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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 355

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.
Armor in Russia in August May Match Armor in Ukraine in February

Ukrainian bloggers have noticed that armor shown in a video matches armor in Russia, and may indicate proof that convoys spotted near the Ukrainian border inside Russia to end up deep in Ukraine -- a point that has already been proven multiple times before, including in our post in recent days about Russian Strela-10s, Uragans, BPM-97s and other armor only in the Russian arsenal in Ukraine.

Translation: The "Lavina" BMP-2 of the Rashisty in Uglegorsk. The same one that in August was brought through Kamensk-Shakhtinsk.

Rashisty is a pejorative term for Russians, combined with the term "fascists."

Lavina means "avalanche" in Russian.

The Ukrainian news site reported the match.

A video showing a convoy in Russia was uploaded by some teenagers in August and copied by Action Tube. It was believed to be in the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsk because of the stores and railroad overpass, although we have not geolocated it:

Some of the vehicles on the trailers have the Russian word Lavina on them, also with area painted over in green, and one also with the slogan "To the Donbass!"

Lavina could mean the name of an operation, or a unit, or simply convey the idea of an onslaught, it's not known. Identifying insignia on Russian tanks are often painted over in green, and it's common for the Russians and Russian-backed separatists to paint an aspirational destination on the side of tanks.



The same slogan Lavina was on armor spotted in Uglegorsk (Vulehirsk) in this video uploaded by News Front on February 3 titled "Clearing of Uglegorsk. Special Operation by Militia."


While it's possible to paint or over-paint anything on a tank given by Russia to militants in Ukraine, the distinct similarity of the painted slogan and the armor in Russian and then later Ukraine deserve closer study.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Poroshenko Invokes Proof of Russian Military Presence in Ukraine, Calls for Western Military Aid

President Petro Poroshenko's speech at the Munich Security Conference has been posted on the presidential web site in English.

Some highlights:

- Poroshenko recalls his participation in the conference last year right after Yanukovych government snipers shot and killed 100 Maidan demonstrators, when he still believed the international community might respond:

I felt so proud then, because Ukraine had reminded Europe and the world that democracy and values are worth fighting for.

That was a time when we believed in international law.

The confidence that territorial claims, aggression, a right of might belonged to the past, at least in Europe.

But now, this confidence has been shattered.

The year 2014 rolled the time back – decades, if not centuries.

President Poroshenko then highlighted all the suffering brought by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, holding up the passports of the Russian citizens and others found fighting against Ukrainian forces:

The border routes, once used for transporting goods and exchange of visitors and friends, are now swarming with Russian tanks, armed personnel carriers, artillery, multiple-rocket-launchers and ammunition.

How many evidences does the world still need to recognize an obvious fact – there is a foreign military equipment, mercenaries, Russian military coaches and regular troops.

This last year has become a spiraling tragedy for my nation.

The death toll of the Ukrainian soldiers defending their land from aggressor is constantly rising.

Here there is the passports and documents of Russian soldiers and officers who came to us and "got lost” their way. This is the best evidence of the presence of Russian troops which killing Ukrainian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians.

Thousands of people have been killed since last April.

More than ten thousands wounded.

Hundreds and thousands of civilians have become innocent victims of terrorists financed, trained and equipped by Russia.

298 innocent victims of the downed MH17 flight; 16 killed in a bus shelled in Volnovakha, 8 dead in a trolleybus shelled in Donetsk; 31 civilian casualties of Mariupol shelling by Russian-provided rockets.

Poroshenko tried to invoke the recent memory of Soviet Russian aggression against East Europeans:

The aggression against Ukraine has opened a Pandora’s Box for the international security.

It must be clear that there are no temporary solutions. This conflict must be resolved, not frozen.

It is now clear that if Ukraine does not succeed in restoring peace and its territorial integrity, the revision of borders, spread of terrorism, humanitarian and technological disasters, flexing of nuclear mussels will continue.

It is a pleasure to share this panel with my friends – the Presidents of Bulgaria, Finland, and Lithuania.

If there are not many Finns who still remember Russian aggression, there are many Lithuanians who still mourn their loved ones lost in the fight for their independence against the Kremlin.

And I am sure that the majority of Bulgarians still remember the realities of socialism and would never go back to the Moscow orbit again.

Today Ukraine has to fight for its independence and its freedom. We must defend our land.

Then Poroshenko re-invoked the Minsk peace plan and clarified something that has been a repeated point of Russian disinformation and misrepresentation -- the Law on the Special Status of Donbass. Contrary to claims that this law has been revoked by Ukraine, Poroshenko not only reaffirmed it by saying it was "passed" and not revoked (despite his threat to do so), but drew attention to the fact that it was the Russian-backed separatists who broke the Minsk agreement by holding unauthorized and unrecognized elections:

As a President of Peace, I presented my Plan. Its logic is laid down in the Minsk Protocol signed on the September 5, 2014 by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE and the separatists.

