Kiev Artillery shells and rockets since Sunday began to fall on the frontline town of Avdiivka, located in Eastern Ukraine, and as a result, 16 thousand civilians, including 2 thousand children, were left without heating, electricity and clean water at a temperature of 20 degrees below zero Celcius or minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The current intensification of fighting on the frontline in Eastern Ukraine has a very strong influence on the local population”, — emphasized in published on Monday the statement of the International Committee of the red cross. — Weather conditions only amplify the negative impact”.
Avdeevka is controlled by the Ukrainian government of the city, which is located near the city of Donetsk, stronghold of separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine. About half the population of the Town, where once lived 30 thousand people left the city after the war began in April 2014.
According to the Ukrainian authorities, from 16 thousand remaining in the city, and 2 Grand — children.
Starting Sunday, the shelling intensified along the 400-kilometer front line in the Donbass in combat zone, located in the Southeast of Ukraine near the Russian border.
Kiev and Moscow accuse each other of hostilities and are different version of events, including on the question about who started the attacks and for what purpose.
Ukrainian officials claim that a joint force Pro-Russian separatists and Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine deliberately trying to derail concluded on 15 February 2015, the agreement on cease-fire, which is called Minsk-2. Version of one of the parties, these attacks are a ploy aimed at forcing Ukraine to begin a counter-offensive, which Russia could then use for propaganda purposes.
“Russia and its puppets in the Donbas continue to undermine the peace process based on the full and faithful implementation of the Minsk agreements, they continue to pursue their political goals, using the traditional blackmail over the indiscriminate use of force”, — said on Tuesday in Vienna Ihor Prokopchuk, permanent representative of Ukraine to the international organizations in Vienna, in his address to the Permanent Council of the Organization for security and cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
In response, Moscow and Donetsk people’s Republic, one of two breakaway territories in Eastern Ukraine accused Kiev of provoking hostilities. They argue that Ukraine is using the humanitarian crisis in order to blacken Russia and to persuade the United States and Europe of the need to maintain punitive sanctions against Moscow.
“What’s happening around Town and the other settlements along the line of contact that Kiev is trying to use them provoked by the military clashes as a pretext for a full waiver of the Minsk agreements”, — noted in conversation with journalists in Moscow on Monday, Yury Ushakov, Russian presidential aide. About it reports the Russian news site TASS. Kiev is the Russian spelling of the name of the Ukrainian capital.
The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions against Russia for what it is in 2014 annexed the Ukrainian Peninsula of Crimea and the military intervention of Moscow in Eastern Ukraine.
United States yet decisively on the side of Ukraine. “Russia and the separatists have unleashed hostilities in the plant,” — said in Vienna on Tuesday the charge d’affaires of the USA to the OSCE Kate Byrnes (Kate M. Byrnes).
“We call on Russia to stop military action, respect the cease-fire, withdraw heavy weapons and to stop trying to seize new territories outside of the line of contact, said burns. — First of all Russia and the separatists must demonstrate its commitment to fully comply with the terms of the cease-fire, the main provisions of the Minsk agreements, which they so often disturb”.
According to the Ukrainian military and civilians from the Town, the combined armed forces of Russia and the separatists began on Sunday, the offensive infantry on Ukrainian military positions in Avdeevka. Ukrainian armed forces repelled the attack, but artillery and rocket fire has not stopped.
The Ministry of foreign Affairs of Ukraine reported that Ukrainian military positions in Avdeevka Sunday 400 times under fire, and 800 times on Monday. According to Kiev, on Monday evening the joint Russian-separatist forces fired 80 shells from launchers “Grad” on Ukrainian positions. Eight Ukrainian soldiers were killed during the battle on Sunday and Monday, and 26 people were injured. The Ukrainian military and these humanitarian organizations as the Red cross also reported victims among the civilian population.
Sunday in the shelling damaged four power lines through which power is supplied to located in the plant Avdiivka coke plant. All electricity and heating for the Town and remaining there for 16 thousand inhabitants of this comes from by-product coke plants. And in that moment, when the temperature dropped to double figures below zero Celsius, Avdeevka went dark and cold.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who on Monday on an official visit to Germany, stopped him and returned to Kiev in order to do what the staff called a looming “humanitarian catastrophe”.
Ukrainian officials are considering the evacuation of the civilian population, but on Wednesday, the evacuation was still voluntary. About 80 buses prepared for the evacuation of 12 thousand people.
On Tuesday evening the joint Russian-separatist forces launched a new unearthly attack on the Ukrainian positions in Avdeevka and the surrounding area. Ukrainian forces repelled this attack, and another attack on Wednesday morning, which was attended by a division of 30 people with the support of reactive systems of volley fire BM-21, inflicted blows with indirect fire, and 152-millimeter artillery shells. This is stated in the statement of the Ukrainian military.
