Yesterday’s liveblog can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.
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Of course, this makes the claims we made earlier come under even more scrutiny. No one with any credibility is questioning where the cameras are located in these videos. Clearly, the videos were taken inside Russia. The main claim that some skeptics have suggested is that these rockets are so far away from from the camera that they are actually inside Ukraine.
The problem is easily solved, however, with some simple geometry, as now there are two different camera angles of the same event.
Let’s take a look at the first video we posted, and the best angle we could come up with using Google streetview (the angle of the camera and the angle of Google’s streetview are not the same):
If you notice, we’ve added a red line to the little man on the map in the left corner at the bottom of that picture. It’s the approximate angle of the camera to the site of the launch. As we’re about to see, even if this is off by a few degrees it’s not going to impact our results.
Now let’s take a look at the best video we’ve found. The angles of both the Google view and the camera are almost perfect.
Now, in this video we do not see the rockets. We do, however, see the smoke, and it is drifting from right to left, from east to west. Because of this, if we draw a line from our camera across the town on the other side of the lake to where we see the right-most smoke, this will tell us the farthest west the rockets were launched from.
And if we extend both lines from both videos, they intersect at approximately the spot where the rockets must have been launched from. Again, as we can see from this illustration, even if our lines are many degrees off it makes very littler difference to the results — it is very clear that the GRAD rockets were launched approximately here:
That location is approximately 5 kilometers east of Ukraine’s border and nearly 20 kilometers south of it. In other words, there is now no doubt that these rockets were launched inside Russia’s border, and that the rockets were aimed at Ukraine.
The video is from a similar angle, though we think perhaps taken closer to the launcher. It also shows rockets traveling roughly westward.
But this video could be the key to answering a lot of questions.
This video is filmed almost exactly here. Here is a screengrab of the video and a screengrab of the Google streetview. The two distinctive trees, the house at the bend of the water… the landmarks obviously place this video at this location, just northwest of Gukovo.
Here is what is important about this.
The smoke is almost directly north of this position. The smoke is also blowing toward the west. This is the smoke created by the launches. If you travel north from the field of smoke, you don’t reach the Ukrainian border for at least 10 miles.That is well beyond the distance that could be filmed by any of these cameras.
This is definitive proof that not only are these videos taken in Russian territory, but that the rockets were fired inside of Russian territory. North of here, between the camera and the area where the smoke is seen rising, there are a line of trees. In all of the videos the rockets appear to be in front of the line of trees (here). Again, this definitively proves that these rockets were fired in Russia.
Then there is this video, which we have not yet located. The video claims to be a spectacular closeup of the rocket launchers firing. We should caution, however, that much more work would need to be done to conclude that this video shows the same event described below.
The video above has been removed from YouTube. Using similar links to other publications with the same video number, we searched for copies of the video using its title and date and found one that appears to be nearly identical, ,Opolchentsy vedut obstrel ukrainskikh voysk iz RCZO Grad. Unikaln’nye kadry. Lugansk [Militia conducts fire on Ukrainian forces from RCZO Grad. Unique footage. Lugansk. August 3, 2014
The full text of an announcement by the European Council this evening follows:
1) Recalling the statements of the Heads of State or Government on Ukraine of 6 March and 27 May and its conclusions of 21 March and 27 June, the European Council once again stresses its support for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Ukraine, notably the urgent need to agree on a genuine and sustainable cease-fire by all parties to create the necessary conditions for the implementation of President Poroshenko’s peace plan. The European Council supports the diplomatic efforts by Ukraine, the Russian Federation, France and Germany, as well as the joint Berlin Declaration of 2 July.
2) The European Council condemns the continuation of illegal activities by armed militants in Eastern Ukraine, including the occupation of public buildings, hostage-taking and armed attacks on Ukrainian law enforcers and border guards. The European Council urges the Russian Federation to actively use its influence of the illegally armed groups and to stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border, in order to achieve a rapid de-escalation. In this context, the European Council recalls the decision of 11 July to expand the travel ban and asset freeze within the European Union to 11 new individuals for actions undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. Member States also agreed to discontinue the application of their agreement of 20 February 2014 on export licenses.
