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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 Live Day 269

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
US Sees Russian Military Involvement Not Seen Before In This Conflict

Mashable's Christopher Miller points out that the statements by US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt that Russia is using air defense systems to protect separatist convoys was also an accusation made yesterday by US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power:

At Minsk, Russia committed to remove all illegal military formations, military equipment and militants from Ukraine. Yet rather than withdrawing its military forces from Ukraine and rather than cutting off its support for separatists, Russia is instead surging more forces and more equipment across the border. The Russian military has maintained a forward presence in eastern Ukraine since the ceasefire took effect. We have information indicating that a Russian air defense system was operating near one of the separatists’ convoys in Donetsk. Russia has not provided this type of air defense system to separatists to date, suggesting that Russian forces were protecting the convoy.

On November 9th, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reported two convoys of 17 unmarked green trucks moving west through Donetsk towards the ceasefire line. Yesterday, November 11th, OSCE monitors observed the movement of 43 unmarked military vehicles on the eastern outskirts of Donetsk. Five were seen towing 120-mm howitzers, and five others were towing multi-launch rocket systems.

NATO confirmed it has observed columns of Russian equipment, primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems, and Russian combat troops entering Ukraine over the past 48 hours.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
US Ambassador -- Russian Air Defense Protecting Separatist Convoys
The US Ambassador to Ukraine has tweeted out a very serious allegation:
Earlier, he retweeted this:

The United States, then, seems to be very close to openly accusing Russia of conducting military operations in Ukraine.

Yesterday The Interpreter reported on the presence of advanced battlefield surveillance radar systems. These weapons systems will help the Russian-backed separatists better target Ukrainian forces with artillery and rockets, while simultaneously giving their fighters better awareness of enemy troop movements. Our analysis, now now featured in a column written by The Interpreter's staff for Foreign Policy, suggests that these weapons are likely new to this conflict -- which means that they most likely came from Russia recently as part of the escalation. 

These weapons are also highly sophisticated and would need to be operated by highly-trained crews. This means that in all likelihood the Russian military is now providing logistical support for separatist artillery systems, and Pyatt's tweet suggests that the Russian military may also be providing direct anti-aircraft support as well. And then, of course, there's the fact that the rocket systems, artillery, tanks, armored vehicles, and fighters themselves also likely came from Russia.

This does resemble the buildup of Russian military involvement which took place in July and August, interrupted only by the shooting down of flight MH17. However, the presence of new weapons suggests an even greater involvement of the Russian military at a logistical level, even if we have not yet seen the volume of Russian troops in Ukraine that we saw in late August.

UPDATE:

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
NATO Intercepts Russian Jets As They Approached Lithuanian and Estonian Airspace

Bloomberg reports that NATO jets have once again intercepted Russian flights which were approaching NATO airspace:

Two Dutch F-16 fighter jets on a NATO mission intercepted a Russian aircraft in the Baltics after it approached Estonian and Lithuanian airspace.

The F-16s intercepted an Ilyushin transport plane that hadn’t announced a flight plan yesterday near the two countries and escorted it out of the area, the Dutch Defense Ministry said on its website. The plane flew in the direction of the Russian Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, the ministry said...

“Increased activity of Russian military aircraft by the Baltic borders is raising concerns,” Lithuania’s defense ministry said by e-mail today, adding that interceptions are a “standard procedure.”

This comes as Russia has announced that it will increase its own air patrols and will even send strategic bombers into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico as a response to "the situation in Ukraine":

Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Wednesday that "we have to maintain (Russia's) military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico" -- including sending bombers "as part of the drills." Shoigu added that Russia will also boost its security in Crimea, the region it annexed from Ukraine earlier this year.

"In many respects, this is connected with the situation in Ukraine, with fomentation of anti-Russian moods on the part of NATO and reinforcement of foreign military presence next to our border," Shoigu said.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Lugansk Separatists Report Infighting, Firefight With Other Militants

In last night's OSCE report, there is one paragraph about a reported firefight between two different armed groups in the self-declared 'Lugansk Peoples' Republic':

On 11 November a member of an irregular armed group affiliated with the “LPR” in Krasnodon (50km south-east of Luhansk) told the SMM that there was ongoing antagonism between the “LPR” in Krasnodon and the “LPR” in Luhansk, resulting in a fire-fight between the two sides and the brief “detention” of Luhansk-based “LPR” personnel.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
OSCE Sees 100s Of Fighters Cross Russian Border Into Ukraine, And Trucks With Bodies Leaving

Since at least July there have been dead Russian soldiers who have returned to Russian after being killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine. These bodies have been shipped home in trucks marked "Cargo 200," the Russian military code for troops killed in action.

This week, with the fighting intensifying, the OSCE international monitors have spotted a vehicle marked "Cargo 200" returning to Russia:

On 11 November, the OM observed a van marked with signs “gruz 200” [“Cargo 200” which is a well-known Russian military code used for “military personnel killed in action”] crossing from the RF to Ukraine and returning several hours later.

The OSCE observer teams (OTs) also witnessed hundreds of armed men crossing the border:

During the reporting period, the OTs observed 665 men and women in military-style dress crossing the border in both directions. This is the highest number observed so far. These people have been crossing individually or in very small groups, but have recently also crossed in larger groups. On 7 November the OM observed a group of 24 persons in camouflage clothing that crossed by minibus from the RF to Ukraine at Donetsk BCP. These border crossings were made predominantly at Donetsk BCP in both directions. Several Cossacks were also observed by the OTs. The Cossacks are identified by their traditional fur hats, as well as by Cossack insignias. The observers did not see any of them carrying weapons.

As in previous weeks, the OM observed injured or sick persons crossing the border from Ukraine to the RF. The OM also observed the crossing of vans that were apparently assigned for the transport of deceased (see below).

Read their weekly report here.
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