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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 Liveblog Day 80: Waiting For Victory Day

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
Kazakhstan Skips CSTO Meeting in Moscow Today

A number of experts are noting that Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev was not present at tonight's emergency meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Moscow, nor did he send representatives to the massive display of Russian armed forces, including the simulation of an ICBM launch on the eve of 9 May Victory Day celebrations.

Instead, he met with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, the second-highest ranking American diplomat and the Obama Administrator's top expert on Russia.

Thus the CSTO has 5 out of 6 of its members in Moscow including Russia.

Conventional wisdom about the CSTO has said that in order for peace-keeping forces to deploy, which number anywhere from 4,000 to 20,000 in various configurations, a member would have to invite them into their country. Ukraine is not a member.

But there is some speculation that Russia -- as Belarus has already done this evening -- could invoke a version of the international mandate of "responsibility to protect" to rescue people they believe under attack, as they perceive them as "their own" as ethnic Russians or Russian-speakers. Moscow has paved the way for such a notion by characterizing the Kiev authorities as "illegitimate" and the government as "non-existent." Furthermore, the Russian-backed separatists in towns in the south and east of Ukraine have appealed for help.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
War Council in Moscow; CSTO Discusses Action in Ukraine

On Thursday evening, an informal meeting took place of of the Moscow-led Collective Treaty Security Organization, Lenta.ru reports. President Vladimir Putin and his fellow heads of state from Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan visited a training session on management of the Russian armed forces. The situation in Ukraine was the main topic of the evening. Observers have speculated that Moscow could use the CSTO in some fashion to run a "peace-keeping operation" in the south of Ukraine with the support of allies in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

The meeting evokes memories of how the Soviet-era Warsaw Pact was used to invade Czechoslovakia to come to the aid of a "fraternal government."

Lenta.ru was formerly an independent website, but recently its editor-in-chief was fired and an editor more compliant with the Kremlin line was installed. Some 39 journalists and editors quit in protest, but the site has remained open and is publishing mainly pro-government news, mixed with some neutral stories on topics like opposition demonstrations. We will continue to monitor the situation.

The Interpreter has translated the article below:

The visit of the presidents of Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan was not planned in advance. Vladimir Putin summoned Aleksandr Lukashenka, Serzh Sargsyan, Almazbek Atambayev and Emomali Rakhmon to Moscow for emergency talks, the main topic of which was the situation in Ukraine. The invitation had a military sub-text from the outset. The heads of state visited a training about management of the armed forces of Russia. The practice for deflecting and delivering a nuclear strike, in the words of the Russian Commander-in-Chief, went successfully. The Ukrainian question will be discussed today by Putin and in bilateral meetings with his colleagues.

The emergency invitation of the heads of state not accidentally virtually coincided with talks by the Russian president and the OSCE chairman Didier Burkhalter, during which the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev were proposed again to take the path of a peaceful settlement of the conflict. Moscow demanded from Kiev that it "cease the punitive operation," withdraw troops and sit down at the negotiation table with representatives of the south-east regions of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin essentially agreed to holding the presidential elections in the republic on 25 May, the legitimacy of which is being placed under doubt by Moscow. Simultaneously, Putin asked the militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk "People's Republics" to postpone the conducting of a referendum. Putin's proposals were supported by the OSCE head.

Kiev did not wait long to respond. On the night of 8 May, preparation for a military operation in the east of the country was completed. All the cities of Slavyansk, Krasny Liman, and Mariupol were closed by checkpoints and military vehicles. Tubeless artillery, armored vehicles and infantry withdrew to their original positions. A practically total blockade of Odessa and Nikolayev was established, around which checkpoints were constructed and guarded by fighters in black uniforms without distinguishing insignia. In the cities of the south of Ukraine, a rotation of the law-enforcement organizations was made. According to Ukrainian sources, several thousand fighters have been brought in from Dnepropetrovsk and other regions of the country.

On the morning of 8 May, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called the proposals by Vladimir Putin "the usual farce," and Andrei Parubiy, secretary of the Ukrainian Council of National Security and Defense (SNBO) announced at a briefing that the "anti-terrorist operation" would be held regardless of the decisions of any saboteur or terrorist groups regarding the referendum." Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov rejected the possibility of dialogue.

In confirmation of its position, Ukrainian military, presumably the storming of the Mariupol City Council has begun from the National Guard. The reaction of representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk "People's Republics" was quick. The councils of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic refused to move the referendum and announced that it will take place at the scheduled date of 11 May.

