Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 19.04.2018
Russia is using heavy artillery again on its invasion battlefront in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s armed aggression is a vicious and an existential attack against the Ukrainian nation. It is also a deliberate violation of the Minsk Agreement and a planned insult to its two western European guarantors, Germany and France. Russia is invading Europe in Ukraine – Ukraine is defending, and Germany and France are doing nothing about it.
Article 2 of the Minsk Agreement of 11 February 2015 requires “withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides by equal distances in order to create a security zone of at least 50km wide from each other for the artillery systems of caliber of 100 and more.” Russian armed forces firing 152-mm artillery are in direct violation of the Minsk Agreement.
On April 17, Russian invasion-occupation forces in Donetsk region shelled the residential areas of Zaitseve with 122-mm and 152-mm artillery. Zaitseve is a suburb to the north of the Russian-occupied city of Horlivka, but it lies on the free Ukraine side of the battlefront. The Russian bombardment with heavy artillery damaged several houses, but luckily did not kill or injure any civilians. When a team of monitors from the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination arrived in Zaitseve to record the damage they came under fire from the Russian side with small arms. No monitors were injured.
While they were shelling civilians, the Russians were also shelling the positions of the Ukrainian defenders of Zaitseve with 152-mm artillery. Also on April 17, Russia used proscribed 120-mm mortars against Ukraine’s defensive positions at Troitske in Luhansk region, and near Hnutove and Vodiane in Donetsk region near Mariupol. One Ukrainian serviceman was killed in action and three more troops were wounded in action in the course of the 45 ceasefire-violating attacks Russia made against Ukraine on April 17.
On April 18, Russia again used 152-mm artillery. The Russian army attacked defensive positions of the Ukrainian armed forces near the village of Pisky, near the town of Avdiivka, and at the block post at the Yasynuvata interchange. Using ‘human shield’ terrorist tactics, Russia fired its heavy artillery from among the houses and apartment buildings of the captive civilian population of occupied Donetsk. Russia does this both to terrify Ukrainians and to avoid counter-battery fire by the Ukrainian defenders. Russia breaks the rules of war all the time, but Ukraine will not fire artillery from within or targeted at civilian-populated areas.
The Wednesday evening attack was a massive bombardment by Russia against Ukraine. The Coordinator of the project StopTerror, Semen Kabakayev, also reported that the enemy was firing for half an hour from 82-mm and 120-mm mortars. In total, Russia launched 50 separate attacks and ceasefire violations in Donbas on April 18, according to the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine. One Ukrainian soldier was wounded by the shelling. Another defender was traumatized and hospitalized.
Russia is again using 152-mm artillery that is proscribed by the Minsk Agreement. Russian shelling on April 17 and 18 using heavy artillery fits a pattern of escalating aggression: since March 24 the number of ceasefire violations by the Russian armed forces has been well into the double-digits each day. The inevitable conclusion is that Putin will never stop until he is stopped. Russia will escalate its attacks against Ukraine until the Western powers finally keep their promises. France and Germany must be true guarantors of the Minsk Agreement and force Russia to withdraw all heavy weapons. The United States and the United Kingdom must be true guarantors of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances and force Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereign and territorial integrity by its internationally-recognized 1994 borders.
It is because Russia is invading Ukraine that Europe is at war. It is because Germany, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom are not keeping their promises to Ukraine that Putin’s War has become a global war.