Saturday

17th Apr 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

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.

Opinion

Post-Brexit UK vs EU on Ukraine's future

Boris Johnson hopes that the new partnership demonstrates to his counterparts on the continent that, despite quitting the EU, Britain will remain a key player in European security affairs via a commitment to upholding Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us