Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 12.06.2018
For the past several days, the most intense hostilities on Russia’s invasion battlefront in Ukraine have been around the village of Novotoshkivske in Luhansk region. The Russians are using armaments that are proscribed by the Minsk Agreement, violating the ceasefire with 122-millimetre calibre artillery, for example, on the night of June 10-11. Novotoshkivske is 53 kilometres north-west of Russian-occupied Luhansk city. It lies on the strategic Bakhmut Road.
From June 3 through to June 12, Novotoshkivske has been mentioned in every daily report by the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as being a target of attacks by Russian occupation forces. Long-lasting battles are being fought, as the Russians assault the Ukrainian trenches that protect the village.
The JFO press centre gave this report: “On the night of June 11, the enemy barraged the outskirts of Novotoshkivske village with 122-mm cannons banned by international agreements, which imperilled the lives of residents of several nearby villages.”
The Ukrainian military fired back. Ukrainian troops of the JFO made a preventive strike against fortified positions of the Russian army that were being readied for another artillery bombardment. What were believed to be Russian terrorists of the so-called “LPR” were detected by a drone to be transporting two heavy mortars, 120-millimetre calibre, and placing them in a forward fire point. This position was two and a half kilometres south-east of Novotoshkivske, on the Russians’s invasion battlefront. On June 11, a video was released by the “Come Back Alive” volunteer movement, showing Ukrainian troops firing “Konkurs” wire-guided anti-tank missiles and destroying the bunkers where the Russian terrorists were getting ready to attack with their mortars. A Russian bombardment was prevented from that location.
The firing position the Ukrainians destroyed was between Novotoshkivske and Russian-occupied Donetskyi. The Russians have another artillery base located within Donetskyi, in a residential area (which is a war crime). On June 7, Russian terrorist troops of the so-called “LPR” fired a mortar from this base farther back into occupied Luhansk region, towards Holubivka. The mortar shell struck near a minibus. The Russians tried to use this incident as a provocation, blaming the attack on the Ukrainian armed forces. They were unsuccessful, because a mortar does not have the range to reach where the attack took place from the Ukrainian positions on the battlefront.
While Ukrainians under Russian occupation suffer terrorist attacks by the foreign invaders and their local proxies, Ukrainians in liberated territory get some small relief. The JFO and the Luhansk regional administration have taken a group of schoolchildren from Toshkivka to the sea-side town of Berdyansk for a summer holiday. Toshkivka is a small town that is only 8 kilometres to the north-west of the village of Novotoshkivske. The townsfolk can hear the heavy guns of the Russians as they make their nightly bombardments.
A volunteer, Yuriy Mysiahin, said on social media that the Ukrainian army gained new positions in the area of Novotoshkivske and gained up to 1 kilometre of ground on the battlefront there.
Ukrainian troops have not faltered in the face of unrelenting attacks by Putin’s invasion-occupation army in Donbas. Ukraine destroyed a fortified forward artillery position of the Russian army, and pushed the aggressors back, up to a kilometre. This may relieve some of the relentless pressure being put on Ukrainian defenders around Novotoshkivske and on Ukrainian civilians in the village.