Militants revert to artillery and tanks along with mortar fire in Avdiivka – Ukraine’s Defense Ministry

Kyiv, February 20, 2017.

The number of ceasefire violations committed by Russia-backed militants ranged between 49 on Wednesday, February 15 and 105 on Saturday, February 18.

Over the week, Ukrainian troops registered 12 episodes of hostile drones conducting aerial reconnaissance in the Anti-Terrorist Operation area.

Donetsk sector

Last week, the enemy used mortars on a daily basis, firing at Ukrainian positions in Svitlodarsk, around Horlivka perimeter, in Avdiivka and adjacent areas as well as near the Donetsk airport. Avdiivka has been the traditional hot spot of enemy fire. Russian proxies opened fire in the industrial area and the town`s outskirts. Ukrainian defense line near the Donetsk airport suffered from the militant attacks as well. Enemy combat activity intensified toward the end of the week. “On February 15, along with traditional mortar fire of Avdiivka, militants started occasionally using conventional artillery and tanks. Military situation remained tense the next day, when Russian occupation forces had been shelling those positions from three different directions for 12 hours, using the aforementioned armaments. That day, proxies fired at Ukrainian positions more than 300 shells in total”, stated Vilyen Pidgornyy, Ministry of Defense spokesperson during the press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Over the weekend, there was another escalation in the sector. The enemy attacked positions of Ukrainian Armed Forces with mortars across the entire front line. “In Avdiivka and adjacent areas, proxies repeatedly used tanks. On February18 the enemy conducted two assaults of Ukrainian defense lines near Avdiivka. The first attempt commenced at 5 am and lasted for two hours. The second attempt started at 5 pm and ended right before midnight. The militants employed dense mortar fire and used tanks to cover assault attempts. Ukrainian defenders repelled both assaults. According to preliminary estimates of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, militants launched 300 bombs and 70 tank shells on that day”, stated Vilyen Pidgornyy.

Luhansk sector

The situation in the sector was mainly stable over the week. The enemy opened gunfire against Ukrainian Armed Forces in Stanytsia Luhanska, Lobacheve, Krymske and near Popasna. Occasionally, the enemy used mortars and artillery, launching an average of 10 shells per day against Ukrainian troops. The majority of cease-fire violations had occurred between 2 and 11 pm. The highest combat activity of the enemy was recorded on February 15, when militants intensified their mortar attacks. The militants had been shelling UAF positions in Krymske for more than 2.5 hours, having fired more than 70 bombs. In the morning of the same day, the enemy sniper opened fire in Lobacheve. “The daily number of attacks varied from 2 on Sunday, February 19, to 14 the day before – on February 18”, MoD spokesperson summed up.

Mariupol sector

During the week, the enemy combat activity occurred in Maryinka district and southern coastal areas to the east of Mariupol – in Pavlopil, Hnutove, Vodyane and Shyrokyne. The enemy violated the cease-fire, using heavy armaments both day and night. Most fierce episodes of hostilities in this sector took place on Monday, February 13. That day, the enemy shelled Ukrainian positions in Vodyane and Shyrokyne with tanks and howitzers. The militants launched 180 shells against the positions of Ukrainian Armed Forces. On Friday, February 17, military situation in Volnovakha district deteriorated. Positions of Ukrainian troops near villages of Trudivske, Starohnativka and Novohryhorivka were intensively shelled by the enemy cannons and mortars. “Several motor vehicles of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and three cars of volunteer organizations` representatives were damaged by direct hits of shells fired by the enemy”, Mr Pidgornyy added. On Saturday, the situation remained tense as militants continued using heavy armaments in their attacks at Ukrainian positions in coastal areas of the sector and Maryinka district. Russian proxies launched 30 “Grad” missiles near Vodyane. On Sunday, enemy combat activity in the sector significantly decreased.

Russia continues to supply its proxies with weapons and ammo. Four railway echelons consisting of 5 cars with ammunition and 35 tanks with fuel arrived from Russia in the occupied territories in eastern Ukraine. “In addition, five trucks with new supplies of ammunition were registered by Ukrainian military intelligence crossing the Ukrainian-Russian border in the area controlled by so-called “DPR”, Vilyen Pidgornyy stated. 


Last week, 7 Ukrainian servicemen were killed, and 28 were wounded in action. The hostile actions of the enemy resulted in casualties among civilians living in the frontline areas. “Due to enemy shellings, during the previous week 2 local residents of Krymske and Avdiivka were killed, 7 more civilians were wounded, mostly during mortar attacks”, Mr Pidgornyy noted.

Damage to civilian infrastructure

Residential and industrial areas in the frontline villages and towns came under enemy shelling. During the previous week, 75 private houses were damaged as a result of direct hits by enemy shells. In addition, 8 non-residential buildings suffered damages due to enemy fire. Most of the damage to infrastructure and residential districts took place in Avdiivka, where electrical substation was shut down due to enemy fire for several days leaving residents of the nearby areas without electricity. Ukrainian law enforcement, engineers, medical and military personnel continue to provide expert assistance to civilians in the frontline areas who suffer from the barbaric acts of the Russian occupational forces. “In addition, for no obvious reason, the militants blew up a railway track near Syfonna station, Luhansk sector. This area is not controlled by the Ukrainian government. Hence, all the responsibility for this act of sabotage completely falls on Russian proxies and their military command”, Mr Pidgornyy said.

Report on the military developments as of the previous week is available here, as of 20 February is available here. Interactive data on the shelling: chronology shelling chart and the interactive map.