21 February 2015

Kremlin-backed fighters gain more ground, build forces for attack on Mariupol

Kyiv Post: 21. February 2015
by Olena Goncharova

The village of Chornukhyne, located close to the city of Debaltseve, was seized by separatists and Russian forces on Feb. 20.
Ukraine suffered a further blow today when separatists and Russian forces seized the village of Chornukhyne, located close to the city of Debaltseve.
Meanwhile, Russian tanks and troops crossed the border and headed for Novoazovsk, some 40 kilometres from the strategic port of Mariupol and its 500,000 inhabitants.
The villages of Ridkodub, Nikishyne and Mius have also fallen under separatists' control, Ukrainian military officials confirmed.
Chornukhyne, with a pre-war population of 6,000 citizens, has been a the site of fierce street fighting for the last two weeks, according to Luhansk Oblast governor Hennadiy Moskal. The head of the village fled as soon as the fighting broke out in the suburbs, Moskal says, and only returned to Chornukhyne when the separatists took over.
Separatist leaders say they have seized more than 250 pieces of Ukrainian military equipment in Debaltseve and its surroundings, but Kyiv has dismissed the claims.
At least two Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and another three wounded in the south-east of the country over the past 24 hours. So far, the new cease-fire has been mostly observed in Luhasnk Oblast as no firing were reported on Feb. 19. Gas supply has been cut over the territory of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic.
Near Mariupol, 28 armoured vehicles pieces including tanks, armored combat vehicles and self-propelled artillery crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border overnight Feb. 20. The vehicles were spotted in Snizhne and Shakhtarsk in Donetsk Oblast, a military blogger and lawmaker of People's Front Dmytro Tymchuk said.
Ukraine's military also reported more than 20 Russian tanks, 10 missile systems and busloads of fighters and ammunition had crossed Ukraine's border and headed towards Novoazovsk, a rebel-controlled border town east of Mariupol. A further 20 trucks with equipment were seen in a village of Izvaryne, Luhansk Oblast. Army commanders of battalions stationed near Mariupol said that they had seen an increase in drone activity over the past few days, and had shot down two.
This adds to the overwhelming evidence of Russian military involvement in Ukraine. On Feb. 18, the British embassy released photos of 96K6 Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile system spotted in a number of eastern Ukrainian cities, including Shakhtarsk and Donetsk, popped up on embassy's Twitter page. The complex Russian equipment can only be operated by highly trained regular forces.
Previously, Pantsirs have been exported in limited quantities, primarily to the Middle East, according to Armament Research Services, an independent consultancy firm offering technical expertise and analysis on arms and munitions.
Oleksiy Melnyk, a military expert of Razumkov Center, believes further attacks on the front line are likely in the immediate future. He said their success will be dependent on separatist support.
“If Russia stops arming the separatists, they will last no more than a week and will end up having only small arms," Melnyk explains.

No comments:

Post a Comment