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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 371

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 Policeman, Russian-Backed Militant Die in Clashes in Mariupol

A Ukrainian policeman as well as a Russian-backed militant both died in clashes in Mariupol today.


 Translation: a clash occurred in Mariupol between saboteurs; one fighter is killed, a bag is enabled.

Vyacheslav Abroskin, head of the Donetsk Interior Ministry, reported on his Facebook about the attack, says 24today.net

Today at 18:15, in Mariupol in the district of Pashkovskogo Street, a rapid-reaction group from the Sokol special division of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry and the traffic patrol of the Interior Ministry of Ukraine stopped a car in Donetsk Region to check the drivers' passports.
The saboteur and reconnaissance group of militants opened fire. During the clash three police officers were severely wounded; one of them died in the hospital of his wounds.

One of the perpetrators was killed during a pursuit, another escaped from the scene of the incident. The Mariupol Police have been put on alert. An investigation is under way.

The militants' car was found to have explosives. Explosives technology is being operated at the site.

At the price of his life, a policeman in Donetsk Region prevented a terrorist attack that possibly might have taken the lives of dozens of civilians in Mariupol.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatick
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Says Russia Has Not Delivered Gas Kiev Paid For In Advance

One condition the Russian energy giant Gazprom placed on Ukraine is that Kiev has to pre-pay for its natural gas. But now the Ukrainian energy company Naftohaz says Gazprom has failed to deliver.

RFE/RL reports:

Naftohaz press secretary Alena Osmolovskaya said the Ukrainian company prepaid for some 114 million cubic meters of gas but received only 47 million cubic meters.

Osmolovskaya said Gazprom's failure to deliver the full amount of gas represents a violation of the three-party agreement reached between Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan, and European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger in Brussels on October 30.

Nafothaz said that agreement is a legally binding protocol.

Reuters adds more context:

The Ukrainian company said it had sent a notice of the breach of contract to the Ukrainian government and the European Commission in Brussels which had helped broker the deal. Russia is Europe's main gas supplier, and the EU is keen to ensure that supplies that transit Ukraine are not interrupted.

Last week Ukraine cut back supplies of gas to regions held by pro-Russian rebels, and Moscow began supplying gas to the separatist regions directly for the first time.

A Gazprom spokesman said at the time that the supplies to the rebel regions were being shipped under the contract with Naftogaz. Gazprom and Russian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Oilprice.com adds that Russia began supplying eastern Ukraine with gas for "humanitarian reasons" after Ukraine cut supplies last week:

Gazprom said it immediately began supplying gas to eastern Ukraine through two pumping stations on the two countries’ shared border. Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said his company was pumping the fuel at a rate of 12 million cubic meters per day. This was in addition to the 30 million cubic meters of gas per day that Ukraine already was receiving, according to Sergei Kupriyanov, a Gazprom spokesman.

Gazprom’s fuel deliveries to Ukraine – and their occasional interruptions – have been just one sore spot in the sour relations between Moscow and Kiev. Ukraine receives most of its gas from Russia, and at the same time pipelines transiting Ukraine provide Western Europe with about 30 percent of its gas, which comes from Russia.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Kharkiv Bomb May Have Been Anti-Personnel Mine Detonated by Radio or Phone, Prosecutor Says
Kharkiv Region Prosecutor Yury Danilchekno said at a briefing today that according to the bomb that went off and killed 3 people and wounded 10 on Sunday February 22 was an anti-personnel mine, Ukrainska Pravda reported, citing Interfax.ua.

According to the preliminary data of experts, an anti-personnel mine with a radio-guided device exploded. Its TNT equivalent was about 2 kg.

Experts are now studying whether the bomb was set off by a remote control or a mobile telephone. With this information, investigators can determined at what distance the perpetrator stood from the location of the explosion.

Initially two people were killed who were taking part in day of memorial for the Maidan revolution one year ago. Then a 15-year-old boy died today of his head injuries.

Vladimir Guzyr, deputy prosecutor general, said that detectives were "practically certain" that the remote-control mine was set "from 1:00 to 4:00 am, when the lights are turned off" in the city.

