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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 401

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
Passenger Bus Runs Over Mine Near Artyomovsk; At Least 4 Dead, 11 Wounded

The Donetsk Regional State Administration (OGA) reports that t least 4 people have been killed and 11 wounded after a bus traveling from Gorlovka to Artyomovsk (Artemivsk) hit a mine this evening, Novosti.dn.ua  reports.


Novosti.dn.ua reports that at 20:30 Kiev time, a report came into the duty officer at the Artyomovsk City Police Department that a passenger bus had exploded on a mine in a field in the district of Mayorsk.

From preliminary reports, it appears that the driver had made the decision to go around a checkpoint and driven along a dirt road toward Gorlovka. As he crossed a field, the rear wheel of the bus hit a mine.

-- 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
OSCE SMM Reports 'Small Arm's Shot' Re: Alleged Firing on Gen. Lentsov's Convoy Yesterday

An incident on the road to Shirokino (Shyrokine) yesterday in which a joint mission of ceasefire monitors allegedly came under fire has been interpreted differently by Russian state TV and pro-Russian separatist versus pro-Kiev bloggers -- with the much-anticipated OSCE SMM report just released late today not completely helping to resolve the dispute.

According to a LifeNews video, a convoy carrying Russian Maj. General Aleksandr Lentsov, assigned to the Joint Coordination and Control Center  (JCCC) to monitor the ceasefire agreed at the Minsk talks, appears to come under fire.  (Lentsov is the Russian general who has come under great scrutiny, notably when for a time it was believed he appeared in disguise with the forces of the self-declared "Donetsk People's Republic; this was later proven untrue.)

The JCCC was created by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and is itself observed by the OSCE monitors; some have pointed out that obvious conflict of interest involved in having a general from Russia -- which is instigator and party to the conflict and supplier of the militants -- to monitor the ceasefire.

LifeNews, a pro-Kremlin TV station close to Russian intelligence and law-enforcement, released a clip yesterday purporting to show the incident near Shirokino and it was also covered by TASS.




In the video at 0:17 a brief shot can be heard, possibly with a silencer.

The video has been translated by Kazzura, which has consistently supported the pro-separatist fighters and has often published on the pro-Russian Vineyard of the Saker blog.

We listened to the translation, and in one part, at 1:24 the translator includes in the sub-titles the phrase:  ""I can't make it out, sound quality is too low". 

We agree the sound quality at that point on the videotape, which involves speech not of speakers on the scene, but of a man calling in on the radio, is not very distinct. It sounds as if the man on the radio is saying "Just now the assault group did not let through [a patronymic?]" but this is not definitive.

After that indistinct phrase, the man on the radio says "because a sniper is striking at 1,300 meters" -- which is how Kazzura also translated this line.  Because the speaker says "at 1,300 meters" rather than "from 1,300 away," this line might also be understood as "at the 1,300-meter mark."

The point here is not that Maj. Gen. Lentsov and his party, which includes a man speaking in with a Baltic accent in Russian (who could be an observer from the Baltic states or Poland), are saying they themselves heard a sniper shot. They are reporting what another military man said over the radio.

 OSCE's spokesman for the SMM had this to say yesterday:

A journalist covering fighting in the area reported as follows:


That suggested that the incident may have been staged for Russian state media.

A number of commenters on Twitter said they believed the incident was faked, especially as the SMM spokesman himself had said the convoy wasn't shot at.

One blogger said he believed there was firing at the convoy:


The geolocation indicated in this tweet, based on the visibility of a silo through the trees, would place the alleged firing incident just at the eastern approach to Shirokino here.

The incident is reminiscent of the firing near a BBC crew at the Donetsk Airport while they were interiewing the "Donetsk People's Republic" defense minister -- artillery fire seemed to come just in time to establish the DNR's claim that the Ukrainians were breaking the ceasefire, although the defense minister concedes there was both outgoing and incoming fire.

The SMM report released today then says the following, with emphasis added:

In order to monitor a planned meeting between the Russian Federation Major-General, Representative of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and the Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, the SMM went separately to Shyrokyne (“DPR”-controlled, 20km east of Mariupol, 102km south of Donetsk). At 16.30hrs the SMM observed one small arm’s shot fired closely missing one of the JCCC vehicles. The SMM could not ascertain the direction or origin of the fire. Furthermore, the SMM heard heavy machine gun fire from the vicinity of Shyrokyne. Subsequently the entire convoy did not proceed further to Shyrokyne.

In the area of Shyrokyne at 07:15hrs, the SMM heard and saw two tank shell impacts (125mm) originating from the eastern outskirts of the village and targeting a Ukrainian Armed Forces positions, located 500m from the SMM’s location. These were followed by 18 outgoing mortars shells (82mm) being fired from two Ukrainian Armed Forces positions, one located 400m north-west and the other 400m south-east of the SMM’s position. The SMM could see the equipment and observe the smoke coming out of the barrels. At 10:23hrs, the SMM heard sounds consistent with two incoming tank shells (125mm) in the vicinity of a position of the Ukrainian Armed Forces located 500m east of SMM’s location. The SMM saw the impacts from a distance but could not ascertain the distance or direction from where the shells were fired.

