Russian proxies shell Luhansk in a false flag operation
Moscow-controlled proxy forces in the village of Lobacheve shelled the non-government-controlled city of Luhansk on the evening of Feb. 20, the Ukrainian military said in a Facebook post the same day.
"Tonight, at around 2100, Russian occupation forces engaged in another provocation, seeking to place the blame on Ukrainian troops,” the post said.
“The aggressors opened heavy artillery fire from around Lobacheve, aiming at the city of Luhansk.”
Recent reports indicate that Russian-backed forces are engaging in self-sabotage of critical infrastructure and sporadic shelling of residential areas in the Russian-controlled parts of the Donbas, as the Ukrainian military has strict orders not to engage unless a situation presents a direct threat to life.
“The enemy is clearly continuing to use its propaganda techniques to wage information warfare to escalate tensions and accuse Ukraine’s Armed Forces (of firing on Ukrainian citizens),” the Ukrainian military’s message said.
“The occupying forces have thus revealed their total and cynical disregard for the lives of civilians, once again.”
The message said the leadership of the Joint Forces Operation was committed to observing the ceasefire-related provisions of the Minsk Agreement, as well as to international humanitarian law.
“Claims that Ukraine’s Armed Forces shelling population centers are nothing but naked lies and provocations, for which the occupying country is squarely responsible,” the Ukrainian military said..
Russian propaganda has markedly intensified in the recent days, focusing on claims about Ukraine shelling non-government-controlled areas of Donbas and even parts of Russia’s Rostov region, while presenting little evidence. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry warms that Moscow could try and use these provocations as a pretext for another invasion of Ukraine.
Russian proxies have similarly ramped up the frequency of shelling Ukrainian army positions. According to Joint Forces Operation’s data, before the recent flare-up in shelling there were between two to five daily incidents this year. In contrast, on Feb. 17 enemy forces fired upon Ukrainian troops 60 times. On Feb. 19, Moscow-controlled forces opened fire on Ukraine’s Armed Forces 136 times, killing two Ukrainian soldiers.
Kyiv denies any plans to reclaim Donbas territories by force, stressing Ukraine’s commitment to exclusively diplomatic solutions to the conflict.
Russia has been building up military presence along Ukrainian borders since the end of October 2021. The U.S. ambassador to the OSCE, Michael Carpenter, said on Feb. 21 that Russia has arrayed between 169,000 and 190,000 troops on the Russian-Ukrainian and Belarusian-Ukrainian border, and in the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and the Donbas.
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