Within the past few days, Russian-backed separatist forces have mounted 10 attacks on Ukrainian Army (UA) positions in the Donbass region of Ukraine. On February 18, 2019, Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation released a press statement on their Facebook page announcing that one Ukrainian service member had been wounded in the recent fighting.
They also announced that their intelligence services had verified that UA forces had killed one member of the Russian hybrid force—also known as the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR)—and injured five others. The recent clashes occurred in the following villages: Lebedynske, Pisky, Vodiane, Pavlopil, Katerynivka, Troyitske, Novoluhanske, and Stanytsia Luhanska.
Local media reported that Russian hybrid forces opened fire on a UA position with a multitude of small arms and light artillery. They also used infantry fighting vehicles in their attacks. UA forces have reported that the DNR opened fire with 120mm mortars. This type of artillery was explicitly restricted by the Minsk 2 agreement. The Ukrainian forces responded to the attacks with small-arms fire only, honoring the Minsk agreement as Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) members were in the area to monitor the situation.
In one specific incident that took place during the fighting, Russian hybrid forces assaulted a Ukrainian observation group belonging to the Joint Control and Coordination Center (JCCC) close to the village of Travneve. Accounts from troops in the village reported how the observation group came under attack by Russian hybrid forces using a tripod-mounted man-portable antitank rifle. This weapon was designed to inflict damage on vehicles, but during this conflict, the weapon is regularly used to kill or injure personnel on both sides.