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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukraine Live Day 308

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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Newly-Available Photos of MH17 Shoot-Down, and Interview with Eyewitness by Olaf Koens of RTL Nieuws

The blogger@DajeyPetros from Ukraine@War has translated from the Dutch original the interview by Olaf  Koens we reported on earlier today:

Interview with Eyewitness Who Made Photo of Buk Trail

He also found a video of the first minutes of Koens' video published on

Dec 23, 2014 07:15 (GMT)
The Interpreter has a translation from the Russian, combined from part of the interview posted at, and part from

"When I photographed that white streak, I didn't attach any significance to all of that right away, for me it was, well, just a white streak, going from the horizon upwards there, and then it breaks up in the clouds. It was only a little bit later that it became clear what that was."

"At 16:20 that is, 20 minutes after 4:00 pm, we heard an explosion. At first there was one explosion, well, one that wasn't very strong, big. Then about 15 seconds or so later, there was a second explosion, such an explosion that oh, the windows rattled."

The man is giving the Kiev time, which is one hour earlier than Moscow time. (Col. Igor Strelkov's dispatch was at 17:50, Moscow time).

The article has an additional photo that has been made available by the photographer, which has been enhanced to make the plume of smoke stand out:


The photo is very similar to the photo circulated after the July 17 crash which was geolocated by Ukraine@War at the time:


@DajeyPetros Actually the comment "where farmer tried to put out fire" was about this image.
— NaNumber (@cmsNetherlands) December 23, 2014

In November, we analyzed a video that was found by Komsomolskaya Pravda and a longer video published by AP, and reviewed two other videos showing the plumes of smoke after the crash, and found that villagers mentioned that "a rockets was fired," and that "a guy had launched a rocket."

Did Those Who Took First Videos Of MH17 Wreckage Know The Plane Was Hit By Anti-Aircraft Missiles?

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Olaf Koens Interviews Photographer Who Says His Photographs Prove Buk Missile Shot Down MH17

RTL News correspondent Olaf Koens reports that he has possession of three unreleased photographs which prove that a missile came from separatist-controlled territory and shot down civilian airliner Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 on July 17, 2014.

Two of the pictures reportedly show a "vertical plume," the trail the missile made while going up into the sky, while the third reportedly shows a column of smoke rising from the crash site. Here is the RTL news statement (translation by Google):

Two pictures have been published previously. But the three pictures that  RTL News owned, are of a much higher resolution than previously unpublished photos and also contain other data, such as the time at which they were taken. This was the starting point for further research. To ensure the safety of the person who made the pictures not to endanger, RTL News will publish these photos...

The pictures have been geolocated to near site of the MH17 crash, in a field near Snezhnoye and Torez (here):


©NEO bv, Amersfoort, Image ©2014 DigitalGlobe, Inc., DEM ©2014 Airbus Defence and Space

Just as importantly, the photographer, who refuses to be named, has also been interviewed by RTL.

This new evidence matches exactly our own evidence review, which can be read here and the images appear similar to existing videos we have analyzed showing villagers talking about rockets fired by separatist militants in the area.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Over $300,000 Stolen From Odessa Bank Using Fake Gold Bars

Vesti-Ukraine reports that the Odessa branch of the Interior Ministry has announced the theft of more than 5 million hryvnia (over $300,000) in gold from a branch of the Ukrainian National Bank.

The press office of the Interior Ministry told Vesti-Ukraine that a criminal case had been opened and that an investigation to identify the culprits was under way.

The gold was stolen during a scheme, which lasted from August to October, in which blocks of lead, covered in gold paint, were sold over the counter to the bank.

One "Yuri N." a cashier at the bank who is alleged to have provided forged documents for the criminals, has fled with his accomplices to Russian-occupied Crimea.

The Interior Ministry said that the theft had only been detected during an a routine inspection at the end of October. A criminal investigation was opened on November 19.

Practices at the bank including failing to search employees entering or leaving the bank, and the buying of precious metals over the counter, have been suspended.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukrainian Forces Repel Separatist Attack Near Mariupol

Both the Headquarters for the Defence of Mariupol and the Azov Battalion report that an attack mounted by separatist diversionary forces, or "saboteurs," was repelled by Azov fighters yesterday.

According to Azov's press service, one of the volunteer units patrols came across the diversionary group while operating to the north-east of the port city.

The separatist fighters opened fire but were repelled. The battalion claims that there were no casualties on the Ukrainian side. 

The Defence Headquarters reported that the situation otherwise "remains calm in Mariupol," noting that two unmanned aerial vehicles were spotted near the city this morning.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Kazakh Leader Nazarbayev Visits Kiev

Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has autocratically held onto power in Kazakhstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union, has met with President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev today.

Russia's state-owned TASS news agency reports that Nazarbayev stressed the importance of the Minsk agreement with regards to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Interestingly the English version of TASS' report has Nazarbayev referring to the war in the Donbass as "an organised civil war" which seems to suggest he is pointing a finger at outside influences, we cannot see this line (or the wider comment from which it is taken) in any Russian-language reports on the meeting.

The Minsk agreements should be the only foundation for settling the crisis in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his Kazakhstani counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev told a joint briefing on Monday.

“We firmly agreed to stick to the policy and practice of the Minsk agreements as the foundation for settling the crisis in eastern Ukraine. We are following them,” the two presidents said.

“The position of sovereignty and territorial integrity is inviolable. The whole world is going to mobilize efforts to ensure the peace process on the basis of the Minsk agreements,” Poroshenko said.

President Nazarbayev, in turn, noted that the Minsk agreements were supported by all the sides in conflict and that good and, more importantly, solvable questions were written down in them.

“What happened in Ukraine is terrible. No one could have imagined in the worst of dreams that a conflict and an organized civil war will break out inside the country,” Nazarbayev said.

The Kazakhstani president confirmed that he and President Poroshenko had had an open and friendly discussion on the situation in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

“I know the positions of Ukraine, Russia and Europe. Confrontation and sanctions is a road to nowhere. There is a way out of this situation and it should be used as soon as possible,” Nazarbayev added.

Interfax-Ukraine reports that Nazarbayev urged Russia and Ukraine to reach a compromise, but insisted on the importance of Ukraine's territorial integrity:

"I am asking Russia and Ukraine to think about a compromise in order to end this conflict and preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine, because this situation [the Donbass conflict] is nonsense and it should not have happened."

The Ukrainian and Kazakh leaders also announced two deals between their states. Firstly, Nazarbayev said that Ukrainian power stations would receive coal from Kazakhstan's Ekibastuz mines.

Secondly, President Poroshenko announced that Ukraine and Kazakhstan would "fully resume military-technical cooperation."

Nazarbayev's visit comes the day after that of another leader of a state within the Russian-led Customs Union: Aleksandr Lukashenko, dictator of Belarus.

RFE/RL noted yesterday that both leaders, despite their political and economic ties to Russia, appeared to be making moves to appear friendly to Ukraine.

A senior Ukranian government source told AFP that both Lukashenka and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev -- due in Kiev on Monday -- were now trying to make amends for deciding to join a political and economic union led by Moscow.

Russia is lurching through a financial crisis sparked by a plunge in the price of its oil exports and a punitive freeze on its firms' ability to raise money on US and EU markets.

But Lukashenka in particular has been shunned by the West for his intolerance of dissent and establishment of what Washington once dubbed "the last dictatorship in Europe".

Lukashenka and Nazarbaev "have sensed that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is weak," the senior Ukrainian source said.

"They would like to see Ukraine help them improve relations with Europe."

Ukraine's UNIAN news agency reported today that President Poroshenko said that the Belarusian and Kazakh leaders had coordinated their actions with Ukraine, prior to heading to Moscow, where the two leaders are to attend a trade meeting with President Putin.

Translation: Et tu, Brute!

Meanwhile Alexei Pushkov, the head of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian Duma, tweeted that Lukashenko should beware any warming relationship with the West:

Translation: Milosevic, Gaddafi and S. Hussein tried to befriend the USA. Their fate is well known. Now the USA is offering Lukashenko a "new relationship." A dangerous track record...

-- Pierre Vaux