View Ukraine: April, 2014 in a larger map
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?
Below we will be making regular updates so check back often.
A number of Russian-language Ukrainian sources are reporting that Valery Bolotov, former self-declared head of the self-proclaimed “Lugansk People’s Republic” has been assassinated.
We have no confirmation of this report.
Translation: He knew too much. @RT @makars Valery Bolotov liquidated in Russia.
Translation: Valery Bolotov is dead. Photo proof.
According to joinfo.ua, Russian intelligence officers in the Anti-Terrorism Center of the Interior Ministry had him assassinated. There have been no statements from Russian officials or coverage in the Russian media.
The sources for this story was an “unnamed Lugansk businessman” who says he used to pay protection to Bolotov. The Interpreter has translated the story:
“After Valery Bolotov resigned, information surfaced that he had been taken to Russia in order to provide explanations, or for getting instructions about his future activity. But then Bolotov never came back. Then, the situation took the following turn. Lugansk businessmen who under fear of execution had payed “taxes” to Bolotov every week, transferring the money through some people close to him, encountered a small problem. When they went to “pay their taxes” as usual, they were told they did not have to for now.
Naturally, the businessmen wondered whether Bolotov himself knew about this and whether they should send the money to him personally. But they were told that “there’s no one to pay. Bolotov’s gone.” And they were told to await further instructions.
According to another version of the story, Bolotov was “liquidated” by Ukrainian oligarchs related to the previous Yanukovych regime, since he had cooperated with many of them and they didn’t want any witnesses to their corruption. Former Ukrainian deputy Vladimir Landik said on a television show that Bolotov previously worked for Party of Regions parliamentary faction leader Aleksandr Yefremov.
Landik claimed Bolotov worked as a look-out for Yefremov at the mines in Krasny Luch, and served as chief of his security and driver.
Russia state media announced in mid-August that Bolotov was resigning on “health grounds.”
Translation: Valery Bolotov announced his resignation from the post of head of the LPR due to his health condition.
Then he disappeared from sight.
Kremlin propagandist and web entrepreneur Konstantin Rykov blogged about the changing fortunes of the Novorossiya leaders on August 20.
He cited an interview on August 19 by Lenta.ru with Oleg Tsarev, who is described as the “speaker of parliament of Novorossiya,” which combines the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and the “Lugansk People’s Republic”.
Tsarev said that Bolotov had been in Moscow for while, but he didn’t know where he was at that time; he was not in the Donbass. He said Bolotov had been wounded, and was getting medical treatment in Russia.
These stories conform with two common theories about the separatists: 1) that they are mafia lords available to serve as bag men for Russia’s GRU (military intelligence), and Russia may have kompromat (“compromising material”) on them; 2) that when their Russian overlords are done with them, they will be “liquidated.”
While this could be the case, the problem with that theory is that so many of the “Novorossiya” leaders we see today in fact served the Kremlin agenda for the last decades, in theaters of conflict from Chechnya to Abkhazia to Transdniestria and even Bosnia. Far from being killed, they were re-used again and again, sometimes after cooling-off periods in Russia.
Another theory about the separatists is that Moscow is busy “nationalizing” the “Novorossiya” movement now by replacing Muscovites like Aleksandr Boroday or Igor Strelkov with home-grown Donbass leaders. And to some extent that has been the case. Bolotov was originally from Taganrog, Russia, and moved to Lugansk Region in 1974.
But according to Lugradar.net and other pro-separatist sources some of the fighters in Lugansk, as distinct from Donetsk, are being replaced by Russian military. All of these stories cite “the Information Center of the Council for National Security (CSNB) and Defense”. Yet the CSNB itself didn’t make this announcement, nor nor did any pro-Kiev sources report it. It could be disinformation.
