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Patrick Lancaster, a US citizen, is a new associate of the
controversial and very pro-Russian Graham Philips, a stringer for the Russian state video
agency Ruptly and Russian Defense Ministry’ TV Zvezda.
Lancaster uploaded a video to YouTube November 10 titled “DNR forces advancing on Ukraine sniper positions near Marinka suburb of Donetsk.”
Why is this interesting? Marinka is one of the areas where military convoys have been spotted moving. Furthermore, there is suspicion that the soldiers in this video are actually Russian military units. Is the Russian military scouting the areas before the convoys move in?
There are a number of interesting things in the video:
At 0:03, the young rebel turns and we can see he is wearing the insignia of Oplot,
the battalion once commanded by Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the current
prime minister of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic.”
This fighter is wearing insignia with a bat that could indicate a paratroopers’ spetsnaz unit. He’s also carrying what looks like an SV-98, a rifle used by Russian spetsnaz :
A few other looks at these weapons could suggest that these are Russian special forces:
Here’s the SV-98 — though we can’t definitively say that this is the same weapon, it is certainly similar.
This soldier has a GP grenade launcher attached to his rifle, another tool of Russian special forces:
The blogger @djp3tros of Ukraine@War has geolocated the video for The Interpreter. It was taken on a commercial street in Marinka, here on Google Maps.
In the video, the fighters first move west on Petrovsky Street, then double back and move east.
We have confirmed the location in Marinka as follows:
There is a Stroitel store with a white fence on Petrovsky Street visible in the video at 0:18:
This can be found on Google Street View here:
In the video, the fighters move toward a blue building with a sign
in Russian for construction materials. This scene can be matched on
Google Street View here:
But this is not the only video which shows the “bat man” symbol moving in advance of military hardware. Censor.net.ua reports that a Russian soldier, wearing a similar insignia to the one we have posted above, has posted pictures which can be geolocated to the Rostov region on the Russian side of the border. This establishes the direct link between the “bat” VDV/spetsnaz logo and the military convoys seen moving now on both sides of the border.:
Since the beginning of November there has been redeployment and accumulation of Russian units in Kamensky district of the Rostov region.
This is stated by investigative blogger Irakli Komakhidze on Informnapalm, Censor.NET reports.
New evidence of the reconnaissance unit being present at the border with Ukraine has been obtained. Presumably it is a part of a consolidated task force of the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade of the Northern Fleet of the Russian Federation (military installation # 38643 of the North Fleet. Sputnik village, Murmansk region), the blogger writes…
“A unit of the brigade was noted by me earlier, in September of this year. For a while the marines, like other Russian military units in the border areas disappeared from sight for more than a month. But since late October they began to appear in Kamensky district of Rostov region with renewed composition, hiding in the new field camps south of Malaya Kamenka village, along the A-260 motorway leading to Izvaryne.
Redeployment of Russian troops right next to the Ukrainian border is being conducted from the main base of Rostov invading forces group located near Millerovo airfield (Rostov region). Active movement of convoys has been spotted since early November,” the blogger notes.
Read the entire article here and see more pictures of the units which are building on Ukraine’s border.
This may serve as evidence that the Russian military has put some of its best units in charge of the troop movement both on the Russian side of the border but also deep inside Ukraine’s borders near the front lines at Marinka.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), complained that “certain
representatives” of the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE SMM) were disclosing the
location of Ukrainian troops to Russia, Liga.net reported (translation by The Interpreter):
The Ukrainian government is concerned about information
that certain representatives of the OSCE SMM in Donbass are disclosing
information about the deployment of Ukrainian military units. We trust
that the mission will operate in an impartial manner and not allow
actions that could break trust in its work in Ukrainian society.
Lysenko did not specify the country nationals and said there
were “several” involved in leaks of information apparently not already
available in public OSCE SMM reports. But clearly he meant to implicate
the Russian Federation members of the OSCE SMM, which number 18 of the
112 monitoring team, according to Unian.info.
SMM came under fire in recent days as suspicions grew about the Russian
involvement in the mission and Vasyliy Budik, a Ukrainian defense
ministry adviser said the mission had an “extremely aggressive attitude
towards our military.”
Radio Svoboda, the Ukrainian Service of RFE/RL reported that the
Ukrainian military detained several OSCE observers in Karlovka in the area of their
“anti-terrorist operations” (ATO), then released them apparently in
territory controlled by the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic.”
OSCE spokesperson Cathie Burton tweeted that there was only one Russian in Mariupol:
nationalities of the SMM monitors, saying that no single country
accounts for more than 10% of the staff.
Currently 295 staff are deployed this week; next week it will grow
to 319. Excluding support staff, there are 260 monitors, 112 of which
are deployed in southeastern Ukraine, none of whom are Ukrainians (in
line with the mission mandate), although Ukrainians are among
administrative personnel. Of the 260, Russia has 18 members, with the
highest number in Donetsk (6). Critics have said that since Russia
signed the Minsk ceasefire agreement, it has conceded that it is a party
to the conflict and should not be in the mission.
The OSCE SMM
was also criticized for announcing their opinion that the shelling of
the Donetsk School No. 63 came from the northwest, that is, the position
of Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk suburb of Peski.
