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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
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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

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
One Ukrainian Soldier Killed, Three Wounded As Fighting Continues

Aleksandr Motuzyanik, a spokesman for the Presidential Administration on ATO issues, has told reporters at a briefing today that one Ukrainian soldier has been killed and three wounded over the last 24 hours. 

The ATO press centre claimed this morning that Russian-backed forces conducted 23 attacks on Ukrainian positions between 18:00 and midnight yesterday. 

The press centre claims that Russian-backed fighters continue to use heavy artillery that should have been withdrawn in accordance with the Minsk agreements signed in February.

The Interpreter translates the Ukrainska Pravda report:

In the Donetsk region, the militants shelled ATO forces near Peski three times with 120 mm mortars, twice near Avdeyevka. In addition, militants twice used 122 mm artillery against positions near Avdeyevka.

Militants opened fire once with such artillery systems near Shirokino. The ATO forces' positions near the villages of Zaytsevo and Opytnoye were subjected to attacks with 82 mm mortars, machine guns and small arms.

Donetsk news site 62.ua reported that residents had described shell strikes in the separatist-held city's Kuybyshevsky district late at night.

Residential buildings on Luzin street and a garage and shed on Avtostradnaya street were struck. There were no reported casualties.

According to 62.ua, residents have reported on social media this morning that loud blasts and cannonades have been heard in the city.

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine reported "intense fighting" in Shirokino (Shyrokyne in Ukrainian) yesterday. The SMM's spot report described not only heavy fighting, but also a notable build-up of Russian-backed forces in the area:

On 26 April, the SMM observed what it assessed to be the most intense shelling in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) since fighting began in the area in mid-February 2015. For the last 12 hours, and on-going at the time of this report, the SMM has observed sporadic to continuous exchanges of fire involving small arms, machine gun, rocket propelled grenade and automatic grenade launcher.

Throughout the day, from two adjacent observation posts, located 1,5km west and 4,5km north-west of Shyrokyne, the SMM observed 69 outgoing tank shots, originating from 600 metres south-east and 800 metres north of its position, 191 outgoing mortar rounds (82mm) and 153 outgoing mortar rounds (120mm), originating from 600 metres south-east, 300 and 1,500 metres north-west and 800 metres north of the its position.

At 07:20hrs, the SMM heard two loud explosions, most likely caused by 122mm incoming artillery rounds, impacting about 300 metres from the SMM observation post in the eastern outskirts of Berdianske (government-controlled, 18,5km east of Mariupol, 1,5km west of Shyrokyne) and forcing the SMM to relocate to another observation post.

In the early afternoon, between 15:00 and 16:30hrs, the shelling was heard all the way to Mariupol.

On 26 April, the SMM Unmanned/Unarmed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) observed 11 tanks and four armoured personnel carriers (APCs), with infantry mounted, moving through Kulykove (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 15km north of Shyrokyne). Additionally, over the last three days, the UAV has sighted seventeen tanks, three self-propelled howitzers and 60 APCs in a “DPR”-controlled area 50 kilometres north of Shyrokyne. 

This area, 50 km north of Shirokino, looks likely to be north of Ukrainian-held Granitnoye and separatist-held Telmanovo. Such a large accumulation of armour in this front poses not only a threat to Granitnoye, which has been a repeated target of attacks since the first Minsk agreement in September last year, but also to Volnovakha, along the T0512 road to the west.

Volnovakha, near the front line on the Donetsk-Mariupol highway is a key position for the defence of the port city. Any move on Mariupol would require Russian-backed forces to push Ukrainian troops out of Volnovakha and off the highway, enabling a pincer attack from both the north and east.

Meanwhile the ATO press centre reported attacks in the north of the Lugansk region: 

In the Lugansk region, militants fired five times on a Ukrainian army defensive position outside Schastye. Three of the attacks were conducted with anti-aircraft artillery and two with automatic grenade launchers.

ATO forces near the village of Sokolniki [which is held by separatists] were also attacked with an automatic grenade launcher.

Furthermore, illegal armed groups have fired on civilians again. At 22:05 shells fired haphazardly from a ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun flew towards the town of Schastye.

Liga Novosti reports that the press office of the governor of the Lugansk region, Hennadiy Moskal, has claimedthat, as a result of attacks on Schastye, two dachas in the Yagodka cooperative caught fire. A grenade, fired from an automatic launcher, struck a 3-storey apartment building on Gagarin street.

Fortunately, the governor's office, wrote,  there were no civilian casualties.

According to the report, there were skirmishes on the outskirts of Krymskoye, in the area around the tuberculosis clinic. A

Troitskoye, north-east of Debaltsevo, was reportedly attacked three times with mortars and small arms during the night.

