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Russo-Ukraine War - January 2015

  • Russo-Ukraine War
  • Russo-Ukraine War - 2015 - January
  • Russo-Ukraine War - 2015 - February
  • Russo-Ukraine War - 2015 - March

  • Donetsk People's Republic (DNR)
  • Luhansk People's Republic (LNR)

  • Ukraine Political Crisis - 2014
  • Russian Military Intervention
  • Russian Annexation of Crimea

  • Russia Military Guide
  • Russian Rapid Reaction Forces
  • Russian Special Forces
  • 45th Airborne Spetznaz Regiment

  • Operation Atlantic Resolve

  • By January 2015 there were about 7,500 Russian soldiers in Donbas, according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak. The situation in eastern Ukraine remained tense. Despite the declared ceasefire, terrorists continue to fire at Ukrainian army positions.

    The fighting in eastern Ukraine intensified, with 13 civilians traveling in a bus south of Donetsk city killed by a rocket strike on 13 January 2015. "Russian aggression is continuing. There has been a significant surge in the intensity of firing," Oleksander Turchynov, secretary of the national defense council, told parliament 14 January 2015, adding that 8,500 Russian regular forces were now deployed in eastern Ukraine.

    The following day, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning what it called Russia's "aggressive and expansionist policy" and "the acts of terrorism and criminal behavior" by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

    The Ukrainian authorities attributed the increased shelling underway in the region to actions by the Lugansk and Donetsk Peoples Republics. In turn, the two breakaway republics levelled the same accusations against the Ukrainian military. According to the leaders of the republics, the authorities in Kiev were guilty of violating the ceasefire.

    The new round of peace talks between Ukraine's government and the rebels that Kyiv had hoped might take place the second week of January failed to materialize. High-level peace talks expected to take place in Kazakhstan on 15 January 2015 were postponed indefinitely.

    Ukrainian presidential adviser Yuri Biryukov wrote that Russia-backed separatists had launched a fierce assault on the Donetsk airport 16 January 2015 and that the intensity of the fighting and the situation there were the worst since late September.

    Ukrainian troops retook almost all the territory Ukraine had lost to separatists in recent weeks, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said on 18 January 2015. The Ukrainian military said it had cleared pro-Russia rebels from much of the Donetsk airport in a massive overnight operation.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said 18 January 2015 Kyiv will reassert control over the country's eastern region, where fighting had intensified in recent days between government troops and pro-Russian separatist rebels. Poroshenko told a peace rally, the Unity March, in central Kyiv that Ukraine would not 'give up an inch' of its land to the separatists.

    But then a new rebel offensive began.

    Ukraine's military claimed 19 January 2015 that hundreds of Russian troops crossed the border to help the rebels, as intense fighting between government and pro-Russian separatist forces continued Monday in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukrainian intelligence had confirmed Russian cross-border arms deliveries to the separatists were continuing. Tanks, howitzers, Grad systems, Smerch, Buk, Yatsenyuk told a joint news conference with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, listing Russian-made missile systems that he said were being channeled to the separatists. Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said about 700 Russian troops had also crossed into Ukraine to back up the rebel forces.

    Multiple battalions operating in southeastern Ukraine do not follow Kiev's orders and a ceasefire is unlikely to be reached with local independence supporters in the near future, Denis Pushilin, the envoy of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) at the Minsk peace talks, stressed. "Kiev does not control a number of units. Currently, 57 regional battalions are known to exist," Pushilin said 19 January 2015. Earlier, Pushilin said it is not possible that the conflict in southeastern Ukraine would end in the near future, as people, conducting special operations in the region, do not follow Kiev's orders.

    Ukrainian soldiers on 20 January 2015 came under attack from Russian regular forces in the north of the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. Spokesman Andriy Lysenko said at a special news briefing in Kyiv, "In violation of all prior agreements, Ukrainian military units were attacked in the north [of the war zone] by regular units of the Russian armed forces."

    Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said on January 20 that pro-Russian separatists had seized more than 500 square kilometers of territory from Ukrainian forces since a cease-fire agreement was signed in Minsk in September 2014.

    The separatist offensive continued despite an agreement reached by the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France on 21 January 2015 for government troops and the rebels to pull heavy weapons back from a separation line established under the Minsk deal.

    On 22 January 2015 rebels seized control of the long-contested Donetsk airport. The Donetsk airport had long been a hotspot for fighting between Ukrainian forces and local independence supporters. Interfax quoted rebel military official Eduard Basurin as saying more than 750 Ukrainian troops had been killed in recent days in the battle for the now-destroyed Donetsk airport. He said more than 100 Ukraine tanks and other fighting vehicles had also been destroyed. The rebel claims had not been independently confirmed.

