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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 360

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
Videos Reportedly Show Intense Shelling In Lugansk Tonight
Multiple videos reportedly show heavy shelling tonight in Lugansk. This video was reportedly taken at 23:00 local time, about an hour ago.  Sure enough, the metadata in the video says it was uploaded just under one hour ago. It is a composite of two videos, however:
Another look from a single angle:
Last night the city was also reportedly rocked by heavy explosions. The Russian news agency LifeNews, which has very close ties to the Kremlin, took this video today. According to this report, shelling began at 11 PM yesterday and continued through to the morning:
Two videos reportedly show last night's shelling:

Videos taken late at night are difficult to verify. To our knowledge these are new videos.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko Cautiously "Optimistic" After "Extremely Difficult" Negotiations

The Ukrainian President's office has released a statement on the Minsk agreement, excerpted below:

Ukraine and EU must efficiently coordinate actions for all the parties to fulfill and comply with the Minsk agreements. "It is important for us to put pressure regarding the observance of the agreements on the ceasefire, liberation of all hostages, withdrawal of all foreign troops and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine. I am hopeful that we will achieve the results within the efficient coordination with our partners," President Petro Poroshenko noted in the course of the joint statement with President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Brussels.

The President has taken part in the session of the European Council at the level of the Heads of State and Government and held a series of meetings. Petro Poroshenko thanked Donald Tusk and EU leaders for an opportunity to deliver a speech and inform on the current situation in Ukraine and the results of negotiations in Minsk.

The President has emphasized that the negotiations in Minsk had been extremely difficult. According to him, the process of implementation of the given agreement will not be easy as well. Petro Poroshenko reminded that Ukraine, unlike the other party, had been fulfilling the Minsk agreements signed in September responsibly. "That is why I came to Brussels to coordinate our future steps with the European partners, who demonstrated an attitude of partnership to Ukraine. I'd like to express gratitude to Donald Tusk and leaders of the countries for their joint support," the President noted.

The Head of State has a cautious optimism regarding the prospects of implementation of the given agreements. "If the Minsk memorandum is violated, it will lead to further tough measures from the European Commission and the United States," he said. He reminded that the declaration had been signed by the Presidents of Ukraine, Russia and France, as well as by the Chancellor of Germany. Thus, it provides for personal responsibility for the implementation of the agreements.

There are several key part of Poroshenko's statement that are in doubt. Russia still does not recognize that it has fighters in Ukraine, for instance, so it's not clear that they will withdraw those troops as a result of this agreement.

But one key sticking point jumped out at us -- the mention of "hostages." Surely chief on this list would be Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian airforce pilot currently in pre-trial detention and facing murder charges in Moscow for the deaths of two Russian journalists whom she almost certainly never encountered during combat in eastern Ukraine. However, as we've reported below, there is doubt as to whether Savchenko's name is on the list of prisoners to be exchanged. Now the Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta is reporting that Savchenko won't end her hunger strike:

Translation: Despite Poroshenko's statement, Nadiya Savchenko refused to stop her hunger strike.

-- James Miller, 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
What Has Ukraine Given Up In Today's Minsk Deal?
Journalist Maxim Eristavi spoke to BBC 5 about the new Minsk ceasefire. Eristavi believes that this is like the last ceasefire, except that it gives the Russian-backed rebels even more control, and this deal will likely fail just like the last one:

Eristavi points out that the demarcation line will push Ukrainian forces further back from where they were in September. But Eristavi's key point is that there are mixed signals and unanswered questions on almost every point in the deal (see our summary of the deal here).

One concession that Eristavi did not mention -- in the first Minsk deal, Ukraine granted amnesty for all separatists who were not  guilty of capital crimes. However, as far as we can tell, while amnesty for combatants is included in the list of concessions, we have not seen any stipulation that those guilty of certain crimes will be exempt from amnesty. It's possible Ukraine has capitulated this point as well. It's also possible that the stipulations have not been spelled out in the agreement, which will almost certainly lead to more conflict as this deal is implemented.

-- James Miller


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Will Savchenko Be Released in POW Exchange?
Early today, Mark Feygin, the Russian attorney for Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, currently in pre-trial detention on murder charges, said he believed Savchenko was included in the list of POWs to be exchanged between Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatist fighters in southeastern Ukraine.

Translation: Supposedly she is included in the list for exchange.

More than eight hours ago, Feygin tweeted the following:



Translation: The situation has been clarified. Savchenko's case is formally continuing. It will be completed in procedural fashion. Although the innocence of Savchenko is obvious.

That seemed to indicate that while Russian authorities would not formally drop the case, it might be possible to release her on procedural grounds, despite the fact that her pre-trial detention was extended yesterday.

Savchenko's case was discussed during the Minsk talks, and observers were optimistic about her release.

Translation: Poroshenko: the question of the release of the Ukrainian war pilot Nadiya Savchekno was discussed during the talks.

But then Feygin was quoted four hours ago as saying Savchenko would not be included in the POW exchange, the pro-government regnum.ru reported at 18:39 Moscow time.The Interpreter has a translation:

Lawyers for the Ukrainian saboteur and Ukrainska Rada deputy Nadiya Savchekno report that their client nonetheless did not end up in the list of POWs to be exchanged. Mark Feygin, one of Savchenko's three lawyers, stated that according to information from his sources, Savchenko was not included in the list of POWs compiled as a result of the Minsk talks.The list provides for an exchange of prisoners by the formula "all for all."

Earlier, Feygin reported that his client hopes that she would be put in the POWs exchange list and that she can be released from the Russian prison and get back to Ukraine. Feygin said that he and his colleagues plan to persuade Savchenko to end her hunger strike in connection with the news about her possible release. Doctors at the prison hospital Matrosskaya Tishina fear for her life. Physicians believe that soon Savchenko will have to be force-fed fats into her system otherwise her life is in danger.

As Feygin himself, who regularly provides updates, has not confirmed any of this, we cannot be sure the story is true and are awaiting further comments from him.

It is possible that Russian authorities may find a way to release Savchenko, even if they do not concede that she is a prisoner-of-war, as they need to maintain the fiction that Russia is not party to the war in Ukraine.

On February 9, Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, now barred from his homeland on the Crimean Peninsula under Russian occupation, urged Savchenko to end her fast, LB.ua and Ukrinform reported.

"You must save your life in order to come out to freedom and fight with Russia by other means," he said, noting that he himself had once staged a hunger strike, and Dr. Andrei Sakharov convinced him to end it.

The World Medical Association has ruled that "force-feeding is unethical and never justified," as it can be a form of torture.


-- 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
France May Now Sell Warships to Russia As Early As Next Week

Despite the significant pessimism surrounding the likelihood that the Minsk deal will create any new ceasefire, France may already be taking steps to use the peace deal to justify selling to Russia two amphibious assault warships which were originally slated to be delivered last year. Business Insider reports:

The independent newswire Interfax quotes a military-diplomatic source as saying the agreement of the cease-fire deal could mean the Elysee Palace can now grant permission for the transfer of the Mistral-class helicopter carriers. The ships could be delivered in the first half of March.

Of course, this is not the first time in which those on the Russian side of the deal have expressed hope that a conclusion to the stand-off is imminent. Back in November the Russia side reportedly set a firm deadline for the end of the month for the first of the ships to be delivered, threatening legal action to recover its investment if the French side reneged on the deal.

We've yet to see comments from the French government on this issue.

-- James Miller

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