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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russia Proposes OSCE Monitors at Border Crossings
Lugansk 'Practically Completely Surrounded' By Ukrainian Forces
The fighting in and around Lugansk is intensifying as Ukraine's military closes in on the separatist headquarters.

As we reported earlier, a series of villages around the town have been partially or completely recaptured by the Ukrainian military in the last 24 hours.

Earlier there were reports that a separatist leader,  Aleksandr Mozhayev, AKA "Babay," deserted, but that claim is now disputed. According to a report, partially translated by The Interpreter, representatives of Ukraine's armed forces say that a separatist convoy has actually left Lugansk and is headed toward the Russian border:

Representatives of Ukrainian armed forces announced that supposedly some of the militia have left Lugansk and together with armored vehicles have headed toward the Russian border. No confirmation of this information has come from the LPR itself, therefore there is a likelihood that the [Ukrainian] army is continuing its information warfare and planting rumors.

In fact, the militia gave a reason themselves for this. It is reliably known and confirmed by DPR militia commander Igor Strelkov that Aleksandr Mozhayev, known by the nickname "Babay," has quit the ranks of defenders of Novorossiya. Mozhayev himself has already written an appeal on the Internet in which he has announced a new recruitment to the first Cossack regiment.

This report is unconfirmed.Ukrainian authorities also reported separatists fleeing Lugansk, some in civilian clothes and vehicles.

What we do know however is that overnight fighting in Lugansk has been intense. Here is a video which reportedly shows some of the fighting though we have not confirmed its authenticity nor the location that it was taken.

This video reportedly shows destroyed Ukrainian armor, the result of an ambush by rebel forces outside of Lugansk near Lutuhyne, south of the village of Roskoshnoye which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces in the last 24 hours (map). The vehicles were reportedly ambushed during a raid launched by Ukrainian forces to open up the road to Lugansk airport just to the east. It seems that even as Ukraine advances the separatists have plenty of heavy weapons capable of doling out destruction and slowing down the Ukrainian ATO:

The Ukraine at War blog and Storyful's Rachael Kennedy estimate that this is the exact location of the convoy.

We believe that's a separatist fighter at the end of the video, indicating that the Ukrainian military's incursion was not successful, however there are reports that the airport has been recaptured so it's unclear what happened right after this ambush.

The narrator says that a "truck with mortars which exploded" was hit by an "ambush with RPGs." At one point what is described as an unexploded mortar is shown. He also says that there were bodies but that they had been pulled to the side and he did not record them so his video would not be removed by Youtube.

The Ukraine at War blog reports that this video shows fires burning at the Lugansk airport last night. We have not verified these claims, however. As we reported earlier, Ukrainian forces say that the separatists attacked the airport with GRAD rockets. The fires in a successive straight line could be consistent with that report.