Battle of Avdiivka

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Battle of Avdiivka
Part of the War in Donbass
Date29 January 2017 – 4 February 2017[1]
(6 days)
LocationAvdiivka, Ukraine
Result

Ceasefire

  • Pro-Ukrainian forces maintain and bolster a foothold on approach to Donetsk[2][3]
  • Low level fighting east/southeast of Avdiivka continues[4]
Belligerents
 Ukraine  Donetsk People's Republic
Commanders and leaders
Unknown Ivan Balakay (call sign "the Greek") [5]
(Vostok Brigade commander)
Lt. Col. Mikhail Tolstykh (call sign "Givi") (WIA)[6]
(Somalia Battalion commander)
Anton Sidorov (call sign "Konsul") [7][6]
(Somalia Battalion mechanized company commander)
Units involved

Ukrainian Ground Forces:

Donetsk People's Militia:

Casualties and losses
14 killed
70+ wounded[9][10]
(per Ukraine)
25 killed
40+ wounded[5]
(per DPR, on Feb 1)
18–30 killed
26 wounded
1 captured[11][12][13]
(per Ukraine)
14 civilians killed, 5 injured[14]

The Battle of Avdiivka was a battle in the War in Donbass near Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine. It marked the deadliest fighting in the ongoing War in Donbass in weeks.[15] According to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine the battle was of a level of fighting in Ukraine that had not been seen since 2014–15.[16]

Background[edit]

On 21 July 2014, during the War in Donbass, Ukrainian forces recaptured Avdiivka from pro-Russian separatists.[17][18]

Avdiivka is located only 6 km (3.7 mi) north of Donetsk. Between Donetsk and Avdiivka stretches Highway M04 which circles Donetsk around its north side and is part of the European route 50. In the area, Highway M04 has a highway interchange, named "Yasynuvatska rozvyazka". Also, located between Avdiivka and Donetsk is a mine, "Butivka-Donetska".

Until March 2016, the "Industrial Zone" (located in the eastern part of Avdiivka) was a buffer zone between the Donetsk People's Republic-controlled territories and the Ukrainian army.[19] In March 2016, the Ukrainian army set up its fortifications in the "Industrial Zone".[19] This meant that the pro-Russian separatists no longer had full control of the highway that united their controlled cities of Donetsk and Horlivka and that it became more difficult for them to fire at Avdiivka with weapons not prohibited by the Minsk II agreement.[19] Since March 2016 fighting for Avdiivka's "Industrial Zone" greatly intensified.[19][20]

In the days before the 29 January bombardments, the OSCE special monitoring mission in Ukraine documented a series of violations of the Minsk II agreement by separatists and Ukrainian troops who both placed weapon systems and troops in prohibited locations.[21]

Battle[edit]

Shelling of residential areas of Avdiivka on 30 January 2017

It is unclear who initiated the heavy fighting near the "Industrial Zone" area (located in the eastern part of Avdiivka) on 29 January 2017, with both sides accusing each other of starting the battle.[22][19] According to The New York Times the military objective was a military position on the edge of Avdiivka called Almaz-2 (in English: Diamond-2), which had been under separatist control.[23] When being interviewed by The Guardian a Ukrainian soldier claimed his army had provoked the separatists into an aggressive response by seizing a small stretch of road.[24] Separatist bombardment started on 29 January 2017,[25] and left more than 17,000 residents of the city without water, electricity or heat. With fierce regional winter conditions, this led the Ukrainian government to declare a state of emergency in preparation for at least partial evacuation of the city.[26][27] UNICEF warned of a humanitarian disaster in the city due to a lack of electricity and water.[28]