    The UN Human Rights Office said 23 January 2015 the current fighting in eastern Ukraine was the deadliest since the government and Russian-backed rebels declared a cease-fire on September 5. The agency reports at least 262 people were killed between January 13-21- an average of 29 people a day. The UN Human Rights Office reports more than 5,000 people had been killed since the conflict in eastern Ukraine began in mid-April. In addition, nearly 11,000 people were wounded between mid-April and January 2015. It said this figure is probably greatly underestimated and fears the true number of people killed is considerably higher. About 1 million people had quit their homes, and five million were affected by the conflict.

    The cease-fire the sides agreed to in September 2014 had been repeatedly violated, and collapsed completely when rebels announced the start of a new offensive designed to expand their territory. On 23 January 2015, Russian-backed Alexander Zakharchenko, head of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, said his forces would attack government troops until reaching the borders of the Donetsk region. He said rebels would seek to take control of the entire province and would no longer initiate peace talks with Kyiv.. He said his fighters were advancing against Ukraine combat troops.

    Ukrainian authorities said at least 30 people were killed and more than 80 were wounded when rockets hit a market and residential buildings in Mariupol 24 January 2015. Donetsk People's Republic denied its involvement and said that the attack came from Mariupol's western district of Stary Krym, where the Kiev forces are stationed. The deputy speaker of the DPR parliament, Denis Pushilin, has called the artillery shelling in Mariupol yet another provocation by Kiev who are pushing the development of the situation in the military direction.

    Pro-Russian rebels on 24 January 2015 launched an offensive on the key Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. DPR leader Alexander Zakharchenko said "after Kiev decided to place the blame for its accidental Grad missile attack <> on the residential area [of Mariupol] on us, I gave an order to suppress Ukrainian troops' positions located to the east of Mariupol".

    The European Union foreign policy chief warned the escalation could lead to a further "grave deterioration" of EU-Russian relations. The attack came just hours after the rebel leader in the Donetsk region said there would be no further peace talks with Kyiv. The new offensive came a year after the outbreak of violent demonstrations that eventually produced a change in government in Kiev.

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian troops had been supporting rebel operations with surface-to-air missiles and "advanced multiple rocket-launcher systems." The Organization for Security and Cooperation's monitoring mission said that the Grad and Uragan rockets that hit Mariupol were fired from areas under rebel control.

    Some European leaders have recently talked of easing economic sanctions against Moscow. But Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who now serves as European Union president, said 25 January 2015, "Once again, appeasement encourages the aggressor to greater acts of violence. Time to step up our policy based on cold facts, not illusions."

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said 16 January 2015 that a "NATO legion" is fighting against rebel forces in eastern Ukraine, and that its goal is to contain Russia. We often say: Ukrainian army, Ukrainian army. But who is really fighting [in eastern Ukraine]? There are official divisions of the armed forces but to a great extent there are so-called voluntary nationalist battalions. This is not even an army, it's a foreign legion. In this case it's a foreign NATO legion, Putin said, speaking before university students in the city of St. Petersburg.

    The EU failed 28 January 2015 to reach consensus on new sanctions targeting Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis and the extension of current sanctions due to objections from Greece. Consensus among all EU member states is necessary to approve new sanctions or to extend the current ones.

    Amid a sharp escalation of fighting in eastern Ukraine, European Union foreign ministers agreed 29 January 2015 to extend by six months the existing sanctions imposed on Russian and Russia-backed separatist officials for their role in the conflict. The ministers also agreed during a meeting in Brussels that, within a week, theyd come up with more names to add to the list of those already subject to an asset freeze and travel ban.

    By some Russian accounts, as of 30 January 2015 at least 7,000 Ukrainian troops were believed to be surrounded near the village of Debaltsevo in Donbass, as Russian units cut off the only road linking the pocket to Kiev-held territory. Kiev, which had up to 10,000 servicemen near Debaltsevo, denied that its troops were trapped in the town.

    The Ukrainian servicemen had been offered the chance to surrender. Donetsk Peoples Republic head Aleksandr Zakharchenko said Guys, my proposal is to lay down arms and surrender. Youre fighting the wrong people. You have the only chance to save your lives. Surrender and you will live. I promise that all of you will return home afterwards. Kiev authorities had reportedly empowered army commanders to gun down deserters on the spot.

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