And finally, you can view your Pressimus profile by clicking on your profile image, and selecting your profile, and you can customize your Pressimus settings by selecting settings.
Watch quick explainer video
Finish
X

Request Invitation




Submit
Close
Submit
Stream by
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 393

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
Readability View
Press View
Show oldest first
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Fault Lines Between Ukrainian Government And Russian-Backed Rebels Exposed And Primed For Rupture

The Minsk agreements of both September and February are widely discussed in the media as agreements on the creation of a ceasefire, but the publicly available text of both agreements goes beyond this and establish a rough outline for a more-permanent peace. The deals established a demarcation line for the temporary ceasefire, but always made two things clear: 1) the Donbass is still Ukraine and 2) a permanent political reconciliation is the end goal.

Part of that reconciliation, spelled out in both Minsk I and Minsk II, is that the separatist territories would be granted special semi-autonomous status, they would hold local elections according to Ukrainian law, and all illegal and foreign military groups would stand down and/or withdraw.

One of the many problems with the Minsk agreements: the order of operations was never clear. Now the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has amended the law granting "special status" to the Donbass to ensure that local elections and the withdrawal of Russian forces happens first.

Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko, tweeted these sentiments after the bill was passed:


In an unrelated tweet he added:

Russia and the Russian-backed separatists see things very differently.

There is another problem -- the continued fighting on several fronts across eastern Ukraine has led the Ukrainian President to declare the ceasefire as broken and Ukraine's Prime Minister to say that Ukraine's military should be on high alert:

Now the Russian-backed separatists have advanced north of a river crossing north of Lugansk and there are reports that the Ukrainian government are preparing to retake the crossing.

In other words, while the relatively-low level of violence has allowed the political process to advance, the Ukrainian parliament is unwilling to give the Russian-backed separatists large concessions without significant progress. Because of this, the serious fault lines between the two sides along several of these issues have been exposed.

And it's only a matter of time before there is a new earthquake in eastern Ukraine.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukrainian Troops Reported To Be Prepared To Use Force If Russian-Backed Fighters Do Not Withdraw From Riverbank

Earlier this afternoon we reported that the office of the governor of the Lugansk region had announced that Russian-backed fighters had advanced across the Seversky Donets river near Stanitsa Luganskaya and were now setting up a defensive position on the northern bank.

Informator.lg.ua now reports citing an unnamed source, that Russian-backed fighters have also crossed a rail bridge in the same area. According to the source, several Ukrainian soldiers were dispatched to demand that they peacefully returned to their positions on the other side of the river (the river forms the natural shape of the demarcation line established in the Minsk agreement in this area).

The source told Informator that the Ukrainian troops do not want to violate the ceasefire, but fear a provocation by the separatists.

The Interpreter translates:

In the event that the demand is not fulfilled, the troops of the 17th tank brigade are planning to restore control over said territory by force.

Informator notes that Dmytro Tymchuk, a Ukrainian military analyst and founder of Information Resistance, had claimed on March 13 that a large enemy force had been redeployed towards Stanitsa Luganskaya, numbering no less than 600 fighters and around 30 units of armour.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Rada Passes Special Status Bill With Amendment Demanding Elections Under Ukrainian Law Beforehand

Interfax-Ukraine reports that the Verkhovna Rada has passed the bill on the special self-governing status for some areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The bill was passed with supporting votes from 296 deputies.

We are not yet certain which settlements are to be granted 'special status.' This is an issue which has been problematic since the signing of the first Minsk agreement in September last year.

The decision taken by the Rada today refers to the affected area as occupying the territory between the Russian border, the Azov sea and the demarcation line "established in the Minsk memorandum of September 19, 2014." 

Ukrainska Pravda reports that the bill was passed with the important amendment that the self-governing status would only be granted after the holding of legitimate elections under Ukrainian law in the occupied territories. 

This is likely to be considered a breach of the Minsk agreement by the separatists.

The bill stipulates that, for the holding of such elections, there must be freedom for opposition parties to campaign and equal access to media. To that end, Ukrainian broadcast and print media must be allowed distribution in the occupied regions.

