Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 06.11.2017
Russia’s invasion of Europe in Ukraine was especially violent in Donetsk on November 5. Russian armed forces fired GRAD multiple-launch rocket systems and heavy artillery at Ukrainian defenders across the battlefront, and at Ukrainian civilians in both Ukraine-controlled and Russia-controlled neighbourhoods. The headquarters of the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” of the Ukrainian armed forces recorded 137 launches of GRAD rockets against the town of Avdiivka and 110 launches against the village of Opytne – 247 rocket attacks. Both places are north of the city of Donetsk. Shelling of Avdiivka went beyond the industrial “PromZone” and hits were recorded in residential areas to the north of that. Using rockets and heavy artillery is forbidden by the Minsk Agreements, but Russia was using them on November 5 with a vengeance.
A diligent translator of reports from the Russian invasion battlefront on Twitter is “English Lugansk” ( @loogunda ). He wrote on November 5: “Sharp escalation in Donetsk this evening-night, I have much more translation work today than on any day in September-October.” The start of September was the start of the so-called “school-year ceasefire.” Russia broke that ceasefire within minutes, and shattered it completely with an outpouring of violence on November. Some of the witness accounts pointed out the cruelty and the absurdity of the Russians first shooting at Donetsk from Donetsk (to blame the Ukrainian armed forces) and then shooting at Avdiivka from Donetsk (to say they were retaliating). Russia uses Chekist tactics: first, killing their own (with propaganda TV on-hand to present the ‘atrocity’); then, shooting from behind their own. Putin declared that Russia would used “human shield” terrorist tactics against Ukraine, in a press conference in March 2014: “Let any serviceman dare shoot at his own people whom we will stand behind – not in front of but behind – shooting at women and children.”
All the attacks were instigated by the Russian armed forces, specifically the 1st Army Corps (Donetsk or so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic”). The Ukrainian armed forces responded in a measured fashion, and only to a few of the many Russian attacks.
There were reports of GRAD-P launches from the Hvardiiskyi quarter of Makiivka, which is Russian-controlled, westwards toward the Butivka mine, which is Ukrainian-controlled. A GRAD-P or “Partizan” is a portable rocket launcher capable of firing a single missile from the GRAD multiple-launch rocket system. Russia fired rockets from a residential area, which is a war crime.
Russia fired heavy howitzers from the Yasynuvata coke-chemical plant which is in Russia-controlled territory. From there the Russians strike across the front line to Kamianka, Avdiivka, the Butivka mine, Opytne, and the ruins of the Donetsk airport. They also strike civilian targets in Russia-occupied Donetsk, and blame the Ukrainian armed forces for these attacks.
The Russian invader/occupiers attacked all along the front, and not only in Donetsk. On November 5, reports came in that the Russians were firing from Debaltseve (Mariupol sector), Horlivka (Donetsk sector), and Kadiivka (Luhansk sector). More areas were almost certainly active, but these are population centres where there are more Ukrainians active on social media and reporting what they witness.
Russia must be stopped from shooting rockets and artillery at civilians. Whether shooting across the battlefront at free Ukraine or back their own side in Russia-occupied Ukraine, Putin’s army firing at civilians is a war crime. The Ukrainian armed forces have a duty to protect Ukrainian citizens from the enemy. It is no mystery where the Russians are shooting from. These firing positions must be attacked, captured, and taken out of the enemy’s hands … just as they were in the summer of 2014. Saving the lives and property of Ukrainians is the goal. Defeat of the foreign invader is the means.
Human life is of no value to Muscovy invaders of Ukraine. Putin is at war, and he will not stop until he is stopped. Every country that says it is a friend of Ukraine, every country that says it is against Russian aggression, must do much more this time than simply condemn the shelling. Western allies must help Ukraine stop the shelling. To do nothing and to allow Russians to continue to shoot rockets and artillery at Ukrainians is unconscionable.