Former head of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk regions Gen. Oleksandr Petrulevich told one of the Ukrainian TV channels that Russia planned to gradually gain control over all regions of Ukraine, as testified by Russian agents arrested in the spring of 2014, according to UNIAN.
“According to our intel (we also had radio intercepts and HUMINT reports), three stages had been planned: first, the southeast [of Urkaine]; second, the center; and third, the western borders, namely Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk. They didn’t intend to limit themselves to the southeastern part [of the country],” Apostrophe quotes the SBU general as saying. Key testimony on Russia’s plans was obtained from a top ranking officer of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff Roman Bannykh, who had been detained at Krasna Talivka checkpoint in Luhansk region on April 5, 2014.
He also gave up the names of Russian officials supervising the seizure of southern and eastern regions of Ukraine from Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and the capital Moscow. “During the initial interrogation (in the investigation launched by SBU HQ), he started talking immediately (only in movies do the spies remain silent, although no one applied force to him). He said he had come to Ukraine to check combat readiness of military groupings. Those deployed in Luhansk and Donetsk turned out to be more or less combat-ready, unlike those in Kharkiv, Dnipro, Kherson, and Odesa,” Petrulevich said.
The situation remains tense in the zone of the Anti-Terrorist Operation, with 83 enemy shellings of positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces recorded over the past day, according to the ATO Headquarters, Joinfo.com reports with reference to UNIAN.
Russian occupation forces use weaponry of over 100mm caliber, in violation of the existing agreements, the Ukrainian military report. “On the Mariupol line, strongpoints near Shyrokine, Hnutove and Vodiane were shelled with 122 mm artillery systems. Russian mercenaries also fired 120mm mortars at positions near Hnutove, and 82mm mortars, large-caliber machine guns and grenade launchers – at Maryinka, Vodiane and Pavlopil. An enemy tank fired at positions near Vodiane, while IFV weapons were used against Ukrainian marines deployed in Shyrokine. Enemy snipers were active near Hnutove and Vodiane,” the HQ reported.
In the Donetsk direction, near Troyitske, the enemy used 152mm artillery. Strongpoints of Ukrainian troops near Avdiyivka, Troyitske, and Luhanske were shelled with 120mm mortars, while defenders of Opytne, Avdiyivka, and Kamianka were shelled with 82mm mortars. In Troyitske, an enemy tank opened fire, and an IFV – in Luhanske. Strongpoints near Kamianka and Nevelske were fired upon with large-caliber machine guns and grenade launchers of various types.
On the Luhansk line, near the village of Kalinovo-Popasna, the use by the enemy of a 122mm artillery was spotted. 120mm mortars, IFV weapons, and grenade launchers of various types were used by the enemy against Ukrainian positions near Krymske. The enemy also fired large-caliber machine guns and grenade launchers at positions near Stanytsia Luhanska and Novo-Oleksandrivka. “Over the past day, two Ukrainian troops were killed in action and another three were wounded,” the ATO press center reported. ATO forces returned fire to suppress the enemy’s fire activity.
The Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on the settlement of the situation in Donbas at its meeting on March 29 agreed that a full ceasefire must be ensured during Easter holidays, starting from April 1.
Darka Olifer, Press Secretary of Ukraine’s representative in the Group Leonid Kuchma, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday evening,
“On the eve of the Easter holidays, the Trilateral Contact Group has welcomed the determination of all the participants in the Minsk process to ensure full compliance with the ceasefire, which will come into force on April 1, 2017,” Olifer wrote.
She also added that the work of checkpoints for crossing the contact line in the morning and in the evening is planned to be extended.