ATO Staff: Desertion becomes more frequent among militants


Kyiv, September 22, 2015. Situation in the ATO zone remained relatively calm on September 18-21. “Nevertheless, Russia-backed militant groups continued sporadic attacks at Ukrainian positions in order to instigate provocations,” said Lieutenant Colonel Anatoliy Stelmakh, the ATO Staff spokesperson, at Ukraine Crisis Media Center via Skype. According to Lt. Col. Stelmakh, militants shelled Ukrainian positions in Luhanske, Mayorske, Sokilnyky, Kirove and south of Avdiivka. In the Mariupol sector, in Shyrokyne settlement, insurgents attacked Ukrainian stronghold in Bohdanivka with mortar fire and from small arms towards the line of demarcation.

Militants shot directly at Ukrainian forces positions seven times in the period of September 18-21. Lt. Col. Stelmakh emphasized that the Ukrainian forces used no weapons despite militants’ provocations.

He also said the truce opened wider possibilities for humanitarian and social work. Ukrainian troops jointly with volunteers helped delivering food, warm clothes and other necessities to Stanytsia Luhanska and Shtormove as well as Mariupol Child Care Center.

According to the ATO Staff spokesperson, number of deserters in the militant ranks is growing because of constant informal fees collected “for the troops’ needs.” A part of militants recently deserted the 1st Army Corps of self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) and about 230 mercenaries from the 2nd Army Corps located in Alchevsk refused to renew their contracts expiring in October-November 2015.