Day 362: US Releases Satellite Photos Showing Russian Armor Used to Surround Debaltsevo

February 14, 2015
Russian Artillery Northeast of Debaltsevo. Photo by US Embassy Kiev.

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Large Convoy in Novorossiysk, Russia, At Least 20 Armored Vehicles

A large military convoy of more than 20 armored vehicles has been spotted outside Novorossiysk in Russia.

Novorossiysk is key southern port in Russia. It is about 530 kilometers from the Ukrainian border and therefore isn’t an immediate threat, but is typical of the type of convoys that drive around the border area and are available if needed.

The video was uploaded February 14, 2015 and does not appear in reverse image search.

It has been geolocated here by the sign for “Rayevskaya 0.5” kilometers.

At 4:17 the sign is visible (made black and white for contrast).


From Google Street View:


UPDATE: Despite a previous report from a reader that this convoy may contain Buratinos, we have established that the convoy contains armored recovery vehicles:


Buratinos were reported to have been first used in Ukraine in the battle for the Donetsk Airport. These vehicles in Novorossiysk are not Buratinos.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

DNR Claims Encircled Ukrainian Troops Fired from Debaltsevo, and Return Fire

Not an hour of the ceasefire went by before reports began to come in that it was being broken.

RIA Novosti reports that the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) forces have claimed that Ukrainian troops, encircled inside the city of Debaltsevo, have fired at them, therefore giving them the justification to fire back.

RIA Novosti cited a report from Eduard Basurin, representative of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” in Moscow (translation by The Interpreter):

According to the representative of the DNR defense ministry, at 2:00 am [Moscow time], the remnants of the group of Ukrainian forces surrounded in Debaltsevo opened artillery and shell fire on the positions of the DNR and LNR.

“The DNR divisions are conducting precise fire on the firing systems of the enemy in order to avoid killing the civilian population,” said Basurin.

But some of the weapons such as the Grad systems are by their nature indiscriminate in their firing.

These reports have not been confirmed.

Ceasefire Goes into Effect in Southeast Ukraine – But Will it Hold? Reports of Violations Already

A ceasefire went into effect at midnight, Kiev time, more than an hour ago.

Translation: More provocations. The cannon is firing, I counted 10 mortars already. #Bakhmutka 0:52.

Translation: The militia has ceased fire half an hour before the beginning of the ceasefire. Now it’s quiet.

President Poroshenko earlier today sent Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Rozmaznin, the Ukrainian representative in the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the OSCE to Debaltsevo to monitor the ceasefire, reported.

Ukraine also accused the Russian-backed separatists of creating a provocation by firing toward Russia, reported.

Local residents report that fighters in the region of Bezymyonnoye have opened fire with a Grad in the direction of Samsonovo, near Novoazovsk.

Both of these towns are under militants’ control.

This is the latest provocation on the part of the terrorists ,in order to accuse the ATO forces of shelling. It must be noted that Ukrainian artillery men open fire in response only if this will not threaten the civilian population.

About five hours ago, Donbass Battalion Commander Semyon Semyonchenko wrote on his Facebook:

This extremely difficult day is coming to an end. I was forced to leave the hospital to be with the guys. Everyone feels tired and exhausted but their fighting spirit is high!

Today battles were increasingly fierce. We took under control the road from Artyomovsk-Luganskoye-LOWER Lozovoye-Debaltsevo therefore there can be no talk at all about any kettle. The enemy is holding the highway from Debaltsevo to Artyomovsk through Logvinovo, where the terrorists have equipped a stronghold.

For several days, the terrorists have tried to cut off all the communications of the VSU (Ukrainian Armed Forces) stretching from Uglegorsk (someone there siad something it being under our countrol?) to Logvinovo. They tried to go forward, but they were knocked in the ears, they burned a bunch of armor and the Barbarossa plan failed.

The terrorists shelled Debaltsevo, Luganskoye very seriously, and reached Artyomovsk, too. They got return fire.

On the whole, we’re waiting for 24:00 and making bets.

Glory to Ukraine!

He attached this photo and map:



— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

With Half an Hour Until Ceasefire, Great Skepticism as Zakharchenko Announces Any Debaltsevo Break-Out Will be ‘Violation’

With an hour to go until the ceasefire in Russia’s war on Ukraine is to go into effect at midngith, Kiev time, there’s a fair amount of skepticism that it will hold.

A key reason is because Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the prime minister of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” has claimed that any attempt by Ukrainian forces to break out of the encirclement of the key hub of Debaltsevo will be treated as “a violation of the cease fire.”

Russian-backed militants and the Russian state media have essentially declared victory over Debaltsevo, but it may be premature as Semyon Semyonchenko, commander of the Donbass Battalion, says Ukrainian forces have reportedly once again cleared the road to it – which is essential to keep their claim to their own city.

The struggle over the city of Debaltsevo — required to gain control of the land bridge to Russian-occupied Crimea — has been a key feature of the war so far.

Many civilians have fled Debaltsevo with the help of UNHCR and local relief groups if they can — but some who are too old or infirm or caring for small children haven’t been able to leave — an estimated 5,000 people.

Translation: women of Debaltsevo pouring tears from the actions of Russian fascists as they leave their home.

At a press conference today broadcast by the pro-Kremlin LifeNews,
close to Russian intelligence, Zakharchenko laid out his attitude toward
the Minsk accord. While Russian ultranationalists and the supporters of
“Novorossiya” in southeastern Ukraine may feel it doesn’t serve them

(and may be part of a propaganda barrage to create that impression), the
DNR leader is happy with it.

Translation by The Interpreter:

Reporter: What do you think of the Minsk agreements for the DNR?