Ukraine reported that Ukrainian forces had suffered losses during the attacks of pro-Russian forces on Ukrainian positions in the area of the industrial zone of Avdiivka in the night of 29 January.[29] At least one Ukrainian soldier was killed, two others died of wounds, and one Ukrainian serviceman was wounded in the morning of 29 January.[30] Pro-Russian forces broke through the Ukrainian lines in Avdiivka twice, but their assaults were beaten off.[31] Two civilians were injured by shelling in Avdiivka.[32] One pro-Russian militant was captured by Ukrainian forces.[32][33] Several attacks of pro-Russian forces on Ukrainian positions started in the area of Avdiivka at around 5:00 am, but were beaten off by the Ukrainian military. The fighting between the warring parties continued on 30 January.[32][34][35] Two Ukrainian servicemen were killed and five others wounded on the morning of 30 January.[36][35]

The spokesman of the Presidential Administration on issues related to ATO, Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, reported at noon that three Ukrainian servicemen were killed and twenty-four wounded and injured in the Donbass region on 30 January.[37][38] Two of the fatalities occurred in Avdiivka, one in Opytne.[37] Fierce fighting continued on this date in and around the Ukrainian stronghold of Avdiivka, where a call for a local ceasefire was largely ignored by the warring parties.[39][40] ATO spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk expressed his "worries" about the right flank of the Ukrainian defences around Avdiivka, which was stormed by pro-Russian tanks. Motuzyanyk described the action as the major tank offensive in the area since the fall of Donetsk airport in rebel hands in January 2015. The tanks, gathered at Spartak, charged through the demarcation line at Butivka mining complex and Pisky.[41] The evacuation of civilian residents from Avdiivka was scheduled for 1 February due to the lack of essential services in the town after the relentless pro-Russian bombardment since 29 January.[42] The local hospital was already evacuated in the afternoon.[43] Almost one hundred BM-21 "Grad" artillery rockets landed in Avdiivka throughout the day.[44] Pavlo Zhebrivskyi, head of the civilian administration of Donetsk Oblast, declared the state of emergency in the war-torn town.[45]

Pro-Russian troops and tanks launched two attacks on Ukrainian positions at Avdiivka in the morning of 1 February 2017, supported by 122 mm (4.8 in) and 152 mm (6.0 in) artillery and B-21 "Grad" multiple rocket launchers.[46][47] As of 2:00 pm two Ukrainian servicemen were killed and two others wounded.[48] One female civilian was killed by shelling in the morning,[49] three male civilians were injured.[50] Seventy-seven persons, most of them children, were evacuated from Avdiivka during the morning.[51]

On 2 February, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed at Avdiivka in the course of repulsing one of the numerous assaults by pro-Russian forces.[52] By morning of 2 February at least 145 civilians,[53] and as of 5:00 pm 183 civilian residents, including 107 children, had been evacuated from Avdiivka.[54] Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Ukraine had aggravated the situations so that it would look like a victim and that the Ukrainian government thought this would make it easier to gain foreign funding.[55] He also believed that the renewed fighting was started by Ukraine to deflect attention and "Kiev's attempts to struggle with the opposition at home".[55] The same day NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia "to use its considerable influence over the separatists to bring the violence to an end."[25]

On the morning of 4 February, a relative calm settled on the Avdiivka area after a ceasefire was established.[56]

Ukraine said its troops improved their positions ("on approaches to Donetsk") when they counterattacked during the battle,[57] specifically gaining a foothold near Spartak and advancing across the Donetsk-Horlivka road near Tsarskoye Selo.[58]

On 5 February, fighting continued to ease.[59] The Ukrainian military stated no soldiers had been killed in the previous 24 hours for the first time since the start of the battle, although two soldiers were wounded.[59] During the day, electricity was restored and heating returned to Avdiivka.[60]

During the battle, Ukrainian soldiers received text messages sent from unknown numbers that read, "You are just meat to your commanders," "Your body will be found when the snow melts," and, "You're like the Germans in Stalingrad."[61]

