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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Liveblog Day 164
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Separatist Leaders Fear Blame for Possible Chemical Plant Mishap; Ukrainian Defense Minister Says Rebels Mined
8 years
Russian Armor Documented Only 2000 Meters From Ukraine

Col. Igor Strelkov, commander of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) militia, and Vladimir Antyufeyev, recently installed in Donetsk as "Acting Commander-in-Chief" held a 9-minute press conference today for an "emergency announcement," Pravda TV and other pro-separatist media reported.

Their purpose was to deny any direct connection to Moscow, deny their involvement in the downing of MH17, and also to warn that Ukrainian forces may stage an accident at a chemical plant near an area of armed conflict now, and pin it on the separatists.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey warned that separatists had already mined the Gorlovka (Horlivka) plant and he feared an accident "on a continental scale," Information Resistance and Euromaidan reported.

Antyufeyev called Strelkov "the Minister of Defense," so he retains that title but his own title was not confirmed.

He outlined four main points. The Interpreter has provided a translation:

"1. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has never called me. And I have never met with him.
2. Neither I, nor my comrades-at-arms are officers of the FSB [Federal Security Service].
3. The Boeing [MH17] was not shot down by representatives of the Donetsk People's Republic or Russia.
4. Neither I or Igor Ivanovich [Strelkov] know anyone from the administration of the Russian Federation and have never met them."

"We are counting precisely on help from Russia. And it is being provided, significantly, politically," he explained, without elaborating whether Russia is supplying military assistance or personnel.

Antyufeyev did not mention the GRU [Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Defense Ministry] -- and it is the GRU where Strelkov was believed to work. He says that the DPR's own military intelligence has informed him that the Ukrainian intelligence is "preparing a major provocation" whose purpose is to declare the DPR a terrorist organization, to label us terrorists destroying the civilian population."

Then Strelkov proceeded to spend the rest of the press conference complaining that the Ukrainians are pinning atrocities on them, and blamed the Ukrainian forces for killing civilians and even using chemical weapons. No evidence was supplied, although he claimed to have made "expert technical assessments."

Strelkov said that Tochka-U tactical ballistic missiles are being prepared for launch by the Ukrainian army, and that Kiev "will claim that militia are preparing terrorist acts, using chemicals at the ammonia plant in Gorlovka."

The Stirol plant in Gorlovka, part of OSTCHEM holding AG, was already the site of a deadly leak a year ago where six people were killed.

Now, says Strelkov, Ukrainian forces may engineer an accident that they will blame on the separatists -- which is why they wanted to make a statement today reiterating "that we will never commit any terrorism." If a major accident occurred, "tens of thousands" of people could die, said Strelkov.

The separatist leaders quickly exited the press conference without taking any questions, and referred reporters "to the Ukrainians."

We have no confirmation of any of these allegations.