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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 105: Ukrainian Border Guard Camp Under Assault

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
Ukraine Relied on Air Power To Defeat Separatists in Lugansk

While the evidence seems nearly airtight that a Ukrainian jet conducted an airstrike against the Regional Administration Building in Lugansk, it's important to not forget that the airstrike was part of a Ukrainian counteroffensive after separatists launched a significant attack earlier.

Kyiv Post has a blow-by-blow description of what happened in southwest Lugansk:

Around 4 a.m. local time, a group of some 500 insurgents hit Ukrainian border guards in the town of Mirny, Luhansk region — about 12 miles from the Russian border — with a barrage of bullets from Kalashnikovs and heavy machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, the Ukrainian state border guard service reported.

The insurgents fired from forested positions around the border guard base and from the rooftop and upper floors of a nearby apartment building, according to border guard service report. They also used a DShK heavy-machine gun in the fight. Amateur video published on YouTube appears to show the machine gun being transported by truck from the scene.

The report goes on to explain that the primary weapon used to defeat the separatists were airstrikes. The entire report, and the videos, can be seen here.

RT also documented the fighting, adding to the narratives that we've already pieced together using amateur video and eyewitness reports.

Weapons seen in this video:

- RPG-7

- AK-74s, several variants include the M (military variant) and possibly the S, at least one of which is equipped with a GP-34 grenade launcher and scope.

What seems clear is that Ukraine, continuing a trend which began last Monday in Donetsk, is beginning to rely more on its airforce to deal defeats to the Russian-backed separatists--separatists who are increasingly well armed.

The danger, of course, is obvious. If the separatists are so well equipped that Ukrainian officials believe that airstrikes are the best way to deal with them, the risk of civilian casualties could mount in places like Lugansk, Donetsk, and Slavyansk.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Video May Show Ukrainian Jet Conducting Airstrike in Lugansk

The smoking gun? This video reportedly shows a Ukrainian jet firing rockets today in Lugansk. What is compelling, however, is that the trajectory of the plane matches very closely the video of the attack we posted earlier. Near the State Administrative building, to the east where the attack struck earlier today, is a communications tower (map) which places this plane at the scene of today's attack. Here is a screenshot from the video, which shows the communications tower, and a geotagged photo taken east of today's attack:

lugansk-tv-towers.jpg

This is compelling evidence that an airstrike, in fact a rocket strike, was conducted against the State Administrative Building, a building which has been occupied for months by Russian-backed separatists. This also matches the theory that while Ukrainian forces were defending against a separatist attack at the southwest corner of Lugansk, at least one aircraft made an attack run against the separatist headquarters a few kilometers away.

The video below is very graphic, as noted in the tweet, but some important pieces of data can be taken from the video.

First, the damage is very widespread. No RPG or similar weapon could cause this level of damage.

Second, the epicenter of the damage in the video is the 4th floor window of the state administrative building. In the video, a firetruck is putting out the fire through one of the windows. The damage in the window is consistent with an explosion that started on the outside of the building.

Also important, however, is the point that the significant damage down below could not have all come from the explosion on the fourth floor of the building. In one video we've posted below, however, we see one of the cars explode, a car which is parked across the street from the admin building. The building could not have suffered the kind of damage, on the fourth floor, as a result of the explosion on the street. Again, this supports the hypothesis that there were multiple explosions, perhaps a combination of a rocket/missile and autocannon attack from a low-flying Ukrainian aircraft.

Another video, which is not graphic, shows some of the damage, but it doesn't give the sense of the scale of the effected area.

A QUICK UPDATE:

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
More Aircraft Spotted Over Lugansk
There is now lots of video evidence to suggest that Ukrainian aircraft, including possibly an SU-25 and an SU-27, were in the area of the attack in Lugansk. Besides video we have already posted from our very first update onward, there is this video showing what appears to show an aircraft flying near the border guard building:

The team at the Open Newsroom has geolocated various videos showing the fighting in Lugansk today, and their interactive map (which has links to videos of the fighting) matches a map that we posted earlier this morning.

This video is unverified, but claims to show a Ukrainian helicopter. There is a lot of noise in the video, but the low rumble at the start could be an autocannon from this helicopter or from another Ukrainian aircraft.



The separatist headquarters, the state security building that was hit by today's explosions (map), is three to four kilometers away from the area in southwest Lugansk where the fighting occurred. There is evidence that this attack was an airstrike (even if the specific weapon is in debate), and if it was an airstrike, it was not likely an accident.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
More Video From Explosion in Lugansk
Not everyone is convinced of our theory that the video posted below shows a rocket or missile impact. This video is compelling:

Theiner has a point. The impact craters in that video absolutely do look like rounds from a Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-2. The problem, however, is that the object in the video in our last update is clearly visible, the trajectory of its flight path matches exactly where the explosion occurs, the object is clearly subsonic (autocannon rounds travel at nearly three times the speed of sound), and the explosion suggests that there was a payload, though only a small one, in the weapon that caused the initial explosion.

The likely explanation is that there was an airstrike, where perhaps both a rocket or missile AND autocannon rounds were used. The vehicle that did the firing, however, is still unknown.

The force of the explosion blew debris into the rooms, indicating that the explosion came from the outside.

We have not seen evidence (yet) of cluster bombs, which leave exploded (and sometimes unexploded) bomblets, but a combination of a missile/rocket attack, along with an autocannon attack, could be the reason why the damage was so widespread.

Another video, which we have not verified, reportedly shows an aircraft firing what appears to be its autocannon. We have not been able to verify the location or date of that video, however.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
A Missile/Rocket, Not a Bomb, Behind Lugansk Explosion

This video is an edit, done by The Interpreter, which slows down a Youtube video which reportedly shows the explosion in Lugansk. The unedited original is here.

Keep your eyes on the flagpole. In the middle of the video, before the explosion, a flaming object can be seen (arrow). The red line is the trajectory of the object.

edit-rocket.png


The object appears to be a missile, or maybe a rocket, but not likely a bomb. The weapon appears to be moving under its own power because the flash at its base suggests that it is burning some sort of propellant. If you look carefully at the video, you can see it traveling from right to left toward the site of impact.

The weapon appears to have been fired from an elevation, perhaps from an aircraft, though the angle of attack is very low, perhaps suggesting that the weapon was fired from a rooftop of one of the surrounding buildings. From this video, a car bomb, or a weapon fired from the ground, can likely be ruled out.

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