KIEV, Ukraine – The Armed Forces of Ukraine have taken control of almost the entire “gray zone” in Donbass, President Yuri Biryukov’s adviser told Ukrainian channel Pryamoi.
The so-called “gray zone” in Donbass separates the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the forces of the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, and their limits have been established by the Minsk agreements. The introduction of troops in this area means breach of international understandings.
“Compared with the situation in May 2014, two-thirds of the territory has been freed, virtually the entire ‘gray zone’ is free and under our control,” said Yuri Biryukov.
Russian political scientist Anton Bredikhin said that it still needs to be verified if this did happen. The Ukrainian authorities reported every month taking the 50-100 meters at Donbass, which was subsequently disproved in Donetsk or Lugansk. To be true, Ukrainian forces would already be on the Russian border today,” he said.
“Control of Ukraine’s ‘gray zone’, if it did occur, is a direct violation of the Minsk accords, signifying the emergence of yet another powerful destabilizing factor in the region, because Ukraine thus demonstrates that it is ready for radical action. The residents of Donetsk and Lugansk will get a lousy New Year’s gift from Ukraine in the form of a major offensive,” Bredikhin said.
According to the analyst, control over the “gray zone” is a very big challenge for Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as for Russia, demonstrating that Ukraine does not comply with the Minsk agreements and, after breaking all treaties with Russia, intends to also leave this.
Previously, the People’s Militia of Lugansk declared that the Ukrainian forces planned to take positions in the “gray zone”, having concentrated there equipment and armored vehicles. In November, Ukraine reported having conquered the village of Rassadki, situated in this area.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine between the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and the Ukrainian authorities has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014. The peace agreement signed in Minsk in 2015 helped to reduce hostilities but the clashes continue.