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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 458

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
Two Drones Shot Down In Eastern Ukraine Were Israeli Designed, Contracted By Russian Military
As we reported earlier, a drone shot down in eastern Ukraine has components that were manufactured in Israel. Its complexity indicates that it may have been operated by the Russian military, which is what the Ukrainian government is claiming.

The Guardian's Christian Borys says that this drone and another, shot down on May 8, are definitive proof that the Russian military is flying drones over Ukraine:

Russia licensed the Searcher technology from Israel for manufacture by the Ural Works of Civil Aviation with the name Forpost. Gressel said it was the most advanced drone Russia had in current service, costing up to $6m (£3.8m) each.

Chazin, a former Israeli soldier, also believes the drone is a Searcher type. “A normal drone pilot cannot fly this drone. It takes years just to understand the idea of how to build this technology,” he said.

Alexander Golts, a Russian military analyst, agreed: “We’re talking about a complex weapon, you need to specially train and prepare to use it, not just one or two months but years.”

As Ukrainian experts were picking this drone apart, the Dnipro-1 battalion announced on Thursday that it had shot down another drone, which looked to be of the same make. Markian Lubkivsky, of the Ukrainian security services, said he believed the drone had been manufactured in 2013 at the Ural plant.

We've previously written about Israeli drones sold to the Russian government. Israel made the decision to license these weapons for use in Russia sometime after 2010, after Russia's sale of advanced anti-aircraft missiles, the S-300, to Iran was suspended. Some have speculated that as part of this negotiating process, Israel refused to see drones to Ukraine which has repeatedly requested them. The presence of Israeli drones in eastern Ukraine is not only further proof of the involvement of the Russian government, and another sign that the Russian military is escalating activity in Ukraine, but it is also an illustration, a consequence, of the complex global politics in which Russia and the rest of the world are engaged.

-- James Miller
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
The Evidence Is Clear -- Ukraine's Front Line is 'Warming Up'
Journalist Oliver Carroll has just spent several days in Lugansk, and sent several tweets on his impression of what's happening:

Carroll is an experienced field reporter who has spent time in Ukraine's battlefields since the start of this conflict, so his impression should mean something to readers.

Carroll is also hardly alone in his prediction that a new eruption in fighting is just around the corner. Voice of America reports that  the Ukrainian government, and some Moscow analysts, believe that the Russian-backed separatists are preparing a summer offensive:

In an interview Wednesday with the BBC, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he believes the Russian-backed rebels are preparing a summer offensive.

...

Pavel Felgenhauer, a defense analyst and columnist with Novaya Gazeta newspaper in Moscow, argued there are few signs pointing to a de-escalation of the military confrontation in Donbas.

"If you want a frozen conflict," Felgenhauer said, "you have to try and rebuild the basis of peaceful existence, at least to some extent."

Instead of that, he argued, "all the effort is going into re-arming and reorganizing the rebel forces and proxy forces for a new offensive, which means it is inevitable."

This matches what the staff at The Interpreter has seen -- the preparations for a major offensive are underway 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
Men Captured By Ukrainian Military Tell OSCE That They Are Russian Soldiers

The OSCE has visited the two men who were captured by Ukrainian soldiers near Schastye. Both men admit that they are active-duty Russian soldiers and that this is not their first deployment to Ukraine:

The SMM visited the two individuals currently held at the military hospital in Kyiv, who received medical treatment. The SMM spoke to the two individuals without the presence of Ukrainian authorities. The SMM assessed their general condition and gathered their accounts about their capture.

One of them said he had received military education in the Russian Federation. Both individuals claimed that they were members of a unit of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. They claimed that they were on a reconnaissance mission. They were armed but had no orders to attack. Both of them said that they came under fire, got injured and were captured on 16 May 2015 at the contact line near Shchastya. One of them said he had received orders from his military unit to go to Ukraine; he was to “rotate” after three months. Both of them said they had been to Ukraine “on missions” before. One of them stressed repeatedly that there were no Russian troops involved in fighting in Ukraine. Both said they were provided with a Ukrainian lawyer who visited them today.

The Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) is also saying that a LifeNews interview with Yekaterina Aleksandrova, the wife of Aleksandr Aleksandrov, was rehearsed.

