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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 273

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
Arms Experts Say Weapons Found In Ukraine May Prove Russian Interference

Armament Research Services, ARES, is a group of arms specialists who report on weapons used in conflict zones. Their latest report on Ukraine is entitled "“Raising Red Flags: An Examination of Arms & Munitions in the Ongoing Conflict in Ukraine, 2014." The report catalogs in exhaustive detail all of the weapons seen used in this conflict, and there are a few notable details. Some of the weapons used in Ukraine are "red flags," weapons which are not naturally found in Ukraine, could not have come from the Ukrainian government, and thus were likely supplied by an external state (and all evidence suggests that this state is Russia), 

The report is over 100 pages long, but a few things jumped out at us. The first is that there is not a recorded instance of Ukraine using a T-72 main battle tank of any variety in this conflict. This matches the Ukrainian  government's claim that because it cannot properly maintain these tanks, they are in storage, in reserve, far from the battlefields. The separatists, on the other hand, have been spotted with many varieties of T-72, including ones which were manufactured by Russia and were never exported. 

The T-72s are not alone. In fact there are dozens of examples of weapons and vehicles of nearly every variety which are "red flags."  Below is just a short sample of ARES' work on this subject.

All of the vehicles listed in Table 8, above, were produced in the Russian Federation, after the fall of the Soviet Union. None of these were in the Ukrainian government inventory prior to the outbreak of hostilities. In addition to these vehicles, which may be visually distinguished from those expected to be in the possession of Ukrainian security forces, there have been allegations of external supply of older AFVs. At least one 9K51 system captured from separatists by Ukrainian security forces may have originated in Russia (Информационное Сопротивление, 2014). US and NATO officials released intelligence in mid-June which purported to document the crossing of Russian T-64 type MBTs, 9K51 MLRS, and other AFVs into Ukrainian territory (Gordon & Kramer, 2014). The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence later published images of a captured T-64BV main battle tank, which it claimed had come from Russian military stocks (de Larrinaga, 2014). Russia denied the allegations, calling them “another fake piece of information” (BBC, 2014).

Whether or not directly supplied by foreign governments, some arms and munitions have certainly entered Ukraine from foreign states. On July 3, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reported that a Moldovan criminal figure, Ion Druta, had been involved in supplying the pro-Russian movement with SALW appropriated from Russian military. Druta spoke of being able to supply large quantities of AK type rifles. According to Druta, the weapons came from the Russian 14th Army, based in Transnistria (OCCRP, 2014). The undercover deal arranged by OCCRP reporters was rather more modest, however, consisting of an RPG-18 anti-tank system and a TT-33 pistol (Munteanu,2014). 

T-72s have been spotted with greater frequency lately, and The Interpreter noticed two journalists, Stefan Huijboom and a journalist for the AFP, who had recently photographed the 1RL232 "Leopard" and 1RL239 "Lynx" advanced ground radar systems in eastern Ukraine, and while the 1rL232 is used by the Ukrainian government, there is no sign that any have fallen into enemy hands, and there is no evidence that Ukraine possesses the 1RL239. Read about it here:

Then there are even more advanced systems, like the Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft weapon, which the separatists have been seen operating but which Ukraine does not posses.

Bottom line -- there is evidence that Russia has supplied the separatists with some highly sophisticated weapons, and this is even if we discount the evidence that some of the weapons that could have come from Ukrainian stockpiles may not have. 

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
ATO Headquarters Say Avdeyevka Is Most Strained Front In Donbass

UNIAN reports that the ATO Press Centre has announced that government-held Avdeyevka, to the north-east of Donetsk Airport, is the scene of the highest tensions in the conflict zone today.

According to the report, Russian-backed fighters have opened fire on Ukrainian positions there three times over the course of the day.

On Friday, November 14, both Ukrainian military and separatist sources reported an attempted push on the town.

Nikolay Kolesnik, advisor to Dnepropetrovsk Governor Ihor Kolomayskiy and patron of the Krivbass territorial defence battalion, wrote on his Facebook page:

There are already two soldiers and three civilians killed in Avdeyevka. They're pummelling the checkpoints and right at the town. Here's your fucking truce, your ceasefire.

Meanwhile the separatist Strelkov_info VKontakte group posted the following "dispatch":

The Ukrainians are in Avdeyevka. This morning Givi [a separatist commander] had around a dozen 200s [Soviet military code for fatalities] and another 10 300s [wounded]. All Givi's losses were at the airport, not Avdeyevka.

Taking Avdeyevka today is unrealistic. 

Meanwhile, the ATO press announcement says that there have also been Grad rocket attacks on Ukrainian positions near Mariupol at Orlovskoye, the Zamozhnoye area of Chermalyk and further north towards separatist-held Telmanovo, at Granitnoye.

All translations by The Interpreter.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Human Rights Watch Condemns Growing Abuses In Russian-Occupied Crimea

When the world focuses on Ukraine it tends to pay attention to the fighting in the east, Russia's aggressive actions on and across the border, or the latest developments with the MH17 investigation. A new report by Human Rights Watch highlights that while that is ongoing, Russian law is being applied to the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, and the Russian government stands accused of a growing list of rights abuses. In particular, the Crimean Tatars, a Muslim minority group, have been severely persecuted. Here is an excerpt from the executive summary:

Russia has violated multiple obligations it has as an occupying power under international humanitarian law – in particular in relation to the protection of civilians’ rights, Human Rights Watch found. 

The 37-page report, “Rights in Retreat: Abuses in Crimea,” and accompanying video document the intimidation and harassment of Crimea residents who oppose Russia’s actions in Crimea, in particular Crimean Tatars, as well as activists and journalists. The authorities have failed to rein in abuses by paramilitary groups implicated in serious human rights abuses, including enforced disappearances of pro-Ukrainian activists and others perceived as critical of Russia. The authorities have compelled Crimea residents who were Ukrainian citizens either to become Russian citizens or, if they reject Russian citizenship, to be deemed foreigners in Crimea, removing any guarantee against any future potential expulsion.

The summary points out that Crimean Tatars were forced to choose between staying in Crimea or leaving to go to mainland Ukraine, but those who stayed are now treated as "foreigners in their own home" and those who decided to leave have faced bureaucratic obstacles. They also had only one month to make the choice. Few left, and those who stayed have seen their rights quickly deteriorate:

Russia, together with the authorities in Crimea, has invoked Russia’s vaguely worded and overly broad anti-extremism legislation to issue multiple “anti-extremist warnings” to the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar representative body, Human Rights Watch said. Such warnings can be the precursor to shutting down the organization as well as to potential criminal prosecution against its individual members. The authorities have searched dozens of private homes of Crimean Tatars and conducted invasive, and in some cases unwarranted, searches of mosques and Islamic schools to look for “drugs, weapons, and prohibited literature.”

In accordance with Russia’s position of applying its federal laws in Crimea, Russia has set a January 2015 deadline by which media outlets in Crimea must re-register under Russian law. Local authorities have harassed pro-Ukraine and Crimean Tatar media outlets, searched their offices, shut some down, and threatened others with closure. Russia’s Federal Security Service and the Crimea prosecutor’s office have issued warnings to leading Crimean Tatar media outlets not to publish “extremist materials” and threatened editors that the outlets will not be allowed to re-register unless they change their “anti-Russian” editorial line.

The summary of the report and a link of how to download the full report can be found here.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
National Guard Officer Killed By Shelling Near Zolotoye

The Ukrainian National Guard has announced that one of their officers had died after being wounded when a checkpoint close to Zolotoye, in the Lugansk region, was attacked yesterday morning.

According to the announcement on the National Guard website, the Ukrainian checkpoint was fired on with rocket-propelled grenades at around 10 am (8:00 GMT). 

2 guardsmen were wounded, one of them, Major Oleksandr Kaplinsky, severely so.

Kaplinsky died in hospital in Lysychansk from shrapnel wounds to his head. 

The attack on Zolotoye is part of a larger pattern of repeated attacks on Ukrainian positions near the Bakhmutka highway over the last month. Earlier today, the ATO Press Centre reported on several shelling attacks in the area over the last 24 hours.

This afternoon, the press centre announced that there had been attacks on the Ukrainian-held town of Debaltsevo, to the south.

According to the announcement, reported on by UNIAN, separatist fighters shelled residential areas of Debaltsevo with Grad rockets and conducted mortar attacks on Ukrainian positions nearby. 

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
EU Proposes Sanctions On Separatists, Not Russia

The European Union may be poised to pass more sanctions against the leaders of the self-declared 'Peoples' Republics' of Donetsk and Lugansk in response to their holding of elections which have not been recognized by Kiev. However, it seems like European leadership is shying away from more sanctions against Russia. RFE/RL reports:

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on November 17 agreed on the need to impose more sanctions on pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The EU foreign ministers asked for proposals to place more Ukrainian separatists on the sanctions list by the end of this month.

The move is intended to show the EU's rejection of the November 2 elections organized by pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.

The sanctions are expected to include freezing assets and imposing travel bans.
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