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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 200

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
No Evidence NATO or Its Members Will Provide 'Precision Guided Weapons' to Ukraine

A story that has widely been picked up and re-tweeted today is a claim that NATO will supply precision-guided weapons to Ukraine.

In English, it comes from Finbarr Bermingham, writing in the International Business Times, which is usually treated as a credible source.

The headline says, "Nato Summit 2014: Nato to Supply Precision-Guided Weapons to Ukraine."

But even within the story, Bermingham contradicts the headline, explaining that NATO as an institution does not have the capacity to supply arms, and he does not supply a direct quote or source:

Nato member states are to provide Ukraine with precision-guided weapons, both lethal and non-lethal, which will be available to the country within 36 hours.

While the details are as yet unreleased, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirmed that "it concerns aid in military-technical cooperation, as lethal and non-lethal weapons, including precision guided weapons".

The weapons will be provided on a bilateral basis, with Nato keen to stress that they do not have the capacity or wherewithal to provide arms.

The organisation will, however, provide support on cyber defence, logistics, command control and communications, rehabilitation of injured soldiers and advice over defence reform. It will also provide €15m in funding to Ukraine, for the modernisation of its military, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen confirmed.

The "details" hyperlink is dead.

The sources may have come verbatim from the Russian-language press and its English-language translations.

Here's how a notorious Kremlin disinformation site which frequently slams the opposition and plants false stories, portrayed this story (translation by The Interpreter)

 "Ukraine has reached agreements about the deliveries of high-precision weapons with a number of member states of NATO," stated President Petro Poroshenko, adding that he received about  €15 for modernization of the army and reinforcement of defense."

Let's see how a more honest independent Russian business newspaper, RBC.ru covered the same story:

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at a joint briefing with NATO Secretary General Anders Fog Rasmussen stated that "virtually all the countries of the Alliance" had expressed readiness to provide aid to his country.

According to Poroshenko, the discussion was about aid in military-technical cooperation in lethal and non-lethal weapon, including high-precision weapons.


That makes it clear that it's one thing what Poroshenko asks for, and what a bilateral discussion may be about, but it's another thing to get an actual pledge.

As many will still find the statements vague -- although there's no evidence that Poroshenko made the direct quote that politonline.ru claimed he did, let's go to the videotape.

Here's the NATO video of the briefing:


At about 15:00, here's a transcription of what Poroshenko said:

"There are individual countries who undertook coordination and decided to be the lead nations within those funds and all the countries made their commitments to support the funds financially. Apart from that, basically each country spoke about the results of our bilateral consultations in the way of assisting Ukraine.

This primarily is related to military-technical cooperation, both in the area of lethal and non-lethal weapons, including high-precision weapons. Individual countries undertook to help Ukraine rehabilitate the wounded servicemen; some countries undertook to supply medical equipment and medication and as you can see, the scope of the cooperation on the bilateral level with individual allies is extremely broad."

This should make it clear, again, that it's one thing what Poroshenko might aspire to, and what the discussion is, but the actual pledges are another thing -- he lists them.

There isn't any evidence of any pledges from any individual NATO country to give precision-guided weapons.

If there were, it would be on President Poroshenko's official website statement about the NATO meeting. It isn't.

If there really were such solid offers made, every major newspaper in the world would have this headline, and there would be dozens of ambassadors to confirm it -- there aren't.

The notion that some individual NATO member, particularly the US or Poland, is going to supply these weapons, is going to die hard, however, as we noted earlier. Yet there isn't any evidence for such pledges or plans.

That won't stop Kremlin-supported media from claiming that NATO members are supplying such weapons, or pictures like these from being published in the Russian state media and Russian-backed separatist press, claiming that the guided Tochka-U missiles (SS21s) have landed in people's gardens.



Translation: Truthful_Truth Militiaman Aleksandr Zhuchkovsky and a fallen Tochka-U of the henchmen.


Translation: 04.09.14 Khartsyzsk. Ukrainian Nazis continue to make strikes with Tochka-U missiles on the residents of Donbass.

No independent regional or Western press have ever reported these missiles, and curiously, they never seem to have caused any damage, but always land nearly intact in fields.


Translation: Near Snezhny. Tail end and propulsion system of a 9M79M missile (Tochka U). BCh (9H123 or cassette 9H123K).


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Details of Ceasefire, Determination of 'LPR and DPR' to Secede from Ukraine
Some details of the ceasefire are coming out.

The Ukrainian Crisis Media Center reports:

1) Freeing of hostages

2) Decentralization of power

3) Special status with respect to economic freedoms of some areas in Donetsk and Luhansk regions

4) Guarantees of free use of any languages in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, respect for their cultural traditions

5) Amnesty

The last point is likely a reference to amnesty for Russian-backed fighters in southeastern Ukraine for their military actions.

There were no reports of fighting at this hour.