The Rada also voted on a motion to recognise parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as "occupied territory" until the withdrawal of "illegal armed groups, their military hardware, fighters and mercenaries from Ukrainian territory and the re-establishment of Ukrainian control over the state border."

Ukrainska Pravda notes that Oleh Lyashko and Oleh Beryozyuk, the leader of Samopomich, had amended the text to refer to the withdrawal of the Russian army before it was put to a vote.

The motion passed with 286 deputies voting in favour.

-- Pierre Vaux
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian-Backed Fighters Reportedly Cross Seversky Donets River To Set Up New Position On Northern Bank

Novosti Donbassa reports that the press office of the governor of the Lugansk region, Hennadiy Moskal, has announced that Russian-backed fighters have crossed the Seversky Donets river near Stanitsa Luganskaya to establish a defensive position on the northern bank. This is a significant move and suggests an attempt at an advance beyond the natural front line which has been created by this section of the river.


150317-brige-wide.png

The bridge is only remaining link across the river near Stanitsa Luganskaya as the others have been blown. This bridge itself was severely damaged by a blast on January 21 this year, and remains passable only at risk by car or foot.

Moskal's office claimed that the fighters, militants from the self-declared 'Lugansk People's Republic' (LNR), had begun constructing a defensive position.

To counter this, Ukrainian troops had moved forward to build their own defences north of the crossing. The governor's office reported that there had been no fighting between the two sides so far, and that the distance between the two positions was around 300 metres.

This would be the first separatist position north of the Seversky Donets since Ukrainian forces retook settlements to the north last summer.

On January 27, Russian-backed fighters were repelled while attempting to cross the river near Stanitsa Luganskaya on a pontoon bridge. 


-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Protests and Riots After Ukrainian Soldiers Run Over Child With Armored Vehicle North of Donetsk
Last night a tragedy unfolded in Kostyantynivka, a town halfway between Donetsk and Kramatorsk which is controlled by the Ukrainian military.

The Kyiv Post reports:

The accident took place at around 3 p.m. in the center of the city of 95,000 residents. The armored vehicle lost control on the road and hit the little girl, her aunt and her baby cousin. The aunt received heavy injuries and was taken to a local hospital, but the baby was not injured, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

Ukrainian authorities say that the soldiers driving the armored vehicle were drinking, and they have been arrested and are facing charges. If the solders are found guilty then their commanders will also be "held responsible."

The Kyiv Post also adds that after the accident there were protests, and then riots.

Meanwhile, videos of unrest in Kostyantynivka have become viral in social networks. Most of them showed people shouting in the streets and fires burning. The local office of the interior ministry said protesters burned tires in the streets.

Videos posted yesterday showed angry crowds lashing out at the Ukrainian military.

Later last night, police and military vehicles were set on fire by rioters in the town. According to the news agency RBC, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry claims that the riots were being led by "visiting separatists."

Ilya Kiv, deputy head of the Donetsk regional branch of the Interior Ministry, claimed on Ukraine's TSN television channel, that the individual behind the unrest had been identified and was an active support of the separatists. Kiv said that the individual concerned had left the town after Ukrainian forces retook it on July 8 last year, but had suddenly returned after the accident to capitalist on it and organize protests. 

RBC notes that Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister, had earlier suggested that the protests and anti-military actions in Konstantinov were organized by "separatists' accomplices," while speaking to the 112 television channel. Herashchenko spoke, however, about a group of instigators rather than an individual.

We have not seen any hard evidence that suggests that separatists organized the riots, and the initial protests appeared spontaneous. On one hand, the separatists have bragged about their ability to cause trouble in cities that they no longer control, and the propagandists in Russia have jumped on this incident to embarrass and discredit the Ukrainian military and government. On the other, there is a lot of latent anger in eastern Ukraine, and the Interior Ministry's comments may look insensitive to those who already do not trust the Ukrainian government.

It's clear from Peter Leonard's reporting that the situation in the city is extremely tense today.

-- James Miller, Pierre Vaux
X

Acknowledgements