Disengagement of forces in Donbas: Overview


The current military and humanitarian situation and prospects of the forces’ disengagement was the subject of a report of Colonel Anatoliy Markovskyi, officer of civil-military cooperation in M sector.

Kyiv, October 18, 2016. In Mariupol sector, the disengagement has not begun yet because militants systematically violate ceasefire. The number of attacks has increased significantly over the last week but the majority of people who live in of frontline villages and towns do not leave their homes. This was reported by Anatoliy Markovskyi via Skype from Mariupol in the framework of the project of Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Constant shelling hinders withdrawal of troops

“Over the last day they violated ceasefire 29 times, including 20 times – in Mariupol sector. They used artillery, mortars, small arms, therefore it is impossible to implement the Minsk agreements now,” said Anatoliy Markovskyi. He reminded that the necessary condition for the commencement of withdrawal is a total ceasefire over a period of 7 days.

The most difficult situation is in Vodiane where there was a series of powerful artillery attacks over the last week. After them, most of the village turned into ruins. “Now the level of destruction there is approximately the same as in Shyrokyne. After 122-mm and 152-mm artillery shells hit a summer residence house, almost nothing is left,” explained Col. Markovskyi.

Colonel Markovskyi emphasized that rumors of withdrawing Ukrainian troops from Vodiane are mistaken. “The media inform that we are allegedly abandoning our positions. It is not true. The Armed Forces and other units remain there, we have not in the least abandoned the positions,” he assured.

People stay

According to Anatoliy Markovskyi, most people have not reacted to the escalation: “those who wanted to leave left a long time ago; who did not want to – stayed. “11 residents are still living in dilapidated Vodiane. They refuse to leave it for various reasons. They are provided with everything they need. Most people including children have stayed in Chermalyk, Talakivka and other frontline villages where it is a little quieter, and they are trying to live normal lives. Now about 900 to 3000 people are living in these towns. Children attend schools and kindergartens.

Clearing the area of mines

“The international organization “HALO Trust” is clearing one of the settlements of mines. Colonel Markovskyi has not mentioned other organizations for security reasons.

Local residents need support and do not want the Ukrainian army to withdraw its troops

Anatoliy Markovskyi noted that СІМІС officers regularly communicate with the inhabitants of the so-called “gray zone” villages, with whom they have friendly and trust-based relations. The civilians turn to them with all possible problems, including firewood and medicines. There are always difficulties with medicines.

People continuously need support, because most of them are left with no work. Colonel Markovskyi informed that not only СІМІС officers but also commanders of military units that are stationed nearby communicate with local residents.

According to him, local residents want the military to stay and ask them not to withdraw the troops. Local residents distrust “representatives” of the self-proclaimed “republics” who participate in the Minsk process.

On September 21, the Framework Agreement on the withdrawal of military units from both sides was signed in Minsk. The disengagement is to be executed under the OSCE supervision and on condition of complete ceasefire.

The project “Spokesperson of peaceful life” is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.