Russia-backed militants slightly reduced the number of heavy weapons use in all three sectors down to 230 against 267 the preceding week. The total amount of enemy cease-fire violations was also lower, 561 against 618. Nevertheless, militants continued using all available weapons, including those banned by Minsk agreements, stated Vilyen Pidgornyy, Ministry of Defense spokesperson during a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Last week, the enemy actively used tanks and opened mortar fire in a bid to cover their armored units and destroy antitank units of Ukrainian Armed Forces. Additionally, enemy snipers were more active in the nighttime last week, which particularly indicates that Russian proxies have access to sophisticated sniper optics and equipment”, he followed.
Last week the situation in the Mariupol sector was the tensest compared to other sectors. The majority of cease-fire violations took place in the Pavlopil – Shyrokyne frontline area. The militants also used heavy weapons in Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, and Novotroitske. On March 20, there was a fight between Ukrainian troops and the enemy near Vodiane. “The positions of Ukrainian Armed Forces and residential areas of the town came under enemy heavy weapons fire that lasted several hours each time. In the morning two enemy attack groups, consisting of 20 militants each, set off from Sakhanka and engaged two Ukrainian defense positions. Ukrainian Armed Forces successfully repelled the attacks. The invaders were forced to retreat”, Mr Pidgornyy explained. Later, Russian proxies opened intense fire with mortars, howitzers and Grads in retaliation, having fired almost 200 mortar bombs, artillery rounds and missiles. Later they opened a combined mortar and artillery attack at Novotroitske, having fired the total of 50 bombs and artillery rounds.
On March 25, the enemy opened artillery fire at Vodiane four times and fired 45 rounds. Russia-backed militants also fired several times at Shyrokyne with multiple rocket launchers.
In Luhansk sector the daily number of cease-fire violations by the enemy ranged between 9 on March 25 and 16 on March 21. Combat activity of Russia-backed militants significantly decreased. On average, militants conducted four mortar shellings per day firing up to 10 mortar rounds each time. “The enemy remained consistent while choosing target areas week after week: Krymske, Popasna area and Troitske regularly came under enemy mortar fire”, Mr Pidgornyy added.
In Donetsk sector the enemy was most active on March 23. “Throughout the whole day invaders engaged Ukrainian troops with mortars in several locations followed by three powerful artillery attacks on Zaitseve, having fired the total of nearly 120 artillery rounds”, Vilyen Pidgornyy elaborated. Overall, on March 23 militants fired the total of 400 mortar bombs and artillery rounds at positions of Ukrainian Armed Forces. Militants regularly used Infantry Fighting Vehicles at Svitlodarsk area and tanks near Avdiivka and adjacent positions. “On March 22 and 25 Russian proxies conducted mortar attacks at Avdiivka that lasted hours”, MoD spokesperson said.
Last week, 9 Ukrainian servicemen were killed in action and 31 servicemen were wounded in action. “On March 26, military helicopter Mi-2 collided with power lines and crashed in the area of Malynivka village, near Kramatorsk, Donetsk region. Three crew members and two passengers died. All deceased were officers of Ukrainian Armed Forces”, Vilyen Pidgornyy stated. As per intelligence reports, the total number of casualties amongst Russian proxies is 30 killed and 57 wounded over the week.