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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 341

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Smerch Geolocated in Makeyevka from Two Recent Videos

A Smerch ("whirlwind") rocket launching system has been spotted in Makeyevka outside of Donetsk on January 22, 2015.

A video  was uploaded January 22 titled "Russian occupiers' Smerch, city of Makeyevka. Generala Danilova St. in the direction of Zelyony micro-district. 22.01.2015

That description would mean the video was taken here, near Donetsk in Makeyevka:


UPDATE: The account that uploaded this video was removed.

Another copy of the same video is available:

 At 0:10, the Smerch is visible.


This looks to be a 9T234-2 transporter like this one:


The blogger @5urpher found the exact location in Makeyevka:

The location here on Yandex maps was also confirmed by @DajeyPetros.

But the geolocation has been debated because the buildings don't look quite like in the video. Some found it "good enough":

We could add that additional confirmation of the location comes from the camera view toward the end, when the camera man in the wooded area swings up to the right, and a rounded yellow building in the distance in the middle, and a building with a lettered sign can be seen on the right.


The street view on Yandex looks like this:


Another video uploaded the same day, January 22, is also labeled "Smerch in the center of Makeyevka" and is near the same location, so that confirms that the Smerch was indeed in Makeyevka.


This is located a little further east from the last location, on Moskovskaya Road here on Yandex. maps.

The slag heap visible from Makeyevka and seen in the video gives us an orientation, and shows us the Smerch is likely to have been filmed here on Moskovskaya Street, not far from the first video's location (Moskovskaya  St. runs into Generala Danliova Road.)


The curved roof to the underground passage, the stop light, the roof, and the house can be seen in Yandex street view.




There have been a number of reports of Smerch systems in the past.

Back in August 2014, Semyon Semyonchenko, the commander of the Donbass Battalion and now a member of parliament, said on his Facebook page that Smerch rockets were fired by Russian invaders.

On October 22, the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council provided a photo of a Smerch cluster dispenser, which they said was used by the Russian-backed separatists.


But until now, there hasn't been evidence of an actual Smerch on the move.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick and Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
OSCE Official Statement Says Rockets Which Killed 30+ Civilians In Mariupol Came From DNR Territory

Typically the statements from the OSCE's special monitoring teams are a bit ambiguous and avoid directly blaming one side or other for a specific attack. However, in their spot report on today's shelling in Mariupol, the statement could not be any more clear -- the rockets came from territory held by the self-declared 'Donetsk People's Republic,' the territory of the Russian-supported forces:

At approximately 09:15hrs on 24 January, the SMM in government-controlled Mariupol heard at its location incoming massed Multi-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) attacks from a north-east direction, consisting of an extremely heavy barrage lasting 35 seconds. Twenty minutes later the SMM received information from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in Mariupol and other sources, that shelling had occurred in the area of Olimpiiska Street, in Ordzhonikidzevskyi district, 8.5 km north-east of Mariupol city centre, approximately 400 metres from a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint.

At 10:20hrs the SMM went to Olimpiiska Street and saw seven adult civilians dead. The SMM observed in an area of 1.6 km by 1.1 km, including an open market, multiple impacts on buildings, retail shops, homes and a school. The SMM observed cars on fire and windows facing the north-eastern side of a nine-storey building shattered. The SMM was able to count 19 rocket strikes and is certain there are more. Four hospitals and the emergency service in the city informed the SMM that at least 20 people died and 75 people were injured and hospitalized. Ten of the wounded were in a critical condition, according to a hospital representative.
The SMM conducted a crater analysis and its initial assessment showed that the impacts were caused by Grad and Uragan rockets. According to the impact analysis, the Grad rockets originated from a north-easterly direction, in the area of Oktyabr (19 km north-east of Olimpiiska Street), and the Uragan rockets from an easterly direction, in the area of Zaichenko (15 km east of Olimpiiska Street), both controlled by the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”).

At 13:02hrs and 13:21hrs the SMM heard again incoming MLRS salvos lasting for eight seconds, from an easterly direction. At a distance of 300 metres the SMM saw smoke above the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ checkpoint number 14 (8.9 km north-east of Mariupol city centre), just several hundred metres away from where the shelling had hit in Olimpiiska Street. 

This matches pictures and reports from journalists in the town, and a statement by Human Rights Watch.

-- James Miller
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
NATO Releases Statement on Escalation of Violence in Ukraine

Below is a statement from the NATO Secretary General considering the escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine. The statement firmly blames Russian involvement for the fighting:

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has sharply escalated, with indications of a large-scale offensive by Russian-backed separatists at multiple locations in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts as well as against the city of Mariupol. This is in utter disregard of the ceasefire. The shelling of residential areas in the city of Mariupol from separatist-controlled territory has cost the lives of at least 20 civilians, and injured many more.

For several months we have seen the presence of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, as well as a substantial increase in Russian heavy equipment such as tanks, artillery and advanced air defence systems. Russian troops in eastern Ukraine are supporting these offensive operations with command and control systems, air defence systems with advanced surface-to-air missiles, unmanned aerial systems, advanced multiple rocket launcher systems, and electronic warfare systems.

I strongly urge Russia to stop its military, political and financial support for the separatists, stop destabilising Ukraine and respect its international commitments.

The issue should be clear, however. The NATO countries, particularly the United States, continue to call on Russia to abide by its international agreements while continuing to point out that Russia is in violation of its international agreements. There is no plan that we are aware of that is likely to change Moscow's "calculus" on this matter.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russian Troops in Unmarked Uniforms Apparently Join Separatists - New York Times

Says the New York Times:

Unexpectedly, at the height of the Ukrainian winter, war has exploded anew on a half-dozen battered fronts across eastern Ukraine, accompanied by increasing evidence that Russian troops and Russian equipment have been pouring into the region again.

A shaky cease-fire has all but vanished, with rebel leaders vowing fresh attacks. Civilians are being hit by deadly mortars at bus stops. Tanks are rumbling down snowy roads in rebel-held areas with soldiers in unmarked green uniforms sitting on their turrets, waving at bystanders — a disquieting echo of the “little green men” whose appearance in Crimea opened this stubborn conflict in the spring.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Zakharchenko Announced Attack on Mariupol - Video

Russian-backed separatists and even Prime Minister Aleksandr Zakharchenko himself of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" are claiming they did not shell on Mariupol.

But not only does the evidence suggest otherwise, Zakharchenko himself was caught on tape early today speaking at a memorial service for fallen DNR fighters, admitting the offensive was underway.

Translation by The Interpreter:

I will say the following: today the offensive against Maripuol begins. God willing...

[Crowd chants: Hurray! Hurray! Glory to Russia!]

God willing...In a few days we will close off the Debaltsevo Kettle

[Crowd: Hallelujah!]

On January 15, Zakharchenko said that DNR forces would re-take Slavyansk and Kramatorsk.

He complained that Ukraine was not really part of the Minsk talks because former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma was not recognized as an official interlocutor representing the government of Ukraine.

Zakharchenko said he was for a "united Ukraine," but he envisions it differently than the current Kiev government. For him, "Kievian Rus'" -- the cradle of Russian civilization -- is Russian and therefore the modern city of Kiev is "Russian."

Zakharchenko said their Soviet ancestors shed blood fighting the fascists and they view it as their land that has been "usurped" by the "junta".

He claimed there were already "torches, swastikas, and soon there will be book burning," referring to one march in Kiev to commemorate Bandera. Reports of book-burning so far have involved pro-Russian separatists burning Ukrainian books..

He also made a number of exaggerated statements that are a staple of the separatist mindset and typical of their propaganda. He said 1,500 Ukrainians were killed in Ilovaisk, although the official number of soldiers killed is 107, volunteer battalions claim 150 more, and estimates including Russian Federation soldiers are at most 1,000.

He claimed "500 million euros" were given by German for restoration of the Donbass but the DNR had seen "none" of it. He said "25% of the  ministries" in Ukraine are filled with foreign officials although the number of foreigners recruited to fill Ukrainian ministerial posts is actually 3.

Zakharchenko also claimed there were American machine guns and foreign sniper rifles found at the airport, specifically M-40 rifles and German-made sniper rifles, but when journalists asked for evidence, he referred them to an aide who seemed to have then disappeared. He then said he was "afraid to lie" and added that likely they were possibly purchased by the Ukrainian military.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick