For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.
For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?
Tomorrow, September 17, the Institute for Modern Russia and the Atlantic Council will co-host the presentation of a new report from The Interpreter titled An Invasion by Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine prepared by the Liveblog Team.
The report summarizes 550 days of reporting on Russia’s war on Ukraine using regional news, social media, and sources in the area to provide compelling proof of Russia’s troops and armor in the Donbass, still denied by President Vladimir Putin.
The first part of the report provides evidence of Russian armor spotted in combat in Ukraine which could only have been supplied by Russia as the tanks and other hardware are not in Ukraine’s arsenal.
The second part of the report chronicles the struggle of the independent media and non-governmental groups in Russia to cover the story of “Cargo 200” — the bodies of Russian soldiers killed in combat returned to the Motherland. Some 600 Russian contract soldiers and volunteers have been documented as killed in the Donbass.
A livestream of the event can be found here.
A conversation with:
Editor-in-Chief, The Interpreter
Senior Editor, The Daily Beast
Managing Editor, The Interpreter
Joining the panel discussion:
The Hon. Steven Pifer
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Reporter, Voice of America
Welcome remarks and panel moderated by:
The Hon. John Herbst
Director, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center (Atlantic Council)
Thursday, September 17, 2015
4:00pm — 5:30pm
Atlantic Council headquarters
1030 15th St NW, 12th floor, West Tower Elevators
Attendance is by RSVP only.
To register your interest in attending this event, please click here.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) reports that Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), has signed a decree for local elections to be held on October 18.
The elections will, Zakharchenko said, be conducted in several rounds, due to the budget and security issues.
The first round will include elections for the leadership of several districts, including Amvrosievka, Novoazovsk, Starobeshevo, Telmanovo, Gorlovka, Debaltsevo, Dokuchaevsk, Donetsk, Yenakievo, Zhdanovka, Makeyevka, Snezhnoye, Torez, Khartsyzsk, Shakhtyorsk and Yasinovataya.
Zakharchenko claimed that the electoral process will be complete by mid-2016.
An announcement on the DNR ‘government portal,’ dnr-online.ru, states that the elections will be held “in accordance with the Minsk agreements and the constitution and laws of the DNR.”
Zakharchenko said (translated by The Interpreter):
“We have absolutely nothing to do with the local elections that will be held on Ukrainian territory. We are fulfilling the Minsk agreements, Kiev is on record as not doing so.”
However, as Ukrainska Pravda notes, the DNR elections will constitute a violation of the Minsk agreement, according to which local elections must be held in compliance with Ukrainian law and be monitored by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
As OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier told The Interpreter‘s James Miller last week, the organisation will not be able to conduct election monitoring in separatist-held territory this October due to a lack of cooperation on the part of Russian-backed separatists.
— Pierre Vaux
Lugansk News Today has picked up on an interesting detail in a US Department of Defense press release issued on Monday.
The press release is a listing of recently approved defence contracts. Amongst them is the following:
Aerovironment Inc.,* Monrovia, California, was awarded a $9,049,306 firm-fixed-price foreign military sales contract (Ukraine) for the small UAV RQ-11B Raven analogy system. Work will be performed in Monrovia, California, with an estimated completion date of May 11, 2016. One bid was solicited with one received. Fiscal 2010 other procurement funds in the amount of $9,049,306 were obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command, Natick, Massachusetts, is the contracting activity (W911QY-15-C-0102).
The RQ-11 Raven is a small observation UAV, carrying both colour and infrared night vision cameras. It can be controlled either manually or follow pre-programmed routes.
It was first reported in March this year that the US was to send Raven drones to Ukraine but this is the first on-record confirmation of the specific contract.
Lugank News Today estimates, comparing the value of the contract to price specifications found on BGA Aeroweb, that 30 RQ-11 systems, each comprising of a ground station, video terminal and three drones, are to be sold to Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials have regularly stated that better surveillance drones are high on their list of priority acquisitions from abroad.
However the Raven has limited range and, due to its low weight, cannot fly in heavy rain or strong winds.
It also remains to be seen how resilient the drone is to Russian jamming systems, such as those used to down OSCE UAVs in the south of the Donetsk region in recent months.
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian military claims this morning that the situation along the front line remains stable despite a notable escalation in attacks in the south of the Donetsk region.
According to the ATO Press Centre, there were 9 attacks yesterday, with silence observed along the front between midnight and 6 am today.
Ukrainian troops near Krymskoye, in the Lugansk region, came under sniper fire at around 19:00.
The Lugansk Military-Civil Regional Administration announced this morning that one soldier, from the 22nd Kharkiv battalion, was wounded in the same area yesterday after an unidentified explosive device went off.
In the Donetsk region, there were small-arms attacks on Ukrainian troops in the village of Rassadky (Rozsadky in Ukrainian), south-east of Artyomovsk, at around 21:00 and 23:00. This area has seen numerous attacks over the last three days.
Meanwhile Igor Biryukov, a spokesman for the Ukrainian military headquarters in Mariupol, told 0629.com.ua today that, in addition to attacks on Chermalyk and Gnutovo that had been reported yesterday evening, there had also been attacks near Pavlopol.
According to the spokesman, Russian-backed fighters shelled the outskirts of Pavlopol with mortars at 9:50 am yesterday. Then, from 10:10 to 10:14, came automatic grenade launcher fire from the direction of Pishchevik.
There is some confusion regarding the Ukrainian casualty figures for the last 24 hours.
At noon today, Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, told reporters that two Ukrainian soldiers had been wounded over the last 24 hours. Lysenko was emphatic that no troops had been killed.
However Novosti Donbassa reports that Pavlo Zhebrivskyi, the governor of the Donetsk region, announced this morning that one Ukrainian soldier and a civilian resident of Marinka have been killed over the last 24 hours.
Ostro.org reports, citing the Donetsk regional branch of the Interior Ministry, that a civilian man, born in 1955, was wounded yesterday by an explosive device on the road between separatist-held Dokuchaevsk and Ukrainian-held Beryozovoye.
This is, the report notes, the third such civilian casualty, resulting from tripwires and mines, in 24 hours.