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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 366

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
Ukrainian President Requests International Peacekeepers in Eastern Ukraine
Some late-breaking news:

24 Today has these details:

During a meeting of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council on February 18, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Ukraine may ask the United Nations to dispatch peacekeepers to Ukraine...

A second issue raised by Poroshenko is the legislative procedure for introducing martial law, considering the particularities of the current hybrid war being waged against Ukraine by Russia. Joint military training and improving medical treatment of injured soldiers were also issues raised during the meeting.

As far as we can tell, there is no plan, yet, to declare martial law:

-- James Miller
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
More Reports On The Withdrawal From Debaltsevo

We just carried a must-read report from Kyiv Post on the Ukrainian military's withdrawal from Debaltsevo. The Telegraph is also carrying a report by Roland Oliphant who has spoken with some of the soldiers in Artemivsk. Some of these men contradict the statement by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that 80% of the troops had been withdrawn:

"Only half of us got out," said a soldier with a head wound who declined to give his name. "People got out how they could, alone, together, in groups. The lorry I was in got hit on the way, that's how I got this," he said.

Others said there was no telling how many were still there.
"There is still fighting; some have been killed, some may have been taken prisoner. We don't know how many are left," said Sergei, a unit commander who said his men had been stationed outside Debaltseve for most of the battle.

Meanwhile, the rebels said 153 Ukrainian soldiers had given themselves up.

"It's an artillery fight. First they pound us with the big stuff. Then come the tanks, then come the infantry," said a member of the Ukrainian army's 13th brigade who rolled up the road to safety in Artemivsk on Wednesday afternoon. "They've got these Russian tanks – stronger, more modern than anything we've got."

"My company went in with 150 men. Of them, 45 are left," said the soldier, who gave his name only as Misha.

The article goes on to quote Semen Semenchenko, a Ukrainian MP and leader of the Donbass Volunteer Battalion, who says that many bodies had been left behind.

"These are not testament to Russian superiority, but of the massive heroism of the people's army and the gross incompetence, if not worse, of the high command," he wrote.

Wall Street Journal's James Marson has also filed a report on the retreat, noting that despite Poroshenko's statements that the withdrawal was well organized, "the retreat was at times chaotic, bloody and, many soldiers said, came much too late." Marson interviewed a Ukrainian Lieutenant who says that by Tuesday his troops were nearly out of ammunition:

“If you stay there, it’s capture or death,” he said. “The decision to leave came to everyone at the same time.”

With no transport remaining, Lt. Prekharya gathered his men as darkness fell, delaying their departure as a drone hovered overhead.

They made their way through the freezing night, looking out for enemy checkpoints and hiding from drones. The unit escaped undetected, arriving at the Ukrainian checkpoint at Luhanske just before 5 a.m.

“We were freezing like bitches, but we made it,” he said. “Some could hardly stand.”

Others weren’t so lucky. Soldiers described how one column of vehicles was ambushed by separatist tanks, leaving several dead and injured and forcing the survivors to continue on foot.

According to this report, the withdrawal started yesterday, not today, which is directly contradicting a late briefing from the National Security and Defense Council:
However, it's not clear when the withdrawal was ordered:

There are many unanswered questions today, but clearly Poroshenko will be facing scrutiny at home and abroad for his strategic decisions.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Did Poroshenko Order The Retreat From Debaltsevo, Or Did The Soldiers Leave On Their Own?

Earlier this morning we wrote an analysis of statements by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.  Poroshenko said that he had ordered the withdrawal of the troops from Debaltsevo, and he suggested that the battle was a victory.

The problem -- Kyiv Post has published an account of the withdrawal, featuring the words of multiple soldiers from multiple units. One of them says that the troops began to withdraw before Poroshenko ordered the troops to pull back, and another said that the troops defending the city were ordered to stay:

Poroshenko said that soldiers of 128th, 25th, 30th brigade, fighters of special forces and some policemen managed to leave the Debaltseve area. He said it was 80 percent of troops that were sent to the area.

“We preserved a base for defending the country. This is a persuasive proof of the defense potential of the army and the effectiveness of the military command," Poroshenko said before leaving to the east in order to personally greet the soldiers who left Debaltseve.

But the soldiers are angry because they say they had actually been told to stay put, and effectively left to die in a trap. Prekharia, who had survived the Ilovaisk massacre in late August, said that the head of General Staff Viktor Muzhenko simply repeated the mistake, allowing an encirclement to happen once again, which claimed hundreds of lives.

“In Ilovaisk we could believe Mr. Muzhenko, who said that the Russian troops abruptly showed up there. But In Debaltseve, we can't trust him anymore. It was obvious that the military commanders failed in their job," Prekharia said. “The commanders should have given the order to break through and retreat as soon as the threat of encirclement became obvious."

The entire post is definitely worth reading and can be read here: Escape from Debaltseve: Ukraine's soldiers tell how they got out alive.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
'Local Coal Miner and Tractor Driver Raise Novorossiya Flag Over Debaltsevo'

The reference is to a remark made by President Vladimir Putin during the Minsk talks, as Buzzfeed reported:

“Of course, it’s always bad to lose, of course, it’s always a pain for the loser, especially if you’re losing to yesterday’s miners or yesterday’s tractor drivers,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript of his remarks. “But life is life, it’ll go on for sure.”

The man on the left in the picture is reportedly a Buryat Mongol from the Buryat Autonomous Republic of the Russian Federation who has been fighting in the Donbass. The man on the right is Vitaly Kiselyev, the deputy defense minister of the self-proclaimed "Lugansk People's Republic" and deputy commander of the "people's militia."


-- 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
Savchenko's Sister Allowed Prison Visit, But Ukrainian Doctor Not Let In
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