3)The European Council regrets that the requested steps it set out in its 27 June conclusions have not been adequately taken. As a result, the European Council agrees to expand the restrictive measures, with a view to targeting entities, including from the Russian Federation, that are materially or financially supporting actions undermining or threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. It tasks the Council to adopt the necessary legal instruments and to decide by the end of July on a first list of entities and persons, including from the Russian Federation, to be listed under the enhanced criteria. It also asks to consider the possibility of targeting individuals or entities who actively provide material or financial support to the Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Eastern-Ukraine. The European Council requests the EIB to suspend the signature of new financing operations in the Russian Federation. European Union Member States will coordinate their positions within the EBRD Board of Directors with a view to also suspending financing of new operations.
Finally, the European Council invites the Commission to re-assess EU-Russia cooperation programmes with a view to taking a decision, on a case by case basis, on the suspension of the implementation of EU bilateral and regional cooperation programmes. However, projects dealing exclusively with cross-border cooperation and civil society will be maintained.
The European Council recalls that the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States have been undertaking preparatory work on targeted measures, as it requested in March, so that further steps can be taken without delay. The European Council remains committed to reconvene at any time should events so require.
In line with the policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, the European Council requests the Commission and the EEAS to present proposals for additional measures in particular on restricting investments in Crimea and Sevastopol. The European Council also expects the International Financial Institutions to refrain from financing any projects that explicitly or implicitly recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.
4) The European Council commends the efforts of the OSCE and its Chairmanship in Office, particularly in facilitating meetings of the Contact Group in Ukraine, and its readiness to establish a border-monitoring mission, to which the European Union and its Member States stand ready to consider a substantial contribution.
5) The European Council stresses the European Union’s commitment to pursue trilateral talks on the conditions of gas supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine and commends the efforts of the Commission in that regard. Finding a swift agreement is important for the stabilisation of Ukraine’s economy and for safeguarding the security of supply and transit of natural gas through Ukraine.
6) The European Council stresses the importance of Ukraine ratifying the Association Agreement with a view to its early provisional application. It welcomes the holding of trilateral consultations at ministerial level between Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the European Union on 11 July on the implementation of the Association Agreement. In this context, it also welcomes the setting up of a consultation mechanism to address potential difficulties resulting from the effects of the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area on the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
President Obama has just spoken at a press conference, announcing expanded US sanctions on Russia.
Finally, given its continued provocations in Ukraine, today I have approved a new set of sanctions on some of Russia’s largest companies and financial institutions.
Along with our allies, with whom I have been coordinating closely over the last several days and weeks, I have repeatedly made it clear that Russia must halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine; that Russia must urge separatists to release their hostages and support a ceasefire; that Russia needs to pursue internationally mediated talks, and agree to meaningful monitors on the border.
I have made this clear directly to Mr Putin. Many of our European partners have all made this clear directly to Mr Putin. We have emphasised our preference to resolve this issue diplomatically, but that we have to see concrete actions and not just words, that Russia is in fact committed to trying to end this conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border.
So far, Russia has failed to take any of the steps that i mentioned.
In fact Russia’s support for the separatists and violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty has continued.
On top of the sanctions we have already imposed, we are therefore designating selected sectors of the Russian economy as eligible for sanctions.
We are freezing the assets of several Russian defence companies and we are blocking new financing of some of Russia’s most important banks and energy companies. These sanctions are significant but they are also targeted, designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies.
Now we are taking these actions in close consultation with our European allies, who are meeting in Brussels to agree on their next steps. And what we are expecting is that the Russian leadership will see once again that its actions in Ukraine have consequences, including a weakening Russian economy and increasing diplomatic isolation.
Meanwhile, we’re going to continue to stand with the Ukrainian people, as they seek to determine their own future. And even in the midst of this conflict they have made remarkable progress. These past few months they have held democratic elections, they elected a new president, they’re pursuing a course of reforms and they signed a new association agreement with the European Union. And the United States will continue to offer our strong support to Ukraine to help stabilise its economy and defend its territorial integrity. Because, like any people, Ukrainians deserve the right to forge their own destiny.
So, in closing, I’ll point out the obvious: we live in a complex world and at a challenging time. And none of these challenges lend themselves to quick or easy solutions, but all of them require American leadership, and as commander in chief I’m confident that if we stay patient and determined, we will in fact meet these challenges.
The United States has announced new, sectoral sanctions on Russia, alongside an expanded list of individuals and business entities.
Most noteworthy on the list are Rosneft, Gazprombank and Vneseconombank.
Rosneft is one of the largest oil companies in the world and has close ties to the Russian government.
Gazprombank is the financial services wing of Gazprom, another state-entangled Russian gas giant, whose monopoly on gas supplies to eastern Europe play a key role in Russian power.