The story claims that there has been a “rotation” in Krasnodon, Antratsit and other towns seized by separatists, and in Lugansk itself. Russian military reinforcements have supposedly come to Perevalsk, Zorinsk, Maloivanovka, Malaya Popovka, Vergulievka, and Rassypnoye — either RF soldiers, or Russian separatists who first went for recuperation in Russia and then returned.
“This reinforcement is to organize these population centers and prepare them for a prolonged defense in case of a siege,” says lugradar.net The article also claims that Russian Federation medical personnel came to the hospital in Krasnodon, bringing with them medical equipment — and then there was a large influx of wounded separatist fighters in this hospital.
None of these reports could be verified, and local Lugansk media did not report anything about Bolotov or any new Russians in the area.
Meanwhile, they did report about the killing of a famous Russian mercenary with the nick-name “Dingo” who real name was Yevgeny Ponomarev. He was from Belorechensk, Krasnodar Territory, and a professional Cossack from the Tersky Cossak community.
Fighting continued in Donetsk today after a lull in the morning.
Komsomolskaya Pravda, like other pro-Kremlin sources, focused on damaged buildings from shelling which they implied had only come from Ukrainian forces.
Other sources identified shelling coming from Russian-backed separatists:
Translation: From these slag heaps, terrorists were banging from mortar at the center of Donetsk.
This report geolocated a Pantsir-S1 in the hands of the separatists.
Translation: Donetsk 27/08/14 Deployment of a Pantsir-1 anti-aircraft missile and gun system.
A number of damaged buildings are reported around Donetsk, with fighting street-by-street in some districts.
Translation: #Donetsk 132 Sobinova St.
Translation: They shot from Shchelgovki St, went up higher along Partizansky Ave., shot some more, then moved higher. It can all be heard. And it’s been like this an hour most likely.
Translation: #Donetsk 28.08.2014 Partizansky Ave. SMALL PART…FOR TODAY #UkraineUnderAttack #RussiainvadedUkraine.
Translation: Ukrainian Donetsk today.
Rinat Akhmetov, a Ukrainian oligarch who owns a number of coal mines and other businesses in Ukraine and also has a philanthropic fund, has announced the organization of evacuation from a number of cities.
Translation: Attention! #Evacuation 29 August #Donetsk #Makeyevka #Enakievo #Khartsyzsk #Mariupol
Independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta has a photojournalist in Donetsk now, Yevgeny Feldman, who has published a photo essay on how people are trying to cope in Donetsk.
Translation: Donetsk under fire: refuge, fires, separatists…Photo reportage.
People were staying in bomb shelters, and a sunflower oil factory has been damaged, reports Feldman.
A Ukrainian woman who was reported by the New York Times last week as arrested by Russian-backed separatists, bound to a pole and forced to face public humiliation has been released, gordonua.com and TV Rain reported.
Her name is Irina Dovgan.
Thanks to the intervention of journalists, she was ultimately let go, TV Rain photo correspondent Dmitry Belyakov reported.
Dovgan had been beaten, wrapped in a Ukrainian flag, tied to a post with a sign calling her an “agent of the henchmen” and then subjected to spitting, kicking and tomato-throwing by passersby.
At first Aleksandr Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion in Lugansk Region, said he was unaware of the situation.
Belyakov reported (translation by The Interpreter):
After intervention by [British journalist] Mark Franchetti, my colleague, and myself, we were able to convince him [Khodakovsky], that Irina had to be released. On the whole, we did not have to take long to persuade him — Aleksandr conducted his own investigation, expressed outrage at what was going on, and confirmed that he did not know that the woman had been held on his base. He promised that those guilty would be punished. On the whole, I can testify that Irina Dovgan is alive, well, and everything is fine with her, and she will soon be reunited with her daughter.
