Escalation of Ceasefire Violations at the Donetsk Filtration Station

Explosions near critical infrastructure and the potential for a humanitarian emergency

Escalation of Ceasefire Violations at the Donetsk Filtration Station

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Explosions near critical infrastructure and the potential for a humanitarian emergency

(Source: Twitter / @SpecRepUkraine, © 2017 DigitalGlobe)

Fighting has again surged around the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS), where military positions of Ukrainian and Russian-led separatist military positions closely surround the critical water treatment plant. @DFRLab has extensively reported on the tenuous situation surrounding this piece of critical infrastructure, which has the potential to cause a humanitarian emergency by cutting the water supply and heating to some 350,000 civilians nearby and up to 1.1 million across eastern Ukraine.

Recent satellite imagery published on Twitter by Kurt Volker, the United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, highlighted how military positions are in particularly close proximity to the DFS.

The DFS (yellow box) and nearby military positions/trenching (red circles) (Source: Twitter / @SpecRepUkraine, © 2017 DigitalGlobe)

In a press statement, the U.S. Department of State emphasized the potential for a humanitarian crisis if the DFS — and the poisonous chlorine gas stores at the facility — are hit. DFS employees are currently trapped in the facility’s bomb shelter.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission (OSCE SMM) to Ukraine recorded a substantial escalation of kinetic activity with approximately 100 explosions and over 300 projectiles from December 17-18 and over forty 40 explosions and 500 projectiles from December 18-19.

As @DFRLab reported last month, satellite imagery from 2016 showed extensive military positions and trenching around the DFS.

Reference map to imagery from a previous @DFRLab report with corresponding colors of UAF and “DNR” trenches and military positions, using Google Earth imagery from August 5, 2016. Orange boxes indicate likely UAF positions, green/blue/yellow boxes indicate likely “DNR” positions, while there are possible close opposing UAF-”DNR” positions in the magenta box. (Source: Google Earth)

The more recent imagery released on Twitter by Volker shows one new position just 500m south of the DFS.

The DFS (magenta) and nearby trenching (orange box, highlighted in yellow) on November 28, 2017 (Source: © 2017 DigitalGlobe)


The escalation of fighting near the DFS, as well in the Svitlodarsk bulge area, is of particular concern given timing with Russia and Ukraine’s recent withdrawal from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), a coordinating body run jointly between Russia and Ukraine to implement ceasefire and security conditions.

@DFRLab will continue to monitor the situation concerning the tenuous environment around this piece of critical infrastructure during the harsh Ukrainian winter.

Follow the latest Minsk II violations via the @DFRLab’s #MinskMonitor.

Also, follow @DFRLab on Twitter for more in-depth analysis from our #DigitalSherlocks.