Almost the entire security zone in the Donbass (the so-called “gray zone”) is taken under control by the Ukrainian side. Such a statement on the talk show “Situation” on the channel “Direct” made adviser to the President of Ukraine Yuri Biryukov.
– Since we started in May 2014, two thirds of the territory (Donbass) have been liberated. Virtually the entire so-called “gray zone” is already fully liberated and taken under control, – he said.
Recall, the so-called “gray zone” separates the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, being, in effect, a frontier zone between the territories controlled by the opposing sides. Its borders were established in February 2015 by the Minsk agreements, and the introduction of one of the sides of the troops into this territory is a violation of the agreements. The safety zone also implies the removal of heavy weapons to the same distance from the contact line by both parties.
At the same time, back in 2016, the first deputy head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine, Alexander Hug, argued that there is no “gray zone” between the parties to the conflict in Donbas.
In addition, he stressed: the closer the positions of one side or another are to the line of demarcation, the greater the chances that hostilities will arise again.
The Ukrainian side has repeatedly declared the seizure of certain positions in the “gray zone”, using a tactic of gradual advancement and approaching the positions of the enemy – the so-called «toad jumps».
In November, the Ukrainian military reported that they had taken control of the Settlement in the “gray zone”. However, in the People’s Militia of the LNR (Lugansk People Republic), it was stated that this settlement had already been under the control of the Supreme Court of Ukraine. In the DNR and LNR, it was repeatedly noted that the messages of the Ukrainian side about the “taking” of one or another village in the “gray zone” are intended to reassure both the internal and external audience of the “non-existent in reality” successes of the Ukrainian army.
Commenting on Biryukov’s statement, the deputy commander of the operational command of the DNR, Eduard Basurin, called the words of the Ukrainian official a lie.
– Yes, they occupied a part, but (not) all, as they say. This is a rumor spreading. Well, we definitely do not have the promotion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, – said Basurin.
– There have been similar triumphant reports more than once, – recalls Lugansk expert Yuri Pershikov.
– In essence, this is a public acknowledgment of a violation of Minsk-2. At the same time, this is often a “disinformation” that has been repeatedly refuted.
Although, of course, it must be admitted, the APU, after the withdrawal of forces, strengthened their positions. Somewhere on the beams. Somewhere in height. Somewhere firing points in more favorable places are equipped. In general, they are strengthened where they could. But nothing wrong with that. First, these are often not long-term points. And then, in the event of a real conflict, all these positions are known, the points where they strengthened their positions are known, so let them draw the appropriate conclusions.
In any case, all this is propaganda directed primarily at the domestic consumer.
– Kiev needs to pretend there is good game while there is a bad game, which is why such statements of the Ukrainian command are heard, – says historian, publicist, and permanent expert of the Izborsk club Alexander Dmitrievsky.
– With the martial law and provocations confined to it did not work out, because the intelligence of Donbass turned out to be more operational than the Ukrainian one, and the Bandera generals were too corrupt and greedy for money. So they report on the next “peremoga” (victories) according to the principle “on a deserted place – and Thomas is a nobleman!”. And anyway, who says that? Advisor to the Ukrainian Minister of Defense and former activist of “Euromaidan” Mr. Biryukov? I’m sorry, who is he? General? No, except for pushing through new insignia of the NATO sample and the new cut of uniforms, this civilian person is no more different. And where did he say that? On a talk show? Well, on a talk show, everyone can blurt out a lot: there’s no need for words …
– What is valuable “gray zone”?
- The “gray zone” is militarily inconvenient areas between the dominant heights. It is dangerous to hold troops there, for they instantly turn into a good target, and for artillery there are no positions at all. The only thing that can be arranged there is political actions: they came, took pictures with the flag, turned down banners — and left, the Ukrainian side acts according to this principle.
– The boundaries of the “gray zone” defined by the Minsk agreements?
- The boundaries of the “gray zone” are determined by military realities and common sense. The line of demarcation is carried out on the map, but it happens smoothly only on paper, and there are ravines on the ground: this is how the “gray zone” appears.
– What do you think the real situation? How many percent of the so-called “Gray zone” could the Ukrainian military take, starting in 2015, the year?
– To begin with, in reality, the dimensions of the “gray zone” are not as large as the speculations and tantrums are arranged around it. Its military value is also small: a reason for loud political statements, no more.
– Since 2015, the war in the Donbass is positional, in the worst traditions of the First World War, – says military officer Dmitry Steshin.
- In problem areas, for example, under Kominternovo, it is possible not to rise to the surface for a day – all positions are underground, the prefields are mined, fixed, equipped with engineering barriers and all types of frontal signaling – from cans to signaling mines and dogs that live with fighters in positions. The front line does not move, with the exception of retrofitting positions, lengthening trenches, etc. In a strategic plan, everything stands still.
– Many experts believe that reports of the occupation of the “gray zone” of the Ukrainian military are trying to report on non-existent “successes.” To whom? Do you have an external audience? It turns out they have?
– Since Ukrainian society has been in a state of hysteria for the fifth year, it is simply dangerous to bring it sharply into remission. After a monstrous defeat at Debaltseve, a propaganda move was invented, the so-called “jump of the toad”. The Ukrainian military with honest and serious faces told how the Ukrainian Armed Forces consistently and unswervingly conquer Riedna Zemta by a meter per day, and sooner or later reach Donetsk, and after two hundred years and even the capital of Bloody Mordor. In reality, it is possible on the Internet to see how the frozen corpses of the next DRG are being transmitted to the Ukrainian side, which was trying to capture or take away something there. There are dozens of such videos, although, unfortunately, they also have successful operations – they cut out sleeping advanced posts, undermine the militia trenches.
In Kiev, worried about the weakening support from Washington and Brussels.
– Earlier, the first deputy head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine, Alexander Hug, argued that there is no “gray zone” between the parties to the conflict in Donbas. So is it or not? Occupation of the “gray zone” violates the agreement?
– According to the Minsk agreements, there is no “gray zone” – there is only a “line of contact” and a certain distance, from which heavy weapons should be set aside from it. For artillery systems over 100 mm caliber is 25 kilometers.
The “gray zone” is a slang, trench name for a neutral or front-line territories not occupied by any party to the conflict for a number of reasons. The main thing is that they are not convenient for equipping positions – these are swamps or lowlands. They are shot through the entrances – rotation, transportation of ammunition and removal of the wounded is impossible. Or there is a high risk of being cut off from one’s own, in the event of a local offensive. Since the concept of a “gray zone” is not in the agreements, it is impossible to break any agreements.
– Is there any benefit for the Ukrainian side?
- Famous story – a breakthrough in August 2017, 57 motorized infantry brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine under the Donetsk village Zhabunki. The Ukrainian Armed Forces tried to seize the DNR stronghold, but they were not given a foothold, and were forced to retreat with great losses. The militia used heavy artillery. I think that at any exit of the enemy to the “line of contact” there will be the same reaction, therefore local actions are meaningless. Only a large-scale offensive with a multiple margin in manpower, equipment, with serious artillery preparation. But this is a completely different story, and Ukraine may not survive it – they have already been warned.