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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 262

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
Ukraine Says Russia Has Sent 50 T-64 Tanks To The Border

The National Security and Defense Council is warning that Russian armor is staging on its border. This matches warnings given by NATO earlier today.

RFE/RL reports:

The Security Council said on November 6 that 60 unmarked armored vehicles, including 50 T-64 tanks, were moved to a town close to the border in the Rostov region of Russia.

The Ukrainian government also refuted allegations from pro-Russian separatists that they had launched a new offensive in eastern Ukraine, with military spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov saying they were abiding by the September 5 cease-fire agreement.

Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic said the Ukrainian military had conducted a "massive mortar attack" on Donetsk's Kirovsky district.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Almost Constant Shelling In Donetsk Right Now

The Russian news agency Ruptly has two different live video feeds from Donetsk. The shelling and explosions are currently constant.

This video is facing Donetsk airport (note, the preview thumbnail is old):

This camera is positioned in the "northwestern part of Donetsk after recent shelling struck Artyoma St. and the district of Kievskyi. The camera will be pointed in the direction of these areas."
The shelling has been heavy all day long, however.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine's Politics Pose An Existential Threat As War Delays Reform

David Patrikarakos has reported on the various phases of the crisis in Ukraine, from the protests, to Russia's annexation of Crimea, to its invasion of eastern Ukraine. In an article for Prospect Magazine he argues that the existential threat which Ukraine faces is political -- the foundering economy and the corruption that gave rise to the Euromaidan movement -- and not military. The problem, Patrikarakos argues, is that it is proving to be politically challenging to tackle the economy and reform the government while there's a war on. Since Ukraine has held parliamentary elections which were prevented by Russian-backed insurgents in territory they control, and since those separatists have now held elections which Kiev does not recognize, the problem may be getting worse:

These parallel elections exemplify the essence of the three-fold problem facing Kiev that began with Russia’s March seizure of Crimea and that continues to sustain the crisis today. The first two problems are obvious: Kyiv remains unable to effectively govern its territory and it is clear that the separatists are going nowhere—despite the various overtures Poroshenko has made to them.

The third problem is perhaps the most difficult: Concessions to separatist demands don’t work for the simple reason that it is Moscow that drives the rebels and controls their leadership. “The centre of the crisis is the Kremlin,” the security official continued that sunny afternoon and this is a view shared by every single politician I met in Ukraine.

The exact scope of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions toward Ukraine is uncertain but it is clear that keeping the conflict going serves his interests. Russia’s deep-rooted social and economic problems have receded in the public imagination since the annexation of Crimea. A resurgent Russian nationalism now sees Putin as a new strongman who will avenge past humiliations. Poroshenko’s problem is that he can fight Russian soldiers in Ukraine (however imperfectly) but he can’t fight internal Russian politics.

Read the entire article here.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
RT 'Journalist' Graham Phillips Seen Wearing Military Gear Inches From Guns, Russian Troops, And Child Soldiers

The story of Graham Phillips, the infamous RT stringer, continues.

Phillips became a well-known freelance videographer and reporter in the early stages of the Russian-led revolt in eastern Ukraine. Initially his videos were being sold to mainstream media outlets (with the help of a man named Bryan MacDonald, who is now an RT columnist and whom we have recently written about), but eventually Phillips' work was no longer accepted by mainstream media outlets because of an unacceptable "pattern of behavior." He then began to work exclusively for the Russian state-operated propaganda network RT, and his work became increasingly and blatantly pro-Russian and pro-separatist. Phillips became infamous, however, when he claimed he was being shot at by Ukrainian soldiers when his own video showed -- and his own news agency reported -- that all he had done was walk into a proximity-alert trip wire which triggered a flare.

Phillips has also been filmed shooting guns in separatist training camps, and has repeatedly been filmed wearing uniforms of the Russian-backed insurgents.

Once again, Phillips has been spotted on the front lines of combat -- near guns, Russian soldiers, and potentially child soldiers. Investigator RobPulseNews has been keeping a close eye on Phillips:

These pictures, screenshots from various videos, show Phillips right next to (or perhaps even using) a machinegun near the front lines of battle in Donetsk

In the picture above, the group with the red banner is part of the ultranationalist leftist group called Essence of Time, headed by Sergei Kurginyan, who has by his own admission supplied weapons to the Russian-backed separatists. Kurginyan also bragged about sending an electronics specialist to repair a Buk anti-aircraft system in Donetsk. Evidence suggests that a Buk system was used by the Russian-backed separatists to shoot down civilian airliner MH17.

The Russian state-media itself has posted some of the videos which appear to show these child soldiers:

Here one soldier near Phillips has a Russian military insignia:
Phillips regularly complains about the deaths of both civilians and journalists, but what differentiates him from the combatants at this point?

This is not the only case of Russian journalists getting a little too involved in the fighting. Last week a Russian actor,  Mikhail Porechenkov, was filmed firing a machinegun, while wearing press insignias, at the Ukrainian soldiers stationed at Donetsk airport. The OSCE condemned the misuse of press insignias because this kind of behavior of "puts journalists in conflict zones at grave risk and it is detrimental to all efforts made to protect members of the media... “Journalists’ safety is paramount and press insignias are one of the few measures they can take to ensure their safety in conflict zones."

 -- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Says Rebels Fired Shell Which Killed Teenagers

As we reported yesterday, shelling has killed two teenagers and wounded others at a school near the Donetsk International airport.

The airport is controlled by Ukrainian soldiers who have been desperately defending from the Russian-backed militants for months. The Ukrainians are completely surrounded, and many civilians have been killed in the fighting. The Russian-backed fighters have taken up positions in many areas around the airport, many of them still occupied by civilians.

The Russian government blames Ukraine for the shelling. Now, the Ukrainian government, via the National Security and Defense Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin, is blaming the Russian-backed separatists for the incident.

However, there is already some evidence, based on pictures and videos taken of the impact site, that suggests that the shells came from the east, rebel-held territory. As our investigation yesterday showed, the fences near the tennis court, and several buildings damaged in the area, have damage to their east side, indicating that the shell may have come from that direction.

That investigation was relying on pictures and videos from many sources, but a closer investigation into the incident by experts who can more thoroughly examine the impact craters is needed.

No matter who is to blame, the reality is that civilian casualties are not rare in Donetsk, and with fighting once again increasing, that trend is likely to only get worse.

-- James Miller

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