Indeed, yesterday's shelling of Novoluhansk village with Grad mortar systems is an apogee of a long-standing trend of recent weeks, when mortar shells have stabilly been falling upon towns and villages along the line of the battle clash. On Dec.11, the outskirts of Avdiivka were fired with BM-21, on Dec.13 the terrorists shelled Vrubyivka, a village near Popasna with 152mm caliber shells, and now a salvo of 40 striked Novoluhanske. In last years the society's pain threshold has fallen to such point, that only a large bombardment of the civilian population with dozens of burning homes, kindergarten, playground and wounded can be mentioned in top media.

I dare doubt that Olha Kochura* - the unstable commander of the MLRS Division, who specializing on such bastard "actions" and who is most probably is behind this bombardment - did this on her own initiative. Mortar shellings of Ukraine-controlled settlements, deliberate aggravation of the situation on the Svitlodar Arc district - this is the background they need to initiate  withdrawal of Russian officers from the SCCC** and to blackmail the Ukrainian group on negotiations on the POWs exchange issue. And all this to force us to negotiate in Soledar directly with terrorists ORDLO (Separate Regions of the Dontesk and Luhanks Oblasts) - the DNR/LNR marionette-chairmen Zakharchenko and Pasichnik without the mediation of the Russian "attache." Yestreday, Andry Marochko - one of the "LNR" speakers - said that the Luhansk terrorists are planning to create their own representation group (!!!) in the SCCC, as soon as the Russian officers entered the occupied territories through the Majorsk checkpoint. From the legal point of view, this is a heresy, because according to the Minsk protocols, the SCCC group consists of Ukrainian and Russian officers, the participation of terrorists there is simply not foreseen first of all because they are not a subject of the process and the conflict at all, but a party, guided by the Russian Army's command.

* Olga Kaohura, callsign "Kosa" - born in 1970, a former employee of Ukrainian police, who has joined the Russian side shorty after the invasion. Her "career" in the Donbass terrorist groups she started as an artillery gunner. Now she has grown to the rank of a MLRS division commander. Her "trick" is shelling civic settlements near which Ukraine's military camps are located, in the period of Chriatian holidays. 

** The Joint Monitoring and Coordination Center for Ceasefire Securing and Stabilization of the Parties Distinction Line (SCCC) is a Monitoring Group for supervising compliance with the Minsk Protocol, which includes representatives of the Ukrainian and Russian sides. The Center began operating on September 26, 2014 in the city of Soledar, Donetsk region. Since April 2015, Ukrainian and Russian parties have started to conduct separate logs of violations of the cease-fire regime.

In parallel, the terrorists are trying to disrupt the long-awaited exchange of POWs, where about 300 captured terrorists are planned to be exchanged for 70 Ukrainian soldiers. The exchange is officially "blessed" by Putin, but the terrorists have constantly change the POWs exchange list and understate the number of captured Ukrainian soldiers they are planning to dismiss. In fact, they have been trying to disrupt the negotiations process and openly blackmail the Ukrainian side. The next round of negotiations will take place tomorrow - and this is after a demarche of the Russian officers from the SCCC (as an official pretext to exit from the monitoring group the Russian party named more than a ridiculous reason: they claimed they had constantly been suppressed by Ukrainian officers, and what's more - that Ukraine obligated them to enter the country only via biometric documents since 2018). Thus, the OSCE hints that the security of their patrols is in even greater danger now, but this is no longer a competence of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. 

Quite obvoius, that the Kremlin is going to withdrawal Russian representatives from all official structures and impose to Ukraine the DNR/LNR terrorists as full participants in both global and local negotiations - like to make a banal greement on the cessation of shelling on a particular district of the collision line at the time of repairs of a transmission lines, as it was in May, or so on. And this looks even more foul, because for the legalization its puppet terrorists the Kremlin is blackmailing the Ukrainian side by the POWs exchange issue. The situation will develop very "interesting" in the following days.

by Roman KULICK