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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 522

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
Latest OSCE Report Addresses "Protesters" Who Obstructed Monitoring Efforts in Donetsk
Yesterday we reported that the head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), Alexander Hug, told reporters that a group of "protesters" disabled 30 OSCE cars in an act Hug described as "deliberate vandalism."

The newest report from the OSCE SMM is dated July 23 at 19:30 Kiev time.  In the report they describe, in great detail, the incident.

From its location in the “DPR”-controlled city centre at approximately 7:45hrs, the SMM observed about 300 people, mainly women and children, walking past the parking lot and gathering in front of the SMM’s location. The SMM also observed a large civilian bus and two vehicles blocking the parking lot, thus preventing OSCE vehicles from leaving the area. About six men in civilian clothing were standing in front of an OSCE vehicle and preventing it from leaving the parking lot. The SMM called “DPR” “police” for assistance at approximately 8:30hrs - after the crowd had grown and become more vocal. About two dozen  “DPR” armed men and as many as eight “DPR” “police” members - standing in groups of two or three - moving around the SMM’s location, were observed. “DPR” members did not prevent the crowd from gathering, nor did they deal with the blocked parking lot entrances. The “DPR” “deputy minister of defence” stayed at the gathering for five minutes, but did not address the crowd. Some of the protesters entered the hotel lobby, shouting. The SMM met with 11 representatives of the protesters, led by Donetsk “mayor”, and explained the SMM’s mandate. Signs with messages directed towards the SMM and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were displayed by the crowd in front of the location. The signs showed closed eyes and/or had slogans such as “Peace to Donbas” or “Time to open your eyes” in Russian and “Open your eyes!” in English. The SMM saw people spray-paint 30 SMM and 11 ICRC vehicles. The graffiti on OSCE vehicles also included painted eyes, slogans such as “Peace Donetsk”. The crowd dispersed at approximately 11:30hrs.

It's also worth noting that yesterday the OSCE was complaining that their drones were being jammed in Donetsk region, resulting in the crashing of one of the vehicles.

Are these incidents having an impact? It's hard to say, but the OSCE reported fewer ceasefire violations near Donetsk. In Lugansk region the OSCE observed no ceasefire violations but their own report recognizes that they also witnessed proof that ceasefire violations were continuing unobserved.

The SMM visited the last "Lugansk People's Republic" ("LPR")-controlled checkpoint before the government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) bridge. The SMM spoke with the "LPR" "commander", who said the "LPR" checkpoint had been shelled with 82mm calibre mortars three times around 12:30hrs that day, prior to the SMM's arrival. The SMM saw one armed "LPR" member wearing a bandage, with small shrapnel wounds bleeding on his back. In addition, the SMM saw one unexploded mortar and what "LPR" members identified as three impact craters.

Generally, our own perception is that this latest OSCE SMM report includes far fewer locations and observations than most of their reports. The incident above is the only incident described by the OSCE in any detail, besides the protest.

The OSCE report does, however, make mention of weapons holding areas that were inspected. Once again the OSCE saw T-72 main battle tanks in territory controlled by the Russian-backed fighters, tanks which Ukraine maintains the Russian-backed fighters have not seized from the Ukrainian military:

The SMM visited for the first time one "LPR" heavy weapon holding area. At the location, the SMM saw seven main battle tanks (MBT) (T-64), one MBT (T-72), three armoured personal carriers (BTR-8) and eight military-type transport trucks. The location visited by the SMM complies with the respective withdrawal lines. The SMM revisited one Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapon holding area which was in compliance with respective withdrawal lines. The SMM observed that ten self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and two self-propelled guns (2S3 Akatsyia, 152mm) previously recorded were missing.

In a Ukrainian Armed Forces training field located in a government-controlled area 32km from the line of contact, the SMM observed from a distance 14 towed howitzers (S21, Gvozdivka, 122mm), and five mortars (2S12, SANI 120mm). Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel said that due to security reasons the SMM could not take the serial numbers of the weapons*.

The SMM continued to observe heavy weapons in areas proscribed by the Minsk arrangements. In areas controlled by "LPR", the SMM saw at one place four self-propelled howitzers. In government-controlled areas the SMM observed at one place one anti-tank gun (MT-12, Rapira 100mm). In addition, an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted a total of 11 MBTs and 21 armoured personnel carriers (APC) near "DPR"-controlled Sontseve (59km north-east of Mariupol) and Krasnyi Oktiabr (55km north-east of Mariupol). In government-controlled Bila Kamianka (51km north-east of Mariupol), near "DPR"-controlled Novolaspa (49km south of Donetsk), the UAV spotted three MBTs and four APCs. Near government-controlled Hranitne (63 km south of Donetsk), the UAV spotted one MBT.

