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12 Nov, 2014 16:30

Kiev’s army should gear up for winter warfare – Ukraine Defense Ministry

Kiev’s army should gear up for winter warfare – Ukraine Defense Ministry

Ukrainian troops are preparing for a winter campaign against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, stocking up supplies, re-locating units and placing orders for more weapons and battle vehicles, reports the defense minister.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Stepan Poltorak reported that intelligence is registering a build-up of self-defense forces on the territories controlled by separatists.

“We’re closely following their movements and we know their dispositions. Certainly, we expect unpredictable actions on their part,” Poltorak told other ministers.

READ MORE: Ukraine civilians attacked with incendiary weapons – HRW

In this regard the minister believes the main task is preparing for conduct of operations in wintertime, which is already effectively underway, the Poltorak said. Reserves are being readied and two defense lines in the zone of special operation are under construction right away.

“We’re conducting relocation of the armed forces and we’re ready to react to unpredictable actions of the armed forces on the territories beyond our control in accordance with our capabilities,” he declared.

In turn, the authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said that they plan to observe the Minsk memorandum, which includes a ceasefire agreement.

“We signed the memorandum, which we are observing, whether we like it or not. And we will continue observing it, until it threatens the republic’s safety,” said the militia’s deputy head, Commander Eduard Basurin, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

The situation in the active operations zone remains under Kiev’s control, Poltorak assured, and Ukrainian troops are ready to react to sudden change of operational environment. Over the last week the ministry has signed 1 billion hryvnas (approximately $65 million) worth of military contracts to supply the regular army with weapons and military hardware.

The funds for repair of military hardware are being allocated in a timely manner and the defense industry is supplying the army with the needful for winter period as planned, Poltorak stressed.

House, which was damaged by shelling in the village of Spartak, on the outskirts of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

Following Poltorak’s speech, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk ordered the Finance Ministry to empower the Defense Ministry with up to 90 days’ advance payment to provide troops with maximum supplies by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army is actively shelling Donetsk, with explosions being heard throughout the city, according to the rebels. The self-defense forces have to constantly relocate units to avoid casualties.

READ MORE: 2 teens killed, 4 injured in shelling nr Donetsk school, E. Ukraine

The chairman of the Supreme Council of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic has told Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily that Ukrainian artillery is stationed in living quarters in the Donetsk suburb of Avdeevka, so republican forces cannot blast the enemy guns into silence.

The Donetsk militia is conducting a ground operation in Avdeevka in an attempt to force Ukrainian troops and artillery to retreat from that settlement, which has become the scene of furious fighting over the last several days.

The ongoing shelling and clashes around Donetsk raises serious concerns for the peace agreements reached between the Kiev authorities and the self-proclaimed republics in September in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

Since the beginning of the so-called ‘anti-terrorist’ operation by the Kiev authorities in the rebellious southeastern parts of Ukraine, the number of victims on both sides has exceeded 4,000 people, with over 9,300 others wounded.