Dmitry Tymchuk, Head of the Center for Military and Political Research, Coordinator of the Information Resistance group, Member of Parliament (People’s Front)
05.15.2017 (May 15, 2017)
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
(See end of post for acronym glossary)
Operational data from Information Resistance:
Over the past weekend (May 13-14, 2017), the volume and intensity of shelling by the Russian-terrorist forces in Donbas has sharply increased. The occupiers continue actively using 120-mm mortars, 122-mm cannon artillery, and occasionally 122-mm “Grad” BM-21 MLRS, all of which are banned by the Minsk agreements. The enemy is also actively using armored vehicles, including tanks, on the front line (in small groups and individually). Furthermore, small enemy infantry groups are active along many sections of the front, carrying out abrupt shelling on the ATO forces’ front edge, conducting sabotage, and carrying out active reconnaissance to discover the Ukrainian troops’ defense systems at both the front line and in the tactical depths.
Shelling by the occupiers serves multiple purposes: to provoke retaliatory fire from Ukrainian troops, to target residential buildings as well as to inflict damage on advanced units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and force their withdrawal from a number of lines and positions. In some instances, occupier artillery units also conduct range-finding fire.
Notably, the following instances of enemy heavy weaponry use and high-intensity shelling were observed in the ATO zone during the past 24 hours:
In the Mariupol region (on the Pavlopil–Shyrokyne stretch), the occupiers continue massive shelling, in an attempt to push UAF units all the way back to the eastern outskirts of Mariupol. In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian advanced positions east of Vodyane, southeast of Lebedynske and along the eastern outskirts of Shyrokyne, were repeatedly subjected to massive fire strikes from 120-mm mortars and 122-mm cannon artillery. The enemy also deployed these weapons at the ATO forces’ positions east of Lomakyne, Talakivka and Hnutove. The use of heavy weaponry was accompanied by a continuous shelling of UAF battle formations and advanced units from enemy heavy machine guns, 82-mm mortars, hand-held and stand-mounted grenade launchers, and automatic small arms.
Occupier mobile fire groups were active on the stretch between Naberezhne and the village of Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktyabr). These groups usually include one to two 120-mm mortars and two to three 82-mm “Vasilek” 2B9 automatic mortars, sometimes backed up with one or two ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft systems. These strike groups are used for brief shelling raids along the front edge, after which they promptly leave their firing positions. During the past 24 hours, similar groups repeatedly fired on UAF positions northeast of Pavlopil, south and east of Chermalyk, and north and east of Pyshchevyk. It should be noted that the use of such groups by occupiers is widespread throughout the ATO zone and not limited to the the Mariupol direction of operations.
The enemy also actively used armoured vehicles in the Mariupol region. Southeast of Vodyane, two BMP-2s, under covering fire from 82-mm automatic mortars, fired several series of rounds from on-board 30-mm automatic guns at the advanced ATO forces’ positions, while changing their firing positions repeatedly. In an area northeast of Shyrokyne, a single BMP-2 repeatedly opened fire on advanced UAF positions. North of the Mariupol–Telmanove highway, a single enemy BTR-70/80 maneuvered along the front edge and fired on the UAF advanced positions west of Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove).
Particularly notable was the night-time shelling of the UAF tactical rear on the Novohnativka–Bohdanivka stretch on 13.05 (at 01:42 am), when the occupiers used 152-mm. The enemy also carried out a brief fire attack on the UAF tactical rear using a separate artillery battery (four 152-mm Msta-B 2A65 cannons) from positions southeast of Styla (18 HE shell bursts were recorded beyond the Mykolaivske reservoir, in the fields between Rybynske and Buhas in the Volnovakha direction). The apparent target was one of the sites in the rear of the UAF brigade defending this area.