Earlier, when the New York Times reporters tried to intervene, for their trouble they themselves were detained briefly by separatists:
A call placed by The New York Times to an aide for a senior separatist
commander informing him of the abuse resulted in the rebel soldiers at
the checkpoint briefly detaining the journalists. The aide, who uses
only the nickname The Georgian, sent a car with gunmen to extricate the
suspected spy and journalists from the Motel.
two groups of gunmen agreed to release the journalists, but were not
able to agree on handing over the woman. After the discussion, the
captors drove her away to an unknown location.
man known as The Georgian, who is a member of the Vostok Battalion,
which consists of mostly local Ukrainians, said the Ossetian volunteers
at the Motel checkpoint do not report to Ukrainian commanders, so
nothing further could be done. He said he condemned the abuse.
The Ukrainian National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting has issued a list of 49 Russian journalists and television executives who are banned from entry to Ukraine, Interfax reported.
The list is being transferred to the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). The following names are on the list:
Interestingly, while the head of LifeNews, Ashot Garbrelyanov, and one LifeNews correspondent Semyon Pegov, other correspondents from LiveNews were not placed in the list.
Pegov was recently on assignment with Andrei Stenin, who has been missing for more than three weeks. Pegov reported that he may have found Stenin’s remains in a bombed car near Snezhnoye, but the identification was not conclusive and awaits forensic testing.
Other war correspondents from pro-Kremlin newspapers such as Komsomolskaya Pravda were not in the list, nor were RT journalists. In May, Ukrainian authorities banned Aleksandr Kots from Komsomolskaya Pravda for five years, but he has still managed to come to Donbass through separatist-controlled checkpoints and is filing dispatches.
Many of the people in the list are those associated with management of state TV shows notorious for their anti-Kiev propaganda, like Dmitry Kiselyov of Rossiya Segodnya.
The UN Security Council met today in an emergency session this afternoon but no action was taken, as the text of a statement to be issued by the current president, UK Amb. Lyall Grant, could not be agreed.
Even making his presentation, Amb. Churkin didn’t seem to maintain the fiction that the separatists in Ukraine are unrelated to Russia.
Translation: Churkin: “So, what, the militia should just lay down their arms and simply leave for the territory of Russia?” #RussianinvadedUkraine Freudian slip.
But the statement could not be cleared to acknowledge separatists’ role in ending the conflict.
During the session, Western ambassadors diagnosed the problem. But as is often the case, the problem wasn’t getting information and defining the invasion, but rather gathering the political will to oppose it.
However, with not only the Chinese and Russian veto to be wielded, but failure to bring around other members to persuade Russia to adopt even a document shy of a resolution, no action could be taken.
About 500 people gathered in Kiev today to demonstrate against what
they see as insufficient action by the Ukrainian military, Komsomolskaya Pravda and other anti-Kiev regional media reported.
were calls for the resignation of Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey and
suggestions he be replaced by Donbass Battalion Commander Semyon
Semyonchenko, who is currently in the hospital recovering from battle
Most of these reports came from Russian state media and pro-separatist social media accounts, and most of them contained the same phrases as developed by TV Zvezda, the Russian Defense Ministry’s reporting.
Russian Defense Ministry TV Zvezda has published video footage from the rally.
Ukrainian media has apparently not given attention yet to the gathering.
Towards evening, there were reports of some violence by protesters.
Translation: Vosdukhoflotsky Avenue near the General Staff in Kiev has been closed off by relatives of the soldiers of Donbass Battalion.
Translation: Fascistic young toughs in Kiev have begun to attack the LUKOIL gas stations.
Translation: the situation in Kiev is heating up: there are fist-fights, they are threatening a new Maidan and demanding to appoint Semyoncheko as Defense Minister.
Translation: Protesters in Kiev are demanding Poroshenko’s resignation and the start of a new Maidan.
Two more Russian POWs have been captured outside Ilovaisk in Ukraine, Espreso TV reports.
A video showing one of the soldiers has been broadcast.
The soldier has a swollen face with some scratches and may have been mistreated. He speaks in a monotonous voices and says some of the types of rehearsed-sounding statements that we have heard in other POW videos of interrogations.
Because he is in captivity, his confession was coerced and cannot be accepted as factual.