At a position between Sopyne (government-controlled, 15km east of Mariupol, 4km north-west of Shyrokyne) and Lebedynske (government-controlled, 8km east of Mariupol, 7,5km north-west of Shyrokyne) between 12:47 and 14:45hrs the SMM heard small-arms and machine-gun fire in the vicinity of government-controlled Berdianske (18km east of Mariupol, 3km west of Shyrokyne). Between 15:45 and 15:50hrs, the SMM observed three incoming and outgoing 82mm shells most likely originating two kilometres north of SMM’s location and impacting four kilometres east of SMM’s position.

The SMM unarmed/unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) monitored both sides of the contact line east of Mariupol. In “DPR”-controlled Shyrokyne the UAV observed eight main battle tanks (MBT). In Bezimenne (“DPR”-controlled, 18km east of Mariupol) the UAV saw 10 MBTs and in Michurine (“DPR-controlled, 50km north of Shyrokyne) seven MBTs. In government-controlled Starohnativka (48km south of Donetsk) the UAV observed one MBT and one anti-tank gun (100mm). Furthermore, in Sopyne the UAV observed 3 MBTs.


So it seems as if for the OSCE SMM, the story went from "no fire" even as journalists were blocked from the area so they couldn't see what was happening and Russian state TV cameras were brought in to cover "an outrage" -- to "one small arm’s shot fired closely missing one of the JCCC vehicles."

It's not clear what process led to this difference -- disagreement within the delegation? further eyewitness reports? -- but nothing about any "snipers" is mentioned in SMM's report.

Meanwhile, reports continued today of the shelling of Shirokino, with Ukrainian spokesmen complaining about violations of the ceasefire.

 -- 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
US Delivers Humvees To Ukraine

The first batch of ten HMMWV all-terrain armoured cars (commonly referred to as Humvees) has arrived on a US military flight in Boryspil, Ukraine.

The United States will supply another 20 Humvees as part of a total of 230 armoured cars to be delivered to Ukraine.

Leviy Bereg reports that President Poroshenko has said that all these vehicles will be delivered within the next 45 days.

The first Humvees will be received by the 95th independent air-mobile brigade and the SBU.

Yuriy Biryukov, an adviser to the president, posted photos of the delivery on his Facebook page:


1006093_1583205655281579_356637821352248


10150676_1583205718614906_17740940352833

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Reports Of Fighting Near Mariupol

Novosti Donbassa reported this morning that Oleg Sushinsky, a press officer for the Ukrainian military headquarters in Mariupol claimed that Russian-backed fighters had repeatedly violated the ceasefire in the area during the night.

Sushinsky told Novosti Donbassa that there had been 11 violations of the ceasefire near Mariupol over the previous day.

The Interpreter translates:

In particular, according to him, the village of Shirokino was shelled from midnight until 4 am. The separatists used mortars with 82 and 120 mm calibres. 

"The Minsk agreements have been violated due to the use of 120 mm calibre weapons, which, according to the agreements, must be withdrawn from the demarcation line," noted Sushinsky in his comments.

He also said that during yesterday's fighting, which lasted almost the entire day, one serviceman in the Ukrainian armed forces had been wounded; he received medical treatment.

Sushinsky also said that enemy reconnaissance efforts were continuing, with a drone spotted above the village of Pionerskoye.

Later today, Mariupol news site 0629.com.ua reported that they had received reports from residents of an unidentified flying object over the city. Witnesses described it as resembling a balloon or blimp.

Civil defence chief Sergei Litvinenko said the authorities had received no such reports themselves and insisted that, were such reports true, the military would have tracked and reported it.

0629 published a photo of the allegedly sighted object:


cbd0a62e74b7efce05511c3f9acb5da6.jpg


Meanwhile, 0629 was told by the press office of the Donbass volunteer battalion that they, along with fighters from Praviy (Right) Sector, had conducted a sweep around Shirokino, engaging and killing a large number of Russian fighters.

According to the Donbass press office, the Ukrainian troops killed 29 Russian spetsnaz soldiers who made up two diversionary groups.

The Ukrainian volunteer battalion claimed that they had performed the operation without any losses. 


-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Railway Blast In Dnipropetrovsk Region Reported

Interfax-Ukraine reports that there has been a blast on a railway line in the Dnipropetrovsk region today.

A "source in law enforcement" told Interfax-Ukraine that the explosion went off on a section of track between Demurino and Prosyanaya, in the east of the region.

A train carrying coal from Donetsk to Dnipropetrovsk was passing over the section of track as the blast went off.

No wagons were derailed and there were, the source said, no casualties. 


150325-dnipro-rail-small.png

-- Pierre Vaux

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