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Ukrainian Parliament and National Security Council do not exclude the real attack attempts in Mariupol, given the proximity of the city to uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian border and possibility to quickly moving troops and equipment. Number of attacks reported in the southern sector of the front, on the eve of Normandy format meeting increased, but even after negotiations situation in south Donbas is tense.
Meanwhile, the militants’ gang DNR that acts in the occupied part of Donbas and is supported by Russia, accused of shelling Ukrainian soldiers.
The fact that in the last two weeks in Donbas significantly increased the number of attacks on Mariupol direction, said the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov, after visiting the front line.
According to him, just during the last week militants and Russian forces fired three thousand shells and mines on Ukrainian military positions in Mariupol sector.
"The largest number of provocations and the biggest intensity of attacks reported in the area of Mariinka, Krasnogorivka, Vodiane and Shyrokyne. Even during the negotiations in Normandy format pro-Russian militants hadn’t stop attacks on Ukrainian positions "- quoted Turchynov the press office of the National Security Council.
Turchynov also said that we cannot exclude that the peace initiative of the Russian side "is just a cover for the intensification of military confrontation."
"Ukrainian military are ready for any actions of the enemy. Our positions on the contact line are fortified and insulated. All attempts of Russian-terrorist groups to break through our defense line are doomed, "- said the secretary of NSDC of Ukraine.
Recently, head of OSCE SMM in Ukraine Oleksandr Hug reported on intensification of fighting in the east and northeast of Mariupol, in recent days the number of attacks has grown nine times there. For example, on October 21 OSCE observers documented more than 500 explosions of heavy ammunition, informs Hug. This information was also confirmed by the Ukrainian intelligence.
Military expert Oleg Zhdanov explains the Russian military activity near Mariupol by the fact that exactly this area is the most sensitive for Ukrainian politics and society.
"Mariupol direction is now the most painful place in terms of pressure on Ukraine. After all, Ukraine understands that Russians are here to make an overland corridor to Crimea. And it has now small capabilities to do this. Just their attack in Melitopol, including Volnovaha, will help to break through the Ukrainian army. But after all, Ukraine will fiercely resist if such attack will take place, "- says Oleg Zhdanov.
On his part, the coordinator of "Informational resistance," MP from the "People's Front" party Dmytro Tymchuk, who also considers the intensification of Russian-separatist forces in Mariupol rather a form of pressure on Ukraine does not reject the possibility of real attempts of pro-Russian forces to attack in the south of Donbas. Currently, there is no significant accumulation of Russian troops, which would be enough for the offensive, explains Tymchuk. But he does not rule out that the situation may change in the opposite direction.
Expert of Ukrainian-Russian relations Volodymyr Nagorny stressed that intensification of hostilities observed in the south and the north zone of fighting in eastern Ukraine, means that Russia still intends to put pressure on the Ukrainian government, and now Kremlin is not satisfied with the progress of negotiations in Normandy format.
"Russia is not satisfied with the results of negotiations, although they have not been formalized in the form of signed agreements and joint statements. Putin did not like questions asked by the other three negotiators. So the Kremlin will wait, hoping not only to change position of the Ukrainian side, but also on changing US attitude to Ukrainian-Russian conflict that may occur after the elections, and to likely softening the position of Germany and France. Russia will do everything in order to tighten the time and sabotaging efforts to prepare a roadmap for the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
That is, any aggravation at the front should be seen in the light of Russia's unwillingness to move in the direction documented during the recent talks in Normandy format - explains Nagorny.
Many experts say that the Ukrainian-Russian conflict in Donbas has a tendency to freeze, as happened with all the conflicts in the post-Soviet states on Russia's participation. However, there is also a common perception that in present circumstances the absence of de-escalation in Donbas means continuation of sanctions against Russia that Kremlin is trying at all costs to remove, fearing of economic collapse.