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Russian hybrid forces have been carrying out massive attacks on Ukraine’s town of Avdiyivka and its industrial area. Ukraine’s forces are holding ground and evacuating local residents. Separatists damaged the last functioning electric power line cutting off Avdiivka coke plant and leaving the town without heat, electric power and water supply, Ukraine states.
Over 70 children were evacuated from Avdiyivka. Many locals left the town on their own. Ukrainian services and volunteers set warming centres for those who could not or did not want to go. Lots of buildings are damaged, there are gas, water, heat supply shortages.
“At night we will sleep in jackets and under three blankets three blankets. Son, when will this war be over? We were crying overnight. The town was so much bombed that we were shaking with fear,” a resident of Avdiyivka says.
The people are anguished in body and mind. There are wounded and dead on the both sides of the front. The developments in Avdiyivka are under the personal supervision of Ukraine’s president; the Verkhovna Rada Speaker flew to the scene. According to Petro Poroshenko, militants of the self-proclaimed DNR have returned to the practice of using Grads, but now the Ukrainian military know how to respond to such attacks.
“Our servicemen have no orders that forbid fire in response. They have every opportunity to defend themselves, but they do not open fire in response when criminals, Russian militants place artillery systems, tanks and multiple launch rocket systems directly in residential areas of Donetsk and Yasynuvata,” Ukraine’s president said.
Due to blackouts, Avdiyivka coke plant, the town’s backbone enterprise, is facing temporary shutdown. According to Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, militants often fire at repair crews.
“Shooting at civilian infrastructure is a particular crime. If they prevent us from repairing electric and thermal networks by deliberately escalating the situation, it is a conscious provoking a humanitarian disaster,” said Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.
“It was not us!” Donetsk separatists say.
“We will continue to observe a truce on condition that the Ukrainian side stops shelling Donetsk People’s Republic. It should be noted that it is them who cut Avdiyivka off power supply to charge us with provocation,” said Eduard Basurin, a representative of the so-called Donetsk republic.
Alexander Zakharchenko, appointed head of unrecognised republic, is accusing Ukraine’s government of escalating the conflict.
“Ukraine started to step up hostilities because Russia and the USA had found a point of mutual understanding,” believes Mr. Zakharchenko.
But not everyone is now reflecting on geopolitics in Kyiv. On February 1, people said their last goodbye to 7 soldiers who were killed in action near Avdiyivka on January 29-30.
“I feel a great deal of pain because my brothers in arms are dead. They were so young, they died before their time,” a serviceman said.
The situation is very tense, not only in Donbas. According to the Defense Ministry, a Ukrainian cargo plane was shelled over the Black Sea from Russia-controlled oil rigs near Odessa gas field. The crew was not injured, the plane returned to the airport.
Yaraslau Stseshyk/MS. belsat.eu