Channel 5 has learned that terrorists are continuing their bombardment of a Ukrainian army checkpoint not far from Debaltseve, Donetsk Oblast.
Oleksiy Savych, Commander of the 11th Battalion, “Kyivan Rus”, reports that the battalion officers were ordered to withdraw their equipment and artillery further to the rear. The enemy fighters have capitalized on the situation and as a result have been opening fire in the direction of the ATO forces.
“They do not acknowledge the existence of the front lines,” says Savych. “As a military man, I have technical training from books and films to recognize two lines. That’s how a neutral zone is created. So 15 km away, that’s where our army is located; and a second line, where the others are positioned. 50 km would be better. The territory between us should be open to peacekeepers, but must be clear except for the civilians who live there. However, what they’ve done is set up all their heavy equipment there.”
The commander has informed Channel 5.ua that the current number of casualties stands at 2 fatal and 16 wounded.
“Today alone, shelling of the main checkpoint has resulted in 5 wounded, but thankfully there are no “200s”. We are subjected to the constant firing of mortars and other artillery. One battalion vehicle was destroyed yesterday, together with several pieces of military equipment. For all intents and purposes, a crucible is being created at Debaltseve, isolating it from the town to the north because the roads are within range of artillery fire. In the evenings, the terrorists target the highways around Debaltseve, aiming for our equipment. On one occasion, they barely missed our first aid vehicle.”
The commander explained that the senior command removed all heavy weapons from the area in accordance with the requirements of the Minsk ceasefire agreement. Now, however, their battalion has been deprived of crucial firepower. They have made the decision not to move the battalion’s own artillery away from the front.
“The enemy weapons we face can only be operated by regular units of the Russian military. The tanks and self-propelled artillery (SAU) they possess are not the kind that just anyone can learn to operate in a matter of months. It takes years to master these weapons, and the people using them have good training.”
Savych remains optimistic that the opportunity still exists to evacuate the ATO forces from Debaltseve.