The Interpreter has translated the statement:
Soldier: We were brought to Rostov and they told us there would be training. The convoy started up and we then found ourselves by morning in Ukraine.
Interrogator: When did you realize it wasn’t a training?
Soldier: When we landed under fire.
Interrogator: Didn’t you know when they gave you not a training, but a combat kit?
Soldier: They handed them out on the border.
Several hundred people have gathered in Kharkiv today near the Lenin statue to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine, gordonua.com reports.
Police made several arrests of protesters near the Russian Embassy in Kharkiv.
The Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the 57-member body which has a special monitoring mission now in Ukraine, held an emergency session on Ukraine.
The OSCE Permanent Council also held an emergency session on Ukraine today:
US Ambassador Daniel Baer made a statement:
The citizens of Ukraine celebrated the 23rd anniversary of their independence on August 24. They did so as the Russian Federation’s ongoing violations of OSCE principles and commitments, and its efforts aimed at sowing turmoil, continued to remind the Ukrainian people of how precious independence and individual freedoms—the kinds of freedoms that Russian citizens are routinely denied by their corrupt and repressive government—are. The United States reiterates its strong support for the people of Ukraine and its condemnation of Russia’s support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine and its occupation of Crimea.
Mr. Chairperson, in concluding, and dear colleagues, amidst all of this, and in a world in which we have enough tragedy without making more, let us not forget that the crisis in Ukraine is a man-made crisis, a tragedy manufactured and orchestrated by a Kremlin that has shown disregard for international law, that has flouted Russia’s commitments, and destroyed Russia’s credibility as a mature and serious international actor, and that has exacted tremendous, unnecessary human costs. These costs are borne not only by the people of Ukraine—by journalists and soldiers and teachers and nurses and activists and children who deserve a future of their making and their choosing. They have been borne by the passengers of MH17 and their thousands of loved ones, they are borne by the people of Russia, already robbed by a corrupt regime, their future now blighted by the Kremlin’s irresponsible international actions. They are borne by the mothers of Russian soldiers—some of whom have reportedly died or been captured in the fight that President Putin denies he’s part of, while journalists who try to report the story are abused. My heart goes out to those mothers—who want nothing more than a dignified burial for their sons, but who the Kremlin sees as less important than its desire to sow tragedy in Ukraine.
Mr. Chairperson, as Russia’s destabilizing actions exacerbate the crisis in eastern Ukraine, it is more important than ever for the OSCE to take a strong and robust role. We urge that the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) ramp up its mission to the full strength of 500 monitors as soon as possible in order to serve as the critical eyes and ears on the ground. While we welcome the acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles to support SMM operations, SMM monitors have proven to be the most valuable tool in our toolbox and we urge full staffing and expansion of the SMM in permissive environments.
Read the full statement here.
At the meeting, Russian Amb. Andrei Kelin disagreed with the statements of the Ukrainian and Western ambassadors and said, “No Russian forces are crossing in any point the border of Ukraine,’ Moscow News reported. As for the Russian soldiers recently taken captive by Ukrainian forces, he said their crossing was “unintentional.”
Meanwhile, OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier also issued a statement August 26 based on his remarks at the European Forum Alpbach August 24:
Separatism and changes in
borders must be firmly rejected and the core OSCE principles followed
during the crisis in Ukraine, OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier
told the European Forum Alpbach this weekend.
Underlining the Organization’s
core belief in the respect of borders and territorial integrity of
states, Zannier told the audience that the political process must be
paramount and that the key objective at present was to achieve a
ceasefire. He reminded them of the OSCE principles set down in the 1975
Helsinki Final Act and subsequent texts which acted as a foundation for
European security and cooperation.
He underlined the importance of
dialogue and, in this context, the role of the Trilateral Contact Group,
which includes Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE. He added that strong
protection of minorities and their inclusion in the political process
was essential in order to achieve sustainable peace in multi-ethnic
societies: the OSCE, and particularly its High Commissioner on National
Minorities, could be instrumental in achieving this in Ukraine.
