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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 681
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukrainian Military Claims DNR Leader Zakharchenko Visited Kominternovo
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Anton Mironovich, a Ukrainian military press officer, claims that Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), has visited the village of Kominternovo and vowed to "liberate" more of southeastern Ukraine.

Speaking to the 112 television channel this morning, Mironovich said that Zakharchenko had yesterday visited the village, which was seized by Russian-backed fighters on December 22.

Mironovich said that, according to reports obtained by the Ukrainian military, Zakharchenko had said that his fighters "would continue to liberate their territory."

Such statements are nothing new from Zakharchenko, but if Mironovich is correctly informed, then their utterance in the first new territory seized by Russian-backed fighters for many months is worrying.

We note that no mention of Zakharchenko's visit can be found on official or semi-official DNR websites.

The OSCE reported yesterday that while their Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) had not seen any Russian-backed fighters in Kominternovo, bar their DNR escorts, they had seen fresh track marks, indicating the recent presence of armoured vehicles. Furthermore the SMM team was only allowed access to one street in the village when they visited on December 28.

The SMM revisited Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) to follow up on reports about the presence of armed “DPR” members in the village. In Kominternove, the SMM did not observe any armed persons or weaponry, with the exception of the escorting armed “DPR” members*, while the SMM saw multiple fresh caterpillar traces of tracked military vehicles on the main street. The escorting “DPR” members did not allow the SMM to go beyond the main street of the village, citing security reasons*. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at the south-western entrance of the village, the SMM spoke with three civilians coming from Kominternove, who stated that “DPR” members were still in the village and were occupying some abandoned houses. 

This would correspond with claims made by Andriy Biletsky, MP and commander of the Azov Regiment, that 12-15 armoured vehicles, in addition to construction equipment, had moved into the village as soldiers without insignia took over.

-- Pierre Vaux