The day before yesterday [this post was written Oct 29 –ed.], and especially yesterday, shelling and firing around Donetsk intensified; as is tradition, the firing was in the region of Donetsk Airport and the surrounding villages.
1. The withdrawal of arms is officially continuing and these attacks are described as “minor ceasefire violations”, however, over the past couple of days it has become more complicated to fail to notice them.
2. The shelling reveals the simple fact that the junta, as usual, is committing fraud in regard to withdrawal of weapons and that—in addition to firearms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars—it is using tanks and mortars of 120mm calibre, although officially these have been withdrawn.
3. Over the course of yesterday, the junta officially had one 200 and three 300s [Russian official military jargon: 200 = KIA; 300 = WIA –ed.] in the vicinity of Donetsk. The intensity of fire was such that the group monitoring “truce” compliance was forced to withdraw from the area of the Donetsk railway station, and today it was again reported that the situation at the airport is such that adequate security cannot be ensured for observers.
4. The statement regarding withdrawal of 2,000 personnel of the punitive battalions from the authority of the junta is highly likely to be fake, with the intention of blaming any attacks on punitive troops and whitewashing the UAF, as per the model of spring 2015.
However, the fact of the advance of these units to the front line has been confirmed. It is worth noting that the majority of attacks (e.g. around Avdeevka) are conducted exactly from those locations where UAF troops are positioned; this indicates that the fighting is organized in nature, rather than resulting from the wilful decisions of drunken punitive troops.
5. This activity may be a probing of the forward positions of the NAF (in light of the withdrawal of equipment and guns) and revealing their fire systems (despite the fact that there is a quite strict ban on any return of fire, which is periodically broken). This is naturally regarded as a preparation for offensive activity. At the moment, there are no clear signs of preparation for an offensive, but the the matter is thus—standing in Donbass groupings that can be prepared for an attack in one to two weeks under the framework of new offensive plans. Is this possible? The junta will not proceed to it under its own steam, but it is necessary to take into account the overall context of the confrontation between the United States and the Russian Federation, where Washington at some point may be interested in a military escalation in the Donbass. So I would not dismiss this scenario.
Until that happens, this looks like a local relapse.
PS: Here at Chervonets is a comment of Strelkov’s on the fighting near Donetsk. He also pointed out that the report on the creation by Strelkov of a monarchist, anti-Putin political party proved to be fake.