While Gazprom itself has not been added to the list, perhaps due to allay the fears of gas-dependent Europe, the addition of the bank is a significant escalation. The bank also plays a key role in financing and underpinning a number of strategic enterprises.
Gazprombank has subsidiaries in Belarus, Armenia and Switzerland, and owns a large media conglomerate, Gazprom Media, which owns long list of major Russian broadcasters and newspapers, chief among them NTV and Izvestia.
Vnesheconombank, or VEB, is critical to Russian state investment projects and, as of 2003, has been tasked with handling the investment of state pensions.
The US Treasury has published a statement alongside these additions:
In response to Russia’s continued attempts to destabilize eastern Ukraine and its ongoing occupation of Crimea, the U.S. Department of the Treasury today imposed a broad-based package of sanctions on entities in the financial services, energy, and arms or related materiel sectors of Russia, and on those undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty or misappropriating Ukrainian property. More specifically:
Treasury imposed sanctions that prohibit U.S. persons from providing new financing to two major Russian financial institutions (Gazprombank OAO and VEB) and two Russian energy firms (OAO Novatek and Rosneft), limiting their access to U.S. capital markets:
Treasury designated eight Russian arms firms, which are responsible for the production of a range of materiel that includes small arms, mortar shells, and tanks;
Treasury designated the “Luhansk People’s Republic” and the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” which have asserted governmental authority over parts of Ukraine without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine; and Aleksandr Borodai, the self-declared “prime minister” of the Donetsk People’s Republic, for threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine;
Treasury designated Feodosiya Enterprises, a key shipping facility in the Crimean peninsula, because it is complicit in the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine; and
Treasury designated four Russian government officials, including Sergey Beseda, a senior Russian Federal Security Service official.
These actions do more than build upon previous steps to impose costs on separatists and the Russian government. By imposing sanctions on entities within the financial services and energy sectors, Treasury has increased the cost of economic isolation for key Russian firms that value their access to medium- and long-term U.S. sources of financing. By designating firms in the arms or related materiel sector, Treasury has cut these firms off from the U.S. financial system and the U.S. economy.
“Russia has continued to destabilize Ukraine and provide support for the separatists, despite its statements to the contrary,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “Because Russia has failed to meet the basic standards of international conduct, we are acting today to open Russia’s financial services and energy sectors to sanctions and limit the access of two key Russian banks and two key energy firms to U.S. sources of financing, and to impose blocking sanctions against eight arms firms and a set of senior Russian officials.”
The Treasury’s commentary expands on the designated sanctions in greater detail.
Here is the full list of today’s additions:
Donetsk People’s Republic
Federal State Unitary Enterprise State Research and Production Enterprise Bazalt
Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies a.k.a. KRET
Military-Industrial Corporation NPO Mashinostroyenia
KBP Instrument Design Bureau
Luhansk People’s Republic
Let’s take a closer look at where there rockets may be headed.
One small hindrance is that while we’ve identified many features that are the same between the video and Google streetview, the angles are different because the camera was significantly closer to the water than Google’s vehicle was. Still, you can see the sloping ground in the foreground, one of the bushes, and the crop of rocks in this video. The angles are roughly as follows:
Again, the angles are not perfect, but as you can see the Google map is facing roughly west-north-west, like this:
The camera is actually likely facing further to the north.
In the video of the night launch, the rockets appear to be launching to the right and slightly away from the camera, but it is extremely hard to tell what exact direction the rockets are traveling unless one can triangulate them. However, if we zoom out we see that no matter what direction the rockets are firing, we can tell with a high degree of certainty that they will hit Ukraine. Below we have put an exaggerated possible cone of fire based on the angles we’ve estimated. All of the possible angles lead to a direct strike on Ukrainian soil:
These are provided for illustrative purposes, are only our preliminary analysis, and need additional work. What they do prove, however, is that even if our initial angles are significantly off, the narrative is air tight — someone launched what look like GRAD rockets from Russian territory and toward Ukrainian soil.
Eliza Mackintosh shares this post on Storyful’s Open Newsroom:
We are working on verifying this video clip described as showing shelling from the Russian border town of Gukovo on Ukrainian territory using Grad multiple rocket launchers. The footage appears to be the earliest shared online and tallies with multiple reports on Twitter of clashes in this border area. We are seeking any additional information to corroborate this video and reports that shelling took place in this region. Обстрел ГРАДом украинской территории с территории РФ (с.Гуково)
The video is shaky and has very few features. The people on the video shout that GRAD rockets are being launched. The video may show a GRAD rocket launch, however. The key question is where.