The governor's office reported continued violence this morning, with echoes of blasts coming from the direction of the front line on the Bakhmutka highway heard in Krymskoye after 11:00 today. 

Moskal's office also claimed that, at around 11:30, an enemy tank platoon moved from the occupied village of Kalinovo, which lies less than 10 km along a road from Troitskoye, and drew up opposite a Ukrainian defensive position.

The ATO press centre also reported that 11 drone flights had been detected over the Donbass.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
European Union Reaches Decision to Charge Gazprom with Abusing Its Position as Monopolist in Eastern Europe

The European Union (EU) has finally reached a conclusion to charge Gazprom with monopolizing the gas market in Europe, contrary to EU regulations.


This decision was long in the coming and needed the current political climate, where Europeans have grown increasingly alarmed at Russia's aggression against Ukraine as well as its encroachments on their own territories, to be realized.

While designed to deter Russia's bad behavior, there are concerns from some it will worsen relations and create more reciprocal actions by Moscow.

Yet as this humorous tweet indicates, there's a limit to how much Russia can use gas blackmailing of Europe -- which has relied on Russia for 25% of its gas -- without then depriving itself of its main foreign-currency customer willing to pay higher market prices than its allies and China, it's new partner.
But the EU's decision is certainly a landmark in relations with Russia and they will not return to the status quo ante.

Russia has three months to respond to the charges, and a lot could happen then, including a splitting on the EU regarding the removal of sanctions against Russia over its aggression against Ukraine.

The question is whether Europe has the stamina to keep both the sanctions and to keep what the Russians will portray as a politically-motivated maneuver on the monopoly issue both going at once.

Even if there were no war in Ukraine, the EU would have good reason to challenge Gazprom's monopoly and continue to figure out ways to reduce its dependency on Russia. This it has been doing through ending the South Stream project and backing the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to obtain gas from Azerbaijan and route it to Greece via Albania and the Adriatic Sea then to Italy and further to Western Europe. To be sure, Russia has countered with Turkish Stream once again changing the calculus for prospects of independence from Russia in the Southern Corridor.

Russia will likely challenge the ruling nonetheless with every argument it can muster.



The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Marked Reduction In Violence Across Front

Yesterday saw a marked reduction in violence in south-eastern Ukraine, where fighting had been raging in three main areas: Peski, north-west of Donetsk; Shirokino, east of Mariupol; and along the northern front in Lugansk on the Seversky Donets river.

The Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (NSDC) reported this morning: 


As we reported yesterday, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, which has been maintaining a 24-hour presence in Shirokino since April 17, reported that the ceasefire appeared, for the most part, to be holding.

Today, the Mariupol Defence Headquarters claimed that the night had "passed quietly."

The Headquarters reported only two attacks on Ukrainian positions in Shirokino, at 9:00 and 11:00 yesterday, conducted with small arms, machine guns and grenade launchers. There were no casualties.

7 drone flights were detected over the Mariupol area over the last 24 hours. 

Ukrainska Pravda reported that OSCE monitors had successfully negotiated the release of the body of an Azov regiment fighter.

According to Azov's press secretary, Oleksandr Alferov, who spoke to Hromadske radio, soldier Georgi Dzhanelidze, a Georgian instructor, was killed under fire on the front line, but the Russian-backed fighters had refused to allow Ukrainian troops to retrieve his body, going as far as to place it upon an anti-personnel landmine to prevent removal.

Alferov said (translated by The Interpreter):

"Thanks to the OSCE mission, after almost 10 hours of negotiations, the OSCE monitors were able to a reach an an agreement with the terrorists that we would pick up Georgi's body. The mine exploded, however the instructor's body was successfully retrieved."

Likely as a result of the success in Shirokino, the NSDC reports today that the OSCE has agreed to establish a new monitoring station in Peski under the auspices of the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC), a working group of Ukrainian and Russian military delegations:

Ukrainska Pravda reports that the Ukrainian military's ATO Press Centre claimed this morning that Russian-backed forces had carried out six violations of the ceasefire along the demarcation line between 18:00 and midnight yesterday.

As the Press Centre noted, this indicates a continued reduction in violence.

However the military claimed that Russian-backed fighters have continued to use 120 mm mortars, weapons that should have been withdrawn in accordance with the Minsk agreement.

According to the report, 120 mm mortars were used four times yesterday evening - three times against a Ukrainian defensive position near Avdeyevka, and once near Peski.

