"Situation worsened": Rebels, Ukrainians continue to make more war
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By Chris Covert
Attacks and counterattacks around northern Donetsk city have significantly increased over the weekend as both sides report casualties and even combat deaths, mostly from artillery shelling, according to Russian language news accounts.
According to a news account which appeared in tsensor.net.ua, a probe by Russian backed separatists near Avdievka on Sunday evening was driven back with four Ukrainian wounded and an unknown number of casualties on the rebels' side. Ukrainian positions also were hit with 82mm and 120mm mortar fire.
At around the same time, rebel military officials say the Ukrainians attempted a breakthrough fight near Avidievka, which resulted in five Ukrainian soldiers being killed and four wounded.
According to the Donetsk ministry of defense news release, Number 16 Company of the Ukrainian 58th Separate Rifle Brigade was the lead element in the attack.
Quoting the Donetsk ministry of defense spokesman Lt. Colonel Eduard Basurin, Ukrainian front line units have been ordered to limit the number of dead reported to five per day. Basurin said that 23 Ukrainian dead were being kept hidden at an aid station in Avdievka.
The report also said that a total of 189 Ukrainian have died at the line of contact, not just in Donetsk, with another 322 wounded since early March. Many of those casualties are from hazing, which is prevalent in both armies, and from accidental firearms discharges.
A separate tsensor.net.ua report said that on Saturday night a total of four rebel soldiers were killed and six were wounded in a rebel probe in Avdievka.
The report also said that soldiers from the rebel 3rd Separate Rifle Brigade has refused to carry out attack orders. The report does not make clear if those elements were the same elements who were involved in Saturday's attacks.
Official rebel reports claim that about 20 individuals were removed from their residences in Avdievka by Ukrainian security forces on Saturday. Rebels in the past have claimed similar incidents in which Ukrainian security services have removed families near the forward zone because they were considered pro Russian.
Fighting elsewhere on the line of contact
According to a news report which appeared in korrespondent.net, rebel forces in both Donetsk and Lugansk fired on Ukrainian forces a total of 44 times in a 24 hour period.
Rebels fired a variety of weapons at Ukrainians in Lugansk city, Novogorodskoye, Mayorsk, Zaytsevo, Leninskoye, Peski, Opytnoye, Shirokino, Troitskoye and Marinka.
Weapons used at Zaitsevo included 122mm artillery. Zaytsevo has been the focus of an ongoing artillery exchange since early in March.
On Saturday between 0500 hrs and 0800 hrs, according to a separate korrespondent.net news report, rebels fired on Ukrainian positions near Zaytsevo and Mayorsk a total of 160 times, a comparatively powerful barrage for this war.
On Saturday rebels also hit Ukrainian positions on the right bank of the northern Donetsk River using artillery.
According to rebel officials, Ukrainian forces violated the ceasefire a total of 43 times in a 48 hour period. Ukrainian artillery has reportedly hit rebel positions in Yasinovataya, Zaytsevo, Spartak, at the Donetsk airport, and in western districts of Donetsk city. Rebel positions hit by artillery in southern Donetsk include at Kominternovo, Sahanka and Dokuchaevsk. Four residences were reported damaged in Ukrainian artillery fire at Dokuchaevsk.
According to rebel media from Russian reserve FSB Colonel Igor Girkin's novorusinform.org, rebel forces have ousted Ukrainian forces from two positions near Avdievka over the weekend. According to a report from Radio Liberty, sourced in the news article, Ukrainian forces attempted a rapid counterattack, but it is unclear in the report if the counterattack was successful.
According to the article, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and another five were wounded in Avdievka and in Marinka.
Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for Rantburg.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter. You can read past articles about the 2014 war in southeastern Ukraine by clicking here.
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