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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukraine Live Day 463

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Heavy Fighting in Shirokino in Recent Days; 1 Ukrainian Soldier Killed, 3 Wounded

As Radio Svoboda,the Ukrainian service of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported today, heavy fighting continues around the area of Shirokino, a village on the road to the strategic port of Mariupol.

Svoboda published a video of a location where Russian-backed separatists are firing artillery, which they have called "Mayak"  (Beacon). This is a elevated area above Shirokino. The Ukrainian Donbass Battalion fighters say this is a convenient spot for monitoring the separatists' positions. The fighters explain that it would be very difficult to storm this elevated area, therefore the separatists methodically blanket it with artillery fire.

At the time this was filmed, the separatists were firing with 120 and 150 mm mortars. This account says one Donbass Battalion soldier was wounded during the shelling, and another died of shrapnel wounds.

A Ukrainian soldier at 4:26 says that when new troops rotated in they requested more ammunition, and were told by headquarters that "we have no combat actions going on" as it is a ceasefire. 

"My God, what do you mean, 'no'?! I said, 'Come out here, sit here, look there, see what is in fact happening here," the soldier says, gesturing toward the window where gunfire aimed at the Ukrainian position can be heard outside.

At the end of this video, another soldier tells the journalist that the battle of Shirokino is like a continuation of the battles of Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo.

Another account says two were wounded and one killed on May 25 -- it appears to have been the same battle.

Translation: During shelling of Shirokino, one Donbass fighter was killed and two were wounded.

This video was taken by the Republic Guard of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DNR). A fighter says that while OSCE monitors were in the area and a "European commission," it was quiet for a few days, then fighting resumed. also reported today that in the village of Razdol'noye in the Starobeshevsky District of Donetsk Region, separatist armor has been spotted by a building. One of the Russian-backed fighters is standing before 5 BMPs and some mortar launchers covered with tarps.


The militants were said to have set up a base in this town last fall, as ATOWaronDonbass reported in February 2015 (the video was said to be taken in the previous fall).

Razdol'noye (Rozdol'ne) is also a town to the north on the road to Mariupol.

This area is important to watch in terms of battles that may be staged in order to control the movement toward Mariupol.

Starobeshevo is on the crossroads from Amvrosievka, where there have been transfers of Russian armor in the past, and Matveyev Kurgan to Donetsk, the Dokuchayevsk junction with the Donetsk-Volnovakha highway, and Telmanovo, all areas which have seen battles.

Matveyev Kurgan is where the military convoy was spotted yesterday as we reported earlier.

It's the rail town where the wounded Buryat tank driver Dorzhi Batomunkuyev disembarked on his way to Debaltsevo.

Here's a map showing these locations:


-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, Pierre Vaux
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
‘In the Donbass, There is a War, But in Crimea, There is Terror,’ Residents Say
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
OSCE Reports Shelling, Movement of Armored Vehicles, Building of Defensive Positions

The OSCE continues to see examples of a broken ceasefire. Here are some excerpts from their latest report, dated yesterday, May 25, at 19:30 Kiev time:

The SMM, based on its monitoring – which was restricted by third parties and by security considerations* – observed ongoing fighting in and around Donetsk airport. Security concerns prevented the SMM from monitoring in the Shyrokyne area and in Avdiivka, both thought to be highly kinetic. The SMM observed military movements and presence on both sides of the contact line, and the construction of defensive fortifications in various locations in government-controlled areas.

The SMM observed that fighting continued in and around the destroyed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport, noting over 170 explosions during the reporting period[1]. Because of security restrictions, the SMM was unable to patrol in either the Shyrokyne area (20km east of Mariupol) or government-controlled Avdiivka (15km north of Donetsk).

The Ukrainian government also reported fighting which shut down a coke factory:

Ukrainian Armed Forces representatives in Avdiivka told the SMM over the phone that crater analysis conducted by them on 45 impact sites – following the shelling of the coke and chemical plant in Avdiivka (see SMM Daily Reports published on 23 and 25 May, and respectively) – indicated that 122mm artillery rounds, fired from “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (12km north of Donetsk), had been used in the attack.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces commander for government-controlled Dzerzhynsk (42km north of Donetsk) told the SMM in Dzerzhynsk that Ukrainian Armed Forces positions in and around Avdiivka had been shelled by “DPR” forces in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (12km north-north-east of Donetsk). He said that four Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel had been injured in government-controlled Novohorodske (35km north-north-east of Donetsk) on 23 May. He added that Ukrainian Armed Forces commanders were under increasing pressure from frontline personnel to bring forward heavy caliber artillery systems because the “DPR” were, he said, using such systems with impunity.

