mm mortars that resulted in casualties on the part of Ukrainian defenders. That day, militants treacherously used 122 mm artillery during nighttime against Troitske and Novozvanivka. The same day, the enemy fire wounded a teenager in Valuiske village of Stanytsia Luhanska district”, Mr. Pidgornyy said. On March 13, Russia-equipped militants used mortars at Krymske three times, having fired more than 210 rounds. On March 14, the enemy has paused mortar attacks in the daytime just so that their sniper groups could advance to the front line and open direct fire against Novozvanivka, Novooleksandrivka and Zhovte. On March 18, Krymske was attacked with heavy weapons five times. Enemy artillery crews fired more than 150 mortar bombs and rounds of different caliber during one artillery and four mortar attacks. Additionally, the enemy opened tank fire. Last week, the daily number of cease-fire violations by the enemy in the sector ranged between 12 (on March 16) and 25 (on March 18).
Positions of Ukrainian Armed Forces in this sector were targeted with most intense enemy fire. Russia-backed militants opened short but multiple mortar and artillery fire along the whole front line, being most active in Avdiivka area. The militants engaged Ukrainian positions day and night. In the evening of March 15, the enemy artillery crews opened a severe artillery fire at our rear positions in Klishchiivka, south of Bakhmut, having fired nearly 80 rounds over an hour and a half. Similar to the previous week the enemy opened tank fire in Avdiivka and adjacent areas and used infantry fighting vehicles in Luhanske, Verhniotoretske and Zaitseve. Last week, the daily fire activity of the enemy ranged between 31 (on March 18) and 52 cease-fire violations (on March 17).
Traditionally, the majority of cease-fire violations took place in the Pavlopil – Shyrokyne area of the front line. However, last week the militants several times used heavy weapons in the northern part of the sector, namely in Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, Berezove and Novotroitske. In the morning of March 13, the enemy sniper groups advanced to the front line. In the afternoon, the enemy artillery crews opened indirect fire at Pavlopil. In the early morning of March 14, enemy tank engaged our positions in Maryinka and fired nearly 20 shells in ten minutes. On March 16, the enemy launched a two-hour-long combined attack on Novotroitske, having fired the total of 50 artillery rounds and mortar bombs. “March 17 was marked by the highest intensity of enemy fire. The enemy artillery opened fire at Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, Hnutove, Vodiane, Lebedynske and Shyrokyne. On March 18, Russia-trained militants used artillery at Vodiane having fired nearly 50 rounds”, added Mr Vilyen Pidgornyy. Last week, the number of cease-fire violations by the enemy ranged between 29 (on March 18) and 46 (on March 17).
According to Mr. Pidgornyy, compared with the foregoing week, the intensity of UAVs use by the militants decreased from almost three a day to the total of 9 episodes of hostile drones flights during the whole last week in the ATO area. The enemy conducted aerial reconnaissance both in the tactical rear of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and at the very front line near Avdiivka, at Svitlodarsk and Krymske village.
Russia delivered fuel to the occupied territories of Ukraine in 24 railroad tank cars. On Saturday, March 18, eight trucks carrying ammunition for militants crossed the Ukrainian-Russian border near Dmytrivka village, Donetsk region. Besides, on Thursday, March 16, the sixty-second so-called “humanitarian convoy” from Russia delivered unidentified cargo for the needs of militants through Izvaryne and Uspenka checkpoints that are not controlled by the Ukrainian government. Ukrainian military intelligence confirmed the “convoy” consisted of 40 trucks carrying over 500 tons of cargo.
Last week, 7 Ukrainian servicemen were killed in action. Forty soldiers were wounded in action, including the National Guard of Ukraine officer.
Five civilians were wounded in enemy shellings in the conflict area last week. “This includes one teenager in Valuiske, Luhansk sector, a woman in Luhanske, two women and a man in Avdiivka, Donetsk sector. One of the wounded women in Avdiivka was a volunteer. All wounded civilians received medical assistance in a timely manner”, MOD spokesperson stated.
Damage to civilian infrastructure
Twenty-nine residential buildings were damaged in the indirect fire conducted by the Russian proxies in the Donetsk and Mariupol sectors. Most of them are in Avdiivka. Three non-residential buildings were damaged by the enemy shelling in Avdiivka and Krasnohorivka. Mortar and artillery rounds directly hit a kindergarten in Avdiivka, humanitarian supplies distribution hub in Zaitseve, power line in Hnutove, and railway track sections in the frontline area in the Donetsk sector.