I believe that the situation in the zone of hostilities, including around Avdiyivka, should stabilize in the near future. If we talk about the military aspect, the intense shelling we are witnessing is aimed at preventing the attempts of the Ukrainian troops to advance within the so-called "gray zone" - the territory, which is assigned to Ukraine, according to Minsk agreements. We are talking about the area of Svitlodarska Duha bulge, the Mariupol line and the whole industrial zone in Avdiyivka [the so-called ‘promzona’, where Ukrainian troops were succeeding in performing these tasks.
Russia has ordered the militants under their control to re-seize the ‘promzona.’ However, Ukrainian troops refuted the attacks. If we recall the combat operation near the Svitlodarska Duha bulge, the Ukrainian troops first hold their defenses and then counterattack. And given the experience gained by Ukrainian forces, they successfully push the enemy out of their strongholds, capture strategic heights and other important locations (for example, there is a certain forest near a Svitlodarska Duha bulge). We see the same thing in Avdiyivka.
How important is the “promzona” in Avdiyivka? This is a perfect location to ensure fire control over the Donetsk-Horlivka road, and, hence, supplies to Horlivka can be cut off. If this path is unavailable, a long detour is needed to get to Horlivka. Naturally, the enemy was far from happy with this state of affairs, deciding to try to resolve the issue in combat.
How important is the “promzona” in Avdiyivka? This is a perfect location to ensure fire control over the Donetsk-Horlivka road, and, hence, supplies to Horlivka can be cut off
But the militants failed to do so as the Ukrainian troops managed to repel the assault. After this failure, the terrorists redirected their shelling toward Avdiyivka’s residential areas targeting civilians.
Among the political and international aspects which set the grounds for the escalation of the situation around Avdiyivka, it was Donald Trump’s telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin which played the main role. Secondly, Putin has decided to interrupt Petro Poroshenko’s trip to Germany, and he succeeded. The events near Avdiyivka have forced Poroshenko to cut his visit short and return to Ukraine, to coordinate the emergency response efforts and prevent escalation to the tragic proportions such as during the Debaltseve battle.
Among the political and international aspects which set the grounds for the escalation of the situation around Avdiyivka, it was Donald Trump’s telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin which played the main role
I believe the situation in Avdiyivka is unlikely to escalate significantly from the current levels. After all, if the militants launch new shellings, the Ukrainian military also start to move and seize strategically important positions. Once again, it should be emphasized that they do so within the framework of the Minsk agreements. Ukraine has been strictly abiding by the Minsk deal. But the very fact that the Ukrainian forces are now allowing themselves such advances (to seize positions that are assigned to Ukraine by the Minsk agreements), is clearly seen by Russia. And of course, Russia is anything but happy with such developments.
Ihor Romanenko is a military expert, former Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine