Thursday

9th Feb 2023

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.

Nato and US urge Russia to back off on Ukraine

Nato and the US have put on a show of solidarity with Ukraine over Russia's military build-up, with American president Joe Biden offering to hold a summit with Russia to defuse tensions.

Opinion

EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid

While every European diplomat knows that a return to the "status quo" means maintaining the daily oppression, humiliation and anguish that comes with living under apartheid, the EU continues to acquiesce to a situation that gets worse by the day.

Opinion

Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'

The scars of Brexit have left their mark in communities across Wales. The Menai mussel industry has experienced a sharp decline having once been a staple in fish counters and restaurants across Europe; its business model wrecked by post-Brexit rules.

Latest News

  1. EU leaders attempt to hash out response to US green subsidies
  2. Russian diplomats in EU: unpaid wages, low morale
  3. Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals
  4. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  5. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  6. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  7. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  8. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us