Zakharchenko: You know, in fact it’s a great victory, no matter how paradoxical that sounds because we’re in a position to change Ukraine as such in fact – Ukraine, and the constitution, and the opinion of people and on the whole the political processes that occur there, it turns out, they’re under our control in fact. And everything that took place before the Minsk meeting, this Debaltsevo Kettle, and even the fact that Poroshenko did not acknowledge it, although French and German intelligence said the Kettle existed, that’s an indicator of the fact that Ukraine is now under fire, under political fire and economic fire, in general, and how this will all turn out…It will just be sad for the Ukraine people…ordinary people, it’s really suffering great casualties now. But you know, I feel much sorry for my own countrymen, our children, who are shelled, and die every day.


What happened in Minsk is the latest serious attempt by the presidents of the European states and the president of the Russian Federation to explain to the whole world, including to Ukraine that any war is worse than even the worst peace, yes?

Zakharchenko, just like his opponents, complained about the vague formulations of the Minsk agreement that would admit various interpretations. Even so, it was a plus for him because it gives Russia and him a foot in the door to simply grab more territory. The “Special Status of the Donbass” law speaks of “certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions” because the DNR and LNR do not control all of these regions. But Zakharchenko makes clear that he believes he is entitled to all of the regions:

I said in Minsk, and will say now, all the territory of Donetsk Region, which at this time remains occupied is the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic. What way we will take this, militarily or politically, believe me, it doesn’t matter. Politically is even more advantageous for the simple reason that it’s better, we won’t lose people. […] Any shedding of blood is worth it in order to talk and then try to resolve it peacefully. If it doesn’t work, we have shown the world that we are capable of resolving this militarily. We have repeatedly shown this.

As for Debaltsevo, Zakharchenko regards this town within Donetsk Region as one to which the DNR is entitled, though Ukraine has held it, but is now encircled, and is still fighting for the road.

There is not a single word in the Minsk agreement about Debaltsevo. That means that Ukraine simply betrayed the 5,000 people who are now in the Debaltsevo Kettle. We will cease fire throughout the whole territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic excluding the interior region, that region is Debaltsevo. Any attempt of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to break out of the Debaltsevo Kettle or to blockade it will be treated by us as a violation of the Minsk agreement, and naturally these attempts will be cut off and be destroyed. I’ve given that order to our armed forces, so everyone is ready and everyone is waiting.

Russian war propaganda will go on portraying any attempt by Ukraine to defend its own territory as breaking a cease-fire, and yet clearly the Russian-backed militants — unmistakeably with Russian armor and Russian troops — will grab as much territory as they can before the ceasefire goes into effect — and likely afterward, as we have seen since the Minsk agreement was first attempted in September.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Russian-Backed Rebels ‘Destroying’ Debaltsevo with Russian Armor, Says Ukraine

Fighting continues in Debaltsevo, Unian reports.

Vyacheslav Abroskin, head of the Donetsk Region division of the Interior Mnistry, wrote on his Facebook page today five hours ago:

The fighters are destroying the city of Debaltsevo.

There is unceasing artillery fire on residential homes and buildings. The city is on fire.

A direct hit from a Grad system has been made on the building of the city department of police.

The Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council issued a statement, Unian reports.

Russian-terrorist forces, who didn’t have the opportunity to break through the defense of Ukrainian military, for the second day in a row now are conducting artillery fire on the residential quarters of Debaltsevo using heavy Howitzer artillery and volley-fire systems.

Observer satellites recorded a black plume of smoke covering the entire city. Even filming from outer space is recording the scale of crimes against humanitary by Russian military and the terrorist groupings under their control.

The satellite photo is posted on the NSDC website and has been posted in


Ukrainian officials say the artillery outside of Debaltsevo has been brought from Russia, and say they have the satellite photos to prove it — from the United States.

Translation: It is Russian [Federation] armor outside Debaltsevo. In fact, Russian [Federation].

Translation: 2/3 RussianĀ  [Federation] military also unleashed anti-aircraft systems near Debaltsevo.

Translation: Zakharchenko: Poroshenko has betrayed the soldiers surrounded in Debaltsevo.

Russian propagandists and their loyal supporters have unleashed a torrent of war propaganda, putting up pictures on Twitter of dillweed being thrown into a boiling pot – a reference to the pejorative term for Ukrainians based on the word for “dill” in Russian and the “kettle” of Debaltsevo, a key hub which Russia and the Russian-backed separatists have tried to seize by surrounding on all sides.

Even leaflets are being dropped on the Ukrainians, urging them to surrender as they have been surrounded and no one will help them:

Translation: agitation leaflets for Ukrainian soldiers in the Debaltsevo kettle #politics #Debaltsevo.

Pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda is gleeful about Russian-backed fighters’ successes:

Translation: It’s 7 kilometers to Debaltsevo.

The wrecked armor has on it the slogan “Glory to Ukraine/To Heroes Glory.”

An hour ago, this pro-Moscow war correspondent reported:

Translation: They are responding from the kettle less and less. Judging from the radio intercepts, they are dividing ammunition not by the box load but by packets. Meanwhile mortars to fire on the center of Donetsk have been found.

It’s been difficult to get news from the “kettle” area because Ukrainians don’t want to reveal their positions — which rebels advertised anyway by releasing a drone video of Debaltsevo last night broadcast on LifeNews, which is close to Russian intelligence.

Nearly all the reporting is coming from Russian state TV and Russian-backed separatist “Novorossiya” YouTube channels or their supporters in Russia or Ukraine. And very few journalists are willing to risk their lives to get near this dangerous area:

Translation: Maks Avdeyev has good pictures from Debaltsevo and environs.


Yesterday, Debaltsevo buried its chief of police, killed in battle.

Translation: funeral for Yevgeny Yukhanov, chief of police of Debaltsevo. He defended the city department of police from the saboteurs.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick