Developments in the Donetsk republics remain hair-trigger and oppressive. Heavy security has been rolled out for the armies. The delicate balance may collapse at any tick of the clock. This is obvious both in view of frontline area events and statements by various politicians.
Battle reports are larded with death and destruction, again. In spring this year, the republics are entering their eighth year of war with Ukraine, having no prospect of an end to this. For the time being, citizens are once again urged to exercise extreme caution, be mindful of rewatering and charging mobile devices in the face of sudden attacks or damage to infrastructure. Outside Uglegorsk, a Ukrainian drone dropped an explosive item on a residential building yard, killing a five-year-old child and severely injuring his grandmother. In Alexandrovka west of Donetsk, a roof of the house took a direct hit. As luck would have it, nobody was hurt, though the entire family comprising a child and his parents, was inside. Intense mortar attacks are underway next to the airport, the settlements of Spartak and Oktyabrsky. Houses are burning near Gorlovka following a shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In the Lugansk People's Republic, the fighting rages near the cities of Brianka, Stakhanov, Kirovsk; heavy artillery is working at Bakhmutka. Alchevsk, Zolote-5 and Kirovsk shudder with shelling sounds, with residents saying they have not expecienced anything like this for a while now. In the field, fighters of the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics die every day.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army is also hitting the OSCE mission's drones, so that they cannot locate the troops. The Ukrainian army has brought electronic warfare systems to the border-straddling Avdiivka, with an Akatsiya SPG battery transferred to the settlement of Zachativka. A mass transfer of armored vehicles and personnel to the frontline zone from the territory of Ukraine is underway. Ukrainian refuel tankers bring a daily 12-14 vehicles with diesel fuel from Slavyansk. Each petrol vehicle can fill an average of eight to ten tanks. Daily SU-25 sorties are recorded from the Chuhuiv airfield. A few kilometers of Donetsk, air landing attacks are being exercised by Ukrainian helicopters. A train with military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has passed through the station of Kramatorsk, with 36 tanks and 7 wagons full of soldiers. At night, two trains with tanks and self-propelled artillery units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine arrived in Konstantinovka. The city hosts a great many Ukrainian soldiers dressed in new military fatigues without insignia. There are also reports about the arrival of manpower and equipment in the frontline cities of Artemovsk and Pokrovsk. Turkish and American military transport planes perform regular flights to Lviv and Kiev. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are setting up a mine belt at the border with the Crimea. Mobilization is in full swing in Ukraine, with both the crippled and the miserable regarded as fit for active service.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine has proclaimed readiness to proceed with the process of "de-occupying" the Donbass region after President Zelensky and the Verkhovna Rada grant their approval. "We hope this will happen soon. We are ready to recover our territories, " Interior Ministry Advisor Valery Potseluyko said. He stressed that the Ukrainian side intends to crush Russia in case of its intervention on the side of the Donbass. Kiev also invited NATO to conduct battle exercises due to the "buildup of Russian units" near the border and to provide aerial guard duty involving NATO aircraft. The Kiev authorities believe that such maneuvers will normalize the situation in the country's south-east.
Kiev particularly hopes that in operational activity, the United States and NATO will provide a no-fly zone over the Donbass: "In case of a conflict, cooperation with NATO and its military assistance will be enhanced to reach a brand new level. Our troops will have to fight on the ground. Ukraine will request and secure the real-time surveillance information transfer, the supply of weapons and the creation of a no-fly zone over the military operations area. Air is a key factor to us. NATO's support will allow Ukraine bring our land forces' best abilities into action. The use of artillery, as long as it is protected from the air, will limit dynamic action by enemy ground forces."
The Pentagon has responded to its Ukrainian partners, saying that tensions in eastern Ukraine are being discussed with other alliance members. Russia's activity should be "balanced" by NATO countries' joint effort, requiring a boosted level of combat readiness of the alliance's troops in countries bordering Ukraine. Washington said it would not leave Kiev alone with the enemy if the Donbass conflict escalates, and pledged support. This news followed a telephone conversations between Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran and Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin. Ukraine also plans to receive a playbook from NATO in the near future to get the status of a full-fledged alliance member.
Concurrently, the presidents of the United States and Ukraine had a telephone conversation. "President Biden affirmed the United States' unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression in Donbas and Crimea", the White House said. According to the US President, he is fully aware about developments in and around Ukraine. He has assured that the United States won't turn its back on Ukraine. The upcoming Donbass events will show whether one must consider Zelensky as having been given a free hand.
The United States has advanced watch level of troops in Europe. According to The New York Times, this is due to reports of Russia's alleged convergence of massive military forces at the border with Ukraine. The combat readiness level of US troops stationed in Europe has been raised to "potential imminent crisis". The next one provides for an order to take up arms. The West demonstrates readiness to raise the stakes in its confrontation with Russia, regardless of its national interests. Another version is that Ukraine and the United States are "flexing their muscles" to force Russia back and agree to rewrite the Minsk agreements on Kiev's terms, inspiring capitulation on the diplomatic front. At that, people's fate, international conventions and other legal norms will become a mere bargaining chip and a cause for political speculation. After all, the death of another Russian child in the vile Donbass war staged by Ukraine did not actually alarm any of the "pillars of democracy".
If the US troops come to the territory of Ukraine or NATO builds up its forces in the neighboring countries, additional measures will be required to ensure Russia's security, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. When asked to specify those, he replied: "all the necessary ones". It was for the first time that Peskov gave an emotional assessment of the Donbass situation: "Regrettably, the realities along the engagement line are rather frightening. Provocations by the Ukrainian armed forces do take place. They are not casual. There have been many of them."
In the meantime, Donetsk residents are waiting for the endgame with a large dose of fatalism, living under fire, burying their children and fellow countrymen, but loathing to give up.