The Press Centre also claim that a sniper fired on a defensive position in the village of Opytnoye, and that Ukrainian positions near Krasnogorovka came under machine gun fire.

150420-donetsk-north-map.png


Meanwhile both the ATO Press Centre and the press office of Governor Hennadiy Moskal, reported that there had been no reported attacks in the Lugansk region over yesterday and last night.

Censor.NET reported that Moskal's office had claimed one military incident had occurred, but that there had been no combat.

The Interpreter translates:

In the middle of the night, an enemy reconnaissance and sabotage group, trying to approach our soldiers' positions, was spotted on the outskirts of Novotoshkovka. However as soon as the militants realised that they had been discovered with the aid of thermal sights, they turned back.

But while the news from the front line gives cause for hope, ATO spokesman Andriy Lysenko has today claimed that Russia is reinforcing its troops in the Donbass.

Interfax-Ukraine reports (translated by The Interpreter):

As A. Lysenko said, according to intelligence reports, 50 Ural military trucks and 20 BMPs with crews have proceeded from the territory of the Russian Federation through the Dolzhansky border crossing in the direction of Debaltsevo over the last few days.

"While a cargo train, made up of around 40 wagons loaded with military hardware, covered with tarpaulins, came from Russia through the Dolzhansky railway station, which is located in the town of Sverdlovsk in the Lugansk region," said the ATO spokesman.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Fighting Surges Again Near Mariupol And Donetsk

Yesterday saw a dramatic intensification in fighting near both Mariupol and Donetsk with shelling reported to have carried into the early morning.

The head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), Ertugrul Apakan, "expressed his dismay at the resumed violence," says an OSCE statement on the fighting in Shirokino, released last night.

“While fighting in Shyrokyne stopped again after three hours Saturday night, new and heavy fighting broke out today in and around Donetsk airport. SMM monitors are present to observe the developments and will report accordingly,” said Apakan.

He added that he regretted that the so called “Donetsk People’s Republic” forces had prevented SMM monitors from entering Shyrokyne earlier on Saturday and again today.

“Once again I call upon all sides to exercise maximum restraint and to honour the commitments enshrined in the Minsk agreements. Our hope is of course for a long-lasting and comprehensive ceasefire that will bring an end to the spiral of violence that has destroyed so many lives and infrastructure,” said Apakan.

The OSCE observed repeated barrages from both mortars and artillery in the area:

Also on 12 April, from an observation point located in the eastern outskirts of Berdianske (government-controlled, 19km east of Mariupol, 1.5km west of Shyrokyne) between 17:45 and 18:00hrs, the SMM heard 25 incoming mortar rounds it assessed were fired from “DPR” positions in the east, impacting one kilometre north of the SMM’s position, on Ukrainian Armed Forces positions in western Shyrokyne. Between 18:00 and 18:25hrs, the SMM heard another 24 incoming mortar rounds impacting two kilometres from its position, near the E58 road. From 18:05 to 18:25hrs, the SMM observed 30 mortar rounds fired from a Ukrainian Armed Forces position along the Sea of Azov coast in southern Berdianske, 400m south-east of the SMM’s position. Following a lull until 18:50hrs, “DPR” artillery from the north-north-east targeted these Ukrainian Armed Forces positions with salvos, probably 122mm howitzers. The SMM observed splashes in the Sea of Azov. The SMM departed at 19:00hrs but continued to hear artillery fire. The artillery fire was heard and shook buildings across Mariupol; it ended at 20:25hrs.

The Ukrainian military headquarters in Mariupol reported this morning that attacks on Ukrainian positions had continued throughout the evening with 120 mm mortars.

The press service of the volunteer-based Azov regiment claimed that their positions in Shirokino had been attacked this morning, starting at 5:30, with both tanks and mortars. Azov also claimed to have killed two Russian-backed fighters yesterday - a machine gunner and a sniper.

0629.com.ua reported that Dmitry Gorbunov, press officer for the military in the Mariupol area, had told journalists that the heaviest period of fighting had occurred between 18:00 and 20:45, during which, in addition to 120 and 82 mm mortars, grenade launchers, small arms and tanks had been used. The last attacks were, he claimed, at 6:40 this morning.

The military reported no casualties in the area. 

Novosti Donbassa reports that the press officer of the governor of the Lugansk region, Hennadiy Moskal, announced this morning that there had been attacks across the front line in the north of the region.

The Interpreter translates:

"A battle broke out last night between Ukrainian security forces and militants on the edge of Tryokhizbenka. After 20:00, a sabotage and reconnaissance group of terrorists came right up to the ruined bridge over the Seversky Donets (along which runs the demarcation line) and opened fire on our soldiers. Bar short interruptions, the fighting went on for more than 2 hours, during which not only small arms but automatic grenade launchers were used," says the statement.

