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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 135: New Ukraine Offensive Yielding Results

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
Two Journalists Released By Separatists In Lugansk

Russian-backed separatists have released two journalists from Hromadske TV two days after they were captured. Global Post reports:

Reporter Anastasia Stanko and cameraman Illya Bezkaravayny went missing in Ukraine's eastern Lugansk region, which along with neighbouring Donetsk have proclaimed their independence from Kiev and seek to join Russia.

"We were not beaten or tortured -- only threatened," the station quoted Stanko as saying.

Lugansk separatist leader Valery Bolotov said the journalists were freed after the heads of Russia's three main state-controlled television stations personally intervened on their behalf earlier Wednesday.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
The New Ceasefire Falling Apart Before It Even Starts?

Less than two hours ago the prospect for a new ceasefire was announced, but we're already seeing signs that it might fall apart.Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin's comments, quoted by Reuters, might indicate that not only would Ukraine's control of the border be a precondition, but so would the release of hostages held by the separatists:

Klimkin added a note of caution, saying hostages must be released and Ukraine allowed to control its borders to stop the rebels receiving fresh fighters and weapons. The document said Russia made a commitment to allow Ukrainian border guards across checkpoints in Gukovo and Donetsk to control this.

"The de-escalation of the situation will happen when the peace plan of the Ukrainian president is respected in its totality," said Klimkin.

Lavrov said Ukrainian President Poroshenko's decision to end the ceasefire had cost "people's lives and serious destruction of civilian infrastructure ... but better late than never".

The separatists have previously not been willing to accept a ceasefire if Ukraine did not withdraw its troops. Furthermore, the separatists have routinely used prisoners as bargaining chips and civilians as human shields. What are the chances that the separatists will allow Ukraine to conduct more military operations and then just accept a ceasefire where their supply lines are cut off? These sound like preconditions that are incompatible with the past words and actions of the Russian-backed militants. 

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Despite Promise Of New Ceasefire, Tensions Between Moscow and Kiev Remain High
Russia may have reached an agreement in principal with Europe and Ukraine on a new ceasefire, but the reality is that the rhetoric coming from the two camps over the last few hours has rarely been more heated, as evidenced by this exchange:
Russia has also fired allegations at NATO:

The ITAR-TASS article slams NATO commander General Philip Breedlove who accused Russia of destabilizing Ukraine:

“We have noted Supreme Allied Commander Europe, US General Philip Breedlove’s statements, which at this crucial time when the leading world powers are taking joint efforts to find solutions to the Ukrainian crisis, bring about no other reaction than surprise. Obviously, such statements aim to escalate the situation around Ukraine,” he said.

“We think it is absolutely unacceptable when a military representative of such a high rank gets involved in an information and propaganda campaign by spreading false information about the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

He noted that Russia had repeatedly given exhaustive explanations on all issues related to security on the border with Ukraine. “Moreover, based on the results of a more than 15 inspections received by the Russian Federation since March of this year under the Open Skies Treaty, no convincing proof of the Russian military buildup along the border with Ukraine was presented,” Lukashevich said.

Russia is trying to play the victim here, but even the OSCE, of which Russia is a member, has slammed Russia's role in Ukraine. Yesterday, the OSCE parliamentarians actually approved a resolution condemning Russia's actions:

By a majority of three-to-one, OSCE parliamentarians approved a resolution that condemns Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine during a plenary meeting today at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 2014 Annual Session Baku.

Parliamentarians voted by a margin of 92 in favor to 30 against with 27 abstentions on the item, which “condemns the clear, gross and uncorrected violation of the Helsinki principles by the Russian Federation with respect to Ukraine, including the particularly egregious violation of that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Full text of the item is available HERE.

The resolution now becomes annexed to the Baku Declaration, to be voted on tomorrow, 2 July, by nearly 300 parliamentarians from more than 50 countries. The Declaration will contain policy recommendations for the OSCE and its 57 participating States in the fields of political affairs and security, economics, the environment and human rights.

The resolution, which was initiated by U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin, the Deputy Head of the U.S. Delegation to the OSCE PA, also “deplores the armed intervention by forces under the control of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, and the human rights violations that they continue to cause.”

It further expresses “unequivocal support for the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine”; discredits the March 2014 referendum in Crimea; and notes the “particular vulnerability of Crimean Tatars, Roma, Jews and other minority groups” in the conflict.

The final resolution, including the Russian resolution, was adopted today by a vote of 97 to 1 with 9 abstentions, which included members of the Russian delegation.



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

As we've just reported, the conference between Ukraine, Russia, and major European powers has come to a tentative agreement for a new ceasefire which may go into effect on Saturday. RFE/RL reports:

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France backed the idea of using observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe at border-crossing points at the Russian-Ukrainian border. Steinmeier spoke after talks with his Russian, Ukrainian, and French counterparts in Berlin. 

DW has more details:

Germany's Frank Walter-Steinmeier said there was a "clear commitment to a multilateral ceasefire."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a joint news conference that the quartet had agreed on the "necessity to swiftly agreed conditions for a stable long-term truce."

To be clear, this is a roadmap for another ceasefire. In order to have an official ceasefire agreement, Ukraine and the separatist groups would have to agree to the measure and actually stop firing.

RT has more details on the Russian position on whether or not the separatists will agree to the ceasefire.

In their joint statement, the ministers called for the Contact Group to resume its work “no later than July 5 with the goal of reaching an unconditional and mutually agreed, sustainable ceasefire.”

The group should include representatives of both Kiev and the self-defense forces of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said.

While Russia only has limited influence over the self-defense forces in southeast Ukraine, Lavrov said that their representatives, including Donetsk People's Republic leader Aleksandr Boroday, have already “publicly stated that they are ready to answer Russia’s and the OSCE’s calls to start consultations on a ceasefire.”

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
A New Truce? OSCE Agrees To Monitor Ceasefire -- And The Borders
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has stated that the government in Kiev is willing to agree to a ceasefire if it is bilateral and monitored by the OSCE. Sergei Lavrov has announced that Russia is willing to work with Ukraine and the OSCE to guard border checkpoints if a truce is agreed upon.
While Roland makes a great last point, he also points out that the ceasefire will not take place until Saturday. At this rate, Ukraine may have won significant military victories by then. Beyond the victories we've already reported, Ukraine appears to have made even more progress today and is closing in on Kramatorsk, Slavyansk, and Lugansk.
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