At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north-north-east of Donetsk), the Ukrainian Armed Forces Major-General, head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, told the SMM that two days of calm in Shyrokyne on 22 and 23 May had ended when a “DPR” vehicle in Shyrokyne had hit a mine, killing the four occupants. He dismissed claims by the “DPR” that Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel had fired on the vehicle.

The OSCE also continues to see fighting near Schastye, north of Lugansk:

The Luhansk region remained relatively calm. In government-controlled Shchastya (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM, however, heard what it assessed to be outgoing small-arms and heavy-machinegun fire emanating from the Ukrainian Armed Forces positions near Shchastya bridge. Later – whilst at a “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) checkpoint 2km south of the bridge – the SMM heard 17 explosions, which it assessed to have been incoming artillery rounds impacting in or around “LPR”-controlled Kruta Hora (16km north-west of Luhansk). In government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard small-arms fire and six explosions.

Another trend spotted by the OSCE -- the continued movement of heavy weapons within the line of demarcation, and government plans to set up defensive positions to prevent the advance of the Russian-backed separatists:

The SMM noted the construction of defensive fortifications in government-controlled areas to the south, west and north-west of Donetsk city.


The SMM re-visited three “DPR” and eight Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas, observing that the majority of weapons previously recorded were in situ, and that their locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At four of the Ukrainian Armed Forces holding areas, however, the SMM noted that a total of 15 artillery pieces and six multiple rocket launcher systems were missing.
Despite claims that withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons’ movements or presence in areas that are non-compliant with the Minsk withdrawal lines: (i) in “DPR”-controlled areas, three T-64 main battle tanks (MBT); and, in government-controlled areas, one T-64 MBT.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Heavy Rocket Launchers Spotted In Russia Moving Toward Ukraine's Border
Over the weekend a Reuters' stringer evidently snapped some photos of a Russian military convoy on a train in the Russian city of Matveyev Kurgan that appeared to be headed toward the Ukrainian border.

That picture appears to show a BM-27 Uragan MLRS. Below, for comparison, is a picture of an Uragan from Military Today:


The pictures did not seem to be on the Reuters web site but were used on a number of web sites such as this one, which ran the following description:

A multiple launch rocket system is seen on a freight train platform as a woman and a dog pass by in the Russian southern town of Matveev Kurgan, near the Russian-Ukrainian border in Rostov region, Russia, May 23, 2015. A train with about 20 multiple launch rocket systems and dozens of military trucks, accompanied by Russian servicemen, arrived on May 23 in Matveev Kurgan, according to a Reuters journalist. REUTERS/Stringer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Then the Ukrainian TSN published more photos of what appeared to be a related Russian military convoy and said they were from "Reuters," but Reuters itself again did not appear to publish the photos immediately.

TSN said the trucks had no license plates, and contained Uragan systems and BTRs. They said the convoy passed through Matveyev Kurgan, then went off the road and headed through the fields toward the Ukrainian border.

The blogger Antoine Sans then found the same photos used in a Yahoo news story on May 24 labelled as taken from "Reuters Stringer."


The photo was labelled as follows:

Military vehicles drive along a road at the Russian southern town of Matveev Kurgan, near the Russian-Ukrainian border in Rostov region, Russia, May 24, 2015. The convoy of dozens military vehicles including Uragan multiple rocket launchers, military trucks without license plates and few armoured personnel carriers (APC) crossed the southern Russian town of Matveyev Kurgan on May 24 and turned to the fields from the road near the border with Ukraine, according to a Reuters journalist. REUTERS/Stringer.

Another photo reported to be in this series reprinted by TSN had a sign in the foreground that said in Russian (translation by The Interpreter): "Stop, They Shoot!  Car or pedestrian passage prohibited!


A video was uploaded today May 26 to YouTube by Lenta Novostei labelled "Large convoy with tanks heading toward Ukraine 12:25 Rostov-na-Don," also showing a military convoy on the rail, labeled as in the Russian city of Rostov, along Nansen Street. The meta data shows the date to be May 26, 2015 and reverse image search does not show copies before today.

The scene in the video of the railroad, power lines and poles and a fence with both round and square elements is consistent with what we can find in Google Street View on Nansen Street here.

Video screenshot:


Google Street View, which appears to be the only section of the street with round sections:


However, we could not narrow down the exact location, and the fence and bushes could have changed in the years since Google took the pictures in August 2012.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, James Miller, Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukrainian Female Soldier Reportedly Killed In Avdeyevka Today

Aleksandr Pogrebiskiy, a Ukrainian soldier, has posted on his Facebook page that a servicewoman from the 93rd Brigade was killed today in Avdeyevka.

Pogrebskiy wrote that the soldier lost both her legs after a shell struck, dying from her injuries.

We have yet to see further reports of the incident from either the Ukrainian media or military. 

UPDATE - May 27

It has since been reported that the woman, a combat medic named Irina, actually survived the attack. Read more here:

-- Pierre Vaux