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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 471

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
Washington, Moscow Make Counter Condemnations on War's Escalation; OSCE Calls Out Russian-Backed Separatists

Predictably, the Kremlin blamed the Ukrainian Armed Forces for today's offensive along the front line in which at least 14 Russian-backed separatists were killed as well as at least 2 Ukrainian soldiers and 2 civilians.

Novaya Gazeta reported  a statement from presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who condemned the Ukrainian forces "provocative forces" (translation by The Interpreter):

"Naturally, Moscow every closely watches and experiences extreme concern in connection with the...actions on the part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine which as far as we can judge, are largely provoking the situation."

Meanwhile, the State Department's spokesman as we reported earlier condemned the Russian-backed separatist offensive:

"We're disturbed by reports, including those by the OSCE, that combined Russian separatist forces launched coordinated attacks overnight against Ukrainian positions near Donetsk city and Pisky, Luhansk, and Maryinka."

This might have remained at the usual stand-off, if it were not for a striking report from the OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) today.

After weeks of reporting missing armor unavailable for inspection, essentially, today OSCE SMM watched the Russian-backed separatist offensive unfold, with heavy armor moving West -- and then firing missiles near Donetsk and Marinka. During this period, the OSCE SMM tried in vain to reach officials of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republics," whose titles were all put in "scare quotes."

The following is the OSCE SMM report:

Summary

Fighting erupted around the government-controlled town of Marinka (23km west-south-west of Donetsk city centre) in the morning of 3 June. The SMM observed the movement of a large amount of heavy weapons in “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled areas – generally in a westerly direction towards the contact line – close to Marinka, preceding and during the fighting. Calm was restored by the early evening.

Detail

Between 22:30hrs on 2 June and 05:30hrs on 3 June, the SMM – positioned in the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Tekstilshchik area of Donetsk city (14km east-north-east of Marinka) – made a number of observations. It observed, inter alia, eight tracked armoured vehicles moving west, four of which were main battle tanks (MBT) at 22:30hrs; four MBTs at 23:03hrs; a military-type truck moving west, towing a 122mm artillery piece at 23:45hrs; two T-64 MBTs moving west at 04:30hrs; and a column of one infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-2), three military trucks (one carrying an ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun), and two T-72 MBTs, moving west, at 04:50hrs. In addition, the SMM – at the same location – heard approximately 100 outgoing artillery rounds fired from a location 1-5km north-north-west of its position between 04:30 and 04:40hrs; an outgoing salvo of BM-21 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) Grad rockets fired from a location 1-5km west of its position at 04:55hrs; and, 100 outgoing artillery rounds fired from a location 5km north-north-west of its position.

Between 04:30 and 05:00hrs, the SMM – positioned in Donetsk city-centre – heard several salvos of outgoing MLRS rockets and approximately 100 incoming heavy-artillery rounds.

Between 07:00 and 08:00hrs, the SMM – mobile in an area 6-9km east of Marinka – observed seven T-64 MBTs facing west. In addition, it heard, on two separate occasions, more than five salvos of outgoing MLRS (BM-21) rockets and heavy-mortar rounds; and 12 outgoing MLRS Grad rockets and mortars.

At approximately 06:00hrs, an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) observed intense shelling targeting an intersection of the H15 highway 3.5km south-west of Marinka. The UAV spotted four 2S3 Akatsiya 152mm self-propelled howitzers 9km south-west of the town at 15:30hrs.

The SMM made several attempts between 10:45 and 12:11hrs to contact high-ranking “DPR” personnel – including the “DPR” “prime minister”, “parliamentary speaker”, “minister of defence” and “chief of the general staff” – in order to facilitate a cessation to the fighting around Marinka. Either they were unavailable or did not wish to speak to the SMM.

At 15:00hrs the SMM received a letter from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, saying Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons would be placed on the contact line in order to deal with the “real threat” posed by the fighting in Marinka, which they said had started at 06:00hrs that morning. Ukrainian officials later publicly acknowledged that the weapons had been used, saying their use was necessary in thwarting a “DPR” attack.

The Representative of the Russian Federation Armed Forces to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination told the SMM at 15:00hrs that a ceasefire around Marinka would take effect at 17:00hrs. He told the SMM at 21:00hrs that the situation around Marinka was currently calm. At around 19:00hrs a representative of the Anti-Terrorist Operation command in Kramatorsk and the “DPR” “ministry of defence” confirmed to the SMM that Marinka was under government control.

The SMM will follow up on reports of civilian and military casualties in Marinka. 

