11:18 GMT +323 March 2017
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    Arseny Pavlov, also known by his nickname 'Motorola', stands inside a destroyed airport building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, on February 26, 2015

    Murder of Donetsk Militia Commander Threatens to Reignite Ukraine's Civil War

    © AFP 2017/ VASILY MAXIMOV
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    On Sunday night, Donetsk People's Republic militia commander Arseny Pavlov, aka Motorola, was killed in an explosion of an elevator in a Donetsk high-rise. DPR leader Alexander Zakharchenko called the attack a declaration of war by Kiev. Analysts warn that the brazen attack could lead to a resumption of hostilities.

    According to local media, Pavlov, the commander of the Sparta Battalion special forces unit, was killed after a remotely-detonated improvised explosive device blew up in an elevator shaft in the apartment building where he and his family lived. DPR authorities suspect Ukrainian saboteurs to be behind the attack.

    Pavlov was threatened directly by President Petro Poroshenko just last month. In early September, in a ceremony dedicated to Ukrainian servicemen killed in eastern Ukraine, including Igor Branovitsky, who died in 2014 amid brutal fighting for Donetsk Airport, Poroshenko claimed that Pavlov had murdered the soldier in cold blood in captivity, and vowed that the DPR commander would "answer for the death of a Ukrainian hero."

    There have been multiple attempts on Pavlov's life over the course of the two-and-a-half year civil war in eastern Ukraine, which began in April 2014 after Kiev moved troops to the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk to put down uprisings against new authorities in Kiev. The commander had survived two assassination attempts in just the last five months, and was twice wounded in fighting with Ukrainian forces in battles in 2014 and 2015. In other words, Pavlov had a price on his head long before Poroshenko decided to try to implicate him in the deaths of Ukrainian POWs.

    Pavlov was born in 1983 in Ukhta, northern Russia. He served two tours in the Russian anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya, where he got his nickname 'Motorola' for his work as a signals operator. Before arriving in Ukraine, he lived in neighboring Rostov-on-Don. In 2014, observing the coup d'état in Kiev, and hearing the threats made by nationalists against Ukraine's Russian minority, Pavlov came to eastern Ukraine, eventually joining the self-proclaimed Donetsk republic's militia. He and his unit were given numerous medals for the defense of DPR territory against Ukrainian forces. Pavlov held the title 'Hero of the DPR'.

    Assassination Threatens to Destroy Shaky Peace

    Given the deterioration of the security situation in eastern Ukraine in recent months, with recriminations on both sides about non-compliance with the Minsk agreements, experts are concerned that Pavlov's murder could result in a full-scale resumption in hostilities.

    On Sunday night, shortly after finding out about the commander's death, DPR leader Alexander Zakharchenko stated bluntly that as he understood it, "Petro Poroshenko violated the ceasefire and declared war on us."

    Ukraine expert and Vzglyad news site contributor Evgeny Krutikov warned that Pavlov's death may indicate that Kiev is now consciously planning to reignite the frozen conflict.

    "The killing of charismatic leaders before the start of hostilities is a familiar story," the journalist lamented. "Fighting near Mariupol and the recent bombardment of the suburbs of Donetsk…in spite of the ceasefire, are more than enough proof that something big is being planned."

    In any case, Kurtikov suggested that in light of Kiev's blunt refusal to abide by the provisions laid out in the Minsk accords, few hopes remain of a real and lasting peace emerging. In fact, "things can become a lot worse, and this is already happening." 

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attends a ceremony to hand over weapons and military vehicles to servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces in Chuhuiv outside Kharkiv, Ukraine, October 15, 2016
    © REUTERS/ Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service
    On Saturday, Poroshenko told servicemen in Kharkiv that Kiev would not move forward with the peace process until it retakes control over the border between the Donbass and Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the Ukrainian leader's position, calling Kiev's hesitation little more than "a pretext not to fulfill the political part [of the Minsk deal]," which includes decentralization and special status for the Donbass.

    Oleg Tsarev, parliamentary speaker of the Unity Parliament of the self-proclaimed Federation of the Donetsk and Lugansk, speculated that Pavlov was purposely killed, because "Ukrainian army attacks and terror always happens on the eve of international meetings which might influence the situation in Ukraine." 

    Commenting on the commander's death, Svobodnaya Pressa contributor Anna Golgareva, reporting from on the ground in Donetsk, noted that the security situation has already suffered a serious deterioration in recent days. This weekend alone, DPR reconnaissance spotted heavy military equipment being brought into Lugansk Village, and detained an unidentified man for illegally attempting to enter DPR territory. Northern and western areas of the city of Donetsk, the airport, and the villages of Yasinovataya, Gorlovka and Zaitsev were subjected to shelling by over 500 rounds of artillery and other weapons fire; one DPR serviceman was killed. 

    In the neighboring Lugansk People's Republic, Militia Chief of Staff Oleg Anaschenko reported Sunday that LPR intelligence had spotted several hundred mercenaries from countries including the US, Canada, the Baltics and Poland arriving near the contact line.

    Ultimately, it will become clear soon enough whether Kiev's provocation is part of any coordinated effort to resume the fighting in eastern Ukraine, and what its purpose might be. Experts say there is little hope of Ukraine's demoralized military achieving a crushing defeat over Donbass militia, even with NATO training and the help of mercenaries. Accordingly, some DPR and LPR officials believe that Kiev's efforts to destabilize the situation are part of an effort to distract from mounting domestic problems, including a collapsing economy and growing social tensions.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    escalation, terrorist attack, explosion, murder, civil war, tensions, Minsk protocol, DPR Armed Forces, Lugansk People's Republic, Donetsk People’s Republic, Ukrainian Armed Forces, Arseny Pavlov, Petro Poroshenko, Lugansk Region, Ukraine, Donetsk Region
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    • avatar
      Michel van Dijk
      OMG. RIP Hero.
    • FeEisi
    • avatar
      ivanwa88
      You make it sound like Kiev has the upper hand? I would say that the reality on the ground is far from Kiev fingertips let alone a upper hand. Deal the cards and lets see who's holding the Ace.
    • avatar
      copius
      What are you waiting for?
      Petro Poroshenko's assassination is the next step.
    • avatar
      anne00marie

      I seriously do not understand Sputnik and where it purchases it's stories from.

      No mention of the NATO Helicopter, shot down in Eastern Ukraine, a few days ago. What was it doing in non-NATO Ukraine?

      No mention, that Poroshenko has not implemented 1 task from the Minsk II Agreement.

      No mention of the US happily agreeing to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine?

      However, they do mention, that after the assassination of a DPR Commander, that it would be awful if the DPR and LPR walked away from Minsk II Agreement?

      I used to enjoy this site, but it is just like reading the western MSM, when reading any of the articles.

    • avatar
      karlof1
      The Kiev Junta is just a Nazified version of Daesh, both being created and operated by the Outlaw US Empire. Judgment Day for it will arrive soon enough, and the artificial state of Ukraine will be carved up and cease to exist.

      Motorola was an Outstanding Patriot and will be sorely missed!
    • NATOisEVIL
      "experts are concerned that Pavlov's murder could result in a full-scale resumption in hostilities".

      I guess that's exactly what the wannabe Nazi thugs wants.
      If someone from DPR shoot first, the western main stream media and Washington will cry of joy, and blame Putin for invading Ukraine. Then they can get some attention away from Hitlarys crimes.
    • avatar
      maxxus
      What was he thinking, living in a high rise? It's always the pinch points where attacks are targeted.
    • iketaon
      RiP Motorola. We'll never forget You.
      Ukraine & USA go to hell!
    • Gentle Eaglein reply toanne00marie(Show commentHide comment)
      anne00marie, there's so much to read here on Sputnik news, it's just not all clustered into one looong story by way of related news articles. Keep reading... I read all of the topics you just hit upon here in a trove of related news stories, and also not all the stories you read out there are rightly accurate considering where they're "purchased" from.
      The main difference here and say what you'd read on CNN.com is that the latter will go all lengths to completely brainwash you on the spot, while Sputnik news will give you breathing space to decipher the truth out for your self. Comparing the MSM news outlets to the Sputnik news is akin to comparing a slithering snake(MSM) to a Lion(Sputnik).
      The Kiev junta obviously is evil indeed.
    • avatar
      corlemmersin reply toanne00marie(Show commentHide comment)
      anne00marie, I agree with you. Sputnik also forgot to mention the Russian contract soldiers who are killing Ukraine people on Ukraine territory.
    • Blackie
      The EU Nazis never give up. Germany is now Kaput from what they did, an yet much more is to come via Karma, because once the angry muslims get superior numbers the politzie will back down as in Sweeden.
      Soon Le Penne will do free visa free travel between Russia and France.
      Ukraine barbarian Nazi state will not be welcome. In fact through Karma they will be judged.
      Anne Marie describes it so well...
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