Foreign Policy Diary – Conflicts Heat Up in Ukraine


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement this February regarding the casualties sustained in the conflict in the eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) and the Donbass and Lugansk militias. According to the OHCHR there have been 9,167 killed and 21,044 injured since the conflict began in April of 2014. These figures include civilian casualties. There is some skepticism regarding the casualty figures reported by the Armed Forces, with most parties knowledgeable of the fierce fighting that took place prior to the signing of Minsk II believing that the government has hidden the extent of casualties suffered in the battles that led to the Debaltseve encirclement.

Artillery shelling and small arms fire originating from both sides of the Line of Contact has mired the cease-fire agreed upon under Minsk II on an almost daily basis. As recently as the end of February of this year, the OSCE has monitored and reported on the movement of heavy weapons out of storage on the part of the UAF at numerous times in clear violation of Minsk II, as well as the positioning of infantry fighting vehicles within the 15 kilometer exclusion zone on the part of the militias. Civilians of the Donbass have been subjected to indiscriminant artillery bombardment from the UAF on a continuous basis.

On February 23rd, the UAF attacked the DPR town of Spartak in force, with the support of tanks and artillery. They have also continued to bombard the Donetsk airport with artillery, including “Grad” mobile rocket units. The town of Gorlovka and surrounding neighborhoods have been the target of recent bombardment as well. DPR and LPR reconnaissance has noted the movement of artillery, infantry fighting vehicles and tanks in forward areas close to the contact line on the part of the UAF. This is corroborated by OSCE reports of discrepancies in serial numbers of T-64 and T-72 tanks in storage and the wholesale absence of tanks, artillery and other heavy equipment at UAF storage facilities that come under OSCE monitoring under the Minsk II agreement. …

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