Humanitarian aid was needed, he
stressed, but on condition that the host country gave its consent and
that it was co-ordinated through relevant international organizations
such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The Special Monitoring Mission report today includes the following news, where preoccupation with the status of Lenin statues — which have toppled all over Ukraine in recent months — seems to take precedence:
KYIV 28 August 2014
The intensity of the fighting increased in areas closer to Donetsk
city centre, resulting in damage to the infrastructure, and fatalities
among the civilian population. In Lviv a group of protesters tried to
force its way into the building of the regional traffic police.
In Kharkiv the SMM monitored the situation on the
square in front of the House of Culture, where the Lenin statue had its
head removed by unknown perpetrators on 26 August. The city mayor, Mr
Hennadiy Kernes, made a public statement on 27 August condemning the
incident as an act of vandalism.
On 26 August the SMM met with the head of the Luhansk
regional police, who confirmed information concerning an incident
reported earlier to the Mission by local inhabitants. The incident had
taken place on 23 August in the village of Olexandrivka (around 90 km
north-west of Luhansk) where, according to the SMM’s interlocutors, the
24th “Aidar” battalion had allegedly committed an armed robbery.
The SMM observed continued shelling in Donetsk city
and the increasing impact on the civilian population and infrastructure.
In the residential area of Kalininski district, around five kilometres
east of the city centre, the SMM observed that the House of Culture was
in flames. Several fire brigade vehicles were working to bring the fire
under control. Nearby, the SMM saw several five-floor apartment blocks
with shattered window panes. The damage appeared to be consistent with
shelling. In the same area the SMM observed a burning vehicle. Inside
the car, the SMM saw the remains of three persons. In Kievskii district,
around five kilometres north of the city centre, the SMM observed
significant damage concentrated on residential buildings and shops
located along the Kievski Boulevard.
In Mospyne (five kilometres to the south-east) the SMM observed
significant damage to civilian infrastructure, including a school which
had sustained damage consistent with shelling. A group of elderly people
told the SMM that basic food supplies, like bread, were already lacking
in the town. They also said that they had not received their pensions
for the last two months. The SMM also visited a Ukrainian Orthodox
Church of the Moscow Patriarchate which had sustained damage consistent
The SMM in Kramatorsk (97 km north of Donetsk) observed that one of
the previously shelled schools in the town was completely renovated by
the Ukrainian authorities, with a new facade and window panes. More
shops appeared to be open and people were visible on the streets.
At around 20:00hrs on 26 August the SMM observed a release of
hostages/prisoners in Adviyika (around 30km north of Donetsk). As a
result, four Ukrainian servicemen and one combatant belonging to the
so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) were simultaneously
The SMM met with the mayor of Pavlohrad (75 km east of Dnipropetrovsk) who stated that the removal of Lenin’s statue from the city’s main square (see Daily Report dated 26 August)
could lead to increased tension between different political forces and
movements in the city. He explained that the initiative came from
representatives of “Svoboda”, “Right Sector”, football fans, and members
of the volunteer “Aidar” battalion and added that a poll commissioned
by the city hall in February 2014 had indicated that 93% of the
respondents were against the removal of the statue.
“Right Sector” activists in Kherson informed the SMM
about their plans to set up a battalion of volunteers called “Tavriya”.
They explained that the aim of the battalion, unarmed and self-funded,
would be to defend the region from any provocations and potential
aggressions and that they had contacted the regional department of the
Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Border Guard Service to offer their
services. They stated that they could help the Border Guard Service in
terms of observation and information sharing on under-patrolled areas of
the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL).
In Odessa the SMM observed a “Euromaidan” protest
held in front of the City Hall building, which gathered some 50-60
people of mixed age and sex and around 15-20 people in military clothing
wearing the badges of Maidan Self-Defence. The protesters complained
about the arrests of Maidan activists in relation to the 2 May events.
