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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukrainian Liveblog Day 177

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Former Separatist Leader Says Reports of Strelkov's Wounding Unconfirmed, But He Trained Replacements

Former pro-Russian separatist leader Denis Pushilin has issued a video message in Moscow concerning reports of the wounding of Col. Igor Strelkov. Separatist sources discounted the reports earlier as "disinformation."

The video was uploaded today, August 13.

The Interpreter has provided a translation:

Very alarming information has been received about the severe wounding of Igor Ivanovich Strelkov. We await confirmation of this information, and we await details.

Nevertheless, I want to say to all residents of Novorossiya, despite even events such as this, the liberation movement will continue.

During this period of time, Igor Ivanovich trained a sufficient number of commanders who can continue to wage battle worthily during the period of injury until Igor Ivanovich Strelkov recovers -- if that is confirmed. You and we are obliged to win. We don't have any other alternatives, and we will fight on only until victory.

This suggests there may be something to the reports of Strelkov's wounding in battle, if the leadership feels they have to prepare their followers for a possible period when Strelkov may be unable to lead them.

On July 18, Pushilin resigned from the position of chairman or speaker of the Supreme Soviet of the "Donetsk People's Republic" parliament but said he would continue to promote the separatists' cause.

A web site that is said to be approved by Strelkov for news from him, had a brief statement today:

The information corps of the DPR Defense Ministry states that at this moment Strelkov is at the front positions. No information has been received at the DPR Defense Ministry headquarters about his wounding.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
No Russian Humanitarian Convoy But Russian Armored Vehicles Reported in Belgorod

Journalists have been unable to find out anything more about the Russian humanitarian aid convoy that was supposed to reach the Ukrainian border today but which is reportedly stalled near Voronezh.

Earlier, Russian state media reported that the convoy had moved on to Belgorod, which is about an hour from Sherebino, the checkpoint originally stated as the crossing point into Ukraine.

Translation: Convoy with humanitarian aid for east of Ukraine left from Voronezh to Belgorod.

But there was no confirmation of this news, as the Ukrainian government continued to insist that the convoy was "a direct invasion of Ukrainian territory under the guise of delivering of humanitarian aid" and the International Committee of the Red Cross said the convoy was not under their auspices.

Meanwhile, there were multiple reports of Russian armored vehicles being moved on train cars to Belgorod.

Translation: #Belgorod. Idling.

An Instagram user uploaded a photo of a Russian armored vehicle convoy on the rails yesterday August 12 which was geolocated to Belgorod. He added the hashtags in Russian "#Putin #bring in #troops."


On the horizon is the distinctive cupola of Belgorod University.

Added to this is a video of an armored convoy labelled "Latest eschelon of 'humanitarian aid,' Belgorad" but we were unable to confirm that it was taken in Belgorod.

There are also other unconfirmed reports of Russian armor in Rostov Region yesterday:

A user uploaded a video to YouTube dated today August 13 and labelled it "Military convoy from Salsk to Rostov 12 August". We were unable to confirm the location.

Also as we reported yesterday, a massive armored convoy was reported moving in Novoshakhtynsk on August 10th, and was geolocated to that town.

There was also a report today from of "142 armored vehicles" of a Russian military convoy already in Ukraine moving toward Snezhnoye, which is the town near the downed MH17 airliner. The Interpreter has provided a translation:

On 13 August a Russian military convoy entered Ukraine through Dibrovka and passed through the village of Dmitrovka in Donetsk Region. The column numbered 142 vehicles, including a radar station, field hospitals and 20 fuel trucks. All of the vehicles had white markings on them. The military convoy moved toward the city of Snezhnoye. Residents of the city observed a large number of military in uniform with white armbands.

We were unable to confirm or corroborate any of this information about the Russian convoy allegedly already in Ukraine, but taken together, all of these reports of Russian armor on the move near the Ukrainian border, some confirmed, are of concern.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
OSCE Witnesses Increased Russian Military Activity On The Border

The OSCE has released their reports from the Gukovo and Donetsk border checkpoints for August 6-12. Keep in mind that the Ukrainian government says that much of the Russian cross-border activity is not happening where the OSCE monitors are stationed but in other areas where Russia has blocked observers.

Here is their summary:

KAMENSK-SHAKHTINSKY, Russian Federation, 13 August 2014 - The Observer Mission (OM) has reached full operational capacity. This report details the observation at the border crossing points, the opening of Gukovo border crossing point,  increased Russian military activity at the border and developments regarding the return of the last five Ukrainian officers to Ukraine.

A few highlights from the Gukovo crossing:

Observation at the Gukovo border crossing point
Since the Ukrainian army and border guards withdrew from Chervonopartizansk (the name of the border crossing point on the Ukrainian side opposite to Gukovo), the Gukovo border crossing point has reopened and traffic has progressively increased, reaching significant numbers of cross-border movement (including vehicle movement). In the past days, there were between 2,000-3,000 border crossings per day. Two-thirds enter the Russian Federation and one-third exits to Ukraine. However, many people are just crossing for short visits during the day and return in the evening while others are just renewing their migration cards. Therefore the statistics do not give a clear picture of the cross-border movement....

