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By Chris Covert
Rantburg.com

Although representatives of Ukraina, Russia and the two breakaway republics in southeastern Ukraina are due to meet this week, news reports indicate that the truce is ending as battles between Ukrainian military units and pro Russian separatists grow in intensity.

Since last Friday separatists have been attempting to drive Ukrainian military units from the Donetsk city airport. Since July Ukrainian units have had artillery positioned there and have fired on Donetsk city.

Fighting between the combatants has taken place in outlying areas north and southwest of Donetsk and the airport, including locations such as Peski and Avdeyevka, the end result being the militias claimed to have control of at least part of the airport.

Ukrainian military units are supposed to be withdrawing from the lines towards the west, as are militia units in the area. But neither side has budged and, according to information supplied by the pro Russian militia Voice of Sevastopol news outlet, militia units have been sent to the airport to seize the location.

Even though Ukrainian military units, notably the remnants of the 93rd Brigade were offered terms of surrender, artillery units have continued to fire into Donetsk city as well as firing on militia units at the airport at ranges of less than 250 meters.

Despite the close quarters combat, according to a pro militia report, 850 Ukrainian effectives managed to slip into the airport, said to comprise 250 paratroopers with the 25th Airborne Brigade and 600 from an unidentified Ukrainian territorial defense battalion. Other reports say the larger unit was in fact an armor unit.

The latest militia reports are that militia armored units also have been moving towards and already may be at the airport as of this writing.

Militia rocket artillery units have been firing into areas at the airport from the south, aiming at Peski, to the southwest of the airport, and at Ukrainian fortifications at the airport itself.

During the night of September 26th - September 27th Ukrainian artillery units started firing into locations in Donetsk city including the Kalininsky, Kievsky and Petrovsky districts. Ukrainian artillery has also struck in Peski, Spartak and Telmanovo.

According to the militias' report Ukrainian artillery guns used included 152mm tube, 120mm mortar, 122mm rocket and 300mm rocket artillery. Current reports do not indicate civilian casualties, although several civilian areas were hit by artillery strikes.

Ukrainian news sources claim that militia artillery have been causing civilian casualties. In an online report posted Sunday, Ukrainian blogger Roman Burko said that militia artillery strikes were reported at Mariinka and Krasnohorhvka Saturday, and that Ukrainian artillery units did not counterfire to the artillery, saying it was a provocation from the militias. Mariinka is a western suburb of Donetsk city.

Burko said that civilian casualties were recorded but failed to detail more information.

Meanwhile fighting continues in areas north of Lugansk city, according to pro Russian militia news reports.

The fighting in and near the town of Schastye continued as both sides try to seize the bridge over the North Donetsk River. A few weeks ago Ukrainian armor and airborne units which previously had occupied the airport at Lugansk were subsequently withdrawn to Schastye as well as other locations in northern Lugansk.

Militia artillery units claimed to have hit and destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition dump and armored vehicles marshaling yard, presumably inside Schastye itself´╗┐.

Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for Rantburg.com. He can be reached at grurkka@gmail.com


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