They also called for civil society representatives to be granted access
to the meetings of the city council in order to oversee its work. The
crowd tried to enter the city hall but were blocked by the police. Some
20-30 black uniformed anti-riot police protected the entrance door of
the city hall.
In Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk the situation remained calm.
On 27 August the SMM observed a rally held in front of the building of the regional department of the traffic police in Lviv.
A group of 70-80 people, mainly young men, arrived at the building
calling for the removal of the head of the department, whom they
believed was connected to the old government. The head of the department
approached the protesters and engaged them in discussion. However, as
the head of the department left the scene he was followed by a group of
protesters who tried to force their way into the building. A few minutes
later, the group fled the building claiming that teargas had been used.
The protestors then brought, placed, and burned tires at the entrance
of the building. A fire brigade crew arrived and extinguished the fire.
By 13:30 many protesters had left the scene and in the afternoon all
protesters had dispersed. When asked by the SMM, the protesters refused
to state their affiliation.
In Kyiv the situation remained calm.
A citizen’s video uploaded to YouTube three hours ago by Erich Hartmann shows a Russian military convoy believed to be headed toward Lugansk.
In the film, a person can be heard to say: “Little green men! They’re heading toward Lugansk. They’re under the hatches.”
We could not geolocate the video. It appears to be new as there are no other copies in Google image search.
At the request of Lithuania, which is currently one of 10 elected members of the UN Security Council, a public meeting will be held at 2 PM EST on the situation in Ukraine. Jeffrey Feltman, UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs, will give a briefing.
What this means is that instead of a closed session where a resolution might be negotiated or at least a presidential statement drafted, an open public meeting will be held at which prepared briefings or statements will be given.
Earlier, the spokesman for Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon issued a statement:
The Secretary-General is alarmed by reports that fighting in
eastern Ukraine has spread southward, near the border of the Sea of Azov
and the Russian Federation. If confirmed, this will mark a dangerous
escalation in the Ukrainian crisis.
community cannot allow the situation to escalate further nor can a
continuation be allowed of the violence and destruction that the
conflict has wrought in eastern Ukraine.
Secretary-General notes the recent talks in Minsk on 26 August, as well
as the first official meeting between the Presidents of Ukraine and
Russia. He calls for continuity of these talks, with a view to forging a
peaceful way out of the conflict. All must do their part to contribute
to the peaceful resolution of this conflict, in a manner upholding
Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
This is less than a robust response from UN headquarters.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is releasing a report on the human rights situation in Ukraine.
Four hundred soldiers from the fifth battalion of the Transcarpathian Territorial Defense deserted from the battlefield and headed for home.
They were stopped near the town of Znamenka in Korovograd Region, and Commander Anatoly Pushnyakov, commander of Ukraine’s land forces and Nikolai Golomsha, deputy prosecutor general, personally came to meet them. They urged the soldiers to give up their weapons. The soldiers said they would only do this at their home base. In the end, they agreed to turn over the heavy weapons but took their rifles with them.
The soldiers said they had “been in hell” and fell under heavy artillery fire from Russian forces. They also said they were only going home for rotation and re-grouping, as they had been in the ATO zone for two months.
Semyon Semyonchenko, head of the Donbass Battalion of volunteers, recuperating in the hospital from severe wounds, posted a link to the Ukrainska Pravda article on his Facebook page, and commented:
This is what I mean when I demand that precisely volunteers fight. [Defense Minister] Heletey, give us their equipment…
The military chiefs discussed the need not to allow military formations to cross the border. They also discussed an exchange of POWs, including the Russian paratroopers who were detained on Ukrainian territory on August 24.
“I’m confident that joint actions will lead to a de-escalation of the situation,” Poroshenko was quoted as saying.
With reports of a Russian military convoy only kilometers away, and the strategic town of Novoazovsk occupied by separatists, there is major concern about Mariupol.