In early February 2017, Ukrainian media said that during the fighting, two top separatist commanders were killed and one was wounded.[5][6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fighting in flashpoint town eases as US President Trump pledges to help". perthnow.com.au. 5 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  2. ^ Socor, Vladimir. "The Battle for Avdiivka: Ukrainian Assessment and Context". Jamestown Foundation. Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Ukrainian military improve positions 'on approaches' to Donetsk". Interfax-Ukraine. 10 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  4. ^ Оперативная сводка штаба АТО на 06:00 – 05 февраля [Operational summary of ATO HQ as of 05 February (6:00 am)] (in Russian). NSDC. 5 February 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "The Ukrainian Armed Forces occupied separatist positions in Avdiivka". UAWire. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "Militant Konsul killed; Givi wounded near Avdiivka, - militants' websites". Censor.NET. 5 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  7. ^ Semyon Pegov (8 February 2017). За несколько дней до гибели Гиви потерял в боях лучших друзей [Several days before his death, Givi lost his best friends in battle] (in Russian). Life.ru. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Assault on Avdiivka: Names of four deceased Ukrainian warriors revealed: They served with the 72nd Detached Mechanized Brigade". 112.international. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  9. ^ Cullison, Alan (3 February 2017). "Renewed Fighting in Eastern Ukraine Presents Challenge for Trump's Plans With Russia". Retrieved 24 February 2017 – via Wall Street Journal. (Subscription required (help)).
  10. ^ "Bloodied Ukrainian town waits for guns to fall silent". dailystar.com. Agence France Presse. 4 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  11. ^ Gigova, Radina; Denis Lapin; Victoria Butenko (3 February 2017). "Fighting intensifies in eastern Ukraine". CNN. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  12. ^ "At least 30 militants eliminated near Avdiivka". Censor.NET. 5 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017 – via Novaya Gazeta.
  13. ^ Silina, Yulia (30 January 2017). "Ukraine fighting surges in spite of truce". france24.com. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  14. ^ 2 killed (30 Jan.)[1] 1 killed (31 Jan.),[2] 4 killed (1 Feb.),[3] 3 killed (2 Feb.),[4] 4 killed (3 Feb.),[5] total of 14 reported killed
  15. ^ Zinets, Natalia (30 January 2017). "Ukraine says more soldiers killed in deadliest clashes in weeks". Reuters. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  16. ^ Borys, Christian (6 February 2017). "Losing everything in Avdiivka". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  17. ^ "Children run for their lives at beach near Donetsk during mortar fire". Mail Online. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
    "TASS: World - Ukraine's army launches massive offensive operation on Donetsk". TASS. Archived from the original on 21 July 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
    "BBC: Ukrainian military 'seizes Avdiivka' in rebel Donetsk stronghold". KyivPost. Archived from the original on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
    Bloomberg: Ukraine pushes for UN peacekeepers, Ukraine Today (21 April 2015)
    Ukraine crisis: The factory that has been shelled 165 times, BBC News (17 April 2015)
    Civilians Stuck in the Middle of Donbass Horror, Moscow Times (29 July 2015)
  18. ^ "Ukraine conflict: Evacuation planned in frontline town of Avdiivka". BBC News. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d e Kovalenko, Oksana (31 January 2017). Замерзнути у вогні. Що відбувається в Авдіївці? [To freeze up in fire. What is happening in Avdiiivka?] (in Ukrainian). Ukrayinska Pravda. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  20. ^ Baumgartner, Pete (1 April 2016). "Spike In Fighting In Eastern Ukraine Threatens Fragile Cease-Fire". Radio Free Europe. Archived from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  21. ^ Carroll, Oliver (1 February 2017). "Ukraine's Donbass Drifts into 'Alternative Peace'". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  22. ^ "Kiev and Kremlin trade blame over surge in fighting in east Ukraine". The Guardian. Reuters. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  23. ^ Kramer, Andrew E. (3 February 2017). "Residents Take Cover as Ukraine Border Battles Reignite Conflict". New York Times. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  24. ^ Walker, Shaun (14 February 2017). "Violence flares in war-weary Ukraine as US dithers and Russia pounces". