Kiev, Lugansk officials reach ceasefire agreement subject logo: DONBASWAR
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By Chris Covert

Local ceasefire agreements have been reached in two critical areas of southeastern Ukraine, according to English and Russian language news accounts.

According to a story which appeared on, military officials in Kiev and government officials in the breakaway republic of Lugansk have agreed to a ceasefire, effective December 5th.

For the past week more and more news had been leaked through official Russian channels and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) about the final phase of the September 5th Minsk Ceasefire agreement, which froze the front lines in the war in Donbas region of southeastern Ukraina.

A subsequent protocol to the ceasefire agreement reached on September 19th set a demarcation line, 15 kilometers of which both sides on the conflict were required to withdraw large bore weapons, larger than 100mm. Neither side has completely adhered to the agreement, especially around the Donetsk city airport and along highway T1303 in northern Lugansk, where ongoing fighting and artillery fires and counterfires have been taking place.

According to a news dispatch published on the OSCE website, officials with the Lugansk government and Kiev have set a total ceasefire date for December 5th, with December 6th being the day both sides withdraw their heavy weapons.

Russian and Ukrainian military officials are said to be preparing to monitor the ceasefire, using UAV drones and on the ground observers.

The agreement for this local ceasefire was struck two weeks ago. Ukrainian Lt Gen Askarov and Russian Lt Gen Lentsov, along with representatives to the Lugansk government all agreed to a total ceasefire November 30th.

The issue along this northern sector of the front, which stretches from the Ukrainian-Russian border to near the headwaters of the Lugansk River, has been mainly highway T1303 and the northern Donetsk River. A month after the September 19th protocol, Donbas rebels were trying to break a bridgehead established by Ukrainian military at Schastye with zero success, despite near constant artillery attacks in the area.

Ukrainian artillery units for their part had also been firing fire missions all along the T1303 highway and into villages and settlements on and immediately south of the highway, with rebel artillery responding in kind.

Only a week ago, it appeared that Donbas rebels would make an attempt to seize river crossings on the Norther Doentsk River, and had in fact taken a town south of the river, Slavyanoserbsk. But that town came under Ukrainian artillery fire as well, and the general lack of forces kept Donbas rebels from exploiting that position.

It has long been known that due to the fighting last summer, both sides were in no condition for major offensive operations -- and both sides knew it -- but still accused the other of preparing for new offensives.

December 5th and December 6th are important dates in the Russian military calendar as they represent the date of the start of the winter counteroffensive that eventually led to Germany's defeat in December, 1941.

Ceasefire at the Donetsk airport

An immediate ceasefire was agreed to by both sides around the Donetsk airport, the scene of some of the heaviest fighting since the start of the September 5th ceasefire, according to a news report posted on

Official Ukrainian news accounts say that the fighting has ceased in and around the airport.

The Donetsk airport has been an issue between the Donbas rebels and Ukrainian military since the start of the September 5th Ceasefire agreement, with Donbas rebels making repeated attempts to eliminate all Ukrainian forces at the airport, with little success.

In fact, last Sunday, it was reported that a Ukrainian strike team entered the old terminal, which Donbas rebels had captured -- and abandoned immediately -- the day before, set explosive charges and detonated them before themselves withdrawing. Neither side has revealed why the Ukrainian military set explosive charges to a building which had already been completely destroyed.

Apparently this more immediate ceasefire agreement also has the imprint of both Russian and Ukrainian militaries on it, and it is expected the same general rules for this sector of the front will apply as to Lugansk.

Uneasy alliances

The ceasefire agreements implemented in Donetsk and Lugansk may not last long, or may be repeatedly violated by both sides in the fighting.

Rebel military commanders, especially in Donetsk have complained repeatedly that the September 19th protocol left a major chunk of Donetsk city in the hands of the Ukrainian military, while actual military clashes between military units aligned with the Lugansk government and local Cossack units have resulted in several dead.

The issue in Lugansk has been that some Lugansk government officials have been selling coal directly to Ukrainians, an act which the Donbas Cossacks have objected to, to the point of fighting militia forces loyal to Lugansk. The Ukrainian military has reported that a total of 18 were killed in Antratsyt in recent days. Neither Donbas rebels nor Russian military bloggers have confirmed the death toll, but have confirmed some problems have arisen.

The new ceasefire in Donetsk likely doesn't set well with rebel military commanders in Donetsk as well.

Three of the Donbas rebels' best, most battle hardened formations, "Vostok", "Somalia" and "Motorola" had been committed to attempting to seize the airport, and have suffered, according to Ukrainian military sources, heavy losses.

The telegenic "Givi", the young commander of the "Somalia" military formation has repeatedly told friendly media that Donbas rebels have taken "100 percent" of the airport, despite the fact that his and the other formations have been rotated nearly constantly into and out of the airport, similar to what Ukrainians were doing with their own forces.

A video this writer watched five days ago showed a detachment from "Somalia" holding the fire control tower next to the runway, with cut-in footage of Ukrainian tanks and armored personnel carriers trying to make a run for the new terminal, which the the Ukrainian hold and have held since the summer

Now, five days later, the fire control tower is nearly completely destroyed, with only the bones of the structure remaining.

It is clear that the new ceasefire agreement regarding the airport will probably not hold if the Ukrainians continue shelling Donetsk city, and if rebels continue to attempt to eject Ukrainian forces from nearby marshaling points at Peski and Avdeyevka, as well as from the airport

Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for He can be reached at You can read past articles about the 2014 war in southeastern Ukraina by clicking here.

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