Ukraine Liveblog Day 206: Russia Says Second ‘Humanitarian Convoy’ Waiting At Border

September 11, 2014

Yesterday’s liveblog can be found here. An archive of our liveblogs can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

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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.

Ukraine Border Service Says More Than 100 Russian Armored Vehicles Crossed The Border Yesterday

Ukraine’s State Border Guard Services says that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is continuing despite the ceasefire. Ukrayinska Pravda reports (translated by The Interpreter):

“On 10 September a convoy of 12 tanks, 48 BTRs, 1 BRDM [armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicle], 20 Ural automobiles loaded with ammunition, 8 Ural automobiles with personnel, 4 air defense automobiles, and 5 fuel tanks crossed from the Russian Federation [RF] into Ukrainian territory through the Izvarino checkpoint headed toward Krasnodon.

Meanwhile, several KAMAZ military cars, 6 Urals, 3 four-wheel drive cars and 2 fuel tanks crossed into the RF.”

There was also a report September 10th of 10 tanks coming through the Novoazovsk checkpoint headed toward Bezymyannoye, and two Grad BM-21 positions on the Western outskirts of the city.

About 400 vehicles are already in Biloyarovsk. Yesterday at about 17:00 a convoy without about 76 vehicles under the RF flag went from Biloyarovka through Amvrosiyevka headed south.

Ten tanks and 3 SAUs went from the RF through Dibrovksa head toward Dmitrovka in Donetsk Region.

According to surveillance reports, in the area of Telmanovo, fighters are getting training from RF instructors; there are about 1,000 personnel and 10 BTRs.

Along with conducting the joint Sea Breeze exercises in the Black Sea, there are training firings of missiles from the shore and Black Sea Fleet planes firing at targets in the sea to simulate an attack ship group against the enemy.

Remember that these claims are coming just one day after Ukrainian President Poroshenko claimed that 70% of Russian forces in Ukraine had retreated back to Russia. But while he was giving that press conference, Security Services spokesman Colonel Lysenko was simultaneously claiming that more attacks had been launched against Ukrainian positions (see yesterday’s coverage for details).

Do The Ukrainian People Want President Poroshenko To Negotiate With Russia?

This week on The Interpreter podcast Boston College Professor Matt Sienkiewicz and The Interpreter’s managing editor James Miller
discuss James’ recent trip to Ukraine, the reform efforts underway
there, and the possibility of a ceasefire — or even a permanent peace —
in eastern Ukraine.

Listen to it in a new window here.

Separatist Leader Rejects President Poroshenko’s Offer For Eastern Ukraine

Yesterday Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that rebel-held territory in Ukraine would be granted a special status and would be given greater autonomy, but that territory would be part of Ukraine and inside the country’s current borders. That offer has been rejected by a key separatist leader. RFE/RL reports:

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s offer of “special status” within Ukraine for the breakaway eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk is insufficient, says a senior figure in the separatist leadership in Donetsk.

Aleksandr Karaman, deputy prime minister of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, told RFE/RL on September 9 that the separatist government has decided that any negotiations with Kyiv must “be based on the principle of the sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic.”

He said the people of the region have made their decision in favor of independence. “The point of no return has already been passed” and “too many people have died” to be able to talk about the region remaining within Ukraine, Karaman said.

Russia Plans To Move ISS Survival Training To Occupied Crimea

The Russian state-owned news agency ITAR-TASS reports that the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) is planning to their relocate cosmonaut survival training programme to a naval base in Sevastopol, Russian-occupied Crimea.

The press service official pointed out, “Sevastopol may soon become a space training center again. Cosmonauts’ training sessions will, possibly, resume in the water area of the main base of the Black Sea Fleet.”

Yuri Lonchakov, Head of the Cosmonauts’ Training Center, said previously that there were plans to hold survival training sessions in Crimea for cosmonauts. “We are also planning, if it works out, to hold sea and mountain survival training,” he said. It is also planned to revive a cosmonauts’ post-flight rehabilitation center near Yevpatoria, Lonchankov added.

If the move goes ahead, there will be major consequences for the International Space Station programme, which depends on Russian spacecraft for ferrying astronauts to and from the ISS.

US, European and Japanese astronauts would face a diplomatically difficult situation if they want to avoid appearing to recognise Russia’s annexation of the Crimea by travelling to Sevastopol without Ukrainian visas. 

Ars Technica notes:

If the foreign crew refuses to travel to Crimea, the astronauts would fail their training and would be disqualified from their trip to the International Space Station (ISS), which is due for a routine crew replacement.

Encircled Ukrainian Forces In Debaltsevo Reportedly Shelled
Ukraine’s TSN reports that journalist Yuriy Butusov, who edits Censor.NET, has told them that several Ukrainian units, who are trapped in an encirclement near Debaltsevo, in the Donetsk region, are being shelled with artillery.
Strelkov Gives Press Conference

Igor Girkin, aka Strelkov, the infamous separatist military leader and former Russian intelligence agent (he himself says FSB, others GRU), who left Ukraine last month amidst an apparent reshuffle in DNR leadership, has just given a press conference in Russia, sat beside political theorist Anatoly El Murid.

For further excerpts from Strelkov’s press conference and analysis, see “Is Col. Strelkov Making a Comeback or Has He Been Tamed?”
Russia Says Second ‘Humanitarian Convoy’ Waiting At Border
With far less fanfare and attention than last time, a second convoy of white-painted military trucks, declared to be carrying humanitarian aid, has arrived at the Ukrainian border. 

The trucks are now waiting in the Russian town of Donetsk, on the Russian side of the border crossing with Ukraine’s Izvarino.

Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reports (translated by The Interpreter):

A second convoy carrying humanitarian aid for the inhabitants of south-eastern Ukraine is now in the Rostov region, reported the deputy head of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, Vladimir Stepanov.

“The humanitarian aid is in the town of Donetsk in the Rostov region. There are food products and all necessities for maintaining daily life. That, water purifying equipment and power generators,” he said.

At the end of August a meeting was held between the head of the Russian Red Cross, delegates from the ICRC in Russia, and delegates from the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. The parties discussed, among other issues, the delivery of a second consignment of Russian humanitarian aid to Ukraine. An agreement was reached on the joint escort of the convoy in Russian territory by members of the Russian Red Cross and ICRC.