The controversy grew so heated that OSCE was moved to publish a tweet backing off from the implications:
And today at a briefing in Kiev,
Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the OSCE SMM, denied the charges that
Russians in the mission were leaking anything to the DPR or Moscow.
do not disclose the positions of Ukrainian military,” he said, adding
that his mission reported impartially from a neutral position.
Earlier Information Resistance, headed by Dmitry Tymchuk had announced
that they were no longer providing expert consultation to OSCE “due to
the broadly representative citizens of Russia” in the organization.
OSCE SMM in Ukraine has struggled with “brand confusion” as its cars
and emblems have sometimes been misused including in one case by a Russian military officer.
Russian disinformation experts
created a pro-Putin election monitoring organization with the initials
“ASCE” made up of representatives of far-right European parties to
monitor “elections” in the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic”
Paula Slier, a correspondent of RT.com, the Kremlin propaganda outlet,
added to the deliberate confusion by repeatedly filing stories that
claimed that OSCE was monitoring — and thus validating — the DPR
ballot. OSCE issue several statements disassociating itself from the
“ASCE” and saying it was not monitoring the ballot.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Dmitry Tymchuk is a former member of Ukraine’s military who has taken it upon himself to watch developments in Ukraine. Tymchuk’s sources are highly secretive, but his information is periodically well-informed. Euromaidan Press has released a translation of one of his newest posts where he suggests that the military hardware spotted moving through eastern Ukraine is a sign that the Russian-backed separatists are working to centralize power:
Further measures to strengthen Russian-terrorist forces strike groups are being implemented. In particular, in the area east of Chornukhyne (the left flank of the Debaltseve bridgehead) a new artillery group has been deployed. By Stanytsia Luhansk, the south elevation at Mykolaivka, artillery is also being pulled up. To the north of this area armored vehicles are being transferred (during the past 24 hours, the movement of up to 20 units, including tanks, has been recorded).
Tactical groups south of Donetsk continue to be strengthened. Delivery of provisions from Russia, mainly go through the settlements of Snizhne and Amvrosiivka (2-3 daily supply convoys). Between Olenivka and Telmanovo, the concentration of combat units, and the accumulation of stocks of material and technical equipment (fuel, ammunition, other resources) continues.
In the district of Novoazovsk, the enemy equips the fortified area, under cover from the air. In the direction of Mariupol, they concluded the formation of the Second Battalion Tactical Group (BTG) in north Kominternovo. The main forces of the enemy are in the depth of the second tier, small mobile groups have been moved forward, mostly made up of local militants.
NATO Commander General Philip Breedlove has given a statement in which he says that he is concerned that Russian forces are operating in Ukraine with increasing frequency. Reuters reports:
“Material, equipment, armored weapons, supplies continue to flow into eastern Ukraine. More have been seen in the past several days,” Breedlove said in an interview with Reuters and two other news organizations at a NATO base near Naples.
“I am concerned about the increased movement.”
“The violence continues to increase day by day,” he said, adding that the number of Russian troops inside east Ukraine who were helping and training rebel forces to use sophisticated weaponry had probably risen from earlier estimates of 250-300.
Breedlove also said Russia continued to keep about eight battalions of troops on Ukraine’s border, and had moved forces capable of delivering nuclear weapons to the Crimea region, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March.
“Whether they are (nuclear) or not, we do not know,” he said.
Breedlove said the number of close air, land and sea encounters between Russian and NATO forces had risen sharply.
Ukrainska Pravda reports that the ATO Press Centre has announced that 4 Ukrainian servicemen have been wounded after separatist forces shelled positions along the Bakhmutka highway in the Lugansk region.
According to the report, separatist fighters repeatedly shelled positions near the settlements of Krymskoye, Gorskoye, Kryakovka, Sokolniki and Tryokhizbenka with mortars and Grad rockets.
Here is a map of today’s shelling in the area:
— Pierre Vaux
Ukrainska Pravda reports that Vasiliy Budik, an adviser to the Defence Ministry on prisoner exchange issues, has written on his Facebook page that 4 Ukrainian soldiers have been freed from separatist captivity.
According to Budik, the following soldiers were released:
Ivan Yaretik (Aidar Battalion)
Maksim Vakulenko (Aidar Battalion)
Aleksandr Shokruta (24th Tank Brigade)
Pyotr Stus (National Guard)
Ukrainska Pravda notes that Oksana Bilozir, an MP in President Poroshenko’s party, had confirmed the soldiers’ release on her party’s website.
She said that all of the men had been seriously wounded and had been taken away in ambulances.
The exchange had been prepared by the SBU prisoner release centre, the Ministry of Defence and the Lugansk Union of Afghan War Veterans.
This exchange comes the day after Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the ‘prime minister’ of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, announced that there would be no further exchanges of prisoners until the next round of negotiations in Minsk.
That the Lugansk Afghan Veterans’ Union was involved suggests, however, that these men were released from the captivity of the ‘Lugansk People’s Republic,’ rather than their Donetsk-based counterparts.