Markiyan Lubkivsky, SBU spokesman told BBC Russian Service (translated by The Interpreter):

The interview on the Russian channels with the wife was rehearsed. The wife must have known where her husband was because he works in the human resources department of his army unit.

Ukrainian military officials said Aleksandrov is an active officer of the Defense Ministry's GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate).

In the LifeNews show, Aleksandrovna said she didn't know her husband was in the Donbass in order to join the "militia" of the self-proclaimed "Lugansk People's Republic." She said that while her husband had served in the army on a contract, he had long ago resigned (translated by The Interpreter).

"When I saw Sasha [Aleksandr] on the Internet in photographs, at first I could not believe that this was my husband. But then I had to believe it. He was serving on a contract and resigned in December 2014 before New Year's. He said he was not happy with everything, and that he had been offered a good job in Samara. The pay was good and together we made this decision and I supported him in this.

He once told me that he had relatives in Lugansk Region on his father's side. He also said that he had to take some kind of training courses in Voronezh. He called me and said everything was fine and that he would be coming home soon."


LifeNews is a pro-Kremlin channel which collaborates closely with Russian intelligence and law-enforcement.

Aleksandrova also claimed her husband was tortured:

In the video, sasha is speaking quietly, his jaw isn't moving, he practically doesn't blink. I think that he was tortured after he was wounded.

The SBU said they offered the detainees the opportunity to call relatives, but Aleksandrov was unable to reach his wife, said RBC.ru.

-- 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
Ukraine SBU Says Captured Russian Soldiers Are Part of Mission to Capture Schastye

There is no question that in the last week or so there has been a a renewed focus within the Russian-backed fighters on the city of Schastye and several other key positions on the Seversky Donets river, north of Lugansk. The key goal appears to be to secure key river crossings, while also potentially paving the way for a push north in several locations at one time. A successful push at several of these locations would not only win the Russian proxies the river, it could also leave Ukrainian frontline positions in yet another "pincer." By attacking northward at multiple positions between Lugansk and Donetsk, particularly around Gorlovka (Horlivka) and Schastye, the strategy makes it hard for Ukraine to respond to all of these threats.

Now the Ukrainian SBU says that the two Russian Special Forces soldiers captured near Schastye this week were part of a mission to capture the town and secure a key power plant to the north.  Kyiv Post reports:

Based on information gleaned from two Russian military intelligence officers who were captured on May 16 in the area, their autonomous group of 16 soldiers has been conducting reconnaissance and hit-and-run missions since March, SBU counterintelligence chief Vitaliy Haida said at a briefing in Kyiv. They were to carry out missions until June.

Russia’s leadership has repeatedly denied sending actively serving Russian soldiers into Ukraine.

On the day of their capture, a firefight erupted near the Luhansk Power Plant between Ukrainian forces and up to 15 Russian military intelligence special operations soldiers. One GRU officer was killed, and three officers were wounded in addition to the two captives. A Ukrainian junior sergeant was killed and three were wounded.

Fourteen of the special forces group currently operating near Schastya have been identified, Haida said, adding that the SBU has already identified 60 Russian soldiers with ranks as high as major that have fought in Donbas from this particular unit.

-- 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 Down Russian Drone Near Donetsk

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has announced that a Russian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) was shot down by Ukrainian troops yesterday.


 The drone is clearly identifiable by its markings as a Forpost UAV, manufactured by Russia's Uralskiy Zavod Grazhdanskoy Aviatsii (Ural Civil Aviation Factory), a subsidiary of the state arms complex Oboronrprom. The drone bears the serial number 923 and was manufactured in 2013.

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The volunteer-based Dnipro-1 Battalion claimed to have shot down the drone near the village of Vodyanoye, just outside Donetsk.

The battalion's Facebook post noted that Russian-backed forces have used such drones not only for reconnaissance, but to adjust the targeting of artillery strikes on positions near Peski. 

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The battalion posted more photos of the wreckage: 

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The drones antenna was evidently manufactured in 2013 by Israel Aerospace Industries:

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Here is a photo of an intact Forpost at an Oboronprom arms exhibition in 2013:

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-- Pierre Vaux

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