Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 01.02.2018
The Ukrainian armed forces liberated the village of Novooleksandrivka. The village is in Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine. It lies in the ‘grey zone’ between Russia-invaded and Russia-occupied territory and free Ukraine territory. There are only 20 inhabitants now — without electricity supply since the summer of 2014. The city of Popasna in free Ukraine is only a kilometre to the north-west of Novooleksandrivka. The city of Pervomaisk in Russia-occupied Ukraine is six kilometres to the east.
On 22 September 2014, the Russian invasion army began a breakout from their salient in Pervomaisk. By 27 September 2014, the battlefront fell right across the village of Novooleksandrivka. On 30 September 2014, the Russians struck Popasna with Grad multi-launch rocket systems – killing and wounding civilians and damaging a school. By the 30 October 2014, the Russian advance towards Popasna had stalled for good, and the Ukrainian armed forces were stabilizing the battlefront, even recapturing some ground. Novooleksandrivka was not under Russian control, but nor was it under Ukrainian control.
Novooleksandrivka is the latest in a string of modest liberations of Ukrainian villages from Russian invaders. Novoluhanske, Travneve, Hladosove, Verkhniotoretske, and now Novooleksandrivka are under the control of the Ukrainian armed forces. They no longer lie in “No Man’s Land.”
The benefit of liberation is support. Firmly connected to free Ukraine, Novooleksandrivka will now enjoy the protection of the Ukrainian armed forces for the provision of services like water, electricity, and natural gas. The Russians occasionally attacked the village of Novooleksandrivka while it was uncontrolled. Now, the Ukrainian armed forces can establish defensive positions away from civilian areas, and defend Ukrainian citizens in the village properly. Ukrainian armed forces spokesperson Vasyl Labai would not go into the details of the Novooleksandrivka operation, by he did say this: “We are strengthening or re-building our defensive positions, while separate units can improve tactical positions in certain areas.”
This is not the liberation of Donbas and Crimea that all Ukrainians are waiting for. But it is a step in the right direction. Ukraine taking control of Novooleksandrivka village demonstrates that the Russian invaders are incapable of taking control. There is no momentum and no spirit behind the Russian invasion any longer. The spirit of resistance among Ukrainians to the foreign invaders from Muscovy is indomitable. A Ukrainian village in Ukraine has been taken under control by the Ukrainian armed forces. That’s as it should be.