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  25. ^ a b "NATO calls on Russia to stop violence in Ukraine". Al Jazeera. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  26. ^ Adamczyk, Ed (31 January 2017). "Ukraine prepares to evacuate town under siege; no electricity, no water". UPI. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday that preparations to evacuate the strategic town of Avdiivka, under fire from rebel and government forces, are underway. The government-held town in eastern Ukraine, which borders land controlled by rebels, is without water or electricity and has been the center of renewed fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists. Seven soldiers and an undetermined number of opposition fighters were killed over the weekend as freezing temperatures came to the area.
  27. ^ "Ukraine clashes rage for third day, sparking EU concern". Agence France-Presse. 31 January 2017. Archived from the original on 31 January 2017. An AFP reporter saw the separatists shell the town of about 20,000 people with repeated rounds of Grad multiple rocket systems and artillery fire from the early morning. "Right now, there is no power. We have not resolved problems with heating homes, and the gas pipe has been shattered," local Ukrainian army unit spokeswoman Olena Mokrynchuk told AFP [...] The town's heating is provided by a coke plant that has been heavily damaged by the falling shells. Plant director Musa Magomedov said it would be incredibly difficult to resume gas production were the factory's generators shut down. That would leave Avdiivka without a source of local power and uncertainty about its future.
  28. ^ Walker, Shaun (1 February 2017). "Ukraine clashes leave several dead and test Trump's Russia stance". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Giovanna Barberis, Unicef's representative in Ukraine, said: 'Not only are the lives of thousands of children in Avdiivka, and on all sides of the conflict, at risk, but to make matters worse the lack of water and electricity means that homes are becoming dangerously cold and health conditions deteriorating as we speak.'
  29. ^ "Militants launch assault on Avdiyivka industrial zone". UNIAN. 29 January 2017. Archived from the original on 29 January 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  30. ^ "Сводные данные АТО – 29 января" [Summary information on ATO as of 29 January] (in Russian). NSDC. 29 January 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  31. ^ "Four Ukrainian Soldiers Killed In Clashes With Separatist Fighters". REF/RL. 29 January 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  32. ^ a b c Сводные данные АТО – 30 января [Summary information on ATO as of 30 January] (in Russian). NSDC. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  33. ^ В Авдеевке бойцы АТО взяли в плен троих боевиков [In Avdiivka ATO fighters captured three militants] (in Russian). LIGA News. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  34. ^ "Fighting near Avdiyivka intensifies Monday morning". UNIAN. 30 January 2017. Archived from the original on 30 January 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  35. ^ a b Большие потери: Что происходит в авдеевской промзоне [Large losses: What is happening in the industrial zone of Avdiivka] (in Russian). 112 Ukraine. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2017. В районе Авдеевки сильно обострилась ситуация. Боевики предприняли попытку штурма промзоны, завязался сильный бой, унесший жизни семерых украинских военных. Всего боевые действия непрерывно длились 19 часов. Силам АТО удалось ликвидировать командира батальона "ДНР" с позывным "Грек" и занять стратегически важные позиции
  36. ^ Обострение под Авдеевкой: утром погибли 2 украинских военных, 5 ранены [Escalation in Avdiivka: two Ukrainian military killed in the morning, 5 injured] (in Russian). UNIAN. 30 January 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-01-30. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  37. ^ a b Сводные данные АТО – 31 января [Summary information on ATO as of 31 January] (in Russian). NSDC. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  38. ^ "Tension High In Eastern Ukraine As Kremlin, Kyiv Trade Blame". REF/RL. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  39. ^ Боевики штурмуют позиции ВСУ в районе Авдеевки, отказались от режима 'тишины' - штаб АТО [Gunmen stormed the Armed Forces of Ukraine position in the Avdiivka district renouncing the 'silence' pact - HQ of the ATO] (in Russian). UNIAN. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  40. ^ Боевики бьют "Градами" по Авдеевке из жилых кварталов Донецка – военные (видео) [Militants are striking Avdiivka with "Grads" from the residential areas of Donetsk - military (video)] (in Russian). UNIAN. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  41. ^ 'Шахта Бутовка', Опытное и Пески попали под самый мощный танковый обстрел со времен боев за ДАП ['Butivka Mine', Opytne and Pisky came under the most powerful tank shelling since the days of the battle for Donetsk Airport] (in Russian). UNIAN. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  42. ^ Эвакуацию жителей Авдеевки могут начать завтра утром - ГСЧС [Evacuation of residents of Avdiivka can start tomorrow morning - State Emergency Service of Ukraine] (in Russian). UNIAN. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  43. ^ Из больницы Авдеевки эвакуировали всех больных – Донецкая ВГА [All patients were evacuated from the Avdiivka hospital - Donetsk CAA] (in Russian). UNIAN. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  44. ^ Сегодня под Авдеевкой оккупанты выпустили по позициям ВСУ около 100 снарядов из 'Градов' - штаб [Today, the occupiers of Avdiivka fired about 100 'Grad' shells on the positions of Armed Forces of Ukraine - HQ] (in Russian). UNIAN. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  45. ^ В Авдеевке объявлено чрезвычайное положение, - Жебривский [A state of emergency proclaimed in Avdiivka - Zhebrivsky]. 112.ua (in Russian). 31 January 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  46. ^ "Ukraine troops under Grad fire as militants make another attempt to advance near Avdiyivka". UNIAN. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  47. ^ Двое украинских военных погибли, шестеро ранены в зоне АТО, - штаб [Two Ukrainian soldiers killed, six wounded in the ATO zone - HQ] (in Russian). 112 Ukraine. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  48. ^ "Occupants fail to observe cease-fire: two Ukrainian soldiers killed, - ATO Staff". Censor.NET. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  49. ^ "Aftermath of morning attack on Avdiivka: female corpse with multiple shrapnel wounds found, - Abroskin". Censor.NET. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  50. ^ За минувшие сутки в Авдеевке в результате обстрела погиб один человек, - Аброськин [Over the past day in Avdiivka one person was killed as a result of gunfire - Abroskin] (in Russian). 112 Ukraine. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  51. ^ В Авдіївці поки не йдеться про масову евакуацію, люди розраховують на краще – Жебрівський [In Avdiiivka, until it comes to a mass evacuation, people are hoping for the best - Zhebrivsky] (in Ukrainian). UNIAN. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  52. ^ Сводные данные АТО – 02 февраля [Summary information on ATO as of 02 February] (in Russian). NSDC. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  53. ^ Borys, Christian (2 February 2017). "'It's so much worse': Renewed fighting in Ukraine pushes town to brink of humanitarian catastrophe". CBC News. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  54. ^ Оперативна інформація від Нацполіції про ситуацію в Авдіївці (постійно оновлюється) [Operational information from the National police on the situation in Avdiivka (constantly updated)] (in Ukrainian). Ministry of Interior Ukraine. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  55. ^ a b "Putin: Kiev needs money, aggravates situation in Donbass to show itself off as victim". TASS news agency. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  56. ^ Miller, Christopher (4 February 2017). "After Weeklong Bombardment, Devastated Ukrainian City Awakens To 'Relative Calm'". rferl.org. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  57. ^ "Ukrainian military improve positions 'on approaches' to Donetsk". Interfax-Ukraine. 10 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  58. ^ "Ukrainian forces gain foothold across strategic road in eastern Ukraine". UAWire. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  59. ^ a b "Fighting Eases Around Eastern Ukrainian City". rferl.org. AFP. 5 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  60. ^ В Авдіївці теплопостачання переведено з аварійного режиму на резервних генераторах на стабільний режим [In Avdiyivka the heat supply has been transferred from emergency mode to backup generators on stable mode] (in Ukrainian). pravda.com.ua. 5 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  61. ^ Miller, Christopher (3 February 2017). "'Our Tanks Are Ready': Ukraine Braces For Escalation In Eastern War". rferl.org. Retrieved 24 February 2017.

Coordinates: 48°07′30″N 37°46′00″E / 48.1250°N 37.7667°E / 48.1250; 37.7667