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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 172

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 Shot Down a MiG-29 Yesterday
Yesterday the Ukrainian government reported that a MiG-29 jet fighter was shot down by Russian-backed separatists. "Most likely it was shot down from the Buk anti-aircraft missile system." Today pictures of the wreckage confirms that it was a MiG-29 that was shot down.

Translation: Plane shot down by terrorists yesterday outside Enakievo.

The Ukrainian government has not said why they believe the jet was shot down by a Buk. Perhaps the pilot reported a radar lock, or perhaps he was flying at an altitude that would require a more advanced missile to hit. Regardless, Ukraine's aircraft continue to struggle against the anti-aircraft threat from the separatists.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia's Stocks Bounce Back, Ukraine's Economy Drops

The Russian economic outlook is still bleak, but there are signs that its stock markets may have hit bottom and are on its way back up -- at least for now. At the close of the day Russia's MICEX was up 1.24%. Bloomberg reports:

The Micex Index (INDEXCF) rebounded from a three-month low and the ruble gained as Russia said it sought to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine. OAO Sberbank jumped on bets it won’t be excluded from MSCI Inc.’s local index.

The equity gauge rallied 1.1 percent, the most since July 22, led by a 3.2 percent advance in Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, which was affected by European Union sanctions this month. The Micex’s consumer-staple index jumped 3.5 percent on speculation domestic food producers will benefit from an import ban imposed on the U.S. and European Union. The ruble advanced 0.2 percent to 36.2095 per dollar by 8:22 p.m. in Moscow.

Russian assets extended gains, with the ruble erasing losses, after the nation’s Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev said in comments to state news wire RIA Novosti that the country sought to mediate between Ukraine and rebels in the east. The Micex has fallen 2.5 percent this month, pushing valuations to a three-month low.

Ukraine, on the other hand, is facing a very serious series of economic problems:

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Ukraine's economy shrank 4.7% in the second quarter compared with a year before, the government said last week. The government has announced a "war tax" of 1.5% to fund the military effort, which Ukrainian media have criticized for leaving soldiers woefully underequipped. And Kiev has drafted tens of thousands of Ukrainians to join the fight, making the war hit home in a new way for families across the country.

In Kiev, the capital, where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in the winter to protest then-President Viktor Yanukovych's decision not to bring the country closer to the European Union, many people say they know someone being drafted or otherwise affected by the war.

Russia was facing a series of serious economic challenges before this crisis began, and those problems have only been exacerbated by this crisis. But Ukraine's economic problems have greatly expanded as this crisis has continued, and the crisis is clearly not yet resolved.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Finishes Drills Near Border With Ukraine

RFE/RL reports:

Russia's Defense Ministry said on August 8 it has finished military exercises in southern Russia which the United States has criticized as a "provocative" step amid the Ukraine crisis.

The Defense Ministry said that aircraft taking part in the exercises have been redeployed from temporary to their permanent bases, and antiaircraft missile units were also preparing to leave for their permanent positions.

It said the drills in the southern Astrakhan region 1,000 kilometers from the border with Ukraine has shown a "high level of cohesiveness" among troops.

And as RFE/RL points out, Kyiv Post's Christopher Miller makes an excellent point -- does this mean we're going to witness all those troops withdraw from the border?

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
'What's Putin's Endgame in Ukraine?'

In an article for CNN World, Catherine E. Shoiche approached several analysts to try and predict: “What is Putin’s endgame in Ukraine?”

While Russia remains unresponsive to the new economic sanctions and further dug itself in by announcing an import ban on food, CNN discussed five possible motives for Russian meddling in Ukraine: Is Putin just bolstering support back home? Or is Russia keeping Ukraine unstable to keep the country from joining the West? Perhaps the answer lies in the past and Russia is expanding its regional influence like in Georgia in 2008? Or is Russia merely acting to protect itself, since fighting is taking place close to Russian territory, as they themselves seem to believe?

These four scenarios already seem outdated. Putin’s support is indeed bolstered, but was not dangerously waning before and, it being a result of unilateral news coverage of the conflict, could be considered more of an instrument than a goal on its own.

The idea that studying 2008 Georgia will clarify the situation in Ukraine is also obsolete. This Five-Day war was fought and won in lighting speed, permanent destabilization achieved by installing internationally unrecognized governments. Other than learning that Russia can and would undertake military action, the Ukrainian military is displaying far fiercer fighting spirit then the Georgians did.

A fifth, most alarming and least rebuttable option was discussed -- that Russia is planning to take over territory.

“NATO warned this week that Russia could use "the pretext of a humanitarian or peacekeeping mission as an excuse to send troops into eastern Ukraine.”

As we demonstrated on The Interpreter’s liveblog yesterday, Russian vehicles marked with ‘Peacekeeping’ insignias are located close to the Ukrainian border. But even if Russian forces cross into Ukraine, this does not answer what “Putin’s Endgame” will be.

Paul Gobles’ Windows on Eurasia column sheds light on a grim premonition of the Russian historian Yuri Feltshtinsky, who concludes “Vladimir Putin has set the world’s clock back to July 1938.” According to Felshtinsky, the world is reacting to Putin in the same way it did to Germany when Hitler annexed Sudetenland:

“After the occupation of Crimea the world has sent Putin the following signal: ‘Tell us that the foreign policy expansion of Russia will end with the occupation of Crimea and we will forgive everything and happily and peacefully begin to live again in the old way.

But in response, Putin declared that “Russia is beginning (only beginning) to correct the great historical injustice of 1991 when the Soviet Union fell apart and territories were lost by Russia,” he continues.”

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Artist Reportedly Abducted By Separatists In Donetsk

The International Business Times reports that Sergei Zakharov, an artist who has produced anti-separatist works around the city of Donetsk, has been abducted by separatist militants according to local reports.

Zakharov's most recent, and widely distributed work was an image of the separatist military leader Igor Girkin holding a gun to his own head with the text "just do it" beneath:

strelkov-caricature.jpg

The report says:

The brother of the artist Andrei Zakharov said the kidnapping took place overnight. According to a neighbour's account:

"Four armed men with the DNR identification marks were taking Sergei out of the house. They were also carrying his laptop and a box - most likely it was a box with flyers for future actions. The neighbour asked them why are taking him and to where, but the terrorists claimed they were a rapid response team, and didn't know the details. They were told to get him - and that's what they're doing."

Sergei Mzurkiewicz, a spokesman for Zakharov's Murzilki art group, wrote on his Facebook page:

"He was taken to an unknown destination. We haven't been able to contact him. If anyone has any ideas about a possible release, please write to me in private." 

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