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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 287

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
Civilians Film Grad Rocket Launch Across The Street From Their Apartments

Earlier today we posted two videos which showed Russian-backed militants firing Grad rockets from a residential neighborhood, a neighborhood filled with children. Another video shows just how close this launcher is to the apartment complexes.

The description in this video says that it was taken in the same district as the others (Shirokiy) but from building 47, not 41. Sure enough, this matches precisely Google satellite images.  Google street view shows that the Grad launcher is approximately positioned where the man selling something, possible kvass, in a happier time. Below we've put the map next to a screenshot from the video, with a few landmarks pointed out:

shelling-near-garages.jpg

The video starts slow, but the shooting starts after 50 seconds:

The residents watching are entertained, like it is a spectacle. Perhaps they are used to this -- as we've been pointing out, other videos prove that the separatists have used this location to launch artillery strikes in the past. Regardless, it's easy to see why the Ukrainian military has been so hesitant to return fire -- the nearby apartments are 9-10 stories high, and provide an excellent shield which would make the launch site very hard to hit without causing many civilian casualties.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Truce In Donetsk? Shelling Continues
Canadian freelance journalist Kristina Jovanovski reports from Donetsk, where despite the ceasefire signed months ago and the truce signed today (see below) outgoing rocket fire could be heard tonight:

 

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Truce Announced At Donetsk Airport

A truce has been reached which could relieve those affected by the fighting around Donetsk airport. RFE/RL reports:

The Ukrainian military says its forces and Russian representatives have agreed to a temporary cease-fire at the airport in rebel-held Donetsk.

The military's press service said on December 1 the truce was agreed after talks near the airport between officials from Ukraine and Russia.

Note the interesting phraseology: "Russian representatives" were part of the negotiations? Also note that earlier today Ukraine was reporting that Russian special forces were engaged in the increasingly-intense fight at the airport. Also, as previous ceasefires have not provided any relief for the Ukrainian soldiers defending the airport and the civilians who leave near it, it's unclear what makes this "truce" different than the "ceasefire" which is already supposed to be in place.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Shells Which Burned Out Residential Area of Donetsk Came From The West

A video uploaded to YouTube on November 25 showed the aftermath of shelling in a residential area in the west of Donetsk.

The blogger @djp3tros of Ukraine@War has geolocated the scene in the video here on Google Maps.

The garages, apartment building, and red-and-white striped tower seen in the video are located on Google Maps as follows:

Buildings-Identified-19.png

At 0:33, the green garages can be seen next to burning buildings, with the red-and-white striped tower just visible in the distance through the trees on the right.

Garages-Burning-19.png

This can be seen on Shakhtarskoy Slavy Street on Google Street View here:

Shakhtarskoy-Slavy-Street.png

At 0:10 a resident points to a shell and a crater in the road, and the cameraman comes closer to it, focusing on the crater at 0:20. This is one of several such craters shown in the video.

Shell-in-Road-19.png

Working backwards, The Interpreter has been able to confirm Ukraine at War's claim which these came from the West:

shells-came-from-west.jpg

This matches @djp3tros's conclusion that the rockets appear to come from the west.

But who fired the shells? Some Ukrainian activists are maintaining that the Russian-backed separatists are advancing into the no-man's land between rebel and Ukrainian forces and are firing back toward Donetsk. Some have even questioned whether the separatists could be targeting residential neighborhoods just to frame the Ukrainian government. One theory is that the damage done in videos above were from 120mm mortars which have a range of anywhere between about .5 and 7 km. One theory advanced by @djp3tros is that they were fired from a field 4km west of this street.

Direction-19.png

The same day this incident occurred, this picture was posted to Twitter which allegedly shows an unexploded mortar on the same street.


Translation: Donetsk. Shakhtyorskoy Slavy Street.

@djp3tros has also forwarded to us this Vkontakte page which shows people moving and digging out mortar shells. It is possible that these shells could be used by the separatists to fire into Donetsk as they have a range of between .5km and 7+km. The theory that these are mortars fired close to Donetsk is bolstered by the pictures posted on VK.

Another theory: multiple impacts near the same location could indicate a weapon with multiple-launch capability, like Grad rockets. Both sides have Grad rockets, but these weapons are much larger and harder to secretly move than mortars and would be operating very close to the front line of battle. A common munition fired by Grads is the 9M22U 122mm unguided rocket, for instance. That weapon has a minimum range of 5km and a maximum reach of 20.4km, which means that if these are separatist Grad rockets then that would require them to be fired dangerously close to Ukraine's forward positions.

The projectile fired by Grad rockets, however, are different than the projectiles shown on the Vkontakte page linked above.

In the end, we cannot definitively say who fired these shells, but it's another sign that civilians are in the line of battle.

-- James Miller and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Video Reportedly Shows Children Playing Near Grad Rocket Launch Area

Earlier today we posted and analyzed a video which was geolocated to the  Shirokiy area of Donetsk. The video shows Grad rockets being fired near a residential building. Children's voices could be heard on the video. The launches were very close to residential buildings, and also matched previous videos of positions used by Russian-backed militants to fire artillery.

This video, taken from a different angle but from the same building complex, shows more Grad rockets. Disturbingly, the video starts of by filming children playing below. Then the video cuts and shows the Grad launches. However, at the end of the video, the camera pans from where the children were playing to the building, confirming that this was all taken from the same location.

The video appears to show a different firing pattern than the first, indicating that there may have been multiple rounds of firing. Also note that car alarms were set off by the firing.

First, a note on location. This video appears to have been taken just one set of buildings further north than the last one. The approximate location of where we believe the last camera was location is marked by a yellow star, where this is marked by a red star. Also notice we've put a red box around the buildings in the foreground and on the same buildings on the map:

kids-playing.jpg

One question remains -- were the children playing while the Grad rockets were firing? We can't definitively say one way or the other because the children playing and the rocket fire are never in the same "take," as there is an edit in between. However, there is snow on the ground in all the videos, and the sky looks the same. This certainly proves that many children live in this set of buildings, and the Russian-backed militants are firing Grad rockets within this residential neighborhood.

-- James Miller

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