Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 07.07.2018
While most of the world pays attention to the World Cup or to the latest outrageous statement from Trump, Russia is attacking Ukraine. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia began well over four years ago. The bombardments and infantry assaults and shootings by the Russian armed forces against Ukrainian defenders and civilians in Donbas are relentless. Putin’s War is ongoing and it is hot. But the Moscow-bureaux, Russo-centric Western press embargoes reporting of of it. News about the most significant international war in Europe since the Second World War only comes from the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, from the minuscule independent Ukrainian press, and from observers and activists on social media.
Here’s what should be headline news all around the world – but which is not because of pervasive Kremlin information warfare to suppress it. On 6 July 2018, Russia attacked Ukraine 30 times. That’s 30 separate occasions on which the Russian armed forces fired on the positions of the Ukrainian armed forces in Donbas. This information is provided by the press service of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Reports were gathered from front line units who are battling Russian occupation troops in eastern Ukraine.
On July 6, Russia attacked Krymske, in Luhansk region, using grenades and small arms. Russia launches desperate attacks along and near Highway P-66 – which Ukrainian soldiers call the “Bakhmut Road” – because it is a direct route to the city of Luhansk which they now occupy.
The Russians opened fire with grenade launchers, large-calibre machine guns, and small arms at Ukrainian defensive positions near the village of Katerynivka (near Popasna, which is in free Ukraine), and near the villages of Svitlodarsk and Novoluhanske which are in the “Svitlodarsk Bulge” that is north of Russian-occupied Debaltseve. Grabbing Debaltseve was the last military victory the Russians had against Ukraine, and that was back in early 2015.
Near the Russian-occupied city of Horlivka, the Russians attacked Pivdenne and Novhorodske with the armament of a BMP infantry fighting vehicle, grenade launchers, large-calibre machine guns, and small arms. Ukraine liberated the village of Pivdenne last month, and the Russians are in the process of obliterating it with ceaseless bombardments. Social media posts indicate the Novhorodske attack was in or around Shyroka Balka, a contested area on the battlefront.
The Donetsk sector of the battlefront was active on July 6. Russia attacked Troitske, Avdiivka, Novoselivka Druha, Novotroitske, and Kamyanka. The Battle of Avdiivka picked up substantially on 28 January 2017 and has never truly subsided. That was the day of the first Putin-Trump phone call subsequent to Russia placing Trump in the White House. Fighting in the Battle of Avdiivka takes places in the “PromZone” (an industrial area), around the Donetsk water filtration plant, at the Yasynuvata block post, and at the airshaft of the Butivka mine.
The JFO records that the most intense hostile activity by the Russians was in the direction of Mariupol. Mariupol was liberated from Russian occupation in 2014, and the battlefront is now to the east of the city, starting at the Sea of Azov coast at Shyrokyne and stretching north. Putin would dearly love to break through the Ukrainian defensive lines at Mariupol, as this is the “land bridge” to Crimea that he so desperately needs.
The Russians attacked Ukrainian defensive positions at Bohdanivka, Vodyane, Lebedynske, and Shyrokyne on July 6. For the attack on the village of Bohdanivka, Russian troops fired mortars from a residential area of occupied Dokuchaevsk; one Twitter user in the city called the Russian occupiers “Putin’s fascists and scumbags.” Russia fired anti-tank guided missiles and an 82-millimetre calibre mortar at the defenders of Shyrokyne.
A casualty among Ukrainian forces was one soldier wounded as a result of sniper fire in the Krasnohorivka area, west of Russian-occupied Donetsk city. Ukrainian military intelligence has data indicating that two Russian soldiers were killed as a result of counter-sniper action by Ukrainian defenders.
A so-called “harvest ceasefire” has supposedly been in effect since July 1. Russia has not respected the ceasefire for a single moment. Russian occupation troops fire on Ukrainian defensive positions so as to provoke a response. Russian propaganda wants to portray Ukraine as faithless, but the Ukrainians do not take the bait. The Russians are trying but they are failing to force the Ukrainians to open fire in retaliation. Ukraine is respecting the harvest ceasefire one-sidedly, while Russia is violating it constantly.
Russia violates the Minsk Agreement by attacking Ukraine, by violating the ceasefire, by not withdrawing heavy artillery, by blocking the work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, and by not returning control of the international border to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.
Russia violates the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances by invading Ukraine without provocation and by occupying Crimea and part of Donbas without legitimacy. Russia is obliged to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity because Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons in the 1990s and Russia did not. Ukraine kept its promise. Russia broke its promise. The two other guarantors, the United States and the United Kingdom, have failed to keep their promise.
Russia is at war with Ukraine. Ukraine is the largest country that lies wholly within Europe – Russia is at war with Europe. Ukraine is a peaceful democracy and the vanguard of Western civilization – Russia is at war with the West. Warfare in eastern Ukraine will stop when victory is won over Russia, which will be when Crimea and Donbas are liberated from Russian occupation.