-- 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
Marinka: Reports of 2 Ukrainian Troops Killed, 39 Wounded, 3 Civilians Killed, 4 Wounded

Yuri Biriukov, an adviser to the Presidential Administration, has written on his Facebook page this evening that 39 Ukrainian servicemen were wounded and two killed in today's fighting in Marinka, as of 23:00 (20:00 GMT). He broke down the figures for the wounded as follows:

1 - 43rd Independent Motor Rifle Brigade

26 - 28th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade

11 - 30th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade

1 - Ukrainian National Guard 

According to the report, three Ukrainian military vehicles, one GAZ-66 truck and 2 UAZ-452 vans, were destroyed.

Biriukov noted that while earlier reports had stated that three Ukrainian soldiers had been killed, one of those listed as such did in fact survive.

The soldier, from the 30th Brigade, pulled through "by a miracle."

Novosti Donbassa reported earlier this evening that the Interior Ministry had announced the deaths of 3 civilians in Marinka.

Four civilians were reported to have been wounded by shelling.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Another Summer, Another Russian Offensive In Ukraine
The Interpreter's editor-in-chief Michael Weiss writes for The Daily Beast:

Weiss has found confirmation from a high ranking diplomat and a European leader that this is not just a blip on the radar, but rather a significant escalation in fighting:

On Wednesday, Ukrainians awoke to the all-too-predictable news that Moscow-backed separatists—a contingent that consists of quite a lot of Moscow-dispatched Russian soldiers—launched a fresh, multi-pronged assault on Ukrainian-held territory.  The primary targets lie west of a line of the demarcation meant to keep a cease-fire that was over before the ink had dried on the so-called “Minsk II” accords.

“Although we’re still assessing details, this is clearly a major, multi-front escalation that reflects continued non-compliance with Minsk by the combined Russian-separatist forces,” a senior Western diplomat told The Daily Beast.  When asked if this was the start of a big Russian push for more terrain in the Donbas—the name for the regions encompassing Donetsk and Lugansk—one European leader replied: “Sure looks like it.”

Read the entire article here:


Can Anyone Stop Putin's New Blitz?

It looks like Vladimir Putin will spend his second summer in a row going to war. So now the question becomes: What-if anything-will the United States and Europe do in response? On Wednesday, Ukrainians awoke to the all-too-predictable news that Moscow-backed separatists-a contingent that consists of quite a lot of Moscow-dispatched Russian soldiers-launched a fresh, multi-pronged assault on Ukrainian-held territory.

View full page >
Jun 04, 2015 00:39 (GMT)
-- James Miller
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
State Department Condemns Marinka Assault, Threatens Russia With "Increased Costs"

U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf addressed today's fighting in eastern Ukraine at today's press briefing. RFE/RL reports:

"We're disturbed by reports, including those by the OSCE, that combined Russian separatist forces launched coordinated attacks overnight against Ukrainian positions near Donetsk city and Pisky, Luhansk, and Maryinka. We’re now seeing unconfirmed reports that the town of Maryinka may have fallen. These attacks are on the Ukrainian side of the cease-fire line. They have reportedly utilized grad-rockets and other heavy weapons that should have been withdrawn under the February Minsk plan."

"Any new attack and aggressive action by combined Russian separatist forces is unacceptable and contravenes the Minsk agreement. Russia bears direct responsibility for preventing these attacks and implementing a cease-fire. Any attempts to cease additional Ukrainian territory will be met with increased costs."

It's not entirely clear what the current status of Marinka is, but it seems, from what we can tell, that Harf's assessment that Marinka may have fallen to the Russian-backed fighters may be wrong. As we reported below, both the Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government report that the Russian-backed combatants suffered significant casualties, and it seems Ukraine has, for the time being, retained control of the town.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian-Backed Separatists Confirm Heavy Losses In Today's Assault on Marinka

In our last update below we noted that, according to the Ukrainian military, 10 Russian-backed troops have been killed, four of which were Russian GRU Spetsnaz (Special Forces) soldiers, and more than 80 separatist fighters were wounded.

Now the separatists themselves are saying that they suffered even higher casualties than this:

RIA Novosti reports (translated by The Interpreter):

Russian-backed separatists have lost 14 fighters and 86 have been wounded in today's fighting, Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the forces of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DNR), RIA Novosti reported.

Baturin told journalists today that 18 of the 86 were "severely wounded."

100 casualties is a significant number, a clear indication of the scope of today's fighting. To put things in perspective, on a typical day over the last several months the Ukrainian military reports less than a dozen casualties across the entire country.

-- James Miller, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

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