Regnum.ru reported at 22:05 that there was no fighting in Donetsk, Makeyevka, Shakhtyorsk or Mariupol, all scenes of fierce battles in recent days.


RIA Novosti reported that Irina Gerashchenko, presidential commissioner for settlement of the situation in Donbass, had a statement on the Ukrainian TV channel about the exchange of POWS.

"We hope that the exchange will take place in the course of a week. I think that we're talking about hundreds of people."

 

There has been some confusion about the ceasefire time; it was reported originally as "6 pm (18:00) Minsk time," which is the same as Kiev time, but one hour behind Moscow (Kiev and Minsk are GMT+3, Moscow is GMT+4)


The original 14-point plan is as follows, although at the end of the day in Minsk, the parties spoke of a "12-point plan".


[Note: This screenshot disappeared from Twitter on this tweet and others, so we re-post it here.]

14-points.jpg

Regnum. ru reported at 20:56 Moscow time that Igor Plotnitsky, head of the self-proclaimed "Lugansk People's Republic" made the follow statement about the agreement in Minsk (translation by The Interpreter):

"The majority of the points of this protocol accord with our demands. But the ceasefire does not mean changing course from secession from Ukraine. That is a compulsory measure."

He emphasized that both LPR and the "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) intend to break off from Ukraine.

But 14 minutes earlier at 20:42, regnum.ru had reported that Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the appointed prime minister of the self-declared "Donetsk People's Republic" said the status of the DPR and LPR can be discussed only after the end of bloodshed.

Zakharchenko has made it clear in the past, however, that DPR and LPR seek independence from Ukraine.


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Detention Of Estonian ISS Agent Is An Extremely Dangerous Escalation In Eastern Europe

Both the Russian and Estonian governments admit that an Estonia Internal Security Service (ISS) agent, responsible for counterintelligence and anti-corruption activities, is now in Russian custody. As we've been reporting today, Russia says the agent was detained while on Russian territory, and Estonia says he was kidnapped by gunmen and brought across the border. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Estonia's Internal Security Service, known as KAPO, said its officer Eston Kohver was "illegally detained" at gunpoint early Friday while on duty in southeastern Estonia. It said his abductors had come from Russia and had jammed radio communications and used a smoke grenade in the incident.

"It is unacceptable that people who have crossed the Estonian border kidnap an Estonian citizen from Estonian territory," President Toomas Hendrik Ilves tweeted on Friday. "I expect the case to be solved quickly."

Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, said Mr. Kohver had been detained on Russian territory as part of a counter-espionage operation. The Interfax news agency quoted the FSB as saying he was carrying a Taurus pistol, 5,000 euros, hidden-recording equipment and a document "that appeared to be an espionage assignment."

KAPO said Mr. Kohver, who was tasked with preventing cross-border criminal activity and the flow of contraband, has been decorated for unspecified services to Estonia.

The director general of KAPO, Arnold Sinisalu, told journalists in the Estonian capital that there were footprints coming from Russia and going back to Russia at the crime scene. He said there had been no similar incidents since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Jammed communications? Smoke bombs? Estonia is a NATO member, and under Article 5 of the NATO charter, an attack on any NATO country is like an attack on all NATO countries. Since a cross-border incident like this is so rare, one has to assume that this is directly related to the crisis in Ukraine and the meeting of NATO members, including US President Barack Obama, in Estonia this week.

But how will NATO react? After all, while the goal of the NATO conference is to send a message that NATO is strong, the reality is that NATO has been working for decades to weaken its military positioning in eastern Europe. The BBC, for instance, publishes this picture to show how weak NATO in eastern Europe has become:

_77367257_nato_member_countries_624mapv6

RFE/RL has published an interactive website which documents the weakening military strength of NATO countries:

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, NATO has expanded eastward, integrating former Soviet satellites and republics. At the same time, the military capacity of both longtime and new member states has significantly diminished over the past 25 years. 

If the purpose of the NATO summit was to send a message that the NATO alliance is strong, Putin did not wait to test the hypothesis. And NATO's response could send a powerful message that Russian aggression will not be tolerated. But Russia has once again placed the rest of the world in a Catch-22 -- if the world stands up to Putin, it will escalate the crisis, but if the world does not then Putin will push harder and escalate the crisis on his own.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Is the Ceasefire Holding?

Ukrainian and Russian-backed fighters declared a ceasefire as of 18:00 Kiev time, 19:00 Moscow time (15:00 GMT).

It's not been easy to tell if it is holding both because some reports of earlier shelling were delayed, and not everyone got the memo.


There were still reports of gunfire in Donetsk hours after the ceasefire.


Translation:  Donetsk, firing heard in the Kiev district, who is shooting is not known. There was a flash rocket before that.


