Kyiv, 23 January 2015 – In the 24 hours, the situation in the anti-terrorist operation zone was characterized by fierce confrontation between Russian and Russian-backed forces and the Ukrainian military. Militants are trying to take up positions strategically favourable for further military operations. “The Russian Federation continues amassing its contingent in the East of Ukraine. At key operational directions militants’ groups get replaced with servicemen of the Russian Federation Armed Forces whose overall number at the militants-controlled areas has reached its maximum since the start of the conflict in Donbas – over 9 thousand servicemen,” stated Colonel Andriy Lysenko, ATO spokesman at a briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
According to Lysenko, the Command of the Russian Federation Armed Forces is constantly supplying manpower and military equipment to the combat zone, reinforced with anti-aircraft defense, communication and electronic warfare systems. Around 30-40 trucks of ammunition are being brought in daily via uncontrolled parts of the Ukrainian-Russian border. “Pursuing this purpose as well as to ensure ongoing rotation of the Russian military defined units of the Russian Federation Armed Forces are being redeployed to the state border with Ukraine, including the 20th Guards Army of the Western military district of the Russian Federation Armed Forces (its HQ is located in Nizhegorodska oblast of the Russian Federation),” added Colonel Lysenko.
Militants of the so-called “DPR” and “LPR” fired at the ATO forces positions at all directions using artillery, mortars, tanks and Grad systems. Three Ukrainian servicemen were killed in the last day, and another fifty were wounded.Yesterday, the leaders of the so-called “DPR” pro-Russian militant group held a “march of POWs” in Donetsk. “The action that sought to humiliate the honour and dignity of Ukrainian servicemen and violated international legal standards, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 has already been condemned by the OSCE and human rights defending organization Amnesty International”, noted Colonel Andriy Lysenko.
Negotiations with the leaders of the pro-Russian groups are currently ongoing to liberate Ukrainian captives. Three Ukrainian servicemen have been liberated, and the remains of another eight servicemen have been returned.
In the town of Rovenky, in theLuhansk region, on the territory controlled by militants of the so-called “LPR”, clashes occurred between pro-Russian forces of the “LDP” and pro-Russian Cossack forces. ““A school came under fire that had classes at that time. Luckily no one was hurt,” stated ATO spokesman.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine deployed to the East of Ukraine in its report quoted the testimony of a Ukrainian serviceman formerly statoned at the Donetsk airporton the use of chemicalweapons by Russian-backed militants. . According to the serviceman, many “Ukrainian soldiers from the Donetsk airport had symptoms similar to those observed as a result of gas attacks. “Competent agencies are checking on the incident. We herewith remind that that the use of chemical weapons is prohibited by the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction of 1993 signed by 190 states in the world,” added the ATO spokesman.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine made a statement on an attack in Donetsk that resulted in the death of several civilians. In the Berlin statement of 21 January 2015 Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia called to immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy equipment from the delimitation line in accordance with the Minsk agreements. “However peaceful locals in Donbas keep dying from shelling conducted by illegal armed groups. The list of victims of the cynical terrorist attacks including of that near Volnovakha has been extended with new names of peaceful civilians who were killed as a result of the shelling of a trolleybus in Donetsk. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine condemns any use of armed force against civilians. Ukraine is complying with the ceasefire and is doing everything possible to avoid further civilian victims. Artillery needs to go silent, the ceasefire regime needs be restored. Militants, regular Russian troops and heavy military equipment need to leave the territory of Ukraine. Ukraine’s control over the state border needs be restored. Only these steps will return peace and safety to Donbas, will allow to hold a comprehensive and unbiased investigation of all the deaths and will allow to preserve human lives,” quoted Lysenko.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that with its interventions in Ukraine, Russia has violated Europe’s peaceful post-war order created after World War II. She said Europe could not consider lifting economic sanctions against Russia until Russia agrees to the international call and stops fueling the conflict in the East of Ukraine.