Ukraine Live Day 543: SBU Releases Video Purporting to Show Captured Russian Army Officer

August 14, 2015
Major Vladimir Starkov

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Heavy Fighting Reported Across Western Front

There are a significant amount of reports of shelling and even small arms fire between Donetsk and Gorlovka at the moment. This account is compiling and translating reports from various sources:

“No incoming heard.” That means that, according to these reports, the Russian-backed fighters are doing the shooting and Ukraine has yet to return fire.
There are also reports of shelling near Mariupol:
James Miller
Ukrainian-Held Villages North Of Gorlovka Under Fire

There are reports this evening that Dzerzhynsk, a Ukrainian-held village north-east of Gorlovka, is being shelled.

Translation: #Dzerzhynsk it’s started LOUD…

Translation: Seems like it’s incoming

Translation: #Dzerzhynsk Incoming came from Gorlovka, flying over our heads, I’m in Artyomovo now.


Translation: #Dzerzhynsk: B*****s, they’re fanning out across the town. Already falling practically next to us.

Translation: #Dzerzhynsk there are powerful voltage surges. some areas seem to be without power.

Translation: What the… ? The lights have been flickering for about 5-10 minutes now in Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Krasny Liman.

Translation:  #Dzerzhynsk Artyomovo. Oh guys, everything is f****d up. Ours are responding too. There’s no power.

Translation: #Gorlovka something serious is burning up. They’ve warned the whole town to take cover. The Russian militants have got something planned.

— Pierre Vaux

Pro-Russian Former Ukrainian MP Arrested By Interpol In Italy

Ihor Markov, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament and a staunch supporter of the Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass, has been arrested by Italian police on an international Interpol arrest warrant that was issued by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. Unian reports:

UNIAN memo. Ihor Markov was elected an MP in single-mandate constituency No133 in Odesa in the 2012 parliamentary elections, then joining the Party of Regions.

On September 12, 2013 the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine ordered the Central Election Commission to cancel Markov’s mandate for voting falsifications.

In October 2013, police had arrested Markov on suspicion of beating the protesters in Odesa in 2007. Ministry of Internal Affairs referred to the events of 2007 when the nationalists held pickets near the Odesa regional administration against erupting of a monument to Catherine II.

In February 2014, Markov’s mandate was renewed and he was released from custody.

Markov is a key leader of the “Committee To Save Ukraine,” also known as the  “Salvation Committee,” a new group of former Ukrainian officials who now live in Russia and are forming a government in exile.  This picture shows Markov (closest to the camera) at the launch event for this new committee.

Not everyone is happy about this development, however. Protesters, amongst them, members of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, picketed the Italian embassy in Moscow.

Konstantin Dolgov, one of the leaders of Russia’s Anti-Maidan movement, tweeted:

Translation: Photo from today’s picket at the Italian embassy in support of illegally arrested Igor Markov

Also, the Russian state propaganda outlet RT is calling Markov the “dissident” politician.

James Miller

Two Civilians Wounded, Several Homes Burnt After Grad Attack On Andreyevka

Yaroslav Chepurnoy, press officer for the Ukrainian military headquarters in Mariupol, has told the 112 television news channel that two civilians were wounded in Andreyevka after Russian-backed forces shelled the village with Grad rockets this afternoon.


Chepurnoy said that Russian-backed fighters have deliberately targeted civilians, as there are no Ukrainian troops in the village.

Both casualties have been taken by the Ukrainian army to a hospital in Volnovakha.

Several homes have been burnt down.

— Pierre Vaux

DNR Claims Ukraine Has Sent ‘Negroid’ Mercenaries To The Front

The pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) reports a separatist military spokesman has told reporters today that Ukraine has sent “personnel from a private military company, all of them of the negroid race” to the front line.

Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the armed forces of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (DNR), claimed that DNR military intelligence had recorded the arrival of the “black mercenaries” in the village of Starognatovka, east of Volnovakha and the scene of heavy fighting on Monday.

Claims of black fighters amongst the Ukrainian ranks have popped up several times before in Russian and pro-separatist media.

In February this year, during the battle for Debaltsevo, Russia’s LifeNews television channel carried an absurd report, citing local ‘eyewitness reports’ that:

“armoured personnel carriers are driving through the street with dancing, drunken negroes atop..”

DAN reports that the DNR ‘defence ministry’ has claimed that morale has fallen so low in the Ukrainian military that foreign mercenaries have had to be brought in to make up numbers.

Combining endemic racist and xenophobic attitudes with the suggestion that foreign, possibly American, troops are fighting for Kiev is a popular trope for Russian-language pro-separatist media.

Of course, such reports are not carried by the English-language wings of Russian-state media.

— Pierre Vaux

Grad And Artillery Fire Across The Front Line

As the week draws to a close, the elevated level of fighting in the Donbass shows no sign of fading away. The Ukrainian military reports that Russian-backed forces conducted 95 attacks yesterday, 22 of them with devastating, inaccurate Grad MLRS. Furthermore, there are reports this afternoon of heavy shelling east of Volnovakha. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Anatoliy Stelmakh told reporters today that Russian-backed forces have violated the ceasefire 336 times in the last three days.

At noon today, Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, announced that one Ukrainian soldier had been killed and six wounded over the last 24 hours.

One civilian woman was wounded in Avdeyevka, north of Donetsk, during artillery shelling last night. 

According to the ATO Press Centre, Russian-backed forces fired on Ukrainian positions near the village of Talakovka, just outside Mariupol, for the second night in a row. The military claims that, at around 22:00,  Russian-backed forces opened fire with both Grad MLRS and 152 mm artillery.

