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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Live Day 331

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Videos Reportedly Show Today's Fighting For Control Of Donetsk Airport

After two days of intense artillery and infantry battles, the Russian-backed fighters have failed to retake Donetsk Airport from the Ukrainian military. Today there appears to have been less infantry fighting, but perhaps even more shelling, as the Russian-backed militants licked their wounds.

A report from the Press Center of Ukraine's ATO (Anti-Terror Operation) says that the Ukrainian "cyborgs" repelled another major attack this morning. The "terrorists" reportedly then retreated and fired on the new terminal and logistics tower with mortars and tanks. The defenders reportedly kept their positions thanks to strong fire support.

The tone of that report was highly optimistic, saying that the Ukrainian forces had even restored some of the damaged infrastructure at the airport.

A report published by Unian.info four hours before the ATO report, citing a soldier in the 80th airmobile birgade, said that the Russian-backed fighters had taken one third of the new terminal yesterday and had largely destroyed the rest with tanks and artillery.

Still, it seems Ukraine is still in control of the airport for now.

There was less fighting today but battles were still more intense than they have been in months, and now a video claims to show a very small part of it. While we were searching for a weather report from Donetsk we found this, reportedly showing separatist militants taking fire near a weather station (Wikimapia has this location labeled as a radar station).

Some confirmation of the location:

As you can see, this position offers little cover and is just north of Donetsk airport. The soldiers in this video are essentially surrounded on two sides.

weather-radar-station-north-of-donetsk-a

Meanwhile, LiveUAMap has shared this video, uploaded just an hour and a half ago to Youtube (20:39 GMT) which reportedly shows outgoing Grads fired from Donetsk today. While we can't verify the location of the video, there are no known copies of this video which predate this video.

-- James Miller
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
OSCE Releases Spot Report Confirming Bus Was Hit By Grad Rocket In Volnovakha

The OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) has released their spot report from Volnovakha where at least 13 people have now died after a bus was hit by shrapnel. The OSCE report confirms what we have already deduced: the bus was struck by shrapnel from a Grad rocket.

The SMM arrived at the location of the incident at 17:45hrs and witnessed the removal of two of the dead passengers from the bus. The bus had shrapnel damage consistent with a nearby rocket impact, estimated by the SMM to be 12-15 meters from the side of the bus. The SMM visited the Volnovakha hospital where the staff confirmed that ten persons on the bus were killed instantly, while two died later in the hospital. Another 17 passengers were injured.

Note that the death toll has since risen to 13.

The Interpreter has analyzed alternative theories, including that a claymore mine did this damage. After watching videos of claymore mine explosions, the result does not seem consistent with damage from a mine. The holes in bus are simply too large for a claymore, and too small for a larger mine. Also, the damage to the surrounding area does not seem to match this theory. As you can see in one video where a mine targets an unarmored trailer, the effectiveness of the mine drops of significantly even 3 meters away. OSCE now says that the explosion was 12-15 meters away.

Of course, the most compelling evidence is in the form of video, posted by The Interpreter earlier, showing that the entire area was hit by many large explosions, likely from a multiple-launch-rocket-system like the Grad.

The Russian media is still fixated on the possibility that this damage was the result of a mine, and the OSCE appears to be too diplomatic to officially rule that out until an investigation has been held, though their new report makes no reference to a mine.

The OSCE has also agreed to investigate the incident in cooperation between a representative of Ukraine and a member of the Russian Armed Forces who will be representing the separatist leadership:

Following a proposal from the SMM, the Ukrainian Major-General and Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC and the Russian Federation Major-General, representative of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and the “Donetsk People’s Republic”  (DPR) leadership have agreed to conduct a joint investigation led by the JCCC. In parallel, the SMM will continue its observations and establish its own findings regarding the incident.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
At Least 1 Ukrainian Soldier Killed Today, 17 Wounded. Death Toll From Bus Shelling Rises to 13
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Has Another Battle Started In Northern Donetsk Just Moments Ago?
We continue to monitor the live streaming video from northern Donetsk, facing Donetsk International Airport. Just moments ago we were struck by a sudden and continuous stream of machinegun fire. Now smaller explosions and gunshots can be heard at regular intervals. This sounds not like the artillery barrages we've been hearing all day, but rather more like a gun battle.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Gazprom Say Russia Needs To Build Turkey Pipeline Since It's Shutting Down Gas Shipments To Ukraine

As of right now a significant amount of Russia's natural gas travels through Ukraine and into Europe. 63 billion cubic meters of gas travels through this line each year. This supply has been threatened by the conflict in Ukraine, however. In December, Putin announced that Russia was scrapping plans to build the South Stream pipeline, a pipeline which was supposed to bypass Ukraine. TASS reports:

The South Stream gas pipeline worth €15.5 billion was intended to pump 67 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Europe annually. The pipeline’s underwater section 900 km (559 miles) long was intended to run along the bed of the Black Sea from the Russkaya compressor station on the Russian shore to the Bulgarian coast.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on December 1 that the project to build the South Stream gas pipeline was closed due to the European Union’s unconstructive approach to cooperation in that sphere, including Bulgaria’s decision to stop the construction of the pipeline’s stretch on its territory.

Instead, Russia will build a gas pipeline to Turkey where a gas hub on the border with Europe will be created, Putin said.

Today, however, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller has announced that within several years no gas will be shipped through Ukraine. Instead, Russia will construct the Turkey Stream pipeline, shifting that supply through Turkey, and if Europe wants that gas it will need to build a pipeline along the border of Greece and Turkey in order to receive that gas. The Kyiv Post reports:

"They have at the most a few years for this. It's a very, very tight schedule. In order to meet the deadlines, efforts to build new trunk pipelines in EU countries must begin right now, otherwise that gas will end up on other markets," Miller said.

Business Standard is running a related headline, "Europe at risk of being cut off from Russia :Gazprom." The article focuses on warnings from Miller that transit supplies through Ukraine, even in the short term, are at risk:

"Ukraine, due to financial difficulties, was not able to buy the necessary volume of Russian gas in November and December last year and significantly depleted its reserves of gas in underground storage," Miller said.

Gazprom said for its part that it had met its obligations on supplies to Ukraine under a gas accord reached in November in Brussels but that Ukraine was not complying with its terms.

Ukraine's state gas company Naftogaz "is acquiring gas in lower volumes than in the Brussels accord," Gazprom complained.

Ukraine is taking gas out of its underground stores at a rapid rate, leaving supplies that are "not enough to reliably get through the winter period," Gazprom said in a statement.

While Gazprom's warning that Ukraine does not have enough gas is likely accurate, Miller seems to be sending a different message - that Europe needs to lessen its dependency on Ukraine.

It also bears noting that at various times in the last several months, Russia has threatened European countries, saying that if they reverse gas flow into Ukraine in breech of any negotiated deal with Russia, then their own gas supplies could be cut off.

-- James Miller

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