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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukraine Liveblog Day 210

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.
'Novorossiya' Leaders Question Minsk Agreement on 'People's Republics' Status But Are 'Studying' Draft Law

Peace talks are to resume this week in Minsk, and a key issue for the Russian-backed separatists is the nature of the status of the territory they define with the nebulous term "Novorossiya".

"Novorossiya" can mean the historical territory of the tsarist era that incorporated parts of Moldova and Ukraine -- but actually, not Lugansk Region. Or it can mean on a more practical basis, the Donetsk and Lugansk regions -- or at least most of the territory the militants have occupied.

Last week, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevhen Prebyinis put down a marker saying that the agreements "were reached on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine" and that the 12 points in the agreement "do not mention the so-called DPR and LPR," referencing the self-proclaimed "Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics". Point 3 of the agreement speaks only of "Individual Districts of Donetsk and Lugansk Regions," not recognition of "People's Republics."

Neither DPR Prime Minister Aleksandr Zakharchekno nor LPR leader Igor Plotnitsky indicated an exact position when they signed the protocol, so it's not clear what their position is, Prebyinis added.

Indeed, the separatist leaders have given mixed messages -- and probably deliberately so, in order to create bargaining positions -- as they did about secession from Ukraine on September 5, the day of the ceasefire.

On September 14, Boris Litvinov, chairman of the "parliament of the DPR," reiterated that the DPR and LPR were not participants in the talks in Minsk as such, and were therefore only considered "observers," Colonel Cassad, a pro-separatist blogger, reported. He said that with mass unhappiness with the outcome of the Minsk talks among the rank and file, the "Novorossiya" leaders were having to adjust their position.

In an article for, Eduard Limonov, head of the Russian national-bolshevik party Other Russia, which now has a branch in the Donbass and has aided the separatists, also reiterated that the Minsk protocol didn't make mention of the DPR and LPR and that the "special status" would involve keeping the Donbass within Ukraine -- which was unacceptable (translation by The Interpreter):

"The impression is such that insurgent Donbass has been deceived. And we, who have followed the fate of the Donbass with alarm and have been helping the Donbass have also been deceived. As were those who died for the independence of Novorossiya."

Nine hours ago, @press_dnr, a Twitter account that has been used for releasing official statements from the DPR, tweeted:

Translation: The DPR does not consider the law proposed by Poroshenko on the special status of the regions of Donbass to be relevant.

Then @press_dnr tweeted the map of the current battle positions of the DPR and LPR, which are prepared by a supportive blogger.

Translation: Map of combat actions 12-14 September.

After that, DPR tweeted an article from the independent Russian web site from Maksim Shevchenko, a Russian journalist in Donetsk who said he believed all the shelling was coming from the Ukrainian army at the airport.

But Western journalists and even the separatist fighters themselves are reporting shelling from the separatist side in recent days:

So a few hours ago, @press_dnr put down a few more markers:

Translation:  [DPR Vice Premier] Purgin: Donetsk and Lugansk regions in their administrative borders must have a special status.

Translation: ["People's Governor of DPR"] Pavel #Gubarev: Independence of the republics of Novorossiya must be the starting point for negotiations #DPR.

But then there was this tweet:

Translation: The #DPR authorities are studying the draft law of the "special status" of Donbass.

And then to top it of, @press_dnr had this re-tweet:

Translation: Let's take note of this!!!

The account has the name and picture of Alina Kabaeva an athletic star who is widely rumored to be President Vladimir Putin's mistress (the account is not confirmed as hers). Today, Russian state media announced that Kabaeva was leaving her seat in parliament to take an unspecified new position.

The quotation in Russian is purported to come from the famous American gangster Al Capone, and is translated:

"If your friends convince you of the need for negotiations with your enemies, it means the traitors have already agreed about everything."

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Israeli Defense Ministry Approves Arms Sales To Ukraine, Foreign Ministry Blocks Them

A delegation from Ukraine has lobbied the Israeli Defense Ministry to provide military equipment, including drones, and while the Israeli Defense Ministry appears to have been interested in the idea, the Foreign Ministry has blocked the move out of fear that it would anger Russia. AFP reports:

Israel's defense ministry had given the green light for the sale of pilotless aircraft produced by the company Aeronautics to Ukraine, but the foreign ministry then vetoed the sale.

Monday's television report said the ministry concluded that the sale risked causing anger in Russia and could provoke Moscow to sell more arms to Syria and Iran, the Jewish state's arch-enemy.

A defense ministry spokesman refused to comment on the report.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Donetsk Airport Reportedly Under Attack Again

Reports are emerging that the government-held airport in Donetsk is once again under attack by Russian or Russian-backed forces.

This video, uploaded today at 13:56 GMT, appears to show smoke rising from the direction of the airport whilst frequent shelling is heard. We have not yet geolocated the video, however we see no reason to disregard it at the moment.

Donetsk news site cites social network posts reporting an attack is underway.

The reports said that the attack had begun at around 15:30 (12:30 GMT). The airport is reportedly being shelled from all sides. There were also reports of single artillery shots coming from the direction of the Donetsk railway station. reported that they had been told by residents that machine-gun fire had been heard continuous for the last 40 minutes.

One local, whose name is given as Alice, told them (translated by The Interpreter):

"The window is shaking, very fiercely. We're sitting in the corridor, it's dangerous to go up to the windows and the nearest bomb shelter is a block away from my house. I'm afraid to run there."

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Bodies Of 24 Ukrainian Soldiers Recovered Near Ilovaisk

UNIAN reports that a team from the People's Memorial Union, a Ukrainian social organisation that seeks to recover fallen soldiers and commemorate the dead, has recovered 24 bodies from the Ilovaisk area, where Ukrainian soldiers were trapped for weeks before suffering terrible losses while trying to leave the town despite a supposed humanitarian corridor.


The group had already recovered the remains of 18 Ukrainian soldiers from the Saur-Mogila area, and 21 from around Ilovaisk.

According to the report, 15 bodies were recovered on Saturday, September 13, with another 9 on Sunday. 8 of the bodies were found lying in a field alongside their destroyed armoured vehicles. 


The group is continuing to search the area for bodies. 

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Poroshenko Submits Donbass Special Status Bill To Rada

President Petro Poroshenko is submitting a bill to the Verkhovna Rada today which would assign a special status to areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions currently under Russian-backed separatist occupation. The period of limited self-governance is to last for three years.

Ukrainska Pravda reports that the law would guarantee immunity from prosecution and discrimination for all those who have taken part in the armed conflict, except for those who have committed serious atrocities.

The state guarantees the right to use the Russian language or any other language "in public and private life, the study and support of the Russian, or any other language, and their free promotion andequality."

The bill stipulates the holding of local elections in this area.

"The powers of local council deputies and functionaries, elected by the special elections called for by the Verkhovna Rada with this law, cannot be prematurely terminated," says the bill.

Elections are due to be held on November 9.

The bill proposes that the new local authorities are involved in the appointment of new prosecutors and judges. 

It remains to be seen what measures will be taken to prevent corruption and vote rigging during the election and the judicial appointments.

The bill also proposes both economic investments, including the repair of damaged infrastructure, and the creation of  "people's militias" formed by local volunteers in each settlement.

Translation by The Interpreter.