Dmitro Jarosz, head of Right Sector, said on his Facebook page that they would obey the Commander-in-Chief, but were skeptical about the ceasefire and said "we reserve the right to fire in response."
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
OSCE Report: 35 Schools Destroyed in Donetsk

OSCE published yesterday's report of September 4 today:

The security situation in Donetsk remained volatile. Intense shelling in Donetsk city continued. In Mariupol local inhabitants fear possible attacks by irregular armed groups. Reportedly, the “Aidar” battalion occupied the main power plant in Shchastya.

In Kharkiv the situation remained calm.

In Donetsk city, in the early hours of the day, the SMM heard explosions and shooting for about half an hour coming from the north and west of the city centre. Reportedly, the water supply for the whole city appeared to be experiencing difficulties, since the filtration plant had been without electricity from the evening of 3 September due to ongoing fighting. No precise information was available on when repair work would start.

The SMM visited the Donetsk central railway station and saw workers starting repair work on the shelled roof.

Due to several rounds of outgoing mortar shelling coming from the direction of the airport, the SMM observed the inaccessible airport from a distance of 1 kilometre.

The SMM Chief Monitor met with the mayor of Donetsk, Oleksandr Lukyanchenko, in Kyiv who confirmed that considerable parts of the city had been heavily damaged. He said that enormous funds would be needed to restore the destroyed infrastructure. According to the mayor, the city is facing serious problems with water supply and electricity. The mayor was concerned about the forthcoming winter and the fact that authorities would not be able to provide central heating. He said that 35 schools had been destroyed during the conflict and subsequently 75,000 students could not go to school in Donetsk. The mayor suggested that the OSCE should initiate the formation of a commission comprised of Ukrainian, Russian and European parliamentarians in order to visit Donbas and assess the damage caused by irregular armed groups.

In Mariupol residents expressed fear because of possible attacks by irregular armed groups. Heavy fighting was reported in the area of Shyrokyne (24 km east of Mariupol city) and Bezimenne (34 km east of Mariupol). The SMM visited Shyrokyne and monitored the situation (see Spot Report of 4 September).

The SMM went to the Mariupol bus station and observed a bus departing to Novoazovsk. The bus station duty officer said that bus traffic was running according to the regular schedule.

The SMM met with the acting head of Mariupol railway station who said that due to the large number of students, train traffic to Kharkiv had been reintroduced. Since 30 August trains have been departing on a daily basis from Mariupol to Kharkiv. After taking into consideration customer demands, the railway management may modify the schedule on 6 September.

The SMM observed that the volunteer “Aidar” battalion had occupied the main power plant in Shchastya (24 km north of Luhansk city), currently the only one providing electricity to the entire region. The SMM was prevented from accessing the location and could see physical barriers and sandbags placed around it. No police forces were present. A Ukrainian military official confirmed the occupation by the “Aidar” battalion, but indicated that the move was intended to ensure that the plant was not taken by anyone else.

The SMM visited Pobeda (70 km northeast of Luhansk city) and spoke to the mayor who said that at least ten rockets had struck the village. The SMM saw several unexploded rockets as well as shell holes.

In Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk the situation remained calm.

The SMM was informed by the director of the Russian cultural centre in Lutsk (150 km north of Lviv city) that her private vehicle was defaced. The SMM was shown pictures of the damaged car with front and rear windows on the driver’s side smashed. Yellow and blue paint were visible on the car. The interlocutor claimed that this was a planned action against the life and health of herself and her family. In a meeting with the police in Lutsk, the SMM was told that the police were aware of the incident and patrols in the area would increase.

In Kyiv the SMM monitored several protests. One protest, by approximately 150 people, was held in front of the regional administration court against ongoing legal proceedings initiated to ban the Communist Party. No incidents were reported.

Another demonstration, held in front of the presidency building in Kyiv, gathered about 400-500 people, supporting Ukrainian soldiers serving in the security operation in Donbas. Dissatisfaction about the conditions Ukrainian soldiers were serving in the conflict zone, was expressed. Namely, the lack of heavy weaponry was criticized. The SMM could see “Right Sector”, “Maidan Self-defence” as well as flags of other political parties. More than 20 uniformed police officers were guarding the entrance gate to the presidency building. After two hours the crowd dispersed. No incidents were reported.

At the Ministry of Defence in Kyiv, the SMM observed about 15 women mainly from Lviv who demanded information about their relatives sent with the Ukrainian army to Donbas. Some claimed their relatives had been detained in Luhansk as prisoners of war by irregular groups. The SMM saw that a representative of the Ministry of Defence spoke to the protestors and provided them with a contact number within the Security Service (SBU) in order to seek information about the whereabouts of their relatives.

A demonstration in front of the Parliament in Kyiv gathered approximately 600 people. The SMM could see “Volya” and “Svoboda” party flags. The demonstrators focused on the lustration process and expressed support for Ukrainian soldiers in Donbas. About 150 security personnel, including the volunteer battalion “Kyiv” and National Guard in fragmentation vests and helmets, were securing the demonstration. No incidents were reported and the crowd dispersed after two hours.

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