The OSCE clarified two incidents where it was blocked from observing Ukrainian weapons:

  • The SMM was denied access to a Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapon holding area, where it saw from a far distance several anti-tank guns (Rapira 100mm). The Ukrainian Armed Forces cited the absence of his commander as the reason for the access denial.
  • In a Ukrainian Armed Forces training field, 32km from the contact line, where the SMM saw from a distance 14 towed howitzers (S21, Gvozdivka, 122mm), and five mortars (2S12, SANI 120mm). The SMM was told by the Ukrainian Armed Forces that it could not take serial number of the weapons due to security reasons.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Hey, Putin, have you seen how much China is investing in Ukraine?

Hey, Putin, have you seen how much China is investing in Ukraine?

On July 6, the Financial Times reported that Ukraine has become the largest corn exporter to China, surpassing the United States. This was surprising, as America has historically possessed a near-monopoly on corn exports to China. Ukraine's increased role in providing food for China also extends beyond corn.

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Jul 24, 2015 21:53 (GMT)
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukrainian MP Mikhail Lano, Involved In Recent Controversy With Right Sector, Reportedly Flees Country

On  July 11, gunmen with the ultranationalist group Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) got into a shootout with men who reportedly represent Mikhail Lano, a Ukrainian member of parliament who is a member of the political party of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

The Right Sector gunmen then got into a shootout with local police and have been on the run ever since. Read about it here:

Today there are reports that Lano has fled across Ukraine's border. TSN.UA, citing Channel 5, says Lano crossed the southeast border today (the border with Russia). The Channel 5 journalist cited in the article, however, says Lano escaped through the southwest border, which would probably place Lano in the Transnistria region of Moldova, an unrecognized breakaway region of the country which is occupied by Russian soldiers. Either way, Channel 5 reports that Lano is no longer in Ukraine.

UA Press and several other local outlets are also carrying the news.

Lano recently tried to escape Ukraine but was reportedly turned back at the border. At the time he said that he had no intention of fleeing.

The shootout between Right Sector and the police has raised many questions about all of the participants in the incident. Was Right Sector operating as vigilantes, or are they engaged in the same black market trade that they accuse Lano of running and this was a business dispute? Can Right Sector be trusted? How much power do oligarchs like Lano who have ties to the former government really wield? Are the police working for Lano? We've investigated some of these questions in a separate analysis:

Some of the Right Sector members engaged in the shootout are also still on the run, and today a shop nearby has been hit by RPG fire.
-- James Miller
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
RPG Fired At Shop Near Mukachevo

The Zakarpattia regional branch of the Interior Ministry reports that an RPG was fired at a shop in in the village of Zaluzhye, near Mukachevo, last night.

150724-mukachevo.jpg

The police say that they received a report from a security guard at the Ryba (fish) shop last night, telling them that an unidentified individual had damaged the shops windows.

At the scene, investigators found the tail-piece of an RPG round: 

PM371image004.jpg

No-one was harmed by the attack. Police have now opened a criminal investigation into the incident. 

Tensions remain high in the Mukachevo area after Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector) members opened fire on security guards for local MP Mikhail Lanio and police on July 11.

The new governor of Zakarpattia, Hennadyi Moskal, who was brought in to take control of the situation, said this week that 13 Pravyi Sektor members are still on the loose in the forests of the region.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Normandy Quartet Agree That Ukraine Should Withdraw Troops From Shirokino

The Élysée Palace has issued a statement on a telephone conversation between President François Hollande, Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Petro Poroshenko and President Vladimir Putin yesterday.

According to the press release, the conversation, held in the 'Normandy Format,' focused on finding solutions to security, humanitarian and political issues in implementing the Minsk agreements, negotiated by the four leaders in February this year.

The most notable point agreed upon during the discussion is that Ukraine must withdraw its armed forces from the village of Shirokino, 10 kilometres east of Mariupol.

The Interpreter translates:

With regards to Shirokino, the four leaders noted the withdrawal of separatist forces and asked the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) and experts from the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) to find practical solutions by August 3 for the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops and the installation of the SMM.

Russian-backed forces left the village on July 2, withdrawing around 2 kilometres to the east.

However Ukrainian troops have remained in their positions in the west of Shirokino.

Both volunteer fighters and civilian activists have declared their public opposition to any Ukrainian withdrawal from the village, claiming that abandoning the strategic heights would expose Mariupol to bombardment.

-- Pierre Vaux
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