Today, hundreds of people turned out to rally against Russian intervention.
Translation: Mariupol now.
The man is holding a poster showing the Ukrainian trefoil interspersed with the consonants from a common expression that translates as “Putin, f**k off!”.
A live-stream feed now running a recorded video shows people making speeches by the former Lenin monument.
Translation: Evening Mariupol. Sign: We will not surrender Mariupol! Putler get out!
NATO has released satellite imagery today August 28 that show Russian forces engaged in military operations inside Ukrainian territory:
Dutch Brigadier General Nico Tak, director of the Comprehensive Crisis
and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC), Allied Command Operations said
the images confirmed what NATO and its Allies had been seeing for weeks
from other sources.
“Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in
both the level and sophistication of Russia’s military interference in
Ukraine,” said Brigadier General Tak. “The satellite images released
today provide additional evidence that Russian combat soldiers, equipped
with sophisticated heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine’s
sovereign territory,” he said.
These latest images provide concrete examples of Russian activity
inside Ukraine, but are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the
overall scope of Russian troop and weapons movements.
“We have also detected large quantities of advanced weapons,
including air defence systems, artillery, tanks, and armoured personnel
carriers being transferred to separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine,”
said Brigadier General Tak. “The presence of these weapons along with
substantial numbers of Russian combat troops inside Ukraine make the
situation increasingly grave,” he said.
Also released were images showing substantial activity inside Russia
in areas adjacent to the border with Ukraine. NATO believes this
activity is being conducted in direct support to forces operating inside
Ukraine, and is part of a highly coordinated and destabilising
“Russia is reinforcing and resupplying separatist forces in a
blatant attempt to change the momentum of the fighting, which is
currently favouring the Ukrainian military,” Brigadier General Tak said.
“Russia’s ultimate aim is to alleviate pressure on separatist fighters
in order to prolong this conflict indefinitely, which would result in
further tragedy for the people of Eastern Ukraine,” he added.
Image 1 shows Russian military units moving in a convoy formation with
self-propelled artillery in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine, well inside
territory controlled by Russian separatists. The image was captured on
21 August 2014. There is confidence the equipment is Russian, since
Ukrainian units have not yet penetrated this far into separatist
Image 2 shows Russian self-propelled artillery units set up in firing
positions near Krasnodon, Ukraine. They are supported by logistical
vehicles which are likely carrying extra ammunition and supplies. This
configuration is exactly how trained military professionals would
arrange their assets on the ground, indicating that these are not
unskilled amateurs, but Russian soldiers. Russian artillery systems like
these have recently shelled Ukrainian positions outside the city of
Luhansk in conjunction with a separatist counteroffensive to attempt to
break the Ukrainian siege of the city
Image 5 shows a wider overview including the position of the
self-propelled guns from image 4. Note the North indicator on this
image, and remember that the guns are orientated in this location. It is
clear that from this location, it would be impossible NOT to fire into
Ukrainian territory. This is clearly NOT an exercise; these guns are
being used to support separatist forces operating in the territory of
For the full set of images, see NATO.
The BBC reports that weapons analysts from the International Institute for Strategic Studies have identified a tank filmed in Sverdlovsk as a T-72BM, identifiable from its distinctive Kontakt-5 reactive armour, a model which has not been exported outside Russia and is used in large numbers by the Russian army.
The Interpreter reported on this footage and geolocated it on August 24. At the time, we identified four of the tanks as T-72s, which are not in use by the Ukrainian army at the moment.
However, what Joseph Dempsey, an IISS analyst, has pointed out, is that while three of the T-72s are T-72B1s – variants that while not in current use by Ukraine, have been exported from Russia and therefore could possibly be claimed to have originated elsewhere, the T-72BM can only have come directly from Russia.
The BBC reports:
Mr Dempsey notes that “the Soviet-era tanks operated by the separatists have until now represented those that could have been potentially acquired internally within Ukraine, providing a degree of plausible deniability to any suspected third-party supplier.”
