This morning, militants attacked the positions of Joint Forces next to the four settlements: Novotoshkivske, Orikhove, Krymske, and Khutor Vilnyi.
The HQ of Joint Forces Operation (JFO) stated that the fire had been carried out with weapons prohibited by the Minsk Agreements, including 120-mm mortars.
Along the way, the enemy tried to advance through the line of demarcation.
According to journalist Yurii Butusov, the occupants were applying all weapons, including 152-mm artillery and 120-mm mortars. The battle itself began at 5:00 a.m.
He specified that the militants had covered the military dispositions of the 72nd and 93rd Mechanized Brigades on the broad front in Zolote - Orikhove – Novotoshkivka area of disengagement.
There was a close fight with the Russian assault group at one of the strongholds.
Advisor to the Head of Luhansk Regional State Administration Vitalii Shvedov stated on his Facebook page that the shelling had been heard in Lysychansk, and there had been a direct hit in the building in Novotoshkivske.
At about 10:00 a.m., JFO HQ reported about the end of fighting activities in four settlements. However, one of the Ukrainian soldiers was killed, another four were slightly injured.
The staff stressed that the positions of Ukrainian soldiers had not been lost.
However, Censor, referring to one of the JFO fighters, reports the forced withdrawal of Ukrainian soldiers from two strongholds.
And the TSN correspondent from the scene reported that, according to preliminary information, as a result of the attack, fighters of the 72nd Brigade had to leave one of their strongpoints.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky reacted to these events, calling them "not just a cynical provocation, but an attempt to disrupt the peace process in Donbas."
Lithuania also responded to the situation. Lithuania's Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius expressed deep concern on his Twitter page and recalled that the implementation of Minsk agreements is impossible without a ceasefire.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky convened a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council where today's escalation in Donbas was discussed. Following the meeting, a briefing was held at which Zelensky himself and Ruslan Khomchak, Chief of General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces, addressed recent events.
Zelensky's main theses:
- We have a powerful army, provocations take place.
- This provocation will not change commitment to the cessation of hostilities.
Khomchak's main theses:
- It was not a provocation.
- The militants fired at the positions of the 72nd and 93rd Mechanized Brigades.
- The battles (mostly) were fought at the 72nd Brigade's post "Bania".
- As a result of the attack, one Ukrainian soldier was killed, three were injured, two more were concussed.
- The enemy requested silence at 10 a.m.
- As of now, all positions are under control.
It is also worth noting that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) published a report based on information received as of 19:30, 17 February 2019.
The SMM saw an aircraft flying over non-government-controlled areas in the security zone. It assessed the aircraft as a swept-wing four-engine turboprop aircraft, likely a Tupolev TU-95 or Tupolev TU-142.