— Pierre Vaux
Segodnya.ua reports that Aleksandr Moskvin, a naval press officer, has told them that the source of the underwater explosion, that occurred at around 12:00 (10:00 GMT) in the Azov sea, was off Russia’s Dolgaya Spit.
Moskvin told Segodnya that a crew member on the Russian cargo ship Nakhodka had observed the blast near the spit and reported it to a Ukrainian monitoring station.
Moskvin said that his personnel did not know the cause of the blast, and that their Russian counterparts, when contacted, said that they knew nothing about what had happened.
The vessel was following the path below (taken from marinetraffic.com):
Russia’s Interfax news agency reports that the regional emergency service has told them that the explosion occurred off the vessel’s starboard side, while it was moving into neutral waters in the Azov sea.
The emergency service reported that the vessel was unaffected by the explosion and continues to move under its own power.
— Pierre Vaux
As we reported earlier, there was a large explosion reported off the coast of Mariupol, to the city’s south. To the north the Ukrainian military says there have been attacks by Russian-backed insurgents on the road between Donetsk and Mariupol. During the last weeks of August, the last time the fighting was this intense, a Russian invasion was launched to the east of Mariupol. Is the city once again in the crosshairs?
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that shelling has resumed in Donetsk after a day of near-silence (via RFE/RL):
Heavy shelling resumed around the pro-Russian separatist stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, a Reuters witness said.
More than a dozen mortar bombs were heard in the city centre, though it was unclear who had launched them or what was under fire. Fighting has often centred around Donetsk airport which is outside the city centre.
Meanwhile, east of Donetsk a group of journalists and Dutch experts are inspecting the wreckage of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which was likely shot down by Russian-backed military units in July. Those journalists are seeing large amounts of military hardware headed toward Donetsk:
The OSCE, the international monitoring mission, has also seen convoys headed toward Donetsk. This is their spot report released today. Notice how the numbers in this convoy do not match the numbers mentioned by journalist Jeroen Akkermans. That may mean that these were different convoys, and the numbers of vehicles on the move is much larger than this. Keep in mind that the OSCE has very few monitors in eastern Ukraine.
At 07:45hrs, on 11 November, three kilometres east of Donetsk city centre, the SMM observed a convoy of 43 unmarked green military trucks, with tarpaulin covers, moving in the direction of the city centre.
Five of the trucks were each towing 120mm howitzer artillery pieces. Another five were each towing partly-covered multi-launch rocket systems (MLRS).
We have seen literally dozens of videos and pictures which reportedly show Russian-supplied military hardware moving in this region today. It is now clear that if the Russian-backed militants are not preparing a significant new military offensive, they would at least like Kiev to think that such an attack is imminent.
— James Miller
Mariupol news site 0629.com.ua reports that there has been a powerful explosion in the Azov sea, south of the city.
Residents of the Primorsky and Zhovtnevy districts told the site that the explosion occurred at around 12:00 (10:00 GMT), shaking windows in their homes.
Dmitry Gorbunov, a press officer for the ATO headquarters in Mariupol, told 0629 that the blast had occurred beyond the 20-mile zone off the Ukrainian coast, in territory controlled by the Russian Federation.
There are no reported casualties amongst the Ukrainian navy or border guards. An investigation is under way.
— Pierre Vaux
Ukrainska Pravda reports that Andrei Lysenko, the spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), has told reporters at a briefing this morning that 5 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed over the last 24 hours.
According to Lysenko, another 10 were wounded.
3 soldiers were killed and 3 wounded in a battle near the village of Beryozovоyе, to the south-west of Donetsk.
Lysenko said that a Ukrainian defensive position there was attacked by militants with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. He claimed that the defenders repelled the attack, killing at least 10 of the militants.
Beryozovoye lies next to a strategically important highway, running from Donetsk to Mariupol on the coast of the Azov sea.
The route was heavily contested in early September as Russian-backed forces attempted to gain control of towns along the highway after the Russian army invaded Novoazovsk, to the east of Mariupol.
Ukrainian forces held onto Volnovakha and Olhynka and Stepnoye, but Novotroitskoye and Yelenovka fell to Russian-backed forces on September 1.
At today’s briefing, Lysenko said that the total number of Ukrainian soldiers killed in the Donbass, as of today, stands at 1052. 4049 have been wounded.
— Pierre Vaux
Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reports that the deputy head of the Emergencies Ministry, Vladimir Stepanov, has told reporters that Russia is planning yet another “humanitarian convoy” for eastern Ukraine.
This would be the seventh such convoy. None of them has, so far, received authorisation from the Ukrainian authorities, nor have they been conducted under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) despite statements made before the first, in August.
The last convoy, which crossed the border on October 31, was the first to go to the separatist-held city of Donetsk.
TASS reports that Stepanov said (translated by The Interpreter):
“We are continuing to work with the federal executive authorities to gather humanitarian aid. As soon as the required amount is gathered, we will form a convoy right away. Most likely by the end of the week.”
On November 6, Markiyan Lubkivsky, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), told the Shuster Live television programme that Russia was using the “humanitarian convoys” to ship training equipment to Russian-backed fighters in Ukraine.
— Pierre Vaux