Today, at around 12:30 (Kyiv time), the city of Kramatorsk was shelled with the newest Russian 9A52-4 ‘Tornado’ multiple launch rocket system (MLRS).
The Russian forces and their proxies wanted to hit the Ukrainian counter-terrorist operation headquarters based in Kramatorsk, First strike hit the military airfield on the outskirts of Kramatorsk, the second one hit the city itself, causing severe damages and at least 5 civilians were killed and 16 wounded. From the Ukrainian Armed Forces – 2 soldiers died and 10 wounded.
Today’s shelling of Kramatorks was preceded by yesterday’s capture of a tiny village Lohvynove, situated on the road M03, by the Russian troops. According to the Conflict Report, the ‘Debaltseve pocket’ is closing, leaving hundreds of Ukrainians troops encircled by the Russians. Meanwhile the ‘Azov’ regiment of the National Guard of Ukraine declared it shot down Russian Su-25 jet.
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine reported, that its Secretary, Oleksandr Turchynov, is currently near Mariupol, coordinating the efforts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the National Guard. It is also reported, that the Ukrainian troops broke through the the enemy defenses and launched a counter-attack, liberating the village of Pavlopil on the North-East of Mariupol, as well as other villages and towns.
Under such circumstances, the ‘Minsk talks’ seem to be obviously worthless. Joint French-German position seems to be unacceptable both for Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine is not interested in having a frozen conflict and imposed federalization of Bosnian style, taking into account that the decisive majority of Ukrainians rejects the idea of federalization and support only united and unitary Ukraine. While Russia needs Ukraine as a non-NATO and non-EU puppet state, nothing less.
The Russians are not ready to stop, which means the US should, urgently, stand up for Ukraine and finally deliver the defensive armaments to Ukraine. Other NATO members should follow. It is not late to stop Russia yet, only higher human/equipment cost (death of Russian soldiers) can stop Kremlin.
[Update: According to the new information provided by the Counter-terrorist operation press-center, the city of Kramatorsk as well as the airfield was shelled with 300 mm 9A52-2 ‘Smerch-M’ MLRS, using cluster munition. However, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine stated, the the shells came from South and South-Eastern direction (Ukrainian territory controlled by Russia and its proxies), and that such shells were fired from 9A52-2 ‘Smersh’ or 9A52-4 ‘Tornado’ MLRS. Since both systems can use 300 mm shells, therefore it is difficult to determine the exact system, which bombed the city.]
[Edit: 9A52-4 ‘Tornado’ MLRS is newest Russian system, which was unveiled in 2007. Since 2014 this system is in service of the Russian Armed Forces.]