Gukovo is a town on the Russian side of the border near the river and has topography that generally matches the scene. It is also very close to an area where GRAD rockets have recently struck Ukrainian troops. The launch site for that incident is unknown.
A better version of the video above:
This video has been geolocated by The Interpreter. Note that the Google streetview is taken closer to the lake, so the angles do not 100% match, but you can see the light polls, bushes, and slope of the ground matches perfectly:
Further to the right, the channel narrows significantly, but that is reflected in both the Google streetview and the video:
You can view the location here on Google maps.
Here is another video reportedly shot at night:
“Yes we can confirm the information that there was an attempt. But we are not disclosing for now the information about whether there are persons detained or other details.”
Andrei Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Council on National Security and Defense said he also had no details about a possible attack on Avakov.
Earlier news reports appeared that while he was traveling in the ATO (anti-terrorist operation) zone, an attempt was made on Avakov’s life. He has not suffered any injuries.
A briefing on the assassination attempt was first announced by Zoryan Shkiryak, an advisor to the Interior Ministry, but then it was cancelled.
Interfax and other agencies report that the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence has announced that a Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 attack aircraft has been forced to make an emergency landing after being struck by a surface-to-air missile (SAM).
According to the Ministry, two Su-25s were conducting combat operations over the ATO zone when, at around 13:00 (10:00 GMT) today, the wingman’s plane was struck and damaged by a missile fired from a portable SAM system (MANPADS).
The pilot was able to make an emergency landing and sustained only minor injuries.
The announcement was also made that air operations had resumed over the ATO following a pause due to the downing of an An-26 cargo aircraft by a SAM on Monday, July 14. The Ministry said that several air strikes had been carried out by Ukrainian aircraft in addition to the resumption of aid and transport flights.
Russia has continued to build troops on the border with Ukraine and is now capable of conducting combat operations on both sides of the border. ABC reports:
The Pentagon says Russian combat troops are again building up along the border with Ukraine, and officials believe that Moscow may be sending heavy weapons into the country to aid the separatists.
Army Col. Steve Warren says the U.S. believes there are now up to 12,000 Russia troops on the border, reflecting a steady increase in recent weeks.
RFE/RL report that Consul Hennadiy Breskalenko has met with Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian military officer being held in Voronezh, Russia.
Savchenko was captured by separatist militants in the Lugansk region on June 18. She was interrogated on film and then illegally transported across the border and into Russian pre-trial detention in Voronezh, where she has been charged with the murder of two Russian journalists.
According to Ukrainska Pravda, Breskalenko only succeeded in meeting Savchenko on his 10th attempt.
Oleh Lyashko is a member of the Ukrainian parliament and the leader of the Radical Party. He ran for president against Petro Poroshenko but only received a little more than 8% of the vote. Lyashko is working to investigate and ultimately apprehend separatists across areas that the Ukrainian government controls but where separatists are still operating.
Simon Ostrovsky from Vice News accompanied Lyashko as he worked to apprehend separatist leaders, often meeting with law enforcement officers who oppose his efforts.
Interfax-Ukraine reports that Mustafa Dzhemilev, the former chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis and Rada Deputy who is considered the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, has filed a lawsuit against the Russian Federation in the European Court of Human Rights.
Details will be announced at a joint briefing of Jemilev with Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko and member of the Justice Ministry’s Expert Council Arkadiy Buschenko on July 16.
Since April 2014, Jemilev has been barred from entering the territory of Crimea.
Jemilev’s Russian defense lawyer Mark Feigin announced recently that his client hadn’t been issued a notice prohibiting the entry.
Interfax reports that Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko has said that Kiev has no plans to create martial law in the east:
“Martial law is not under consideration so far,” Lysenko said at a news conference in Kyiv in reply to a relevant question.
The same cannot be said for the separatists:
Translation: A state of emergency and curfew have been introduced in Donetsk. The order has come from Commander-in-Chief of the DPR militia Igor Strelkov.
Russia can continue to blame Kiev for the problems in the east all it wants, but the OSCE, a group which Russia is part of, is blaming the separatists, not the new Ukrainian government, for the lack of progress.
In a statement on behalf of the Trilateral Contact Group (consisting of OSCE, Ukrainian, and Russian representatives) on Wednesday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) blamed rebel fighters for the collapse of videoconference peace talks that were supposed to be held on Tuesday. The group’s statement said that a “lack of willingness on the side of the separatists to engage in substantive talks on a mutually agreed ceasefire” was behind the cancellation.
Meanwhile, as we’ve been reporting below, separatists have won a series of victories and conducted a series of ambushes across eastern Ukraine — and evidence clearly indicates that they’re using newly acquired weapons to do so, likely Russian military equipment that has crossed the border in recent days.
Even Germany, which has been hesitant in talking about new sanctions and has been communicating closely with Putin, is weighing its discontent due to Russia’s actions:
On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters “Russia has been insufficient in meeting expectations” regarding their efforts to de-escalate the situation.
A large column of Russian military vehicles was filmed on the move
yesterday in the Russian town of Stary Oskol, in the Belgorod region.
The column includes a large number of military support vehicles,
including what appear to be fuel tankers, field hospitals, command
vehicles and engineering vehicles.
We have been able to verify the location by geolocation:
This distinctive building is easy to find on Google Streetview:
This Nissan car dealership is on the premises of a former Volkswagen dealership, clearly visible on Streetview:
Here is the location, with the column travelling south-east:
While most of the Russian military build-up has been focused on the eastern borders of Donetsk and Lugansk, we have previously seen major movements in the Belgorod area (especially around a military base outside Belgorod itself), which lies to the north of the Ukrainian Kharkov oblast
Ukrainska Pravda reports that Andrei Lysenko, the spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (SNBO), has announced that Ukrainian soldiers were ambushed earlier near Izvarino, a crossing point on the Russo-Ukrainian border.
Lysenko said (translated by The Interpreter):
“Personnel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were ambushed not far from the village of Izvarino in the Lugansk region. The terrorists fired on the soldiers with heavy weapons. Losses have not yet been announced. But our boys are being supported, and they’re receiving help.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence discussed the earlier attacks near Marinovka in more detail.
The Ministry claimed that Ukrainian forces were shelled from the Russian side of the border with Grad missiles and 122 mm 2S1 Gvozdika howitzers.
The Russian border is indeed extremely close to Marinovka (around 4 km), but this report contradicts the announcement by the Ukrainian National Guard that the attacks had come from the direction of Saur-Mogila and Stepanovka.
Both Grad rocket launchers and 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled artillery have been seen in separatist hands (the latter apparently arriving from Russia yesterday). While there were initial reports of the arrival of 34 Gvozdikas yesterday, videos of an column of T-64s Gvozdikas and BTRs making their way from Lugansk to Donetsk only showed 4. It would be very unlikely for the attack on the border to be conducted by those same units only hours after their arrival in Donetsk, around 75 km to the west. It is possible however that a larger force did indeed cross the border and split up.
The Ministry also claimed that separatists had fired Grad rockets at ATO positions near Dmitrovka, just to the east of Marinovka on July 15. Other Grad attacks were directed at Lugansk Airport and Provalye, near the border, while ATO positions near Valuyskoye were shelled with mortars.
UNIAN reports that the Ukrainian State Administration for Rail Transport has announced that militants have blown up a section of track in the Donetsk region last night.
The blast took place ат 22:50 (19:50 GMT) on the stretch of track between Novobakhmutovka and Gorlovka on the Donetsk Railway.
Here is a rough map of the affected section of the line:
All rail movement on this section of the line has been stopped.
Novosti Donbassa reports that the Ukrainian National Guard has announced a major attack by separatist fighters on a checkpoint near Marinovka in the Donetsk region.
According to the announcement, the attack came at 5 am (2:00 GMT) from the direction of the village of Stepanovka. The separatists used tanks, mortars and guided anti-tank missiles to strike the National Guard positions.
The fire-fight went on for more than an hour before Ukrainian forces repelled the attackers who withdrew to Stepanovka.
3 National Guard soldiers were wounded. The report says that heavy damage was inflicted on the infrastructure of the village of Marinovka as a result of the attack.
Meanwhile, the report says that fighting is continuing right now near the village of Tarany, about 4 km to the south-west of Marinovka.
Separatists are reportedly attacking National Guard forces from the Saur-Mogila kurgan and Stepanovka. Once again, a combination of tanks, mortars and anti-tank missiles are being used by the separatists.
Here is a rough map of both attacks this morning:
One National Guard soldier has been wounded.