The most recent separatist MBT variant observed, however, is assessed to have been operated only by the Russian Army,” he adds.
The IISS analysis underscores the shaky foundations of Russia’s constant insistence that it is not involved in the fighting.
This taken together with Nato satellite imagery and the recent interviews with Russian servicemen captured inside Ukraine suggests a very different reality from that presented by Moscow.
Interfax-Ukraine reports that the Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has asked “Ukraine’s western partners” to convene an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, following Russia’s military intervention in eastern Ukraine.
“I consider it necessary for our Western partners to convene an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council. Russia has significantly increased its military presence in Ukraine,” he said at a ceremony to sign a memorandum of cooperation between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Ukrainian World Congress.
Yatseniuk said that respective emergency meetings should also be held at the OSCE and the EU at the level of the foreign ministers of the EU member states.
Confirming last night’s Kommersant report, there are now numerous sources reporting that Novoazovsk has fallen to either Russian or Russian-backed forces, leaving the port city of Mariupol dangerously exposed to attack.
Ukrainska Pravda reprorts that Vladimir Shilov, the commander of the 5th special company of the Dnepr-1 battalion, told Ukraine’s 5 Channel live on TV that the town had been captured by Russian soldiers and blocked off by tanks.
He said that civilians were being prevented from leaving and that, according to Russian soldiers, there would be a sweep of the town today.
Shilov said that his sources were a soldier of his at a checkpoint in Mariupol and police officers who had been in Novoazovsk.
Meanwhile, also speaking to 5 Channel, Yegor Firsov, a deputy in the UDAR party, said that “little green men,” meaning unmarked Russian soldiers, as seen in Crimea, had appeared in the village of Sedovo, near Novoazovsk.
In The New York Times, Andrew Kramer describes a hurried retreat from Novoazovsk as Russian forces overran it:
Exhausted, filthy and dismayed, some Ukrainian soldiers staggering out of Novoazovsk for safer territory said they were cannon fodder for the attacking forces. As they spoke, tank shells whistled in from the east and exploded nearby.
Some of the Ukrainian soldiers appeared unwilling to fight. The commander of their unit, part of the Ninth Brigade from Vinnytsia, in western Ukraine, barked at the men to turn around, to no effect. “All right,” the commander said. “Anybody who refuses to fight, sit apart from the others.” Eleven men did, while the others returned to the city.
Some troops were in full retreat: A city busload of them careened past on the highway headed west, and purple curtains flapped through windows shot out by gunfire.
Kramer also describes reports from Ukrainian soldiers that the forces they were fighting were Russian:
On the highway in Novoazovsk on Tuesday, Sgt. Ihor Sharapov, a soldier with the Ukrainian border patrol unit, said he had seen tanks drive across the border, although they were marked with flags of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Others suggested the flags were a ruse.
“I tell you they are Russians, but this is what proof I have,” said Sgt. Aleksei Panko, holding up his thumb and index finger to form a zero. Sergeant Panko estimated that about 60 armored vehicles crossed near Novoazovsk. “This is what happened: They crossed the border, took up positions and started shooting.”
The Ukrainian Vinnytsia brigade met the cross-border advance over the six miles of countryside separating Novoazovsk from the Russian border, but later retreated to the western edge of town along the Rostov-Mariupol highway, where soldiers were now collapsed in exhaustion on the roadside. “This is now a war with Russia,” Sergeant Panko said.
The counteroffensive that Ukrainian officers said was at least in part staged across the border from Russia pushed the Ukrainian Army off a 75-mile-long highway from Donetsk south to the Azov Sea.
Yesterday, it was reported that a large column of Russian or separatist military vehicles was headed south along this road towards Telmanovo.
Starobeshevo itself fell to separatist fighters on August 26.
Petr Shelomovskiy, who was in Novoazovsk yesterday, now tweets that the Ukrainian army has closed the road between Mariupol and Donetsk: