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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 339

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
"I'll March Those 'Cyborgs' Through The City - They Stink"
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
The US OSCE Mission Releases Strong Criticism Of Current State Of Ukraine Peace Talks

The U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE, Daniel Baer, has released a statement about the current state of affairs in Ukraine. Baer's statement is the perfect illustration of how the United States is now openly condemning Russian action in Ukraine and explaining that it is a breech of Minsk peace accord while simultaneously insisting that the only way forward is for Russia to abide by the Minsk peace accord.

A few examples:

Baer praises the new ceasefire, an agreement formed yesterday for Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists to withdraw heavy artillery from the demarcation line. But Baer also points out that action is not enough and Russia has broken its previous promises:

This morning we got news of new costs borne by civilians in connection with the escalation of fighting that we’ve seen in the last weeks. This underscores what we know: that we must have implementation of Minsk, in full, now. The meeting yesterday in Berlin is a welcome step; this effort to jump-start the implementation of Minsk. The meeting underscored again that we need Minsk implementation in full, including monitoring of the international border, so that Russia’s heavy weapons and fighters can be verified leaving Ukraine. So that the flow can be reversed. So that the resources that are fueling the violence can be stopped.

Diplomatic efforts like those in Berlin are necessary but not sufficient. No joint statement can replace action on the ground. The Trilateral Contact Group of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE needs full support for its work to speed up full implementation of Minsk. And we must be cautious in welcoming the joint statement of last night because today’s news is not good. In addition to the trolley, Russia-backed separatist attacks continue in multiple locations.

Baer goes on to examine just yesterday's ceasefire violations:

Yesterday, on the heels of a special Permanent Council meeting called to address the sharp increase in violence in eastern Ukraine, we received a report from the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine about the January 19 artillery attack on Debaltseve, an attack that this morning’s news suggests continues.

To quote from the report, “at least 30 Grad rockets impacted in and around the center of Debaltseve killing three civilians and wounding twelve. The SMM observed that rockets had caused significant damage to buildings and covered an area of approximately one square kilometer. A crater analysis performed by the SMM showed that the Grad rockets came from a western direction, the direction of ‘DPR’-controlled Horlivka.”

Then Baer examines the false narrative contrived by the Kremlin:

The Russian Federation is attempting to cast doubt where there is none. It is attempting to place the blame on Ukraine for the recent lack of progress in negotiations and the surge in violence. It is attempting to mute the obvious dissonance between the words the Russian Federation uses here in Vienna and the deeds it carries out on the ground in Ukraine.

If Russia and the separatists it supports are serious about reaching a peaceful resolution to the conflict, they should implement the Minsk agreements. If Russia and the Russia-backed separatists are ready to honor the ceasefire, they must stop attacks in blatant violation of the September 5 and 19 agreements. If Russia is committed to a peaceful solution, it must stop sending weapons and personnel into eastern Ukraine – at the end of December over 100 pieces of heavy weapons from Russia were sent into Eastern Ukraine – and it must release all hostages and illegally detained persons, including Nadiya Savchenko and Oleg Sentsov.

Baer closes by saying that the "path to peace" is in the full implementation of the Minsk accords and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Crimea:

Colleagues, the path to peace in Ukraine is clear. It lies in full implementation of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum. While the latest increase in violence in eastern Ukraine has compelled us all to make urgent calls for Russia to implement the Minsk agreements, let us not forget that the path to peace also requires Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea. This is a path that all must travel together. Ukraine has shown, time and again, its willingness to travel that path. Russia, and the separatists it backs, must show their willingness to do the same.

Crimea? That was in March. The Minsk agreements were signed by Russia and Ukraine in August. So a central tenet of the U.S. plan for peace in Ukraine was already being ignored by Russia when the U.S. was signing new deals with Russia. As Baer passionately and clearly spells out, that deal has been broken by Russia, but the United States is pushing Russia to implement yet another plan?

We've pointed out similar inconsistencies with statements made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, and U.S. Ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt (see below). While Pyatt and Baer, in particular, have done an excellent job explaining Russia's threat and it's unacceptable actions, these statements also expose the fundamental hole in the logic of the Obama administration: that the only way forward is for Russia to want peace, but that the U.S. does not believe that Russia wants peace.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Is The United States Supporting the 'Berlin Agreement' Or Do They Think It's Russian Occupation of Ukraine?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling the latest actions of the Russian-backed fighters a "land grab." BBC reports:

"This is a blatant land grab and is in direct contravention to the Minsk [ceasefire] agreements which they signed up to," he added.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations had even harsher words for Russia. Again, the BBC reports:

She said a new peace proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin was little more than an attempt at military occupation.

"The plan would seek to legitimise territorial gains made by separatists in September as well as Russian personnel and equipment on the territory of Ukraine," she told a special meeting of the UN Security Council.

"Let us pull the veil away from Putin's peace plan and call it for what it is - a Russian occupation plan."

The American ambassador to Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, has sent several interesting tweets today, including one calling recent escalation a "turning point."

Pyatt says these are Russian troops fighting in Ukraine.
And this is where it seems that Pyatt questions whether the United States can rely on a peace plan that Samantha Power is calling an "occupation plan."

But this is where the U.S. position is confusing. Didn't Samantha Power just call Russia's proposal for peace an "occupation" and didn't John Kerry say that this was a rebel "land grab"? Didn't Pyatt just retweet someone who questioned whether Russia could be trusted at all to hold up their end of the bargain? Then how can the Berlin agreement be "welcomed" by the United States?

The heart of our article in Foreign Policy, published today, also points out that there seems to be a significant disconnect between the language of the U.S. government, especially remarks by President Barack Obama during the State of the Union address regarding Ukraine, and the reality on the ground in Ukraine:

-- James Miller
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Video Reportedly Shows Ukraine's 'Cyborgs' Escorted Away From Donetsk Airport

This video is labelled "Militia of the DNR leading the Cyborgs' POWs."

But during the video, the cameraman, a Russian-backed DNR militants has a conversation with another militant (translated by The Interpreter):

First Fighter: I'm filming. There they are leading the Dill-weed POWs. ["Dill-weed" is pejorative term for Ukrainians--The Interpreter].
Second Fighter: It's the [inaudible] regiment.
[Fighter taking the POWs below shouts]: Do you understand me about this?! I hate you bastards!
Second Fighter [laughs]: Vostok, f**k, it seems like nobody f**king loves them.
First Fighter: Yeah, f**k.


The reference is to Vostok Battalion, headed by Aleksandr Khodakovsky, which showed up toward the end of the battle for the Donetsk Airport to rotate out some of the other fighters from Givi's Somalia and Motorola's Spartak battalions. The fighters seem to know that it is Vostok fighters taking the POWs.

There has been a rivalry between Vostok and Motorola where they have even exchanged gunfire in fights among themselves, regional press reports.

Ultimately, Vostok took the job of taking the POWs from the airport.

Khodakovsky, associated with the "Lugansk People's Republic" (LNR) has been widely disliked by the fighters of the DNR over the loss of the first battle for the Donetsk Airport in May 2014, where he reportedly made an agreement with Ukrainian forces for his men to leave the airport, but then 33 separatist fighters were killed, including some Russian citizens.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick and Anton Melnikov

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Foreign Ministry Calls Ukraine's Military Actions A 'Terrorist Operation'
The official Twitter account for the Russian Foreign Minister just called Ukraine's military actions, which Kiev calls the ATO (Anti-Terror Operation),  a "terrorist operation."

Translation: It remains to acknowledge that the #ATO is in fact a terrorist operation.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, James Miller

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