Briefly about the most important today's events in our digest of events
that have happened in Ukraine today
Security Service of Ukraine presents a video clip with Russian soldiers in Donbas
Security Service of Ukraine has demonstrated yet another proof of Russian army's involvement in Donbas, the head of the SSU Criminal Investigation Department, Vasyl Vovk, announced.
He showed a video clip, which the SSU had received from fighters of the "Donbas" battalion. They captured a group of Russian conscripts in August last year while being surrounded in Ilovaysk.
The record features a conversation with four Russian soldiers providing information about their military units.
Rebels attacked the settlements of Shyrokine and Chermalyk overnight
The ATO Headquarters have reported about a decreasing number of provocative attacks on Ukrainian positions in Donbas.
Rebels fired at army positions with machine-guns 11 times in the period of time from 8.00 p.m. to 6 a.m. on the night of 17th to 18th March, the ATO press-centre reports.
In the Donetsk direction, Russian and terrorist armed groups struck Opytne four times, Avdiyivka twice and Pisky once in the past 24 hours.
In the Mariupol direction, the village of Shyrokine has been a flash point for several weeks in a row.
"The enemy placed fire on this settlement two times overnight committing machine-guns. Also, some rebels' armed provocations were recorded near the settlement of Chermalyk," the ATO Headquarters report.
OSCE: Heavy artillery used near the Donetsk airport
From 9:17 to 9:57hrs the SMM heard from its location in Donetsk city centre (“Donetsk People’s Republic” “DPR”-controlled) at least 16 incoming mortar rounds, estimated as 82mm and 122mm calibre. The SMM assessed that the impacts occurred approximately 10km north-west of its location, in the vicinity of the Donetsk airport (“DPR”-controlled, 10km north-west of Donetsk).
Whilst in the vicinity of the Donetsk airport* the SMM heard more than 100 explosions (incoming and outgoing) three to five kilometres north and west of its location. The SMM assessed that a variety of weapons were used, including heavy mortar, main battle tanks, artillery, canons mounted to armoured personnel carriers, and small arms and light weapons.
At 12:55hrs while stationary in the “DPR”-controlled Kuibyshevsky district of Donetsk city* (3km west of Donetsk city centre) the SMM heard five rounds of outgoing artillery fire (2 to 3km west of its location). The SMM could not determine the type of artillery weapon used or the direction of firing.
The SMM continued to observe the situation around Shyrokine (“DPR”-controlled,102km south of Donetsk, 20km east of Mariupol) from a location between Sopyne (99km south of Donetsk) and Lebedynske (83km south of Donetsk), both government-controlled. From 6:50 to 9:50hrs, the SMM heard sporadic small arms and heavy machine gun fire and 17 mortar (82mm and 120mm) rounds most of them estimated as originating from east of SMM’s location, from government-controlled territory. The SMM could not ascertain the target of the firing. At 11:07hrs, the SMM heard machine gun fire, which according to SMM’s estimation, originated one kilometre from its position. The SMM could not ascertain the source and target of the firing.
In Gorlivka* (“DPR”-controlled, 40km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed three main battle tanks (one T64, one T72, and one that SMM could not identify) stationary, facing west, on highway H21, 21km east of Donetsk between the “DPR”-controlled towns of Khartsyzk and Makiyivka.
The SMM met the mayor of Mariupol (government-controlled, 98km south of Donetsk) who mentioned the possibility of "terrorist acts taking place in Mariupol around 19 of March as one year will be complete over Crimea’s annexation by Russian Federation".
The Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north of Donetsk) recorded 71 allegations of ceasefire violation for the 24 hours to 08:00hrs on 16 March. None of these allegations involved multiple launch rocket systems or tubed artillery; more than half came from the area of the Donetsk airport.
Human rights activists: Crimean Tatars and pro-Ukrainian mass media
are persecuted in the Crimea
The Crimean occupying authority has violated rights of the Crimean Tatars, pro-Ukrainian mass media, and non-governmental organizations, an Amnesty International researcher, Kasymir Yankov, said at a meeting, as reported by "Ukrainian News”.
Additionally, the organization reported about bans on public protests and many independent organizations. For instance, the occupying authority does not recognise the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, and its members fall victim to harassment and criminal prosecution authorities.
Tymchuk: Russia reinforces the Donbas base for further escalation
Russia improves reserve bases in Donbas to be able to escalate the conflict, the head of the Information Resistance Group, Dmytro Tymchuk, posted in Facebook on March 18.
"Russia boosts the process of building up logistical support in the "PRL" and "PRD", necessary for continuing hostilities conducted from occupied Ukrainian territories; in fact, it creates a reserve base for further escalation of the conflict," Tymchuk said.
The field command of "Russian and terrorist forces" continues to regroup and mass their divisions in certain areas in order to form new tactical task forces and reinforce already formed ones.
One service member shot to death, and 5 others wounded in the ATO area
One soldier died and five others were wounded in the past 24 hours in the ATO area, a spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, Colonel Andriy Lysenko, reported at a briefing.
According to Lysenko, settlements located to the east of Mariupol remain flash points.
In addition, rebels keep trying to spread panic by announcing an alleged offensive.
He added that such statements are not true.