Grads were also fired at positions near Pavlopol and Starognatovka, where 152 mm artillery was used in addition. Novotroitskoye, a Ukrainian-held village on the Donetsk-Mariupol highway, was shelled twice with 120 mm mortars.

In Shirokino, around 10 kilometres east of Mariupol, Russian-backed fighters fired on Ukrainian troops with grenade launchers and heavy machine guns. 

In the Donetsk area, the ATO Press Centre reports that Avdeyevka and Opytnoye were bombarded with Grads, while Vodyanoye, Kamenka, Novobakhmutkovka and Pervomayskoye were shelled with 152 mm artillery.

Sergei Misyura, a Ukrainian commander, posted photos taken by troops outside Avdeyevka today, showing the destruction casued by shelling last night: 






At around 22:00, Ukrainian forces in Zaytsevo, which is a front-line crossing point north-east of Gorlovka, were shelled with mortars and 152 mm artillery. 

Between midnight and 6 am today, the report claims, Russian-backed forces conducted nine attacks with heavy weaponry. Ukrainian troops in Vodyanoye were attacked with Grad rockets four times and those in Opytnoye three times. MLRS were also reportedly used against the town of Krasnogorovka, west of Donetsk, and Zaytsevo.

Leviy Bereg‘s Nelli Verner writes, citing reports from fighters in the 93rd Brigade, that Ukrainian troops south-east of Artyomovsk were attacked last night with 120 mm mortars and self-propelled artillery.

The Lugansk Regional Military-Civil Administration reported today that Stanitsa Luganskaya, north-east of Lugansk city, was fired-on last night with automatic grenade launchers, 82 mm mortars and small arms in an attack that lasted from 21:00 until midnight.

The Administration also confirmed that two Ukrainian soldiers had been wounded in attacks yesterday, one in Bolotennoye, near Stanitsa Luganskaya, and another near Zolotoye.

These unverified Twitter reports describe shelling heard east of Volnovakha:

Translation: Loud in the east. This time sounds like it’s north of Starognatovka. Somewhere near Bogdanovka.

Translation: The thuds have been audible for 10 minutes already, without interruption. What’s going on there is f***** up.

Mariupol news site reports that Yaroslav Cherpurnoy, a military press officer, has claimed that Russian-backed forces shelled the village of Andreyevka, south-east of Volnovakha and around 13 kilometres from the front line, with Grad rockets at 15:45 today. There are reports of fires in the village.

Cherpunoy added that the front-line village of Novogrigoryevka had been shelled by artillery at 9:15 am and 12:05 pm. At 12:40, Ukrainian troops near Chermalyk came under attack from automatic grenade launchers and small arms.

— Pierre Vaux

Ukraine’s SBU Releases Video Purporting to Show Russian Army Officer Captured in Ukraine in July

Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) released a video yesterday, August 13 purporting to show a Russian army officer detained last month in eastern Ukraine appealing to President Vladimir Putin to obtain his release, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Business Insider reported.

He appears to be the highest-ranking Russian officer ever captured by the Ukrainian armed forces.

RFE/RL reported:

Ukraine’s state security agency
has released a new video purporting to show a Russian army officer who
was detained last month in eastern Ukraine appealing to President
Vladimir Putin to secure his release.

The soldier in the video was identified by the Ukrainian Security
Service (SBU) as Major Vladimir Starkov, who Ukrainian officials say has
admitted that he was serving in Russia’s armed forces at the time of
his capture.

Ukraine is likely to use the video to bolster its case that Russia is
backing separatists fighting Kyiv’s forces in eastern Ukraine in the
15-month-long conflict and undermining a cease-fire deal reached in
February in Minsk.


In the video published August 13 on YouTube by the SBU, the man, who
does not identify himself, is shown wearing a camouflage jacket and is
clean shaven except for moustache and goatee.

Speaking Russian, he appeals directly to Putin to acknowledge his service and asks the Russian president to help free him.

“I’m not a combat officer. I am only a ‘paper,’ a clerical officer,” he says.

“I served 19 years in the Russian army. And now they don’t acknowledge
me. They’re saying there’s no one by that name. He didn’t serve. How
could they do such a thing?” he said.

Russia has
continued to deny that its soldiers are fighting in Ukraine or that it
has sent heavy weapons to the Russian-backed separatists.

Starkov was detained July 26 outside a checkpoint and is charged with “terrorism.” He denied the charges and said,

“I request that someone acknowledges that I’m a [Russian] soldier and helps me somehow transfer out of here.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov merely denied once again that Russia has soldiers fighting in Ukraine.

Euronews published a story about the same Russian officer:

Vladimir Starkov was arrested on July 25 with a truck full
of ammunition at Berezove checkpoint. He was going from Donetsk to the
village of Yasne, in rebel-held territory, but lost his way and was
intercepted by a Ukrainian border patrol.

Euronews met him in the detention center in Kyiv where he was sent after his arrest.

“At the time of I was detained, I was a regular serviceman
in the armed forces of the Russian Federation with the rank of Major. I
was chief of missile and artillery weapons service in the military unit in the Russian city of Novocherkassk”, says Starkov.

Questioned by the Ukrainian security service, he said that around 2,000 Russian servicemen are currently deployed in Eastern Ukraine.

Many of them did not volunteer, just like Starkov. When he
was ordered to move to the Rostov region bordering Ukraine, little did
he know that he would serve in Eastern Ukraine.

Euronews said Starkov was carrying ammunition for the separatists along with fake ID. SBU officer Vitaly Lytvinenko commented:

“These kinds of weapons aren’t produced in Ukraine. And here we can see
the document proving they’re the property of a Russian military unit.”

Earlier this year, Ukrainian forces captured two agents of Russian military intelligence (GRU) who are still being held.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick