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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 537

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.
Quiet Near Mariupol, Plenty of Fighting North of Donetsk
The US Crisis center released this picture from the National Security and Defense council, showing a relatively quiet southern front. But there is plenty of fighting around Donetsk and north of that city:

The OSCE had this report yesterday:

Repairs continued to water pipelines in Donetsk region in locations between “DPR”-controlled Spartak (9km north-west of Donetsk city centre) and government-controlled Avdiivka (14km north of Donetsk) and between government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) (see SMM Daily Report, 7 August). In both areas, the SMM facilitated a local ceasefire to enable repairs to be carried out by Voda Donbassa workers. In both locations the repair works had started but were disrupted by ceasefire violations observed by the SMM. The SMM heard continuous incoming and outgoing mortar as well as multiple bursts of heavy machine gun fire. The SMM attempted numerous times and asked the parties to respect the ceasefire and honour their commitments and written security assurances given to the SMM. Since the shelling continued, the workers stopped their activities for the day at both locations, and the SMM also withdrew.

In Donetsk, at Chelyuskintsev Street located approximately 600m from the residence of SMM monitors, the SMM observed at one of the building missing and broken windows and facade metal panel damaged, apparently from inside. The SMM was denied entry to the building by two unidentified men. The SMM did not observe any other evidence of shelling in the neighbourhood. Three elderly women and one middle-aged man informed the SMM that they had heard at least one loud blast around 18:30hrs on 6 August.

This report is interesting, since this incident occurred well within separatist territory, so it's unclear what the Russian-backed forces, using T-72s which were almost certainly supplied by the Russian military, were shooting at:

At the Ternove shooting range (“DPR”-controlled, 57km east of Donetsk), the SMM saw two main battle tanks (MBT T-72) 200m south of its position. The SMM heard one round of tank fire 200m from its position and saw smoke from the explosion 2-3km south of its position.

Perhaps this was a training session? Fighters from the Russian-backed forces, as well as independent reports and statements from Ukraine and NATO, all indicate that the Russian military is actively training Russian-backed militants. Since it is extremely likely that all of the T-72s used by the separatists in this conflict have been supplied, and possibly crewed, by the Russian military, the OSCE may have witnessed a training exercise.

There were also no ceasefire violations observed by the OSCE yesterday in Lugansk:

But just because the OSCE did not witness violations does not mean they are not happening. The OSCE report continues:

The SMM visited the village of Troitske (69km north-west of Luhansk) and spotted that about 20 square metres of the field 300 metres south of the school was freshly burnt. Fragments of the rocket found on the soil indicated that the impacts were caused by a multiple launched rocket system (MLRS) calibre of 122mm (BM-21Grad type). The warhead stuck in the ground while the rest of the body was protruded. Further crater analysis was not possible due to security reasons. At the spot, the SMM spoke with a male civilian in his sixties, who showed to the SMM a crater in his yard. According to his statement the first shelling took place at 22:00hrs on 6 August while the second occurred at 03:00hrs on 7 August. He claimed that in both cases there had been “no response from the Ukrainian side”. The SMM assessed that the 2.5 to 3.5m wide and 0.60m deep crater was fresh and caused by MLRS (BM-21 Grad 122 mm) and that it had originated from an easterly direction. While at the spot, the SMM was approached by two local women in their sixties, who claimed that at approximately at 13:30hrs on 6 August five Ukrainian tracked vehicles parked next to their house and had fired twice with an interval of 20 minutes. In close vicinity of the house, the SMM observed fresh tracks likely of armoured vehicles and analysed a fresh 2.5 to 3.5m wide and 0.80m deep crater. The SMM assessed that the crater was caused by fire from an easterly direction. The SMM analysed the metal body of the projectile to be from artillery of a calibre above 122mm. No civilian or military casualties were reported.

In “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Kalynove (58km west of Luhansk) the local “commander” showed to the SMM two impact sites and stated that there had been about 20 impacts around the area between 21:00-21:30hrs on 6 August. The SMM observed a number of burnt areas in the fields surrounding the “LPR” position.  The interlocutor also reported that one “LPR” member had been killed as the result of shelling and the SMM saw part of a death body 5m north-east from the main road in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove.

Near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed a crater 500 metres south of the “LPR”-controlled checkpoint at the bridge. The SMM observed one new unexploded 82mm mortar in the ground and assessed that it had been fired from a northerly direction. The SMM was also shown by two “LPR” members another 82mm mortar that had not exploded and around 11 unexploded projected grenades (OG-9 from 73mm calibre recoilless gun). The SMM analysed a total of 39 craters and impacts in the close vicinity of the checkpoint. These included at least 27 new craters with six unexploded ordnances from 82mm mortar; six craters from projected grenades (OG-9); six impacts from anti-personal grenade (VOG) and 17 rounds from automatic grenade launcher (AGS 17).

At government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM spoke with two female residents, aged 45 and 50, who stated that shelling had occurred on 6 August between 23:00 and 24:00hrs, in the fields south of Zolote where Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel have their positions, although one shell impacted near a children’s playground in the middle of the settlement where the SMM observed a crater showed by a 45 year-old male resident who confirmed the time and location of the shelling. The SMM observed two houses, which were completely burnt, located in the south-western part of the settlement. The SMM observed an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) mounted on a military truck in the street where the houses had been destroyed.

The SMM had this to say about weapons which were supposed to have been withdrawn:

The SMM revisited six “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. The SMM noted that all weapons previously recorded at two sites were in situ and their serial numbers corresponded to the SMM’s records. At a third site, the “DPR” member allowed only two SMM members to enter and see weapons only from the distance, and not to verify serial numbers.* At another site, the present “DPR” member denied access to the SMM. At one other location, the SMM found that two pieces of MLRS (BM-21 Grad) were missing, and at another, four towed howitzer guns (D30, 122mm) were missing.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this particular report, however, had to do with two protest events -- one in Kharkiv and another in Odessa:

The SMM followed up on the attack by armed individuals of a building in Kharkiv associated with the Opposition Bloc (see SMM Daily Report 4 August 2015). The regional police informed the SMM that an internal investigation had started against the police officers who were present at the scene.

The SMM monitored a public protest in front of the Russian Federation Embassy in Kyiv. The gathering consisted of 12 males in their forties, who voiced their concerns about Russian policies in Ukraine and Chechnya. The protesters were holding the flags of Ukraine, the Right Sector, Georgia and Chechnya. Approximately 20 police officers were observing the protest. The gathering ended peacefully. 

In front of the Georgian consulate in Odessa, the SMM observed a commemoration of what participants referred to as “the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008”. Some 15 mostly elderly people (including five women) had gathered overseen by 20 uniformed police officers. There was an additional bus of 15 riot police parked behind the Georgian consulate. Among participants of the event the SMM identified three members of two pro-Maidan political organizations who had earlier posted in social media announcements about the commemoration and the planned march to the Russian Federation consulate. The SMM arrived at the Russian consulate and observed no presence of protestors. Instead the SMM saw 30 uniformed police officers and an additional bus with 15 riot police officers nearby were visible. After 45 minutes, both police units began to leave the area.

-- James Miller