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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 178

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
Russian Troops Cross Into Ukraine, Large Military Convoys Spotted Just Hours Away

The Telegraph is confirming that their journalists saw a Russian armored convoy of 23 vehicles cross into Ukraine today:

The Telegraph witnessed a column of vehicles including both armoured personal carriers and soft-skinned lorries crossing into Ukraine at an obscure border crossing near the Russian town of Donetsk shortly before 10pm local time.

The convoy, which included at least 23 vehicles, appeared to be waiting until sunset near a refugee camp just outside Donetsk, before moving towards the crossing without turning off headlights or making any other attempt to conceal itself.

While it was not immediately clear whether all of that convoy crossed the border, The Telegraph did see a substantial number of vehicles pass through check point manned by gunmen after shadowing the convoy down narrow country lanes near the frontier.

No attempt to conceal itself... Russia now knows that journalists are in the area of this border crossing and yet it is crossing vehicles across the border anyway. Russia's intentions are naked, and with a massive amount of firepower still gathering near the border, an even larger invasion could happen as early as this evening or tomorrow.

In the last days we have seen videos of military equipment, often moving in the same towns as the 'aid convoy' but sometimes just traveling nearby. And while there are tens of thousands of Russian troops on the border, there are now many more tens of thousands within 5-10 hours of the border.

Take this video:

That massive column (the description says it's not even the whole column) is reportedly in Timashyovsk headed towards Bryukhevetskaya. We can't definitively locate the video because of the featureless terrain, but that road does have Google streetview and the topography is consistent (map). That puts this convoy about 3 hours from Rostov-on-Don and perhaps only 4-6 hours from Ukraine, depending on the route traveled. Even though these vehicles aren't "on the border" and therefore might not raise suspicion, they are staged within easy striking distance of an already porous border.

This is perhaps a different convoy (or possibly the same one earlier in the day) reportedly taken in Krymsk (map) evidently at this location near the Rosneft gas station.

Video-Krymsk-Gas-Station.jpg

These vehicles could drive north and be in Ukraine in less than 7 hours, or they could drive east, board vehicles, and enter Ukraine through Crimea.

The point is that there are dozens of reports like this, and coupled with the fact that the aid convoy is not traveling where Russia said it was going to travel, and with the fact that Russian armor has now been spotted crossing the border, the safe assumption is that Russia is preparing to outright invade Ukraine all of this equipment could be on the other side of the border before the weekend starts.

Will Putin commence with a full-scale invasion? There is no way of telling. Could he? Yes, and within minutes of giving the order Ukraine would be faced with a massive Russian military presence. What is the likelihood that it could happen? Well, if you ask reporters on the border today, they'd all tell you that in small scale it's already started.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
A New Defense Minister and a New 'Strelkov' in the DPR

There's a new defense minister and a new Strelkov in the self-declared "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR).

Igor Strelkov (the pseudonym of Igor Girkin; see our past reporting on him here and here ) resigned as the defense minister of the DPR after reports of a serious injury.

In his place, the DPR appointed as defense minister Vladimir Kononov, the pro-separatist dnr.today reported. This appointment is scheduled to be approved by the DPR Supreme Council tomorrow, August 15. (He is not to be confused with the United Russian parliamentarian by the same name but with a different patronymic, Mikhailovich.)

Vladimir Petrovich Kononov was born in 1974 in Gorsky in Lugansk Region. He is an ethnic Russian and a graduate of the Slavyansk College of Civil Aviation. He also received a degree in 1999 from the Slavyansk State Pedagogical Institute and has been a sports trainer for 20 years. 

Kononov completed military training as a senior commander and is known to have "a firm political position and organizational skills." He was involved in the creation of the DPR's armed formations and joined the "militia" in April 2014. Since then, he has been an active fighter including in the battles in Slavyansk.

The DPR then appointed as deputy defense minister a man named Nikolai Vladimirovich Strelkov, dnr.today reports.

It is not known if this is a pseudonym or his real last name.

Born in 1970 in Krasny Luch to a miner's family, this Strelkov has completed training for two specialties with the Russian Federation’s defense ministry, one in "hot spots” or conflict zones. His military activity allegedly earned him several awards in Russia. A retired colonel, this "brave man" is characterized as a "strong-willed, purposeful, highly-organized, professional military.

This appointment will also be submitted to the Supreme Council of the DPR for approval tomorrow. 

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Armor with Peace-Keeping Symbol Spotted in Rostov Region

A Russian armored vehicle with a peace-keeping symbol was seen in Rostov Region.

Translation: So, here it goes. 14.08.2014. A vehicle with the symbol of the peace-keeping forces is moving through Rostov Region.#war #Ukraine #Russia

In one of the pictures, the road signs "Have a Good Trip" and "Kantemirsky District" are visible, which means the vehicle appears to be leaving Rostov Region to go into Voronezh Region where Kantemirsky District is located.

Kantemirsky-Ditsrict.jpg

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
More Russian Tanks Reported Far From The Aid Convoy But Deep In Ukraine

That Russian armor has crossed into Ukraine is not new. We have been reporting it for more than a month. That journalists have recorded the very moments that the Russian armor has crossed the border just proves that Russia is becoming more bold in its open support for the separatists.

And there is a word for driving armored fighting vehicles across a border to capture territory -- war. Another word might be invasion.

But far from the border, deep into Ukrainian territory, more Russian tanks are reported at this hour, but not near Lugansk -- in Donetsk. That suggests that the separatists, who have won several battles today, have been able to use their Russian armor to keep the roads to Donetsk open.

And a reminder of the consequences of this war.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
More Journalists Spot Russian Armor On Ukraine Side of the Border

John Schindler has posted a translation of an article posted on The New Times which says that this picture was taken by one of their photographers and shows Russian military vehicles which have crossed the border into Ukraine:

490x368x10615821_793031640735639_1611760

This matches a new report from The Guardian's Shaun Walker:

The Guardian saw a column of 23 armoured personnel carriers, supported by fuel trucks and other logistics vehicles with official Russian military plates, travelling towards the border near the Russian town of Donetsk.

After pausing by the side of the road until nightfall, the convoy crossed into Ukrainian territory, using a rough dirt track and clearly crossing through a gap in a barbed wire fence that demarcates the border. Armed men were visible in the gloom by the border fence as the column moved into Ukraine. Kiev has lost control of its side of the border in this area.

The trucks are unlikely to represent a full-scale official Russian invasion, and it was unclear how far they planned to travel inside Ukrainian territory and how long they would stay. But it was incontrovertible evidence of what Ukraine has long claimed – that Russian troops are active inside its borders.

As for the identity of the men driving the "humanitarian aid" trucks nearby, here is a clue:


A parachute tattoo? Does this mean the soldiers are from the VDV (airborne)? As The Interpreter's Andrew Bowen wrote today, the VDV have been Putin's favorite troops in the ongoing operations in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
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