Hostilities keep escalating in the Donetsk republics, with soldiers being killed on a massive scale, the number of attacks soaring, Ukrainian drones parachuting ammunition, mines and grenades exploding in the residential civilian sector. In the western Staromykhailivka settlement, intense artillery strikes caused a blackout and made people hide in their basements. In the north of Donetsk, Ukrainian troops fired mortars at the acting Zasyadko coal mine. Shrapnel caused severe damage to nearby buildings and punctured gas pipelines in Novorossiyskaya Street. Mine workers had to tackle the blaze.
The Donetsk republics have been burying their heroes for the last few days. In the Lugansk Republic, a Ukrainian sabotage group attacked a checkpoint in the Golubivske village and killed five soldiers of the Ghost Brigade. In the DPR, four defenders were killed outside the village of Lozove, five others were wounded. During injury evacuation, the Ukrainian military opened fire on an ambulance and burned it down. Around Donetsk, each and every morning begins with an artillery cannonade. City outskirts are subjected to intense attacks by the Ukrainian armed forces from 120-mm mortars, with shelling and fighting lasting several hours in a row. Artillery raid locations are not limited to Donetsk alone: other sections of the front have also become hot, namely in the Gorlovka and Novoazovsk directions. In the Lugansk People's Republic, an attack drone dropped a land mine at the 4th LPR brigade, at which point two soldiers were wounded. In the DPR, a fighter was killed in the village of Staromykhailivka after a Ukrainian UAV parachuted ammunition. The DPR called the losses this week – seven fighters of the DPR People's Militia were killed, six others were injured. This is an official figure, while the real body count is usually higher.
The OSCE International Mission has confirmed an escalation in the Donbas. Its reports 1,854 ceasefire violations occurred on June 25 alone. The day before, nearly 1,500 violations were recorded in the Lugansk region. In set phrases, the mission points to the 1,491 ceasefire regime violations recorded, including 253 explosions. 400 attacks from heavy-caliber machine guns, 500 shots and bursts, 127 explosions were fixed outside the city of Popasna.
In all the cases of shelling, the Ukrainian side has ignored requests of the peace and quiet order. And this is explainable.
The current escalation is taking place on schedule and by command and has to do with Kiev's political stakes. Sabotage and shelling in the Donetsk republics are on a par with the British Defender destroyer provocation off the Crimean coast and the joint Ukrainian-NATO Sea Breeze naval exercises in the Black Sea. Shortly before the new phase of the Donbass war, President Zelensky referred to the United States as Ukraine's best friend and urged Washington to be more active in deterring Russia. He demanded more weapons and money and full-throated support for Ukraine's accession to NATO. The United States plays a key part as a strategic partner of Ukraine in terms of security and defense efforts. With a new round of hostilities with human casualties Zelensky made it clear he was ready to pay any price and fulfill Washington's commands. Meanwhile, Kiev is tightening anti-Russian sanctions. On June 24, Zelensky's decree imposed bans and restrictions on the work of a number of Russian banks, TV channels and airlines; numerous Russian businessmen and officials were added to the sanctions list. Sanctions stipulate blocked assets, refused visas, and suspended financial transactions. Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov made precise conclusions. According to him, if we consider sanctions in the context of preparations for a meeting between Presidents Putin and Zelensky, they raise many questions: "These steps by Kiev are understandable if we consider them as cutting off tails before the meeting in order to prevent it in every possible way."
Lies, hypocrisy and murders under pseudo-peaceful rhetoric have become the hallmark of Ukrainian politics. Since the European Union has once again started talking about the need to implement the Minsk agreements, the Kiev regime is frantically seeking to dodge and run down the clock in a hope that Zelensky will meet with Biden in July to get pardoned for any action.
"Some European countries are interested in escalating conflict with Russia, so Ukraine triggered another crisis in the Donbass ahead of NATO's summit in Brussels," Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said. The Ukrainian authorities have deliberately brought the Donbass conflict settlement and negotiations of the Contact Group to a standstill. Kiev is undertaking provocations along the contact line. This came in a statement by Russian Envoy Boris Gryzlov following the regular meeting. Given that "war is diplomacy by other means," the Donetsk republics are facing years of severe hardship. Ukraine has not withdrawn its troops, has not stopped attacks and does not seek peace. And in case of quitting the Minsk agreements, military actions may break out in full force at any time.
The Zelensky government reiterates of its readiness to reset or rewrite the Minsk agreement. Recently, the idea of an all-Ukrainian referendum on breaking off all the ties with non-controlled territories was announced. Zelensky said the people of Ukraine would be able to vote for this if other agreements fail, and promised to separate the Donbass with a wall: "This will be a wall all the way through, in all the communications. What are we going to do with our supporters living there? Deprive them of pensions? What shall we do with the Donbass Water enterprise? Deprive it of water supplies? Well, all right, they say, get in through another angle. We will do it anyway." That is, Zelensky threatens several million residents of the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics with a water blockade, as he previously did in case with the Crimea. All of his other threats are empty talk, because in fact, there have long been no other relations with the republics. Pension and allowance payments, the work of border posts have been complicated to the bitter end, there are no economic relations. "All the ties between Kiev and the Donbass have de facto been severed, and these regions have been torn away by the Ukrainian state," Dmitry Peskov commented on Zelensky's threats.
In sync with the plans to rupture relations, the Kiev regime is pushing a national resistance foundations law. It stipulates conditions for a guerrilla war in the republics' territories and in the Crimea and permits sabotage activities behind enemy line. It stands to reason that in its current form, Ukraine remains the heart of conflict escalation. And the threat of a big war looming over the Donbass is not nonfictional, but real.