heavy artillery
Back on June 21st, 2017, an agreement was reached at talks in Minsk between the parties in the conflict in Donbass on establishing a ceasefire to start on June 24th at midnight. This initiative has been christened a "bread truce", i.e., a ceasefire in time for harvest season. According to the proposal discussed in Minsk, the truce is supposed to last until August 31st.

This "bread truce" is very important for the Donbass republics as well as for the adjacent regions of Ukrainian-occupied Donbass. Even without shelling, civilians can still be killed while carrying out agricultural work. For example, near Stakhanov in the Lugansk People's Republic in May, a tractor hit a Ukrainian mine, killing two people right away and injuring four women, two of whom subsequently died in the hospital from their wounds. Now that the Donbass republics are ready for harvest time, the ever-present danger is just as relevant.

I've extensively travelled the frontline areas in Donbass and seen the fields whose harvests promise to be rich. The problem, however, is that the fields in some districts of the LPR and DPR are densely planted with Ukrainian mines. Sappers from the DPR and LPR People's Militias are working to "clean up" such danger zones every day. Just last week, engineer and sapper units of the LPR's People's Militia swept an eight-square kilometer zone. One can only imagine the heightened danger if Donbass farmers on both sides of the front were to be faced with shelling from the UAF and retaliatory fire from the DPR and LPR. Therefore, the bread truce is simply necessary. Otherwise, Donbass will have no bread of its own and hunger could strike again like at some points earlier in the war.

Indeed, Donbass needs this ceasefire more than anything. I especially clearly recognized this while traveling the LPR for several days and visited frontline towns such as Stakhanov and Pervomaysk. Poverty and huge unemployment are only exacerbated by constant expectations of bombardments. People there may have already become accustomed to shelling, but God forbid it becomes part and parcel of their everyday lives. The people of Donbass deserve two months of relative peace to gather wheat from the fields. But for such to happen, the truce has to be respected - and I do not expect such nobility on the part of Ukrainian authorities.

If the truce manages to be kept for at last until the end of summer, the people of Donbass can sigh with relief. After all, every "successful" UAF shelling means a destroyed home or dead citizen - and the latter words are no figure of speech. On the first day of the ceasefire, June 24th, Ukrainian troops shelled the town of Stakhanov, destroying a home where a 12-year-old boy sustained shrapnel injuries and a 9-year-old girl suffered a concussion. The bombardment included 122 mm shells and 120 and 82 mm mortars, heavy anti-tank grenade launchers, and automatic mounted grenade launchers. Let us recall that one of the basic conditions of the Minsk Agreements is the withdrawal of heavy artillery from the contact line. The Ukrainians' use of these arms forbidden by Minsk - no less on the first day of the ceasefire - are sufficient grounds to accuse Kiev of disregarding the Minsk Agreements.

Literally 35 minutes after midnight - the start of the bread truce on June 24th - the Ukrainian side also started shelling the territory of the LPR from Stanitsa Luganskaya. These ceasefire violations by the Ukrainians have even been recorded by representatives of the OSCE meeting in Donbass. The OSCE's special representative, Martin Sajdik, reported: "10 violations were recorded starting at 00:00. 21 districts of the republic's residential areas were subjected to UAF shelling by artillery, tanks, mortars, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, grenade launchers, and small arms." The statistical counting of Ukrainian troops' violations of the truce is ongoing.

Despite the numerous violations on its part, Kiev will undoubtedly use this bread truce to demonstrate its "peacekeeping initiative" and gradually prepare for the introduction of martial law and a new war in Donbass. Minsk 2 appears to be living out its last days, weeks, and months. A new war breaking out in Donbass is becoming more and more imminent with each passing day.