Ukraine's Front Line: Europe’s Forgotten War
24 October, 2016

What You Need To Know:

✅  Hundreds of houses have been destroyed in the village of Stanytsia Luhanska since the summer because of continued fighting. 

✅  The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reports combined Russian military and separatist forces are failing to guarantee security on their side.

✅  The two-kilometer demilitarized zone across the de-facto border in Donbas fails to stop the nighttime shelling

Dozens of people can be seen at the border crossing in Stanytsia Luhanska at any point during the daytime. This small village in eastern Ukraine has become one of the key battlegrounds in the war between combined Russian army-separatist forces and Ukrainian troops.

As a result of a new framework deal forged in Minsk, both sides are supposed to pull back soldiers and equipment  The surrounding area just outside Stanytsia Luhanska is now considered part of the ‘grey zone’. This is a no man's land which separates the opposing sides. 

 “In the ‘grey zone’ there is no armed personnel from either side of the conflict. That’s the demilitarized zone which spans some two kilometers. When government forces were withdrawing, none of the small nearby villages were placed in the ‘grey zone’. This did not stop the Russian army-separatist forces from shelling the nearby villages including Zolote 4, and Katerinivka, which is on the other side.”, Hromadske International journalist Anastasia Stanko reports.

The night time sporadic shelling scares most remaining residents. One elderly lady said she was opposed to the Ukrainian government pulling back its troops.

“Why should the Ukrainian Armed Forces withdraw? It’s the Russian-backed separatist forces who’ve seized out territory. They should withdraw. We support the Armed Forces and Ukraine.”

Ukrainian police units will remain in the area, although the weapons pullback is underway. Hromadske’s Anastasia Stanko said.

“Night time shelling has been registered in Stanitsa Luhanska. There have even been talks of grenade launchers being fired and even two 82 mm caliber shells landing in government-controlled territory. But the monitoring OSCE mission has just arrived and they’re examining the area with the help of our troops.”

A Ukrainian policing unit commander confirms the ceasefire violations committed by the opposing units. "This is when the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission is not patrolling the area", Dmytro Voytesh, commander of the Luhansk-1 government police unit said.

“Most of the selling is done during the night, from the side which is under the control of the so-called 'LPR' (Luhansk People's Republic). We will remain here as part of a policing mission. Our unit Luhansk 1 has not been ordered to withdraw, even from the grey zone,” said Mr. Voytesh added.