Just a few days prior, the Donetsk News Agency, citing a report from the DPR Office at the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination, reported:
In the period from September 2 to September 8, 86 ceasefire violations by Ukrainian armed formations were recorded. Overall, 918 rounds of ammunition were fired (8.5 tons or 99 boxes)"
[T]he enemy fired at the DPR 40 152mm artillery rounds and more than 260 120mm and 82mm mortar rounds. Two civilians were wounded and 23 houses and infrastructure facilities were damaged in the shelling."
I was met in Gorlovka by Dmitry Astrakhan, a press officer in the DPR People's Militia, who is fluent in English. He tells me we will go to a former mining area just northwest of the city, a village known as Mine 6-7, and also to Zaitsevo, a front-line village north of Gorlovka that has been hard hit by Ukrainian shelling.
As we drive, he advises me:
When you hear the whistle of a mortar, drop down immediately - to avoid the spray of shrapnel. Also, don't go off the road: most areas haven't been checked for unexploded ordnance.
Ukraine uses drones to drop explosive devices: it's impossible to tell which drones are carrying out reconnaissance and which are armed with bombs. If someone yells 'air attack,' you need to run to find a shelter with a roof. When you hear the 'outgoing' call from the spotter, you have 10 to 15 seconds to run to a shelter."
He explained the range of some of the heavy artillery Ukraine uses:
The 152 mm has a 25 km range. The Uragan multi-rocket launcher has a 30-40 km range. The Tochka heavy rocket/missile has a 100 km range. They stopped using the heavy artillery 152 mm for a while, but a week ago they destroyed many houses in three villages in the south of the DPR. They were 12 km from the front-line. It was around 5 a.m.; there were some people injured but no one killed. But a lot of houses destroyed."
I asked Dmitry how he got involved with the DPR Press Office, as he had told me he wasn't a journalist prior to the war.
I had a normal job and life. I wasn't very political. In the beginning, people were mainly just struggling for our rights: the right to speak our language, Russian; the right to have education in our language, to keep the memory of WW2 - because Ukraine started re-writing history. They now consider those Ukrainian nationalists who collaborated with German Nazis heroes, and the Red Army occupiers. We can't accept this.
I never believed there would be a war, I didn't believe the Western world would allow this. I thought it would just be some protests, some compromises, but not war. I thought people were being paranoid at first, thinking we would be killed. But they were right, and when the war started, I knew there were things worth fighting for."
He spoke of how Ukraine hides its shelling from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers by doing most of it after hours (in the dark, when it is difficult to film) - later claiming that damage done to the DPR side was self-inflicted, or that Ukrainian forces were merely defending themselves, replying to DPR attacks:
The OSCE were attacked a week or so ago by a heavy anti-tank rocket launcher. Ukraine commits many war crimes, but manages to mask it. They are Nazis, but they mask this from the West. Few people understand in the West how close Ukraine is to becoming a full-on Nazi state.
They say that they are from Bandera Front, they are Ukrainian far-right nationalists. When a person from some Western country hears about Bandera, this person could not understand what Ukrainian authorities mean. But I do, I understand what they mean, I understand who Bandera was and what they really mean."
Stepan Bandera was a Ukrainian political figure, Nazi collaborator, and one of the leading ideologists/theorists of the Ukrainian nationalist movement of the 20th century. Dmitry continues:
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