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Situation report for February 13: After signing of the peace agreements the fights broke out with renewed vigor

Situation report for February 13: After signing of the peace agreements the fights broke out with renewed vigor
Photo: ATO press centre

The situation in the ATO zone has escalated once again after the plan for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Donbas, which provides for a cease-fire at midnight this Sunday, was signed on Thursday in Minsk.

Head of the Press Center of the ATO Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told Capital that the enemy has been using mortars and artillery in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts nonstop. «They either want to shoot out all the ammunition, or inflict maximum damage. During the night the terrorists opened fire on positions of the ATO forces and peaceful settlements more than 40 times,» he said.

The situation near Debaltseve became more complicated. In a conversation with Capital a soldier, who goes by nom-de-guerre Roman, currently deployed in positions in this area, mentioned the increase in density of artillery and mortar fire during attacks on positions and civil sectors. «The enemy pumps shells on us every 3-4 seconds, it started on Thursday afternoon and still goes on without a break,» he said.

Former commander of the Donbas battalion Semen Semenchenko reported on movement away from positions, which were earlier controlled by the Ukrainian army in Debaltseve. He wrote on his Facebook page that after the Ukrainian forces seized the village of Lohvynove, they received an order to retreat. As a result, currently Lohvynove is controlled by the enemy. «The information of the Press Center of the ATO and the General Staff about „control over Lohvynove“ is incorrect,» he wrote.

Head of the Press Center of the ATO Motuzyanyk refused to comment on Semenchenko’s statement, but said that there was fighting near Lohvynove. «I would like to emphasize once again, the ATO forces did not leave their positions,» he said in conversation with the publication.

Active hostilities near Debaltseve do not allow local authorities and volunteers to evacuate civilians. The towns of Debaltseve and Avdiyivka have been isolated for several days. Representatives of the headquarters of the Regional Commission for Emergencies at the Donetsk Oblast State Administration say the command of the ATO imposed a ban on entrance to the settlements, so people have not been evacuated for several days.

«Because of the constant attacks the entrance to the suburb is closed, we do not even get orders for evacuation,» said Valentyn Tkalych, press secretary for Chairman of the Donetsk Oblast State Administration Oleksandr Kikhtenko. Tkalych noted that the evacuees put high hopes on the peace plan signed in Minsk. People discuss returning home in temporary shelters in Slovyansk, Kostyantynivka and Svyatohirsk.

«People expect to go back home quite soon, so they refuse to move to other parts of the country,» he said, adding that 7,350 people have already been evacuated since January 31 from the battle zone.

In turn, volunteer Serhiy Sayenko confirmed there were less people wishing to leave Avdiyivka and Debaltseve. «This can be explained by the fact that those who wanted to leave the war zone have already left the area,» he said.

There is still fighting in Luhansk and Mariupol directions. Today, the town of Shchastya in Luhansk oblast was shelled by Grad multiple rocket launchers. «Our positions are the main target, but the town itself was damaged badly. Terrorists destroyed a gas pipeline, power lines and water supply. The shelling did not subside for almost a day,» said soldier, who goes by nom-de-guerre Braviy, currently deployed in a fortified position not far from Shchastya.

Azov volunteer regiment reported on its Facebook page that today Ukrainian troops continued fighting for Shyrokino and Sakhanka settlements near Mariupol.

«There was also shelling of the village of Nikolayevka. It was attacked with small arms and mortars,» said officer of the press group in the M sector of the ATO zone Dmytro Chaliy.

The Defense Ministry interprets the intensified fire on the frontline as the enemy’s attempt to win back maximum of its positions. Thus, today Deputy Defense Minister Petro Mekhed reported on militants’ intention to occupy Debaltseve and Mariupol in Donetsk oblast by February 15. «According to my information, separatists and the Russian troops were given an order to raise their flags in Debaltseve and in Mariupol. Accordingly, we expect an escalation of the conflict and take all necessary measures and means to defeat their attacks,» he said at a briefing in the Cabinet.

As a reminder, according to the peace plan, the ceasefire in the Donbas will start on 00:00 on February 15, Ukrainian troops will have to withdraw heavy weapons from the current line of contact, the militants — from the line agreed on September 19 within the framework of the Minsk Agreements.

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