On 12 August Observer Teams observed for the first time in Gukovo border crossing point multiple groups of young people wearing military-style dress and backpacks crossing in both directions.

Throughout the week, detonations and gun fire were heard. These incidents were quickly assessed as not combat related. According to border crossing point authorities, on the first few days after the Gukovo border crossing point reopened, detonations were the result of securing the roads from unexploded ordinances. Explanations on gun fire and mortar occurrences were provided later by people wearing military-style dress crossing from Ukraine into the Russian Federation. According to one of them, there is a “shooting range” nearby which is used to calibrate rifles and mortars...

Excerpts from the Donetsk crossing:

Observation at the Donetsk border crossing point
At the beginning of last week, activity at the Donetsk border crossing point was higher than in the previous weeks. On average, 5,500 entries/exits were recorded, of which roughly eighty percent were crossing to the Russian Federation. This was a result of the deterioration of the overall situation in eastern Ukraine...

Throughout the week the Observer Teams observed multiple groups of generally young people (men and women) wearing military-style dress crossing the border in both directions. Observer Teams also observed several ambulance evacuations of wounded supporters of the self-proclaimed republics.

In the past three days the Observer Teams noticed increased military activity in the vicinity of the Donetsk border crossing point: on 9, 10 and 11 August, the Observer Teams observed two armed Mi-24 helicopters flying over and around the border crossing point. Later during the nights, other helicopters were heard flying tactically very close to the border crossing point. During the day, the Observer Teams confirmed that the helicopters did not cross into Ukrainian airspace while flying within visible distance of the border crossing point...

On 12 August, from 05:15 to 05:30, the Observer Teams heard continuous heavy artillery fire at an approximate distance of 10 kilometres in the west north-west direction. From 07:00 to 07:15, the Observer Teams heard other similar heavy artillery fire at an approximate distance of 10 kilometres north of the border crossing point. In both instances the noise resembled multiple‑launch rocket systems.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russian Foreign Ministry Denounces Australia After Criticism of Russian Aid Mission

Russia's Foreign Ministry has denounced Australia, after some tough words from Australian Foreign Minister Julia Bishop yesterday regarding Russia's  aggression against Ukraine.

The Sydney Morning Herald has the story:

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has dramatically stepped up Australia's condemnation of Moscow over the flight MH17 tragedy, accusing it of trying to use humanitarian help as a pretext for an occupation.

Ms Bishop, speaking alongside senior US officials including her counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry, also left open the door for further sanctions against Russia, including pushing for a ban on President Vladimir Putin's attendance at the G20 meeting in Brisbane.

''Any intervention by Russia into Ukraine under the guise of a humanitarian crisis will be seen as the transparent artifice that it is and Australia would condemn in the strongest possible terms any effort by Russia to enter Ukraine under the guise of some kind of humanitarian mission.'

This in turn engendered a harsh response from the Russian Foreign Ministry titled "commentary in connection with new anti-Russian attacks by representatives of the leadership of Australia." The Interpreter has provided a translation:

The Russian Foreign Ministry views as unacceptable the statements lacking evidence issued in recent days by the leadership of Australia, in which responsibility for the tragic events in Ukraine, including the downing of the Malaysian airliner, is placed on Russia without grounds.

Absurd claims continue to be made that the humanitarian convoy of aid to the civilian population of the South-East of Ukraine may be used as an excuse for Russian "armed intervention" on the territory of a neighboring state. Australian Foreign Ministry Julie Bishop has gone further than everyone in these irresponsible attacks on us, given that her position would seem to involve building bridges between states and not destroying them.

On the whole, the impression is gained that under the weight of their own hugely overblown ambitions, some members of the current government of Australia have finally lost a sane notion of what is happening in and around Ukraine.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Pro-Russian Separatists Deny Col. Strelkov is Wounded
Russian separatists in Donetsk in the self-declared "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) are denying that Col. Igor Strelkov, whose real name is "Girkin," has been wounded, RIA Novosti reported. (Translation of quotes by The Interpreter).

"It's nonsense," says Vladislav Brig, head of the department for international information of the DPR Defense Ministry's political section.

This information "appeared on some incomprehensible fake web site created especially to plant disinformation," he said. "Everything is fine" with Strelkov, he added.

The DPR press service also told RIA Novosti, "We have gotten in touch with Berezin, Strelkov's deputy, and he has not confirmed this information," said a press service representative.

Strelkov has described himself as the commander of the Donetsk militia, and is no longer claiming the title of "commander-in-chief."

In the last few days, a number of Russian and Ukrainian news sites have reported variously that Strelkov is on a drunken bender, has fled Donetsk, has become depressed, etc. and some of his supporters toss this up to "disinformation."

It has been difficult to get precise news from the DPR not only because of ongoing battles but because there are several competing websites and social media accounts claiming to be their official representatives.

We will recall that last month a "Novorossiya" web site reported that Strelkov was "arrested and taken in a Red Cross helicopter to Kiev" which turned out to be untrue.