Shelling continues near the checkpoint on the Bakhmutka highway and the village of Troitskoye.

"Starting from 2:00 and lasting until 5:30, Ukrainian forces at the 29th checkpoint received periodic shelling from the direction of the village of Zholobok, which is occupied by Russian regular forces. They fired on our troops with, amongst other things, a tank. No reports of casualties have been received.

In Troitskoye (in the Popasnaya district), Ukrainian military defensive positions were repeatedly fired upon with automatic weapons by the militants. The last attack was at 4 am today," added the press office.

The greatest intensification in fighting was reported north-west of Donetsk, in the village of Peski, which has been the scene continuous, low intensity fighting since the fall of Donetsk Airport, with both sides dug into trenches.

However the OSCE reported that both the Ukrainian and Russian delegations at the Joint Centre For Control and Coordination (JCCC) had reported a Ukrainian offensive through the front line towards Zhobunki, a Donetsk suburb just south of Donetsk Airport. While the OSCE could not confirm this, they relayed reports that the offensive was being led by Praviy Sector fighters.

The OSCE reported intense exchanges of fire, with heavy artillery used as well as small arms:

The SMM observed that an intensive armed clash was underway with the use of tanks, heavy artillery, automatic grenade launchers, mortars, heavy machine-guns, and small arms and light weapons (SALW). From its arrival at 9.35 to 15:00hrs, the SMM observed and recorded 1,166 explosions, caused mainly by artillery and mortar shell strikes. The SMM assessed that weapons with a calibre larger than 100mm were used by both sides during the fighting.

The SMM observed shelling and/or SALW fire outgoing from the following locations: Kyivskyi district (“DPR”-controlled, 7km west-north-west of Donetsk); Kuibyshevskyi district (“DPR”-controlled, 7km west-north-west of Donetsk); a forested area one kilometre south-east of Spartak (“DPR”-controlled, 10km north-west of Donetsk); the area of “Ventstvol” mine (government-controlled, 12km north-west of Donetsk); and Butorskaya mine (“DPR”-controlled, 12.5km north-west of Donetsk).

The SMM observed that the following locations were subjected to incoming shelling: Opytne (government-controlled, 14km north-west of Donetsk); the radio tower at Donetsk airport (“DPR”-controlled, 11km north-west of Donetsk); Pisky (government-controlled, 11km north-west of Donetsk); Zhabunki; the Volvo Centre (“DPR”-controlled, 12km west-north-west of Donetsk); Kyievskyi district; and Spartak.

The SMM was in contact with the JCCC throughout the day and was informed that the JCCC attempted several times to mediate observation of the ceasefire, but was unsuccessful. Fighting was on-going at the time of the submission of this spot report from the field at 18:12hrs.

The Crimea volunteer battalion claimed on its Facebook page that Russian-backed forces had bombarded their positions in Peski with incendiary weapons, describing the situation as a "burning inferno."

According to the battalion, either white phosphorus or napalm was being used in air-burst shells, with "hundreds" of such rounds being used, setting even the brick walls of houses on fire.

The battalion posted photos, purportedly showing the munitions in use and their aftermath. The Interpreter cannot verify these as of yet, though we can say that the photos do not appear in prior Google image search results. 


11148470_770031399776684_427801059906264



10406990_770285406417950_617461587993963

We caution that allegations of white phosphorus use, made by Russian state media against Ukrainian forces, have been debunked in the past.

Ukrainska Pravda reports that colonel Andriy Leshchynskiy, head of the Ukrainian delegation at the JCCC, had announced that a local journalist had been killed near the airport when the car in which he and another reporter were travelling was struck by an anti-tank missile. The other reporter was injured but survived, he said. Neither have been named.

However the pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) reported that Eduard Basurin, spokesman for the 'defence ministry' of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), had told reporters that both journalists had in fact survived the incident.

The Interpreter translates:

"The journalists are alive: one is contused, one is wounded. Both are in hospital."

According to DAN, the journalists were fired on by Ukrainian forces near Peski yesterday evening.  

Basurin also introduced a separatist battalion commander, known as Krym (Crimea) to reporters, who proceeded to tell them that a Ukrainian soldier had been captured during fighting this morning near the Volvo Centre, south-east of Peski.

The Ukrainian soldier had been wounded but underwent surgery and has resumed consciousness, Krym claimed.


150413-peski-map.png


Meanwhile the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine (NSDC) reported that one Ukrainian soldier had been killed and six wounded over the last 24 hours:

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