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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 149: Russian Tanks and Artillery Reach Donetsk

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
Triangulation Of Videos Proves GRAD Rockets Fired Well Inside Russian Border
The analysis by The Interpreter has now been published to the front page of Foreign Policy Magazine:

Of course, this makes the claims we made earlier come under even more scrutiny. No one with any credibility is questioning where the cameras are located in these videos. Clearly, the videos were taken inside Russia. The main claim that some skeptics have suggested is that these rockets are so far away from from the camera that they are actually inside Ukraine.

The problem is easily solved, however, with some simple geometry, as now there are two different camera angles of the same event.

Let's take a look at the first video we posted, and the best angle we could come up with using Google streetview (the angle of the camera and the angle of Google's streetview are not the same):

video-1-angles.jpg

If you notice, we've added a red line to the little man on the map in the left corner at the bottom of that picture. It's the approximate angle of the camera to the site of the launch. As we're about to see, even if this is off by a few degrees it's not going to impact our results.

Now let's take a look at the best video we've found. The angles of both the Google view and the camera are almost perfect.

pic-from-due-south.jpg

Now, in this video we do not see the rockets. We do, however, see the smoke, and it is drifting from right to left, from east to west. Because of this, if we draw a line from our camera across the town on the other side of the lake to where we see the right-most smoke, this will tell us the farthest west the rockets were launched from.

And if we extend both lines from both videos, they intersect at approximately the spot where the rockets must have been launched from. Again, as we can see from this illustration, even if our lines are many degrees off it makes very littler difference to the results -- it is very clear that the GRAD rockets were launched approximately here:

launch-site.jpg

That location is approximately 5 kilometers east of Ukraine's border and nearly 20 kilometers south of it. In other words, there is now no doubt that these rockets were launched inside Russia's border, and that the rockets were aimed at Ukraine.


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Another Video Places GRAD Rocket Launch Inside Russia
Another video reportedly shows GRAD rockets fired from Gukovo:

The video is from a similar angle, though we think perhaps taken closer to the launcher. It also shows rockets traveling roughly westward.

But this video could be the key to answering a lot of questions.

This video is filmed almost exactly here. Here is a screengrab of the video and a screengrab of the Google streetview. The two distinctive trees, the house at the bend of the water... the landmarks obviously place this video at this location, just northwest of Gukovo.

pic-from-due-south.jpg

Here is what is important about this.

The smoke is almost directly north of this position. The smoke is also blowing toward the west. This is the smoke created by the launches. If you travel north from the field of smoke, you don't reach the Ukrainian border for at least 10 miles.That is well beyond the distance that could be filmed by any of these cameras.

distance-to-border.png

This is definitive proof that not only are these videos taken in Russian territory, but that the rockets were fired inside of Russian territory. North of here, between the camera and the area where the smoke is seen rising, there are a line of trees. In all of the videos the rockets appear to be in front of the line of trees (here). Again, this definitively proves that these rockets were fired in Russia.

trees.png

Then there is this video, which we have not yet located. The video claims to be a spectacular closeup of the rocket launchers firing. We should caution, however, that much more work would need to be done to conclude that this video shows the same event described below.

Correction:

The video above has been removed from YouTube. Using similar links to other publications with the same video number, we searched for copies of the video using its title and date and found one that appears to be nearly identical, ,Opolchentsy vedut obstrel ukrainskikh voysk iz RCZO Grad. Unikaln'nye kadry. Lugansk [Militia conducts fire on Ukrainian forces from RCZO Grad. Unique footage. Lugansk. August 3, 2014 

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

The full text of an announcement by the European Council this evening follows:

1) Recalling the statements of the Heads of State or Government on Ukraine of 6 March and 27 May and its conclusions of 21 March and 27 June, the European Council once again stresses its support for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Ukraine, notably the urgent need to agree on a genuine and sustainable cease-fire by all parties to create the necessary conditions for the implementation of President Poroshenko's peace plan. The European Council supports the diplomatic efforts by Ukraine, the Russian Federation, France and Germany, as well as the joint Berlin Declaration of 2 July.

2) The European Council condemns the continuation of illegal activities by armed militants in Eastern Ukraine, including the occupation of public buildings, hostage-taking and armed attacks on Ukrainian law enforcers and border guards. The European Council urges the Russian Federation to actively use its influence of the illegally armed groups and to stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border, in order to achieve a rapid de-escalation. In this context, the European Council recalls the decision of 11 July to expand the travel ban and asset freeze within the European Union to 11 new individuals for actions undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. Member States also agreed to discontinue the application of their agreement of 20 February 2014 on export licenses.

3)The European Council regrets that the requested steps it set out in its 27 June conclusions have not been adequately taken. As a result, the European Council agrees to expand the restrictive measures, with a view to targeting entities, including from the Russian Federation, that are materially or financially supporting actions undermining or threatening Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. It tasks the Council to adopt the necessary legal instruments and to decide by the end of July on a first list of entities and persons, including from the Russian Federation, to be listed under the enhanced criteria. It also asks to consider the possibility of targeting individuals or entities who actively provide material or financial support to the Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Eastern-Ukraine. The European Council requests the EIB to suspend the signature of new financing operations in the Russian Federation. European Union Member States will coordinate their positions within the EBRD Board of Directors with a view to also suspending financing of new operations. 

Finally, the European Council invites the Commission to re-assess EU-Russia cooperation programmes with a view to taking a decision, on a case by case basis, on the suspension of the implementation of EU bilateral and regional cooperation programmes. However, projects dealing exclusively with cross-border cooperation and civil society will be maintained. 

The European Council recalls that the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States have been undertaking preparatory work on targeted measures, as it requested in March, so that further steps can be taken without delay. The European Council remains committed to reconvene at any time should events so require. 

In line with the policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, the European Council requests the Commission and the EEAS to present proposals for additional measures in particular on restricting investments in Crimea and Sevastopol. The European Council also expects the International Financial Institutions to refrain from financing any projects that explicitly or implicitly recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.

4) The European Council commends the efforts of the OSCE and its Chairmanship in Office, particularly in facilitating meetings of the Contact Group in Ukraine, and its readiness to establish a border-monitoring mission, to which the European Union and its Member States stand ready to consider a substantial contribution.

5) The European Council stresses the European Union's commitment to pursue trilateral talks on the conditions of gas supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine and commends the efforts of the Commission in that regard. Finding a swift agreement is important for the stabilisation of Ukraine's economy and for safeguarding the security of supply and transit of natural gas through Ukraine. 

6) The European Council stresses the importance of Ukraine ratifying the Association Agreement with a view to its early provisional application. It welcomes the holding of trilateral consultations at ministerial level between Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the European Union on 11 July on the implementation of the Association Agreement. In this context, it also welcomes the setting up of a consultation mechanism to address potential difficulties resulting from the effects of the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area on the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement of the Commonwealth of Independent States. 


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

President Obama has just spoken at a press conference, announcing expanded US sanctions on Russia.

His speech:

Finally, given its continued provocations in Ukraine, today I have approved a new set of sanctions on some of Russia's largest companies and financial institutions. 

Along with our allies, with whom I have been coordinating closely over the last several days and weeks, I have repeatedly made it clear that Russia must halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine; that Russia must urge separatists to release their hostages and support a ceasefire; that Russia needs to pursue internationally mediated talks, and agree to meaningful monitors on the border. 

I have made this clear directly to Mr Putin. Many of our European partners have all made this clear directly to Mr Putin. We have emphasised our preference to resolve this issue diplomatically, but that we have to see concrete actions and not just words, that Russia is in fact committed to trying to end this conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border.

So far, Russia has failed to take any of the steps that i mentioned. 

In fact Russia's support for the separatists and violations of Ukraine's sovereignty has continued.

On top of the sanctions we have already imposed, we are therefore designating selected sectors of the Russian economy as eligible for sanctions.

We are freezing the assets of several Russian defence companies and we are blocking new financing of some of Russia's most important banks and energy companies. These sanctions are significant but they are also targeted, designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies. 

Now we are taking these actions in close consultation with our European allies, who are meeting in Brussels to agree on their next steps. And what we are expecting is that the Russian leadership will see once again that its actions in Ukraine have consequences, including a weakening Russian economy and increasing diplomatic isolation. 

