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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 338

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
US Army's Top Commander In Europe Says Russia Has Doubled Support For Separatists Since December

The Hill reports that Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the commander of the US army's Allied Land Command, making him the top US Army commander in Europe, has told reporters in Ukraine today that Russia doubled its material support for separatist fighters since December.

"When you look at the amount of Russian equipment that the proxies were using prior to the Minsk agreements, that amount has doubled beginning in December into the hundreds," he told reporters on his first visit to Ukraine as U.S. Army Europe commander.

Hodges said Russia was sending surveillance drones to the rebels to help provide intelligence, as well as artillery.

"Those are not the types of things you would find in a militia. They clearly are coming from a modern military force coming from Russia," he said.#

Hodges also said that four companies of the Ukrainian National Guard would receive training from US soldiers "on medical care, protecting themselves from artillery and attempts to jam Russian communications systems."

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
A Possible Chemical Weapons Attack At Donetsk Airport?
Last week, on January 16, the Russian state-controlled media reported a possible chemical weapons attack at Donetsk airport. However, Ukrainian soldiers reported the use of a smoke screen, and we were satisfied that the use of smoke grenades accurately matched the reports of the smell of the gas and the symptoms. It seemed like a "non-story."

However, in the latest spot report by the OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), a Ukrainian soldier reported a possible chemical weapons attack on January 19, and the symptoms described are very different than what was described on the 16th:

A Ukrainian soldier in a hospital in government-controlled Konstantinovka (56km north of Donetsk) told the SMM that he was being treated for injuries sustained at the Donetsk airport on 19 January. He said 80 Ukrainian soldiers in total had suffered the same injuries, manifested in uncontrollable muscle spasms, vomiting and difficult breathing. Some, he said, had become unconscious. Eleven of the soldiers had been transferred to a hospital in Dnepropetrovsk, he said.

Muscle spasms, vomiting, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness... these sound like the results of an actual chemical weapons attack, perhaps even the use of nerve gas. But what's odd is that this is the first time we have been made aware of any possible chemical weapons attack in Donetsk on January 19.

We don't know what to make of this report, but we'll add more details if we find them.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Reports That NSDC Secretary And Former President Turchynov Fired On Near Donetsk

Around two hours ago, Ukrainian blogger Sergii Ivanov wrote on his Facebook page that Oleksandr Turchynov, the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), and former acting president, came under fire from Russian-backed fighters while visiting front-line positions near Donetsk Airport today.

Ivanov wrote that Turchynov was travelling in an armoured personnel carrier (APC), inspecting positions near the settlements of Tonenkoye, Vodyane and Opytnoye, when Russian or separatist forces opened fire, specifically targeting his vehicle rather than the whole convoy.

According to Ivanov, the APC was damaged, but Turchynov was unscathed.

Ivanov claimed that discussion of the incident had been banned in Ukrainian media, but a short while ago Ukrainska Pravda ran a report on the subject, citing a source in the NSDC.

According to the source, Turchynov came under fire on the road to the airport near the village of Opytnoye.

The source claimed that a tyre on the Tuchynov's Cougar APC was punctured during the attack, and that it was replaced under fire.

There has not yet been any official comment from the NSDC or any other Ukrainian government body.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia And Ukraine Agree On Artillery Pull-Back

News is breaking that the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has announced that Russia and Ukraine have agreed to pull back heavy weaponry from the front line.

Translation:

The plan strongly resembles one agreed upon back in September last year, a plan that was never really committed to and saw daily artillery and Grad rocket barrages back and forth at several strategic points along the front line since the very declaration of the 'ceasefire.' 

Of course this is the key. The September agreement and ceasefire followed a massive military intervention by regular Russian forces, pushing Ukrainian forces out of the south of the Lugansk region and capturing a large swath of southern Donetsk.

Today, Russian-backed fighters appear to have established control over Donetsk Airport, and the collapse of this position now leaves Ukrainian forces to the west and north of the separatist-held city, where huge quantities of the enemy's forces had been tied up in repeated assaults, vulnerable to attack by a more manoeuvrable force.

This news follows reports tonight of a flanking attack on Netaylovo, to the west of Peski. 

In addition, according to Igor Sutyagin, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, who spoke in London on January 13,  it may take as little as a week for Russian military engineers to make the ruined airport operable for Russian Air Force Su-25 attack jets, which has recently been presented by pro-separatist and Russian media as the "Novorossiyan Air Force," purportedly established in occupied Lugansk.

Precedent suggests that Russian-backed forces will pay only lip service if anything to this agreement. Furthermore, even in the event of a reduction in fighting, such a period of calm would only allow Russia to consolidate control of Donetsk and prepare for further potential hostilities, with Ukrainian forces stretched thin to cover such a wide front.


-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Among Reports That Donetsk Airport Has Fallen To Russian-Backed Fighters, New Reports Of A Flank Attack On Pisky
There is yet another report that suggests that Donetsk Airport has fallen to Russian-backed militants:

Espreso TV reports that "terrorists [the Russian-backed fighters -- The Interpreter ] blew up the roof of the new terminal of the [Donetsk] airport."

"Ukrainian forces remain in the buildings, however and on the airport grounds and outposts. However, as the Defense Ministry has confirmed, a group of Ukrainian soldiers have been taken prisoner."

The report also says that Russian tanks may be flanking Pisky (Peski) and have advanced on Netaylovo. not from Pisky and Karlovka in the east but from the west. Ukraine at War , which is also asking whether Donetsk Airport has fallen, illustrates exactly what this means:

It has earlier been reported that the Terminal has fallen and Ukraine said it would launch a counterattack to take it back.

With the high number of casualties that is now reported and the video showing the Russians all over the place, it looks like that counterattack has failed...
Already the Russian tanks are trying to surround Pisky now... if true, that is REALLY bad news... It means they have broken through the front line at Nevelske.

DA%2Bfallen%2B1.jpg

-- James Miller

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