These are very concrete steps to restore peace and facilitate the political dialogue.

We immediately declared the ceasefire and signed the Memorandum on the line of disengagement and withdrawal of heavy weaponry on September 19, 2014.

We were ready to hold a political dialogue with those parties who are credible to represent Donbas based on the democratic approach – elections.

The Ukrainian Parliament passed the Law to provide wider authority to regional, municipal and local authorities of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and it passed the Law on Amnesty.

We will never recognize fake elections held by separatists on their controlled territories on November 2 under the barrels of machine guns.

I would like to stress that a non-military and diplomatic solution remains the only remedy to this situation. And I would like to reiterate that the Minsk Protocol and the Minsk Memorandum are still on the table.

We want to stop the bloodshed and are ready for an immediate – but bilateral – ceasefire, to be monitored and verified by the OSCE.

Poroshenko made it clear that he doesn't oppose elections per se in the Donbass, but that autonomy doesn't mean secession, and that these elections must take place under Ukrainian law -- and not at gunpoint, as both referendums in Crimea and the "People's Republics" referendum and unrecognized elections have taken place in the last year:

We urge the withdrawal of weaponry, the closing of the border, and the release of all hostages, including Nadia Savchenko.

Once there is no threat of an offensive operation, we stand ready to hold local elections in Donbas under Ukrainian legislation and the observation of the OSCE/ODIHR.

We are committed to continuing the further political dialogue with the democratically elected representatives.

We have started Constitutional reform with the aim of continuing the decentralization process and yielding wider administrative, financial and cultural authorities to the regions.

We are stripping our members of parliament and judges of immunity and are conducting rigid anti-corruption reforms.

These efforts are parts of a comprehensive process to restore the confidence of the Ukrainian people in their institutions and make the world believe in Ukraine.

Finally President Poroshenko invoked the late German leader Richard von Weizsacker, first president of re-united Germany:

It was President von Weizsacker who, in his letter addressed to my predecessor Leonid Kravchuk on December 26, 1991, recognized our independence.

Once he said that “the German question will remain open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.”

In the spirit of these words of a great German mind, I would simply like to reiterate that the Ukrainian question will remain unsolved as long as the hearts of people and politicians in the West are closed to providing solid, practical support to strengthen Ukraine’s independence politically and economically, but also militarily.

Ukraine greatly needs defensive military support to ensure the ceasefire and contain the aggression.

I know many experts have argued that enhancing us militarily would provoke further aggression. On the contrary, we have seen that the lack of defense capabilities triggers offensive operation against Ukraine and spins the escalation.

Over the course of the conflict we have proven to be responsible and that we will not use the defensive equipment to attack.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Poroshenko Calls for Rapid Ceasefire, Release of POWs, Defensive Weapons

President Petro Poroshenko spoke at the Munich Security Council today, urging a rapid cease-fire, and calling for the West to give Ukraine defensive weapons, AP and other wire services reported. AP reports:

Petro Poroshenko spoke amid a hectic flurry of diplomacy. Hours earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she's still unsure of reaching a deal to calm the crisis, which France's president said could feature a broad demilitarized zone and greater autonomy for Ukraine's separatist eastern region.

Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, fresh from trips to Kiev and Moscow, plan to discuss the proposals in a phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Poroshenko.

The aim is to draw up a possible joint document on implementing the much-violated September peace plan concluded in Minsk, Belarus. That agreement also featured a demilitarized zone, though the battle lines have since changed, and the government in Kiev has offered a measure of autonomy to the separatists.

Poroshenko told the Munich Security Conference that Ukraine stands ready for a "comprehensive and immediate cease-fire" and Russia should be too.

He indicated he didn't want any peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, saying they wouldn't be needed if foreign fighters were withdrawn and the Ukraine-Russia border sealed. Then, he said, there would be "peace and stability in Ukraine ... within a couple of weeks."

Poroshenko said he didn't want the war in Ukraine to turn into a "frozen conflict" like others in the region kept unsolved by Russia, such as with the breakaway Transdnistria Republic in Moldova.

But the West is unlikely to supply any lethal weapons, although non-lethal equipment has been donated. AP reports:


The resurgent fighting has prompted the U.S. to consider giving lethal weapons to Ukraine, an option opposed by European nations which fear the move would merely make the situation worse.

"The problem is that I cannot imagine any situation in which improved equipment for the Ukrainian army leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes he will lose militarily," Merkel said. "I have to put it that bluntly."