Wednesday

8th Jul 2020

New shelling shows Russian force in Ukraine

  • View through artillery sight in east Ukraine (Photo: Christopher Bobyn)

Shelling in east Ukraine was so intense on Tuesday (18 February) that there were 1,094 explosions in the town of Kadiivka alone between 5.35AM and 8.30AM, international monitors have said.

That amounted to an explosion every ten seconds for three hours.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The "marked spike in ceasefire violations" in the Luhansk region went on for six hours and included 2,500 explosions in total, as well as "bursts" of heavy machine gun and small arms fire, the monitors, from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), also said in a report out on Wednesday.

The OSCE did not say who was responsible.

But the Ukrainian army said the spike came when "Russian occupation troops" shelled it with high-calibre artillery and mortars before launching a ground assault "through the frontline", resulting in one fatality on each side.

The Ukrainian version was broadly corroborated by the EU's embassy in Kiev on Tuesday.

"These offensive attempts by Russia-backed armed formations go completely against the agreed ceasefire," the EU's ambassador to Ukraine, Matti Maasikas, said.

"The EU expects Russia to make full and immediate use of its influence on the armed formations it backs in this regard", he added.

Five EU countries also placed Russia at the scene in a statement at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York the same day.

"We call on the sides for full compliance with the ceasefire and in particular on Russia to use its considerable influence over the armed formations it backs," Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, and Poland said.

Russia's show of force might have been meant to gain leverage in ongoing peace talks with Ukraine, France, and Germany.

But whatever its political logic, for some it also highlighted the implausibility of Russia's old claim - that it has no armed forces in east Ukraine.

"It would be wrong to say the Kremlin is responsible for whatever happens there," the Kremlin's spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, said on Tuesday.

And previous Russian denials have spawned diplomatic euphemisms over the years.

The OSCE, for instance, spotted Russian-type tanks, rocket launchers, artillery, anti-aircraft guns, and armoured personnel carriers in what it referred to only as "non-government controlled areas" in east Ukraine in its recent reports.

EU diplomats also tend to speak of "Russia-backed formations" or "foreign armed forces" instead of "Russian troops" in east Ukraine.

But for Ukrainian diplomats the intensity of enemy firepower gave the lie to Russian claims that the Ukrainian military was fighting local separatists.

"The Russian Federation continues to supply its occupation forces [in the region] with weaponry, regular troops, and mercenaries to the extent that they now dwarf many European armies," Ukraine's UN ambassador, Serhiy Kyslytsya, said at the UNSC on Tuesday.

There were some 500 Russian tanks, 1,000 armoured combat vehicles, 130 rocket-launch systems, and 800 artillery systems in Russia-occupied east Ukraine, he said.

"Just last year, the Russian Federation sent over 4,000 tonnes of weapons and munitions into the occupied territories in Donbas [in east Ukraine]," Kyslytsya said.

"Yet another cynical Russian attack in Donbas," Ukraine's EU ambassador, Mykola Tochytskyi, added in Brussels.

"We informed the EU about Russia's escalation and urged our partners to react resolutely," Tochytskyi said.

And for their part, Ukrainian military officers have, in the past, agreed.

"When I say the enemy, you understand this is the Russian Federation ... Yesterday's miners can't find a tank in their mines and learn how to drive it without special training," a Ukrainian colonel who commanded the 93rd brigade in Luhansk last year told EUobserver at the time.

Guns blaze in Ukraine as leaders meet in Paris

Hundreds of explosions and bursts of small arms fire were reported on the contact line in east Ukraine, as France prepares to host the first peace summit on the war in three years.

News in Brief

  1. France and Germany warn Israel on annexation 'consequences'
  2. Shipping firms to face EU carbon regime
  3. EU to mediate between Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey
  4. EU to unveil arms-trafficking and drug proposals
  5. EU to discuss people-smuggling with African states
  6. 'Torture chamber' found in Dutch sea containers
  7. Commissioner backs under-attack Hungarian news site
  8. New French government tilts to right

New Cairo activist case prompts wave of Italy demos

Four years after the killing of an Italian activist in Cairo, Italian cities are mobilising to highlight the fate of Patrick Zaki, imprisoned since February for "inciting protest through his Facebook profile".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. The opportunistic peace
  2. EU mulls new system to check illegal pushbacks of migrants
  3. EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row
  4. Revealed: fossil-fuel lobbying behind EU hydrogen strategy
  5. Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video
  6. Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss
  7. Belarus: Inside Lukashenko’s crackdown on independent voices
  8. The rationale behind US troop withdrawals from Germany

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us