Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 18.01.2019
Russian forces invading Ukraine made an assault attempt near Donetsk, starting overnight on January 16-17. The attack was against Ukrainian defensive positions to the north-west of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk. These Ukrainian fortifications lie between the village of Pisky and the settlement of Zhabunky. Ukrainian defenders targeted and destroyed the Russian column while it was being deployed.
Russian occupation forces in the Donetsk region of Ukraine are organized as the 1st Army Corps (the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic”). This illegal armed formation in Ukraine started seven firefights in an extensive assault on Ukrainian positions in the Zhabunky-Pisky gap. Five times the enemy used automatic grenade launchers, large-calibre machine guns, and small arms. Twice the Russians used small arms only.
The press centre of the Joint Forces Operation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reports that a Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action on January 17. The cautious assessment of Ukrainian military intelligence is that three invaders perished in the day’s assaults.
As reported by Dmitry Tymchuk of Information Resistance, the Russians were “inspired” by their anti-tank guided missile attack on a Ukrainian army truck near Troitske on January 16. That attack caused ten casualties among Ukrainian troops. This time, though, the attacking Russians were met by fierce defensive fire from the Ukrainian trenches. “The aggressor's transport was destroyed by oncoming fire,” wrote Tymchuk on social media. He went on to say: “According to preliminary data, 5 occupiers were destroyed, 3 more were wounded.”
The battle took place directly to the south-west of the runway of the ruined Donetsk airport. From the start of the Russian invasion of Donbas in April 2014 to the end of January 2015 a fierce battle was fought at Donetsk airport. Ukrainian defenders – who became famously known as “Cyborgs” – held the terminal buildings against relentless assaults and bombardments by the Russian army. At the end of the Battle of Donetsk Airport the Cyborgs withdrew to Pisky. The airport precinct is today a desolate no-man’s land: The Muscovites occupy territory to the south and east of it while free Ukraine settlements lie to the north and west.
Seven kilometres to the west of Pisky, the Russians attacked Ukrainian defences near the village of Nevelske with grenades and small arms. A similar distance from Pisky to the north, on the other side of the ruins of Donetsk airport, the Russians attacked near the village of Opytne. These attacks occurred on January 17.
The Russian invaders of Ukraine are violating the Minsk Agreement with these bombardments and assaults. There is supposed to be a ceasefire in effect. The latest one is known as the “New Year’s ceasefire” and there should have been a silence regime since December 29. There has not been, and that is entirely because the Russians do not want there to be peace or even a truce in Ukraine.