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    To be Frozen on Fire. What is going on in Avdiivka?

    To be Frozen on Fire. What is going on in Avdiivka?
    Promzona ("Industrial zone") district of Avdiivka is controlled by Ukrainian army from the summer 2014. It serves as a buffer zone between territories controlled by the rebels and Ukrainian Avdiivka. Yasinuvata interchange and road connecting occupied Donetsk and Horlivka is just one kilometer far from Promzona. Just a year ago rebels were free to use this road for transporting military vehicles and ammunition, as well as for shelling Avdiivka. Pro-Russian separatists were mounting mortars on the cars, moving along the road and shooting.

    However, in March 2016 ATO-forces has stopped this practice. Ukrainian military forces moved forward a bit that day not crossing the demarcation line defined by Minsk Agreements. Rebels still kept control over the road but there became very hard to transport vehicles and ammunition: the road is clearly visible from the Ukrainian positions and is kept under their fire.

    Moreover its became more complicated to shell Avdiivka itself from the weapons allowed by the Minsk Agreements - its became too far.
    From that time Industrial zone of Avdiivka became a hot point on the ATO map. A couple of times special forces units of separatists' trite to come close to the positions of Ukrainian military. However there were no such a full-scale battles like what is happening currently for the three consecutive days from that time.

    Ukrainian pravda (one of the most popular independent internet media in Ukraine) gathered all information about the situation on the hottest point on the frontline currently:

    What is happening in Avdiivka now?

    Escalation of conflict in Promzona began on Sunday morning, 29th of January. Rebels insist on the fact that Ukrainian military started shelling their positions. According to their version it happened at 7 am on Sunday.
    Ukrainian officials said that rebels started shelling their positions already at 4:30 am on Sunday. After massive artillery fire rebels made first attempt of assault of Ukrainian positions. Armed forces fended it off as well as all subsequent. In order to disperse attention of the ATO-forces rebels were attacking flanks as well. Positions between Kamyanka and Kruta Balka were under fire - this is at the north-east from Avdiivka. Then rebels tried to focus their attack on the other flank - close to the "Butovka" coalmine, located near Donetsk airport.
    The battle for Avdiivka Industrial Zone just in 31st of January lasted 19 consecutive hours.

    According to Anatoliy Petrenko - Head of Ukrainian team in Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) for the last couple of days rebels tried to assault ATO-positions for at least 10 times however all of the attempts failed. Separatists were using all types of 152 and 122 caliber artillery weapons, MLRSs, tanks etc.

    Thus in the early hours of 31st of January rebels were shelling Avdiivka by means of BM-21 Grad. Local citizens tells about and upload video and pictures to the social media of shelling from Grad MLRS systems, located within the residential area of Donetsk city.
    To be Frozen on Fire. What is going on in Avdiivka?
    Overall for the last days rebels fired 1578 shells on the positions of Ukrainian army. As a result 7 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 24 were injured.

    Local citizens and their home heavily suffer from the shelling as well. 3 citizens of Avdiivka were injured during this hot period.
    Consequences of the shelling may lead to humanitarian catastrophe.

    On Monday, 30th of January pro-Russian separatist destroyed the last power transmission line to Avdiivka. There was a power blackout on water filtration plan that supplies water to Avdiivka and other neighbor towns as well as partially to occupied Donetsk and Yasynuvata. Currently there is no water , electricity and heating in the whole Avdiivka.
    National Police of Ukraine states that circa 23-25 thousands of people live under shelling and circumstances of humanitarian catastrophe.
    According to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) it was possible to maintain temperature 15-16 above zero inside of apartment buildings. Due to blackout all schools and nursery schools were temporarily out of service. Authorities were ready to evacuate all local residents.

    Cease-fire has been expected at 10 p.m. Tuesday and later from 12 a.m. However, shelling has been continuing. Ukrainian authorities offered state of cease-fire for rebels for them to be able to take their fallen comrades from the frontline, however separatists ignored that.
    To be Frozen on Fire. What is going on in Avdiivka?
    According to the messages of the ATO press-center and press-officer of Ukrainian military brigade that controls positions near Avdiivka rebels are suffering heavy losses in this area. They have already lost one of the so-called "commander" of "Vostok" battalion named Greek. He has been liquidated on Sunday, 29th of January. It was announced on Tuesday, 31st of January that one of the most famous separatists leaders called Givi was wounded and his deputy "Consul" was killed. Three separatist were captured however 2 of them died due to fatal injuries. The third one is now testifies to Ukrainian state security service. Overall losses suffered by rebels constituted 25 died and 50 wounded.

    After rebels attacks were fended off Ukrainian forces captured strategically important position that is very important for defending Avdiivka.

    Why does the escalation take place?

    There is no official version on the reasons of the sharp escalation on the frontline. The Ukrainian Pravda has gathered all possible assumptions from the military and other people that have edge on what's going on in Avdiivka.

    1. On the eve of the important international negotiations or meetings in Minsk. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko had an official visit to Germany where he met Angela Merkel, who plays an key role in the Normand format. On Wednesday, 1st of February Trilateral contact group arranged another meeting.

    2. Battle for the Donetsk filtration plant. This strategic plan is located just on the demarcation line. Both parties of the conflict are interested in it as it supplies water to both occupied and Ukrainian territories. Rebels can consider it as a one of the ways of pressure on the Ukrainain authorities.

    Potentially, rebels can be triggered by statements of Deputy Chairman of Special Monitoring Group of OSCE Alexander Hug. He said at 22nd of January that he noticed Ukrainian army equipping new positions in the place where it could hurt someone. Practically he made Ukrainian positions in this direction explicit to anyone telling that "Kruta Balka village and Donetsk filtration plant are in the middle of these positions".

    3. Reconnaissance by fire. This can be stimulated by another supply of ammo to rebels from Russian side through uncontrolled parts of Ukrainian-Russian border.

    4. Ordinary provocations against the ATO forces in order to blame the Ukrainian side in violations of Minsk agreements. In such cases rebels usually shoot on the Ukrainian positions and then invite Russian media and wait for the reverse fire.

    5. Another version which is also named by an experts is an attempt to destroy the infrastructure of Avdiivka and threaten the locals.

    6. An attempt to threaten and lower the morale of Ukrainian soldiers.

    7. Interlocutors of Ukrainian Pravda among the international organizations that monitor situation in Ukraine suggest that this escalation of conflict is an attempt to force of the idea of integration of the occupied territories at the terms of rebels.

    8. People close to diplomatic circles do not exclude that the reason could be an attempt of Russia to conduct reconnaissance by fire: What could be a reaction of the Trump's administration on this matter.

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