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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 345

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
Russia Quits Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe Over Loss of Voting Rights

Russia has quit the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) until the end of the year over the loss of its voting rights which fellow members voted to remove over Russia's war on Ukraine.

A down side of Russia's withdrawal from the parliamentary body is that efforts by the Ukrainian parliamentary delegate, a member of PACE, to gain the release of imprisoned pilot Nadiya Savchenko, have now been thwarted.

The Ukrainian Batykivshchina (Fatherland) party included Savchenko on their party list when they gained seats in Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. They then sought parliamentary immunity for Savchenko by including her in absentia in a delegation to PACE.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Pseudo-States, War Crimes and Winter in Ukraine
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Reuters - EU Considering Extending Sanctions And Adding Capital Market Restrictions

Reuters has two exclusive reports on plans under consideration for further EU sanctions against Russia.

The first is that, according to draft conclusions for a meeting of the Council of foreign ministers, ministers have agreed to propose that the EU executive Commission extend sanctions against Russia by six months:

"In view of the worsening situation, the Council (of foreign ministers) agrees to extend the restrictive measures targeting persons and entities for threatening or undermining Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity ... until September 2015," draft conclusions for the meeting, seen by Reuters, said.

[***]

The ministers will also ask the EU's executive Commission and its diplomatic service to draw up a list of further names that could be put under sanctions, for a decision within a week, the draft statement said.

Ministers will pledge to closely follow the situation on the ground and to "act accordingly". They will ask officials to carry out more work "on any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures, aiming at ensuring a swift and comprehensive implementation" of a truce deal signed last September in Minsk, which Western countries accuse Moscow of violating.

The second report is that in addition to the extension of sanctions, the introduction of capital market restrictions is being considered:

"Measures for financial markets would be the easiest to introduce. Sovereign bonds have been mentioned in the past among the options. They would also be quite effective because they would undermine the economic growth potential of Russia," one official close to the discussions said.

A second official said the new measures against Moscow for its involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine could involve a shortening in the maximum maturity at which Western institutions and investors could lend to Russian companies.

That would make it harder for key corporations in the energy sector to refinance themselves.

The officials said one measure under consideration could make it harder or perhaps impossible for Western institutions and investors to buy Russian sovereign debt on issue in the primary market.

Both officials mentioned the possibility of imposing further restrictions on Russian access to advanced technologies in the oil and gas sector, which would make Russia's ambitions for Arctic exploration for energy resources more difficult.

Barring Russia access to the SWIFT banking transfer system was not on the table however, as the likely result that Russia could lead other states in the creation of an alternative system could be detrimental to the hugely important Belgium-based institution.

-- 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 Quieter Day In Both Debaltsevo and Mariupol?
We're noticing a trend -- fewer reports of heavy fighting today. France 24's Gulliver Cragg notes that there has been a noticeable stall in the assault on Mariupol:
Cragg also notes that a Ukrainian military commander reports that there is less fighting in Debaltsevo (Debaltseve) today:

This may match a report we carried earlier that suggests that the Russian-supported forces are not attacking Debaltsevo directly today but are instead hitting areas north of Donetsk Airport, near Gorlivka.

Aleksandr Kots, a war correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda, suggests that there is renewed fighting at Novoazovsk:

Translation: On the other hand underneath the thunder of Donetsk and Debaltsevo, somehow the bombing of Novoazovsky area is proceeding unnoticed.

His claims are unconfirmed.

-- James Miler, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
The Story Of The Fall Of Donetsk Airport

For 242 days a small group of nearly-surrounded Ukrainian soldiers earned their nickname, the "Cyborgs," given to them by both their enemies and their countrymen for their seemingly machine-like ability to hold a crumbling piece of infrastructure formerly known as Donetsk International Airport.

But crumble the airport did, and the Cyborgs are no longer in control of the airport. After 242 days of heavy artillery bombardment, sniper fire, tank battles and infantry assaults, the Cyborgs are now all either dead, wounded, or fighting elsewhere. Many of the dead may still be buried in the rubble.

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The Interpreter covered each day of the battle for Donetsk Airport, and recently wrote about the battle, and the consequences of it, for Foreign Policy Magazine.

In one of our updates we noted a report that a journalist for the L.A. Times had reached the airport. We now know that the journalist was Sergei Loiko, who has written a detailed description of the last days of the Cyborg's defense of the airport. One of the men Loiko speaks to is Ukrainian brigade commander Colonel Yevgeny Moysyuk, who says that at the end of the last days of battle 13 of his men were dead and 62 were missing -- perhaps taken as prisoner, or perhaps buried in the rubble of the crumbled airport.

The details of Moysyuk's report closely match our understanding of events. Some of the details are chilling:

"The professionals," he said, had driven the terminal's defenders from the ground floor to the second floor, then climbed up into the third floor, laid explosives and blew up the ceiling and the base of the second floor. Most of about 50 Ukrainian paratroopers there were wounded or killed, he said...

"The cyborgs withstood the final attack; the concrete didn't," said a battalion commander for another brigade with the code name Mike, whose units successfully defended the airport's two terminals for most of October and November.

Moysyuk complained that his men had "kind of had fallen hostage to this beautiful cyborg legend," trying to live up to the myth when it was already impossible to defend a collapsing building that finally fell on their heads.

"We should have evacuated our men a few days earlier, then waited for the separs [separatists - The Interpreter] to converge on the premises and bury them under the ruins," he said. "But in war it is your will against his will, and your smarts against his, and they buried us instead."

The entire article is a must-read for anyone who has been following events in Ukraine. Read it here: HOW UKRAINE'S OUTGUNNED 'CYBORGS' LOST DONETSK AIRPORT

-- James Miller


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