More than 200 people have been questioned as witnesses as well as 8 victims.

Police believe the bombing was a terrorist attack designed to destabilize the situation inn Kharkiv. Guzyr said one terrorist group, called Kharkiv Partisan was being looked at as a possible perpetrator, as well as another unnamed group.

He also said that a special investigative group would examine whether police had sufficiently swept the area of the parade before the event. Without mentioning any specific lapses, he said (translation by The Interpreter):
The shortcomings exposed in the work on these matters, especially in the activity of the investigative divisions has received the appropriate assessment. Certain recommendations have been made which would significantly influence the effectiveness of the investigation of this category of cases.


This is the 10th time a bomb has gone off in Kharkiv since November 2014 and the third time this year.

There was also another attack today in Kharkiv.

Translation: An attack has been made on a leader of the Kharkov EuroMaidan, Vasiliy Ryabko; his teeth were knocked out, he suffered a concussion.

-- 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
Ukraine's Currency, The Hryvnia, Falls Nearly 10% To Record Lows
Ukraine's currency is in crisis:

According to Bloomberg and Xe, the hryvnia is currently trading at approximately 28 to a U.S. dollar. 

XE.com-USD-UAH-Chart-20150223.png

To put things in perspective, when The Interpreter's editors Michael Weiss and James Miller were in Kiev in August, the hryvnia was trading at nearly 15 to a dollar, and nearly everyone whom we spoke with said that this was a crisis.

Reuters details the extent of today's slide:

The average hryvnia rate slid 10 percent on Monday to a fresh-record low of 30.55 to the dollar as of 1400 GMT, after Ukraine's military said ongoing rebel attacks were preventing it from withdrawing its heavy weapons from the front line in eastern Ukraine.

A trader at a large foreign bank in Ukraine said he was seeing market rates at around 31.3-31.8 to the dollar.

"For now, the market is weakening and there's no reason to see it stabilising so long as the war rolls on," he said.

The latest hryvnia level is nearly 30 percent weaker than the 21.7 rate foreseen in Ukraine' 2015 budget. If the weakness persists, it will upset the government's strict austerity plans.

Kyiv Post reports that Ukraine's Central Bank has jumped into action to stop the bleeding, something it is trying not to do anymore:

In a bid to halt the slide of Ukraine's hryvnia, the National Bank of Ukraine is capping foreign currency payments at $500,000 to limit outflows. "It's time to present a new administrative restriction," said NBU head Valeriya Gontareva in announcing the decision on Feb. 23.

The decision will involve only business entities. Moreover, companies with a letter of credit from foreign banks are not subject to the new regulation. Gontareva also said that prepayments will be checked to stop fraud.

Financial Times adds this pessimistic note from Tim Ash of Standard Bank:

Let's not beat around the bush - Ukraine is facing economic/financial meltdown.

There are many problems facing Ukraine, including Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine, and the conflict scenario therein - but the other big one is the leisurely approach to supporting Ukraine adopted by the West. Its an absolute travesty that Ukraine has not recevied any International Monetary Fund support since August 29, so like almost 6 months ago - and this was a credit that the West was saying had to be financially supported, and not allowed to fail.

Thus far, international monetary aid to Kiev is not working to stabilize the economy nor the currency. A key component of the IMF loan, for instance, requires a massive cut in government spending. Since the Ukrainian government has had to increase military and emergency spending to respond to the invasion of Russian troops and equipment, to say nothing of the aid it is trying to deliver to internally-displaced refugees, government budget cuts have largely come in the form of cutback in services and welfare programs at a time where the economy is hurting, unemployment is high, and international investors are hesitant to invest new money.

For the people in Ukraine, both those on the front lines of battle and those just trying to make ends meet, the crisis is real.

-- 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 To Get 3G Mobile Networks

A major step toward modernization -- despite the fact that cell phones are nearly as prolific in major Ukrainian cities as they are in much of Europe, we can attest from first-hand experience that the speed of mobile data networks are very slow.

Finally, 3G is coming to Ukraine: 

-- James Miller
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