Avdiyivka under fire: how the talks in Minsk save the city from disaster

Avdiyivka under fire: how the talks in Minsk save the city from disaster

On the brink of disaster

In the framework of the negotiations of the contact group on settling the situation in Donbas ended February 1, Wednesday, in Minsk managed to negotiate a gas supply for the smooth operation of Avdiivka coke and chemical plant (AKHZ), said a source close to the contact group. “There is an understanding that it is impossible to prevent a humanitarian disaster, which will inevitably stop the plant in the plant”, — he stressed. This arrangement was confirmed by another source, working with the contact group in Minsk.

The plant is not stopped, his work manages to maintain despite the alarming predictions of the day before, said the source close to the leadership of the enterprise. Earlier, the head of the Donetsk regional military-civil administration Pavlo zhebrivskyi told reporters that after the cessation of heavy shelling on 1 February to eliminate the cutoff power plant electricity has already left the repair team. Ukrainian Deputy defense Minister Igor Pavlovsky also confirmed the decrease in the intensity of the attacks, adding that the city is still under fire from artillery and small arms.

From January 29 in the vicinity of the Town began a military escalation. In the escalation of the conflict in the area Avdeevka each other has accused both sides — the Ukrainian military and representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s Republic.

The result of the most serious attacks, in 2014 the city was damaged line that almost stopped the operation of Avdiivka coke and Donetsk filtration station. Avdiivka coke included in Metinvest group of businessman Rinat Akhmetov, is one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of coke for the steel industry and enterprises. The head of the plant stressed that if production stops, start it again, it will be impossible and this will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in the town that will lose their heating (in the last days in the area were 20 degrees of frost). The city is deprived of electricity and water.

Field kitchen in Avdeevka. 1 February 2017

Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

The battle for the “candy bar”

According to sources, “Ukrainian truth”, the intensification of hostilities under the plant may be associated with the DNR trying to regain control of passing in this area of the route Donetsk — Gorlovka (the locals call this area “promko”). For the Republic it is strategic because both cities are controlled by the forces of the DNI, but now the stretch of highway near Avdeevka is controlled by Ukrainian troops.

As stated by a soldier of the DND Alexander Zhuchkovsky, for the forces of the breakaway Republic, it is important to suppress an artillery battery, which shot under the control of the militia Donetsk and Makeyevka.

Earlier, Deputy defense Minister of Ukraine Igor Pavlovsky said that the Ukrainian army “step by step” moves forward in the Donbas after the assault militia Avdeevka, Sands was interpreted as a direct recognition Kiev of being responsible for the attack.

At the same time, Avdiivka on Wednesday morning talked about the beginning of a partial evacuation. As reported by an eyewitness, local authorities and volunteers day organized the evacuation of local residents from the city, primarily families with children, which is sent to Slavyansk and Mariupol. But about the forced evacuation of the question.

Military equipment in the plant. 1 February 2017

Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

Russia accuses battalions

At the meeting in Minsk was discussed that the responsibility for the escalation of the situation near Donetsk bear the force, “not fully controlled by Kyiv authorities”, said a source in diplomatic circles. Informed that “separatist forces” started shelling Donetsk militia, said the press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov. A day later he said that “we are talking about provocative actions by the armed forces of Ukraine and individual groups”.

A key blame for the escalation of Moscow puts Kiev. “The recent attack on the line of contact is not making a separate Ukrainian “warlords”, — said after today’s meeting, the Russian representative in the contact group Boris Gryzlov.

According to him, “according to special monitoring mission of the OSCE in the area of Avdeevka recorded the movement of tanks belonging to the government-controlled Ukrainian forces, the same applies to the movements of other arms, particularly artillery — also on the Kiev-controlled territory”.

January 31 special monitoring mission to Ukraine (SMM) published a report according to which the territories near Avdeevka, which are controlled by the forces of Ukraine, there are four T-64 tanks, three 122-mm howitzer, SAM “OSA” and 67 km from Donetsk in the territory controlled by Kyiv, the staff of CMM fixed tanks, armored personnel carriers, anti-tank guns MT-12 “rapier” and six towed howitzers “Msta-B”.

The press center of the ATO, in turn, reported that until 4 in the morning on 31 January the APU continued to attack the troops of the DNR: in the direction of the Town during the night were fired 80 missiles MLRS “Grad” and 30 artillery shells of 152 mm.

In the night of Wednesday, the UN security Council at a closed meeting considered the situation in the Donbass. According to its results adopted a statement proposed by Ukraine. The document calls for an immediate cease-fire. The UN also called for strict implementation of all Minsk agreements. Again, the situation in the Donbass will be an occasion for discussion in the UN on 2 February.

A cease-fire

A source close to the contact group in Minsk, said that parties at the talks in Minsk gave each other lists on the exchange of prisoners. However, the source doubts any breakthrough on this issue, “the fault of both sides.”

The main requirement for the previous meeting of the contact group in Minsk was “a complete ceasefire”, confirmed on his page on Facebook press Secretary of Leonid Kuchma Darka olifer. The key responsibility of Ukraine on the opposite side. Olifer said that the self-proclaimed Republic is obliged to provide safe working conditions for repair crews to restore water, gas and electricity in the area of Avdeevka.

The Ukrainian side stressed that further negotiations must be conducted exclusively within the framework of the Minsk Protocol, said olifer. Of withdrawal from agreements or their revision after the deterioration in Avdeevka speech definitely is not, confirmed a source from the Russian side.

About no alternative to the Minsk agreements said, and close to the Kremlin, political analyst Alexei Chesnakov. According to him, the complex of the Minsk agreement is illogical, as it would require more long-term agreements, therefore, “should force Ukraine to fulfill all the points of the Minsk agreements, and policy-related security.” According to him, Kiev is interested in the aggravation for inclusion in the global agenda, and the self-proclaimed Republic is not interested in escalation, threatening a humanitarian disaster.

According to Ukrainian political analyst Vladimir Fesenko, the key agreement still needs to be achieved, not in Minsk and in Berlin and Washington. “Russia is a key issue for the lifting of sanctions, and attempts at accusing Kyiv of escalating the conflict there definitely will fail,” he said. According to Fesenko, the position of the new leadership of the United States and Germany in the final sort can play a decisive role for the settlement of the situation in the Donbass.