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 32,500 militants currently deployed in Donbas, - Staff

Anti-terrorist operation (ATO) Staff press center Head Colonel Roman Drapak held a press conference in Kramatorsk today, May 23, regarding developments in the Donbas since early May.

Censor.NET reports citing the ATO Staff press center.

Drapak said: "The illegal armed groups had carried out more than 350 attacks on the ATO forces, of which about 70 attacks were committed with weapons banned by the Minsk agreements, including large-caliber cannon artillery, 120-mm mortars, and a tank during the period between May 1 and May 22, which is actually covered by the latest agreements on cease-fire in the ATO zone."

According to him, the recent enemy shelling of the ATO forces' positions and peaceful neighborhoods in Avdiivka on the night of Sunday was a flagrant violation of all cease-fire agreements by the militants and complete refusal to settle the conflict by peaceful means.

"Let me remind you that the illegal armed groups committed two artillery strikes on the industrial zone and suburbs of Avdiivka on the night of May 21 using 122-mm artillery. Over three hundred rounds fired by the militants impacted this area that night. One soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was killed and one was wounded as a result of this shell attack. An elderly woman received injuries and several residential houses were demolished," the officer stressed.

See more: "Hottest spot in ATO area: gunfire nonstop, grenades keep arriving, snipers more active," - General Staff published fresh pictures from Avdiivka. PHOTOS

Colonel Roman Drapak also reported on the recent surge in the enemy air reconnaissance: "The enemy drones were spotted 35 times between May 1 and May 21. Unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) were employed against our detachments four times over this period."

In the course of the press conference, Spokesperson for the ATO Staff Major Anton Myronovych dispelled certain rumors recently spread in the social networks that the ATO troops were allegedly strictly prohibited to use weapons under any circumstances.

"The stance of the ATO generalship remains unchanged. We strictly adhere to the Minsk agreements and other agreements on de-escalation of the conflict in Donbas. All heavy weapons with caliber exceeding 100 mm were withdrawn to a certain distance from the demarcation line!" the officer stressed.

Watch more: "Five hours nonstop. 240 volleys. Russian cadets came to take artillery exams at night," - Ukrainian fighters in Stara Avdiivka. VIDEO

"We open fire first under no circumstances. We do not conduct any offensive operations. However, the Ukrainian soldiers have been increasingly forced to open fire in response to the armed aggression of the enemy lately. The fire is opened only in case of the imminent threat to life and health of Ukrainian soldiers, civilians, or threat of destruction of urban and industrial infrastructure of the region," he said.

During the press conference, the journalists were informed that the strength of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps of the so-called "DPR" and "LPR" was assessed at about 32,500. These groups may be equipped with more than 450 tanks, about 830 armored vehicles, 550 pieces of artillery, 200 multiple launch rocket systems, more than 410 units of air defense systems.

According to Ukrainian intelligence agencies, the Russian Federation Armed Forces' groupings along the border and in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine amount to 16 battalion and eight company combat teams, which are 34,600 men strong (including the Russian Federation Armed Forces' grouping deployed in Crimea).

Read more: Russia supplies state-of-the-art weapons to militants in Donbas, - Skibitskyi

Reference: this groupings include four Tochka missile complexes; up to 257 tanks; 1102 armored fighting vehicles (APC, IFV); 285 pieces of artillery; 151 units of MLRS; 461 warplanes; 303 helicopters; 30 warships; four submarines (excluding Zaporizhia submarine).

Of these, a 6,510 men strong grouping, consisting of nine battalion and six company combat teams, is deployed in the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The ATO Staff press center representatives also reported that the Armed Forces of Ukraine EOD teams disposed of 1,376 pieces of explosive ordnance (112 911 pieces from the beginning of the ATO), cleared of mines 10.5 km of roads (607 km of roads and 17 km of railway track since the beginning of the ATO) between May 1 and May 21. The area of 49.89 hectares (2,425.88 hectares and 105 facilities from the beginning of ATO) have also been checked.Источник: https://en.censor.net.ua/n389867