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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 518

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.
Video Shows Destruction of Residential High-Rise Hit By Direct Shelling In Avdeyevka

Earlier today we posted a harrowing video showing heavy artillery pounding a residential high-rise in Avdeyevka. In our analysis we stated that the video was taken inside an apartment in a neighboring building, and the men, whom we believed to be Russian-backed fighters, could be heard using a radio to direct the artillery fire.

The men even laughed when their artillery continued to pound the residential building instead of the intended target beyond:

Now another video shows the extent of the damage to the residential building, home to many interviewed by Current Time TV.

The narrator says that the Ukrainian military position was beyond the buildings, but most of the fire hit the civilian building. At one point a Ukrainian soldier says he was sorry that he could not save a disabled boy who was killed in the attack.

One resident puts it bluntly -- he has not left this area because he has no where else to go.

-- James Miller, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russia Proposes UNSC Resolution Blocking Creation of a Tribunal To Investigate MH17
Friday, July 17, was the one-year anniversary of the shooting down of MH17, and the evidence overwhelming implicates Russia and its proxies in the deaths of nearly 300 civilians, 80- of whom were children:

Russia-Ukraine conflict: Proof of MH17 tragedy's real culprits grows

One year ago, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot out of the sky over the war zone in eastern Ukraine, and one year later we are closer than ever to proving who is ultimately responsible for this tragic act.

View full page >
Jul 20, 2015 23:15 (GMT)

The United Nations Security Council is set to debate the creation of an international tribunal to investigate the incident -- and perhaps ultimately prosecute those who are responsible. Russia first threatened to veto such a tribunal, but then decided to take a different approach and create its own UNSC resolution which would block such a resolution. AFP reports:

Russia opposes the establishment of a tribunal. Its ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters on Monday that Moscow had drafted an alternative resolution.

"We have introduced our own draft," Churkin said. Russia would begin consultations behind closed-doors on the resolution on Monday, he said.

"We believe it is not in the UN charter. The UN Security Council is not supposed to deal with issues like this," he added.

"Our suggestion is a different kind of suggestion," Churkin said, giving no further details about the Russian text.

This legal maneuver could force countries that want a tribunal to veto Russia's resolution, rather than the other way around.

On Friday I appeared on RFE/RL's Power Vertical Podcast  where I discussed the implications of Russia's veto with  Andreas Umland, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and editor of the academic book series Soviet And Post-Soviet Politics And Society, with additional comments from Han ten Broeke, a member of the Dutch parliament who chairs its Defense Committee and the Netherlands' delegation to the NATO Assembly. Broeke in particular iterated that if Russia blocked a tribunal, then his country may be preparing new sanctions against the Russian government. 

Listen to it here:

Podcast: When Putin's Ukraine War Went Global

One year after the downing of Flight MH17 killed 298 people from 10 countries on four continents, the evidence continues to mount that pro-Moscow seperatists in Ukraine -- and perhaps Russia itself -- were responsible. And as the evidence piles up, pressure is building for an international tribunal to prosecute the guilty parties -- pressure Russia is strenuously trying to resist.

View full page >
Jul 20, 2015 23:26 (GMT)
-- James Miller
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukrainian and NATO Start 'Rapid Trident' Drills Near Polish Border

Soldiers from the United States and Ukraine are holding a joint military drill, "Rapid Trident," an annual drill involving more 1,800 soldiers from 18 different countries. RFE/RL reports:

Their immediate aim is to build resolve and cohesion within the ex-Soviet state's outdated and woefully underfunded armed forces -- caught in a 15-month east Ukrainian quagmire against pro-Russia militias that has claimed more than 6,500 lives.

But they also deliver a transparent message to the Kremlin about Washington and its allies' determination to thwart any expansionist ambitions Russian President Vladimir Putin may have.

"These joint manoeuvres... display a broad support for Ukraine in its struggle for freedom and sovereignty," Ukrainian forces commander Oleksandr Syvak told the festive flag-raising ceremony.

His US counterpart Alfred Renzi said the participating countries -- most of them NATO member but also such former Soviet nations as Moldova and Azerbaijan -- "will prove an ability to cooperate as one unified force for stability".

According to the US Army website, the nations participating in this years drills include: "Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and the U.S. The Rapid Trident exercise comes at the explicit request of the Ukrainian government and military."

