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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 218

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
RT Stringer Graham Phillips Now Freelancing for Russian Ministry of Defense's TV Zvezda

Infamous British journalist and RT stringer Graham Phillips has announced on his Facebook page that he is shooting videos for the Zvezda TV channel. Zvezda has confirmed the report. Here is Phillips' statement:

Maybe some media will always call me 'Russia Today's Graham Phillips', but anyway that's ok as I always love Russia Today, and have done quite a lot of video for Ruptly, RT's video agency, in recent weeks.

I've agreed the right deal with Zvezda - I record in English, they put it into Russian, but I'll keep the pieces and you'll see them, in English, on my YouTube channel, around a day later.
It means that English 'to camera' reporting will be coming out of here.

Further, have given permission to the BBC to use video of mine in this last week.

TV Zvezda, however, is directly run by the Russian Ministry of Defense, and has often been used to put out disinformation in the past. If Phillips is worried about being seen as too closely associated with RT, this move is not likely to increase his credibility in the West.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine's Soldiers Running for Office, Including Female Pilot In Russian Prison

Several members of Ukraine's military are running for office in the upcoming parliamentary election, including Nadiya Savchenko, the pilot who was captured by Russian-backed militants and reportedly kidnapped across the border into Russia where she is facing trial. However, current Ukrainian law prohibits active members of the military, Interior Ministry troops, or police from holding office. As an official NAtional Security and Defense Council website points out, however, that should not stop the members of the military from running for office, though it remains unknown whether they will be able to actually take the office if they do win election:

However, Ukrainian legislation, as across most of the world, does not allow serving military personnel to hold office. In fact, they cannot even hold membership in a party. And while the concept of a soldier-turned-statesman can be found the world over, the specificities of Ukraine’s current situation – including a candidate stuck in prison outside of the country and the immediate need for soldiers to fight – requires some legal footwork to make it work.

One important point is that the law does not require active duty personnel to resign from the military if they are campaigning for office. While the candidate’s ability to do so will be dependent on the commanding officer’s release from duty at any given time, there is no legal impediment. Nor does the candidate need to be present, which is why Savchenko can run as a Tymoshenko candidate while imprisoned. In Russia. In her case, any documents, including the written statement that she requests to serve as a legislator in the party, can be relayed by her lawyer.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
UN Says Soaring Death Toll Tops 3500

According to the top official at the UN Human Rights Council, Ivan Simonovic, the death toll in the Ukrainian crisis has soared past 3500:

"The current registered death toll, as at 21 September, is 3,543, if we are to include the 298 victims of the Malaysian plane crash," Simonovic told the UN Human Rights Council.

Not counting the plane crash, the official toll therefore stands at 3,245.

"Let me add that this number covers killings registered by available resources, and that the actual number is likely to be significantly higher," the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights said.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Grad Rockets Fired By Russian-Backed Separatists East of Donetsk
A report from AFP reporter Paul Gypteau:
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Despite Ceasefire, Both Sides Continuing Artillery Exchanges In Debaltsevo

In reports for the Kyiv Post and The New Republic, Christopher Miller and Noah Sneider both report on the ongoing exchanges of fire between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed fighters around the town of Debaltsevo (Debaltseve in Ukrainian), lying on a strategically important route between Donetsk and Lugansk.

The town was retaken by Ukrainian forces in late July but is now nearly surrounded by Russian-backed fighters.

Sneider writes:

The situation is in Debaltseve is disturbingly reminiscent of the situation in Ilovaisk, where Ukrainian forces were surrounded in late August and suffered a devastating defeat, shifting the tides of the war. A similar disaster in Debaltseve could lead to the complete collapse of the Minsk accords. The highway to the city runs across two crucial bridges. If the Ukrainians lose those bridges, a retreat will be near impossible, and troops could be trapped, left to fight to the death or surrender en masse. Ukrainian officials nonetheless insist their men in Debaltseve are safe. "They have a way out," Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, told reporters last week. "A repeat of Ilovaisk will not be allowed.”

Control over the exit route, however, remains tenuous. The first bridge is already partly blown up, its innards exposed, a thorn bush of rusted cables. To pass, cars must drive over two rickety metal plates that lie across the gap. At the second bridge, Ukrainian soldiers keep close watch—dozens of them are spread along the road and through the surrounding fields. 

In their report published today, the OSCE describes hearing and seeing evidence of artillery and grad rocket attacks on positions near the town on September 21. 

Christopher Miller writes that Zhenya Gorbochov, a Debaltsevo resident whose home was destroyed by a rocket attack last week, described recent attacks:

According to Gorbochev and several other residents, the city was bombarded late Sunday by rocket fire. He said seven civilians were injured in the assault. The Kyiv Post could not confirm the information. The city’s police department said three residents had died from rocket fire since Sept. 5.

Sasha, a soldier from the 25th airborne brigade, painted a darker picture in describing the horrific scenes he’s witnessed during his time in Debaltseve. Distraught and apparently drunk, he said “many” of his comrades here had been killed in battle and in surrounding towns, their positions hit by rockets and armored vehicles blown up, since they moved into Debaltseve in early July.

Miller also writes that the Kyiv Post witnessed outbound grad fire by the Ukrainian military while visiting on September 22, noting that on that day, there had been, according to both civilians and soldiers he interviewed, no incoming fire:

The Kyiv Post witnessed Ukrainian troops firing these weapons on Sept. 22, despite a cease-fire agreement with the separatists signed in Minsk last weekend.

Instead of pulling back like Kyiv promised to do so within 24 hours, artillery was seen and heard firing in a westerly direction toward the separatist stronghold of Horlivka, and south to the heart of the inchoate statelet they call "Novorossiya."

The Kyiv Post observed some artillery being repositioned but not driven back 15 kilometers as outlined in the Minsk protocol. Otherwise, there was no movement of artillery.

Both journalists describe the conditions in the town as severe, with water and electricity long cut off. Both quote Gorbochov as saying "we live like rats."

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