In the opinion of experts, escalation of the violence in Ukraine could lead to the necessity of a Russian peace-keeping intervention. Moreover, the preparation of such an operation, essentially, is already underway. Thus, militia have managed to "open" the border in Lugansk Region between Russia and Ukraine for free movement of people and vehicles. Simultaneously, for the last week a group of 20 militiamen managed to destroy several Ukrainian radar stations, thus depriving the Ukrainian army of the possibility of controlling part of its air space. Lt. Gen. Leonid Ivashov, president of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems believes that it is necessary to introduce a peace-keeping contingent under the aegis of the CSTO in Ukraine. Aleksandr Sobyanin, director of the strategic planning service of the Association for Border Cooperation is convinced that there is no need to deploy the CSTO for a "peace-keeping operation in Ukraine."

"Russia can announce its decision to introduce a peace-keeping contingent for the protection of civilians in Ukraine from rioting Nazis and appeal with a request to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and a number of other states to support the anti-Nazi position of Russia through participation in the peace-keeping operation in Ukraine," Sobyanin told Lenta.ru.

It is quite possible Vladimir Putin discussed precisely this topic with his colleagues in Moscow today. And, from all appearances, Russia's position received support.

"Events have occurred in Ukraine which do not permit us to quietly sit by the side and watch what is happening there," Aleksandr Lukashenka stated after his meeting with Putin. In the opinion of the Belarusian head of state, above all this concerns the events in Odessa. "This in general leads us to bad parallels. And I see: these parallels have already appeared on the televisions screens. We remember Khatyn, when several hundreds of villages on the territory of Belarus were burned down by the fascists on that very same principle," he said. "Such actions are unacceptable in other countries, and it will be all the more unacceptable if we quietly watch what is going on there. This above all concerns the Russian Federation and Belarus. Naturally, we cannot look at this because those are our people there and they are calling for help and demanding reactions to such things," said Lukashenka, adding that the situation was developing very rapidly.


Translation: @vladdich Cunning KGB trick of Putin becomes clear at last.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Says It Has Repelled Attack Against A Border Post
A big claim:

The Globe and Mail add these details:

[The Ukrainian government] said two minivans arrived at the border as if about to leave Ukraine at the Izvarino crossing point in the eastern region of Luhansk, a hotbed of pro-Russian insurgency. The men jumped out of the vehicles, surrounded the post, pointed their rifles and demanded guards lay down their weapons.

The border guards refused and opened fire, the assailants replying with gas bombs. The attack ended with the men fleeing. The Border Guard office said steps were being taken to reinforce the post.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Says May 25 Election Meaningless Without Ukrainian Retreat
Unless Ukraine withdraws its forces out of eastern Ukraine and halts its "anti-terror" operation to restore order to areas which have been taken over by Russian-backed separatists, its May 25th elections are "meaningless." Or so says the Russian Foreign Ministry.

ITAR-TASS uses a slightly different translation:

In a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius on Thursday, May 8, Lavrov also called for “fostering a national dialogue aimed at carrying out fair constitutional reform that would take into account the interests of all political forces and regions” in Ukraine.

“Otherwise, the presidential elections in Ukraine scheduled for May 25 will be senseless,” Lavrov said.

Just yesterday Putin called the May 25th elections a step in the right direction. He also said Russian troops had already withdrawn from the border. He almost certainly lied on that last point. So is Putin changing his position on Ukrainian elections now too?

The Kremlin changing its rhetoric again--every time Russia agrees with the rest of the world lately, they then change the definitions of the nouns. By the time the world figures out that Putin is disingenuous, a whole week or more is wasted.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
More On Last Night's Gun Battle In Slavyansk

Earlier we reported that, according to the Interior Ministry, one person was killed in a gunfight at a checkpoint in Slavyansk. That town has been held by Russian-backed separatists for weeks and has been surrounded by Ukrainian forces for days. Over the weekend and earlier in the week, several battles were held as Ukraine attempted to retake the town.

Details in the report were slim, however, and it was unclear who was killed.

Below is an article from Hryla.org on the incident. The details in the report have not been independently corroborated, but we have translated their report below:

Last night in Slavyansk there was a battle between forces deployed in an anti-terrorist operation and terrorists. The terrorists were warned that in the future, forces will open fire on them without warning, said the Ukrainian Interior Ministry press service.

According to information from the Interior Ministry, last night [there were attacks] on positions of the siloviki [security services] in the region of the operation in Slavyansk, as a result of which two automobiles of the attackers were destroyed in the retaliatory gunfre.

"Last night the 6th checkpoint of the anti-terrorist operation divisions located directly near the Slavyansk city limit was attacked and strafed. As a result of retaliatory fire, two automobiles of the attackers, from which had come shooting, were destroyed with a direct shot of an RPG," said a statement on the Ukrainain Interior Ministry web site.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has announced the intention to open fire without warning in the event of attacks on the positions of Ukrainian law-enforcers.


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