Ukraine: No Sign Of Siege As Rebels Prepare For Inevitable Donetsk Battle

DONETSK, Ukraine -- Several miles north of Donetsk city limits, a vast railway bridge has collapsed across the two lanes of the H-20 highway, leaving the wagons of a freight train perched precariously in midair on sagging rails.

Two Ukrainian paratroopers wounded during fighting with pro-Russian militants married their sweethearts Wednesday -- from the hospital beds where they are recovering from their injuries.

If the men who planted the charges that destroyed the central supporting column on Monday were hoping to create a tank trap, they may be disappointed.

There is still enough room for civilian vehicles to pass comfortably, if with some trepidation, beneath the angle of the fallen concrete slabs.

Since rebel fighters abandoned the city of Slavyansk and made a 60-mile dash south to Donetsk on Saturday, the militant garrison here has been readying for an assault on what is their last major stronghold in the Donetsk region.

Government forces have promised to blockade the city, laying siege to the fighters inside until they have no choice but to surrender.

So far, however, there is no sign of that siege.

With the Ukrainian force still moving into and consolidating their grip on the newly won territory around Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, civilians, commercial traffic, and presumably rebel fighters, can still enter and leave the regional capital relatively freely - even if it means passing under one of the three half-demolished railway bridges.

The sunflower fields, country towns and narrow roads between the two armies are eerily quiet, but they are peaceful.

For dozens of miles outside the city, there is no sign of war at all.

Inside Donetsk itself, life goes on almost as normal.

Public transport is still running, traffic and pedestrians walk the streets, and the utilities - which were cut off for weeks in Slavyansk - are in perfect working order.

But that doesn’t mean everything is as it should be.

Many businesses, including the city’s main shopping centre, are shuttered and their windows dark.

Those still working often close their doors before dark.

Armed men in camouflage walk the streets, and while civilian foot and road traffic is present, it is notably sparse.

For both fighters and the civilians caught in the middle of this war, an assault seems like a only a matter of time.

But what form that assault will take is not yet clear.

Visiting victorious troops near Slavyansk on Tuesday, Petro Poroshenko promised there would be “no street fights” in Donetsk.

More likely appears to be some form of repetition of the strategy the Ukrainians used in Slavyansk, where artillery pounded the rebel fighters into retreat before troops entered the town.

If the rebels decide to make a fight of it, however, that could be a bloody and drawn-out affair.

A sprawling industrial city of one million people, Donetsk is ten-times the size of Slavyansk and presents a much more serious challenge for any besieging army.

And though the Ukrainians insist they will only target rebel positions, the risk to the civilian population is obvious.

And it could take weeks for the advancing but still somewhat shambolic Ukrainian force to properly cut off the city, establish a siege, and bring up their artillery.

That may give enough time for behind-the-scenes negotiations, perhaps aided by Russian or European intermediaries, to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

For now, however, with Ukrainians sensing victory and the rebels determined to make a stand, the battle for Donetsk seems inevitable.

Source: The Telegraph


Igor Skakovsky said…
Quote: "в убийстве оператора Первого канала Анатолия Кляна подозревается командир дивизиона донецкого зенитного ракетного полка полковник Маламен, который, по версии следствия, лично отдал приказ стрелять на поражение в гражданских лиц, в результате которого и был убит Клян.
«Также, по данным следствия, к проведению операции причастны начальники армейской авиации Украины Пиструга и Слипченко, командующий войсками оперативного корпуса «Север» Колесник, командир 51-й отдельной механизированной бригады Яцков, командир артиллерийской группы Папченко, летчики Вооруженных сил Украины Мамчур, Погорелый, Алимжиев и Ищенко, командиры и руководители батальонов «Азов», «Айдар», «Днепр», «Донбасс» Шпар, Гончар, Мельничук, Береза, Семенченко, а также иные лица из числа командующего состава и военнослужащих Вооруженных сил Украины, руководители и члены Национальной гвардии и Правого сектора», - говорится в сообщении."

It is essential that Ukrainian government protects its soldiers who fight to free the Fatherland from occupants. Without such protection soldiers will be reluctant to perform their duties and will be ex trimly ineffective.