On September 19, the Ukrainian army retreated from Lutuhino and smaller localities to the west of Luhansk and based themselves along the Siversky Donets banks. meanwhile the Ukrainian special ops troops continue holding Donetsk airport under their control; combat broke out to the west of the city on September 19.
“Citizens of Petrovsky, Kirovsky, Kuybyshevsky and Leninsky districts report that they can hear shots being fired from heavy weaponry, and explosions,” says the message on the website of the Donetsk City Council. The Ukrainian side rebuked yet another attempt to storm the airport, reports ATO speaker Vladyslav Selezniov.
“At 6 a.m. on September 19, the mercenaries tried to take the airport in Donetsk, which is under ATO control. All attacks were rebuffed,” he noted.
Melnyk: The biggest problem is that the limits of the conflict are not fixed
The situation in Donbas is threatening and does not accord totally with the information provided by the NSDC and the General Headquarters, thinks co-director of international security programs Olexiy Melnyk. Under such conditions we can only hope that the straightening of the front in several directions is a decision made by the Ukrainian government, and not a result of retreat under pressure from the mercenaries, Olexiy Melnyk said to Radio Liberty.
“We have already seen optimistic statements of the Ukrainian government. And we have heard more worrisome information (about battles in Donbas), and then later this alternative information turned out to be true. I want to hope that the front line was straightened along Siversky Donetsk due to a decision made by the General Headquarters, and not as a result of retreat under pressure of the mercenaries. We see that the separatists and the Russian army are not adhering to the ceasefire, and they are using the ceasefire on our part to reinforce their positions, regroup, and sometimes, shift our units to other borders. The biggest problem is that the borders of the conflict are not fixed, and it is unclear how we are to do so now,” explained Olexiy Melnyk.
As to Debaltsvo, which is surrounded by pro-Russian and Russian forces, Olexiy Melnyk thinks that the threat of the Ukrainian units being surrounded here is the biggest, and thinks that the best decision here would be to retreat and straighten the front line. Mercenaries claim that they have already surrounded two groups of Ukrainian soldiers in Debaltsevo and Zhdanivka, however the ATO press center denies this. The NSDC’s combat map shows that the Ukrainian troops have shifted the separatists and Russian troops, having made a new corridor from the east towards Debaltsevo, and continue to maintain the old corridor from the north. Information Resistance group on their part explain that the decision of maintaining Debaltsevo should be approved by the General Headquarters depending on what they want to use it for later.
Leader of Information Resistance group Dmytro Tymchuk emphasized in his conversation with Radio Liberty that the invasion of significant troops of the regular Russian army, which is bigger than the Ukrainian troops in the eastern region, forces them to build powerful defense borders and avoid epicenters similar to Ilovaisk.
“Since the approval of the ‘law regarding individual Donbas districts,’ the government aims to solve the problem peacefully, it is an objective necessity. It became impossible to carry out successful operations like the ATO troops did in August after the invasion of regular Russian troops. The Russian army is bigger. Under conditions when Ukraine has fewer resources, we need to draw a defense line on location, and not on the map, and go into extreme defense. And straighten the front line where needed.”
Tymchuk and most experts emphasize that Russian troops and mercenaries disregard the ceasefire in Donetsk, and it only has political significance: as a testament to peaceful intent on part of Ukraine for the global community. Experts call to continue mobilization, train volunteers, create defense lines around the conflict zone and prepare for the fact that even ghostly ceasefire may end soon. One of the most probable directions of the extremists and Russian army’s attacks is Mariupol, as well as the shore of the Azov Sea, experts think. Locals are creating a multilevel defense system in Mariupol, and Azov volunteer battalion, which is maintaining defense there, is teaching locals and their own volunteers to fight (recently this battalion was expanded into a regiment).