Meanwhile, we're going to continue to stand with the Ukrainian people, as they seek to determine their own future. And even in the midst of this conflict they have made remarkable progress. These past few months they have held democratic elections, they elected a new president, they're pursuing a course of reforms and they signed a new association agreement with the European Union. And the United States will continue to offer our strong support to Ukraine to help stabilise its economy and defend its territorial integrity. Because, like any people, Ukrainians deserve the right to forge their own destiny.

So, in closing, I'll point out the obvious: we live in a complex world and at a challenging time. And none of these challenges lend themselves to quick or easy solutions, but all of them require American leadership, and as commander in chief I'm confident that if we stay patient and determined, we will in fact meet these challenges.


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

The United States has announced new, sectoral sanctions on Russia, alongside an expanded list of individuals and business entities.

Most noteworthy on the list are Rosneft, Gazprombank and Vneseconombank.

Rosneft is one of the largest oil companies in the world and has close ties to the Russian government.

Gazprombank is the financial services wing of Gazprom, another state-entangled Russian gas giant, whose monopoly on gas supplies to eastern Europe play a key role in Russian power.

While Gazprom itself has not been added to the list, perhaps due to allay the fears of gas-dependent Europe, the addition of the bank is a significant escalation. The bank also plays a key role in financing and underpinning a number of strategic enterprises.

Gazprombank has subsidiaries in Belarus, Armenia and Switzerland, and owns a large media conglomerate, Gazprom Media, which owns long list of major Russian broadcasters and newspapers, chief among them NTV and Izvestia.

Vnesheconombank, or VEB, is critical to Russian state investment projects and, as of 2003, has been tasked with handling the investment of state pensions

The US Treasury has published a statement alongside these additions:

In response to Russia’s continued attempts to destabilize eastern Ukraine and its ongoing occupation of Crimea, the U.S. Department of the Treasury today imposed a broad-based package of sanctions on entities in the financial services, energy, and arms or related materiel sectors of Russia, and on those undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty or misappropriating Ukrainian property. More specifically:

Treasury imposed sanctions that prohibit U.S. persons from providing new financing to two major Russian financial institutions (Gazprombank OAO and VEB) and two Russian energy firms (OAO Novatek and Rosneft), limiting their access to U.S. capital markets:

Treasury designated eight Russian arms firms, which are responsible for the production of a range of materiel that includes small arms, mortar shells, and tanks;

Treasury designated the “Luhansk People’s Republic” and the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” which have asserted governmental authority over parts of Ukraine without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine; and Aleksandr Borodai, the self-declared “prime minister” of the Donetsk People’s Republic, for threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine;

Treasury designated Feodosiya Enterprises, a key shipping facility in the Crimean peninsula, because it is complicit in the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine; and

Treasury designated four Russian government officials, including Sergey Beseda, a senior Russian Federal Security Service official.

These actions do more than build upon previous steps to impose costs on separatists and the Russian government. By imposing sanctions on entities within the financial services and energy sectors, Treasury has increased the cost of economic isolation for key Russian firms that value their access to medium- and long-term U.S. sources of financing. By designating firms in the arms or related materiel sector, Treasury has cut these firms off from the U.S. financial system and the U.S. economy.

“Russia has continued to destabilize Ukraine and provide support for the separatists, despite its statements to the contrary,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “Because Russia has failed to meet the basic standards of international conduct, we are acting today to open Russia’s financial services and energy sectors to sanctions and limit the access of two key Russian banks and two key energy firms to U.S. sources of financing, and to impose blocking sanctions against eight arms firms and a set of senior Russian officials.” 

The Treasury's commentary expands on the designated sanctions in greater detail.

Here is the full list of today's additions: 

Sectoral Sanctions:

Gazprombank 

Novatek 

Rosneft 

Vnesheconombank

Individuals:

Sergey Beseda

Aleksandr Borodai

Sergei Neverov

Oleg Savelyev

Igor Shchegolev

Entities:

Donetsk People's Republic

Federal State Unitary Enterprise State Research and Production Enterprise Bazalt

Feodosiya Enterprise

Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies a.k.a. KRET

Concern Sovezdie

Military-Industrial Corporation NPO Mashinostroyenia

Concern Almaz-Antey

Kalashnikov Concern

KBP Instrument Design Bureau

Luhansk People's Republic

Uralvagonzavod

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