Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 22.05.2018
Russian invader-occupiers of Ukraine are heating up the Battle of Horlivka. On May 21, Putin’s army assaulted Ukrainian defenders in Pivdenne (Chyhyri), shelled free Ukrainian civilians in Toretsk and in Zaitseve, and sowed panic among captive Ukrainian civilians in Horlivka.
Around 5:00 a.m. on May 21 Russian forces attacked Ukrainian defensive positions at Chyhyri, the easternmost part of the village of Pivdenne, just outside the Russian-occupied city of Horlivka. The 24th Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian army liberated Pivdenne (Chyhyri) in the past week, and the Russians have been throwing everything they have into reckless counter-attacks to take back the territory they lost. On May 21, the Russian invader-occupiers of Ukraine sent a sabotage group of up to 10 soldiers in an attack against Chyhyri that came from three directions. The 24th Brigade pushed up its counter-insurgency reserve to meet the Russians in battle. The Russian attack was repulsed with considerable losses to the enemy. Unfortunately, Ukrainian defenders suffered six casualties: two soldiers were killed in action and four soldiers were wounded in action.
At around 6 o’clock in the morning of May 21 a bombardment from Russian artillery struck a residential area of the settlement of Pivdenne, a suburb of the city of Toretsk that lies on the free Ukraine side of Russian invasion battlefront. By 11:00 a.m. the police had documented seven houses receiving damage but no deaths or injuries were reported. Later in the day, the police evacuated a children’s recreation centre in Toretsk because of of persistent shelling of non-military targets by Russian invasion-occupation forces.
According to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC), Russian occupation forces fired artillery into a residential area of Zaitseve (to the north of occupied Horlivka). 13 shells exploded, damaging houses and property. On May 21, Russia committed war crimes by deliberately bombarding civilians in Toretsk and Zaitseve.
Trapped behind enemy lines, the city of Horlivka is described as being close to panic. A tweet sent just after 5 p.m. summarized the mood. It said (translated): “#Horlivka: In general, panic in the city, from offices and some schools ppl were let go home, shops are closing, some carry out goods and equipment, some people flee further from the outskirts.”
The Russian occupation administration in Horlivka has ordered the mandatory evacuation of the neighbourhood of Komsolomets, which is in the western part of the city. Occupied by Russian forces, the Komsolomets neighbourhood is about 2 kilometres from Chyhyri hamlet, the part of Pivdenne village that is the most forward position of the Ukrainian defenders. Areas of the city Hluboka and Kurganka are said to be unusually quiet or deserted. Children have been sent home from schools and kindergartens. From among the captive population of Ukrainians in Horlivka come reports of massive military movement by Russian soldiers and proxies. Tanks and Ural trucks were mentioned in social media accounts. In the evening of May 21 there was substantially shelling by the Russians, who were shooting artillery from among the houses and apartment blocks of residential areas of Horlivka, such as Block 88.
In total, on May 21 Russia attacked Ukraine 53 times. Attacks occurred all along the battlefront in Donbas, but were most acute around occupied Horlivka. Ukrainian armed forces suffered two soldiers killed in action on the day, in the engagement at Pivdenne (Chyhyri). Nine Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action and were evacuated to hospital for treatment. According to Ukrainian military intelligence, 15 Russian soldiers were killed and 13 were wounded on the day.