“Giatsint” 152-mm cannon artillery
Shelling also remains continuous in the Donetsk region. The enemy used heavy weaponry most actively in the Avdiivka area, as well as close to the highway junction at the Donetsk Bypass Road north of the Donetsk-Pivnichnyi railway station, the Putilovskaya (Butivka) mine air collector and DAP [Donetsk International Airport]. Here, the enemy was observed using 122-mm artillery, as well as 120-mm and 82-mm mortars. The occupiers also repeatedly used individual armored combat vehicle groups. In the Pisky area, a pair of armored combat vehicles (BMP-1 and BMP-2) fired from the southern part of Zhobunky and from beyond the Pozharka [Fire Station] bus station; afterwards, 82-mm and 120-mm mortars actively fired at Opytne. The occupiers used 120-mm mortars and 122-mm cannon artillery to carry out a series of several short but intense fire strikes on UAF positions in the vicinity of the “Almaz” position, “Tsarska ohota” restaraunt, and the Avdiivka industrial zone, as well as further north (near Stara Avdiivka). In this sector, the enemy also used 122-mm cannon artillery (separate shell bursts near Levanevskoho Street and Shkilnyi Lane).
Near Marinka, an occupier mobile fire group repeatedly fired 120-mm mortars from the southern outskirts of Oleksandrivka, at the eastern outskirts of Marinka and at advanced UAF positions south of this settlement. A combination of 82-mm and 120-mm mortars was used to actively shell Ukrainian troop positions in the area of the Internat [Orphanage] station (firing from the waste heaps in the Trudovski neighborhood of Donetsk and the forest park further south). From the private residential sector in the same area, south of the Osykova (Bakhmutka) River, a pair of occupier armored combat vehicles (BMP-2 and BTR-80) alternated firing on ATO forces’ advanced positions on the eastern outskirts of the village.
At the Svitlodarsk salient, the situation has escalated sharply, particularly in the Novoluhanske area (according to initial information, the Ukrainian officials’ “closure” of a smuggling route here made the militants extremely dissatisfied). The enemy shelled advanced UAF positions on the eastern outskirts of Dolomitne, using 82-mm mortars and heavy machine guns from the direction of the Dolomitne railway station and from the direction of Travneve, while 120-mm mortars were used heavily from positions east of Holmivskyi. During the past weekend, the enemy carried out a fire strike on the farm and the northeastern outskirts of Novoluhanske, using 122-mm BM-21 Grad MLRS, in order to “test” the firepower of Ukrainian troops in this sector.
On the Lozove to Rozsadky stretch, there was permanent shelling by the occupiers from 120-mm mortars and BMP-1/2s. The procedure was the same as the IR group reported earlier – the arrival by stealth at previously equipped and camouflaged firing positions on the frontmost line – a short but massive fire strike with mortars followed by withdrawal deep into militant battle formations under covering fire from the mortars.
An occupier armored vehicle group raked UAF positions with fire east of Troitske (a tank and BMP-1 firing for at least an hour at UAF advanced positions, relaying one another and changing firing positions). The armored vehicles received covering fire from 120-mm and 82-mm mortars.
Near Novozvanivka, the occupiers renewed shelling from 122-mm cannon artillery. From a position northeast of Kalinovo, an enemy self-propelled howitzer artillery battery (four 122-mm 2S1 “Gvozdika” self-propelled guns) persistently shelled (in series of 12-15 rounds) advanced UAF positions northeast and east of the village (individual shells exploded in the vicinity of the “10th km” railway station). During the shelling, the enemy battery maneuvered to change firing positions.
In the vicinity of the Bakhmut highway (Luhansk–Severodonetsk) along the Severskiy–Donets River, the occupiers renewed the heavy use of 120-mm mortars, armored vehicles, and 122-mm artillery. Near Krymske, a single BMP-1, operating under covering fire from heavy machine guns and 82-mm mortars, fired from several positions in an attempt to destroy the fortifications at one of the UAF strongholds. A short fire strike against UAF advanced positions with 122-mm artillery (three 122-mm D-30A howitzer guns) was also noted from positions south of Pryshyb (up to 20 rounds).
