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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 134: Poroshenko Vows To 'Attack and Defend Our Land'

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
Separatists In Donetsk Vow To Burrow Into The Civilian Populace

Yesterday Svoboda's Andrei Babitsky warned that as the truce dissolves into renewed heavy fighting in Ukraine, the result may be even more brutal war, especially in Donetsk, Ukraine's 5th largest city. Babitsky speaks with Russian-backed militants who say that if Kiev wants to retake eastern Ukraine, and Donetsk, they'd have to pay a very high price.

Below we have translated an excerpt:

One of the militia officers with whom I managed to speak said that the ATO cannot be successful if the Ukrainian army decides to fight within the boundaries of the city. Here armored vehicles are not effective, which are easy to destroy under the conditions of the city angles, the aviation can't help very much, either, since the local multi-story buildings are a perfect cover from airstrikes.

"Kiev has two opportunities," my source said. "Either raze the city to the ground, like Grozny, and only then bring in troops, or gradually fight district by district, suffering giant losses all the while. The first option is impossible due to the reaction of the world community, which will be sharply negative due to the massive loss of the civilian population. The second will provoke opposition inside the country. No matter what Poroshenko chooses, this war will become his grave."

Babitsky's predictions are already partially coming true. It is clear that Ukraine's anti-terror operation is far more intense than it was before the ceasefire. The Ukrainian military is focusing on a broader swath of the country, and it hitting the militants with far more firepower than in the past. Those separatists, however, have burrowed themselves deeply into some of these cities and towns. Ukraine has been hesitant to hit the Russian-backed militants with everything it has got, and that has bought the separatists time to grow far stronger than their weak popular support merits.

Today that has changed. And while a more robust ATO may more quickly free eastern Ukraine from the Russian-backed gunmen who occupy large parts of it, the more intense military action, combined with the guerrilla tactics of the separatists and the months they have had to prepare for this day, it will make life very hard for the civilians who are still trapped in the cities occupied by the insurgents.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Residents Seek Shelter From Intense Gun Battles In Donetsk

Donetsk, Ukraine's 5th largest city, has once again been rocked by violence today. AP reports:

Panicked residents looked for a safe place to hide Tuesday as Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia separatists fought an hours-long gunbattle in the center of Donetsk, the largest city in eastern Ukraine. Rebels captured the Interior Ministry headquarters there a day after the president said they weren't serious about peace and ended a cease-fire...

In Donetsk, many streets were deserted and rifle fire rang out as rebels attacked the Interior Ministry's building. After hours of gunbattles, the rebels took over the compound, leaving the body of a plainclothes police officer outside.

In Kiev, the interior minister said Ukrainian forces had repelled a rebel attack in Donetsk, but that clearly was not the case.

Earlier today Alex Luhn reported on the situation there:


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

While the Russian foreign ministry was pretty quiet when Russian-backed separatists were shooting down Ukrainian helicopters or shooting up downtown Donetsk over the last few weeks, they are deeply concerned about Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's decision to end the one-sided ceasefire and relaunch the anti-terrorism operation in eastern Ukraine. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry that this new turn could destabilize Ukraine. RFE/RL reports:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Poroshenko's decision not to extend the truce started “a new cycle of bloodshed with consequences unpredictable for the Ukrainian state.”

Is this just talk?

Again, we see Russia making the case for war. As I pointed out earlier, Poroshenko appears to be calling Russia's bluff. With reports of Ukraine's military victories, if Russia is really willing to militarily respond to Ukraine's more robust ATO, we may know very soon.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Intense Fighting Near Lugansk, Slavyansk, and Kramatorsk

One of the aspects that makes today's military operations in eastern Ukraine unique is that they appear to be far better coordinated, far more expansive, and far more effective that previous iterations. There is now intense fighting in many areas, and each battle has its own goal. Beyond the battles we've already reported, Lugansk and a key nearby town, Metalist (map) appear to be another focus for Ukraine's military operation.

This video reportedly shows the effects of Ukrainian airstrikes near Lugansk today:

Another video reportedly taken in Lugansk. We have not verified these videos yet, but they do match many descriptions of what is occurring there today:
A video reportedly taken between Lugansk and Metalist today shows an armored column rolling in:

The DPR is also reporting intense bombing and shelling in the areas of Metalist and Lugansk, and the Russian media has been reporting widespread civilian evacuations.

But there is widespread damage elsewhere in the country as well.

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

Dmytro Tymchuk, a Ukrainian arms expert who appears to have contacts within Ukraine's military, has made an interactive map of the fighting across Ukraine. The map can be see here but here is a screenshot of the latest:

Tymochuk-map-2014-july-1.png

The northernmost hotspot is the Slavyansk/Kramatorsk area. As we've been reporting, Kramatorsk, to the south of Slavyansk, appears to be a key target for this new and more robust ATO. But as we can see, the effort appears to be focused on separating Kramatorsk and Slavyansk from the southeastern border between Ukraine and Russia.

In our previous update, we mention a reported Ukrainian military victory at a key checkpoint near the border in this region.

All previous attempts to secure the area behind rebel front lines have resulted in open threats of Russian invasion. Poroshenko may be calling Putin's bluff to see whether Putin is really committed to militarily supporting the separatists if Ukraine is really committed to stopping Moscow from doing so.

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