-- James Miller
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Video Shows Spotters Directing Shelling Of Apartment Buildings In Avdeyevka
The following video titled "Shelling of Avdeyevka By DNR [Donetsk People's Republic] Terrorists" was uploaded to YouTube on July 18, it shows the shelling of an apartment block in the Ukrainian-held town of Avdeyevka, north of Donetsk:

The location of the building can be found here, on Google Maps on Vorobyov street:


Another video, taken from security camera footage, as reported by Ukraine@War shows the view from another part of the same building, further verifying that the shelling came from the south, towards separatist-held Donetsk Airport: 



Here's how we confirmed the location of the apartment building from the video, using Google Maps:


 A picture of the same building taken by Razukrashka is on Panoramio:


Avdeyevka has been constantly shelled by the Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces themselves shell from positions in this stronghold.

But what is most significant about the first piece of video footage is the conversation recorded in the background.

While a security guard is panning their remote camera around on the roof, the men filming a few floors below are actually spotting for the separatists' artillery team, adjusting fire upon apartment block number 20.

The Interpreter has translated excerpts of the conversation heard, which some lines in bold for emphasis:

 First voice: Let me congratulate you...

Second voice: ...with my baptism by fire.

[Shell fire]

Voice: You can upload this video later.

Third voice: Does that mean a direct hit on Avdeyevka or not yet?

Second voice: It's direct, shit.

Fourth voice: That's called "we don't shoot on the civilian population."

Voice: Where? Shit.

[Shell in distance]

Voice: Direct...

Voice: Hear the news.

Voice: My mother heard on the news that Kiev surrendered.

Voice: No, you should tell your mother [inaudible] that it's f**ked.


Second voice: It hit the building.

First voice: Well, how is it. Napkin heaven. [A phrase like "house of cards" referring to the flimsy construction--The Interpreter] Once again, higher, shit.

Voice: Napkins...

Voice: Are you filming me?

Second Voice: No, no, no. 

Voice: Don't. Are you filming? Don't.

Voice: No, the faces won't be shown.

Voice: We're punters [inaudible] [laughter]

Voice, No, the faces won't be shown.


Voice: Say hi to mom, see how our guys are shooting.

Voice: So forward? Here we go again. Boom

Voice: Again, shit.


Voice: Is that ours?

Second voice: Yes, ours.


Second voice (2:05): That was ours too.

Voice (on phone or walkie-talkie): 502nd, 502nd


Voice (2:45):  [Replies after voice from walkie-talkie]. There are three tanks shooting on us, at once... I can't go outside...You didn't hit it, but the building is hit 100%.



Second Voice: Let them go further.

[Voice on Walkie-Talkie] Urgent, urgent...[inaudible]. Don't wait for us [inaudible].


Voice: Good morning, junta!

Voice (on walkie-talkie) The shells didn't hit...


Voice (4:04). A miss.

Voice: They overshot?

Voice (on walkie-talkie) - Roger.

Voice: The plaster is falling.


Second voice (4:56) That was the 7th floor, no, over there, lower, shit. Not the seventh floor. The napkins were flying. 

Voice: [sarcastically] There's [probably] an old lady praying there, shit. 



Voice (5:29) Fifth floor.

Second voice: That's our ball. Oh, what a hole there is there, shit, on the roof. F**k.


Voice: Ours?

Voice: Second floor. Further, further.


The next door apartment, shit, the fourth, fifth, shit.


Voice: It's going to fall, it's going to fall.

Voice: It's Kiev.

Voice: That's not right. You want it further?


Voice: Is that it? F**k.

Second Voice: Yes, yes. It fell somewhere...the bastards..beyond our building .


Voice: There's another.


Voice: Was that yours?

Second voice: It exploded, but the second didn't explode.

Voice: The sappers can get it.

[Voice reading coordinates]: 2, 3, 8, 3 zeroes...and...74, 2, 9, 3 zeroes... there's a gate...


The second voice in the video dialogue makes a reference to "our ball," i.e. shell hitting the roof, although it is not visible in the video with the smoke. Yet the security video clearly shows damage to the roof of the building.

This is clear evidence that spotters for Russian-backed forces are directing artillery from well within Ukrainian-held territory. 

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

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
3 Civilians Wounded After Their Car Was Shelled On Highway South Of Marinka

Novosti Donbassa reports that the Donetsk Region branch of the Interior Ministry announced today that three civilians were wounded this morning when their car was fired on in the Marinka area, west of Donetsk.

According to the report, the car had left separatist-held territory and was shelled at around 11:30, while on the approach to the first Ukrainian checkpoint on Donetsk-Zaporozhye highway, south of Marinka itself.

According to the police, there were two men and a woman inside the car, born in 1967, 1989 and 1995. All have been hospitalised with shrapnel wounds.

-- Pierre Vaux