A false start
Throughout the environment, there were calls for a ceasefire, but then the agreement was quickly broken.
The joint Russian-separatist forces have the Ukrainian military transferred the offer in written form about the cease-fire in the town from 10.00 to 17.00 at this time the winter in Ukraine darkens.
However, according to Ukrainian military and civilian officials after the entry of a temporary truce on Tuesday, the shelling resumed.
“An hour ago the enemy proposed cease-fire, but then, with silence, launched an attack” — this message was posted by the soldiers of the 72nd (mechanized) brigade of the Ukrainian army in Facebook shortly after the cease-fire was to take effect on Wednesday.
“The fight continues”, — stated in the message posted.
“First they (the joint Russian-separatist forces) asked for ceasefire, but then they regrouped and after 10 minutes started the offensive,” he wrote on his page in Facebook the head of the military-civil administration in Donetsk oblast Pavlo zhebrivskyi.
According to the evening on Wednesday, fighting in Avdeevka is still not stopped, however, for the first time in the last few days, the attacks become less intense, allowing workers to begin restoring the heating system.
According to local authorities, the hospital in the town runs on a “stand alone” source of electricity. And Wednesday was already opened 11 points heating, where local residents have the opportunity to escape from the cold. In addition, the Ukrainian military has set up tents for heating, also designed for local residents.
The international organization for aid also joined the efforts to address the resulting humanitarian crisis.
Red cross provided blankets, candles, mattresses, lamps and clothing. The UN organization “world food program” reported by the news website the Daily Signal about the beginning of the supply in the plant food.
The blood and wealth
The intensification of the armed conflict could strike blow to the Ukrainian economy. Avdiivka coke plant produces 40% of Ukrainian coking coal and is the largest manufacturer in Europe. Coking coal is a fuel that is produced from coal and used for the production of various types of gas, and also in the process of turning iron into steel.
Since June 2014, 11 workers of Avdeyevka coke plant was killed in the artillery shelling.
“No need to repeat what awaits residents of the Town, if the coke stop, and what a disaster for the economy of Ukraine will be closing it,” said its Director Musa Magomedov in December 2016 in his statement after the shelling of 24 hours supply is stopped to the electric power plant.
Avdeevka is considered “mono” is the definition of inherited from the era of the Soviet Union, and it means city or town dominated by one production or one company. This kind of city was a key element of the Soviet planned economy.
As for the Town, the city depends on the coke plant, which belongs to Metinvest, a Ukrainian mining and steel company. “Metinvest” belong to enterprises located in different parts of Ukraine, including the second largest Mariupol metallurgical Ilyich iron and steel works.
On Wednesday evening intensified shelling in the suburbs of Mariupol with the participation of artillery, armored vehicles and rocket systems of volley fire did not prevent the operation of this enterprise.
However, the Mariupol metallurgical plant named after Ilyich obtains coking coal from Avdiivka coke. Therefore, long-term disruption of the coke plant in Avdiivka may adversely affect the Ukrainian steel industry.
Wednesday Magomedov, Director of Avdiivka coke plant, in an interview with Ukrainian journalists said that after the cease-fire will take three or four days to fully restore production.
However, by-product coke plant in Avdeevka was dealt another blow on Wednesday evening, and it happened in the moment when has been damaged railway line linking the plant with the rest of Ukraine.
“I hope that the repair crews will work quickly… this is a serious problem for the company,” said Mahomet, speaking on Ukrainian television. “Our colleagues in the plant making heroic efforts to remedy the situation, wrote to the General Director of “Metinvest” Yuri Ryzhenkov in a statement posted on the website of the company. — Efforts are currently focused on the search power generators, tents and equipment, all necessary in order to help the people of the Town to survive a possible termination of work of heat supply system”.
Some analysts believe the increase in attacks in Ukraine with the events abroad.
For example, the attacks began the day after Saturday’s telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and American President Donald trump. It is also possible that the escalation of armed conflict this week is the move by Putin, the purpose of which is to test the level of patience of the White house against Russian provocations in Ukraine.
In addition, on Wednesday, Ukraine for one month assumed the chairmanship in the UN security Council — this function is passed to the queue on the basis of the prepared alphabetical list of countries.
Ukraine, not being a permanent member of the security Council, has repeatedly called on the UN to send peacekeeping forces to Ukraine to strengthen the ceasefire regime.
With the assistance of the United Nations Ukraine “will continue to use every opportunity to protect Ukraine from Russian military aggression”, — Poroshenko wrote Wednesday on his Twitter page.
Russia is a permanent member of the UN security Council.