* * *
Movement of the occupiers’ vehicles was particularly prominent along two directions: Shakhtarsk–Khartsyzk and through Starobesheve. Over a three-day period, these included several convoys:
• through Shakhtarsk: two 152-mm 2S3 “Akatsia” self-propelled guns on low-bed trucks moving towards Makiivka, plus at least 20 trucks (mainly army Urals) making up three different convoys;
• south of Starobesheve: a mixed convoy of three MT-LBs and four Kamaz trucks heading south, and two Ural trucks moving towards Styla.
Large amounts of mortar and artillery ammunition are being transferred from the army base ammunition storage in Amvrosiivka towards Donetsk (5-6 trucks per day).
Eight “Grad” MLRS units, previously brought in from the Russian Federation, have arrived near Novoamvrosiivske (Amvrosiivskyi district). The units are located on the territory of Novoamvrosiivske Cement Factory (Heidelberg Cement in Ukraine). Ammunition and military hardware are also being transferred by rail transport to the factory site.
Close to the Lenin mine (Horlivka), the occupiers are conducting earthworks and equipping new firing positions. The occupier commanders operating in this area plan to boost the firepower of enemy formations with 120-mm mortars and SPG-9 stand-mounted anti-tank grenade launchers.
The high command of the “LNR 2nd Army Corps” is liaising with the Center for Territorial Troops of the South-East Region of the Russian Armed Forces on plans for a sharp increase in the firepower of the corps’ artillery units. According to the current proposals, artillery divisions in LNR 2nd Army Corps brigades would switch from a three-battery to a four-battery structure, with a fourth “long-range” or “heavy-artillery” battery equipped with 152-mm 2A36 “Giatsint” cannons and 203-mm 2S7 “Pion” self-propelled guns. An alternative proposal is not to change the division structure, but to create a separate “reserve division of the high command” comprised of “Giasints” and “Pions,” or else a three-battery brigade equipped with these guns. It should be noted that separate groups of one or two such guns are already operating in “test mode” within the “LNR 2nd Army Corps.”
A lice infestation has been reported in the “9th separate motorized rifle marine regiment of the 1st DNR Army Corps” (Novoazovskyi district) at positions on the front line and in directly adjacent bases. Currently, militants are busily disinfecting and issuing new equipment and uniforms as a matter of urgency.
The leaders of the “Peace for Luhansk Land” social movement (controlled by Ihor Plotnitsky) have been instructed by their Russian supervisors to step up the recruitment of residents of the pseudo-republic into its ranks. The headcount of the movement must be increased to 100,000 persons by 1st September of this year (currently at 88,000). In order to reach this target, the ringleaders of the “Peace for Luhansk Land” social movement’s regional branches are resorting to falsification, by listing as members of the movement deceased persons and citizens who have departed the temporarily occupied territory.
AC – Army Corps
ACV – armored combat vehicle
AGS-17 – automatic grenade launcher
ATO – Anti-Terrorist Operation
BMP – infantry fighting vehicle
BTG – battalion tactical group
BTR, APC – armored personnel carrier
BRDM – armored reconnaissance and surveillance vehicle
BRM – armored reconnaissance vehicle
DAP – Donetsk International Airport
DNR – “Donetsk People’s Republic”
DRG – sabotage and reconnaissance group
ELINT – Electronic Intelligence
GRU – Russian Defense Intelligence, the main military foreign-intelligence service of the Russian Federation
KSM – command and staff vehicle
LNR – “Luhansk People’s Republic”
MGB – Ministry of State Security
MOD – Ministry of Defense
MT-LB – light multipurpose tracked vehicle
MLRS – multiple-launch rocket systems
OMSBR – Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade
SBU – Ukrainian Secret Service
SPG-9 – stand-mounted grenade launcher
TZM, TLV – transporter-loading vehicle
UAF – Ukrainian Armed Forces
UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drones or other)
ZU-23-2 – anti-aircraft artillery system
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