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#MH17: Abbott and police frustrated over lack of access to plane crash site


Australian Associated PressAustralian PM Abbott said it was a 'confused situation on the ground' but a third attempt would be made. Photograph: Gary Ramage/Newspix/REXAustralian PM Abbott said it was a ‘confused situation on the ground’ but a third attempt would be made. Photograph: Gary Ramage/Newspix/REX

Tony Abbott and police are frustrated with both the Ukraine government and pro-Russian militia over a lack of access to the MH17 crash site.

For the second day running an unarmed Australian and Dutch police contingent was forced to turn around due to shelling and gunfire before reaching the area toward Ukraine’s eastern border where the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was downed on 17 July.

Abbott, who met with the national security committee of cabinet on Tuesday, said it was a “confused situation on the ground” but a third attempt would be made.

“There is fighting and it’s not just the separatists, it’s the Ukrainian government as well,” he said on Tuesday. Both sides had made a commitment to use “their best endeavours” to get the site safe enough for the Dutch-Australian team.

“And it’s high time those commitments were honoured.”

Alexander Hug, the deputy head of a monitoring team from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, expressed his team’s frustration and anger.

“We are sick and tired of being interrupted by gunfights, despite the fact that we have agreed that there should be a ceasefire,” he said.

Dutch police chief Gerard Bouman believes the chances the police can recover all the remains and evidence is “not very good”.

Abbott spoke with his Malaysian counterpart, Najib Razak, on Tuesday afternoon and the leaders agreed on their “absolute determination and commitment” to gain access to the site.

The Ukrainian military has seized back a number of villages in the country’s east with a continuing show of strength, including tanks and shelling. However, a spokesman for Ukraine’s national security council denied Ukrainian forces were fighting within the 20km radius around the crash site in the Donetsk region and blamed the shelling on pro-Russian forces.

Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, and its special envoy, Angus Houston, have met the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, to push for an exclusion zone and humanitarian corridor.

Bishop also wants the Ukrainian parliament to this week ratify a deployment agreement she has signed with her counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, that would allow Australia to send in armed police or soldiers.

Ukraine and the 11 countries which lost 298 citizens – including up to 39 Australian residents – have also agreed to set up a joint team of prosecutors to examine possible criminal charges against those who downed the plane, which is believed to have been shot down by pro-Russian separatists using a surface-to-air missile launcher.

Europe’s judicial cooperation agency, Eurojust, will be involved in the process.

Dutch investigators are expected to release an initial report on the plane’s black box recorders this week.

US President Barack Obama and European leaders are considering toughening up sanctions against Russia, particularly in the areas of access to capital markets, defence, dual-use goods and technology.

An Essential poll of almost 2,000 Australian voters released on Tuesday found 62% of voters believe the federal government should impose trade sanctions on Russia. Only 29% of voters said Russian leader Vladimir Putin should be allowed to attend the G20 leaders summit in Brisbane in November.

Meanwhile, Abbott’s personal standing amongst voters has been boosted following his handling of the MH17 crisis, with the latest Newspoll showing him drawing level with the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, as preferred prime minister.

The Guardian.

The Belarusians fighting on both sides of the Ukraine conflict


‘Divisions over Belarus’s future are being played out in Ukraine, where some Belarusians are volunteering to fight for Kiev’s sovereignty, while others have joined the pro-Russian separatists. BelarusDigest reports’.

Vadzim Smok for BelarusDigest, part of the New East networkDebaltsevo in Ukraine's Donetsk region was shelled by Ukrainian government forces last week. Photograph: Dzhavakhadze Zurab/Itar-Tass Photo/CorbisDebaltsevo in Ukraine’s Donetsk region was shelled by Ukrainian government forces last week. Photograph: Dzhavakhadze Zurab/Itar-Tass Photo/Corbis

For years, Belarusians have been divided over whether the future of their country should involve closer relations with Russia or the European Union.

Belarus is tied to Russia politically, economically and even linguistically. Under Moscow’s sphere of influence, maintaining the country’s independence has involved a careful balancing act for President Alexander Lukashenko since he came to power 20 years ago.

But in a poll published by the Institute for Independent Social and Economic Political Research (IISEPS) in December 2013, 36.4% of Belarusians were in favour of closer ties with Russia, against 44.6% in favour of the EU. In March, as the crisis in Ukraine escalated, that figure changed to 51.5% in favour of further integration with Russia, over 32.9% choosing integration with the EU.

With opinion divided in the way, it is perhaps unsurprising that Belarusian nationals have reportedly been appearing as volunteers on both sides of the conflict in Ukraine.

Fighting for Ukraine

Earlier this month, Belarusian and Ukrainian media reported that a Belarusian military unit called Pahonia has been training in the Volyn region of north-western Ukraine, in preparation for combat with pro-Ukrainian forces battling pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east.

The would-be fighters did not reveal their names, fearing potential pressure from the KGB, Belarus’s state security agency, for themselves and those they left at home. But Ukrainian officials say many Belarusians have contacted them to join the unit.

Deputy head of the Volyn City Council, Igor Guź, told the Belarusian news agency BelaPAN that the unit was formed as part of an initiative of the Right Alliance nationalist youth organisation, which has cooperated with Belarusian opposition youth groups for years.

All of the volunteers are less than 30 years-old and many are believed to work with Belarusian NGOs. The Malady Front, an opposition organisation, also told BelaPAN that some of its members have made their way to Ukraine.

“After we announced the unit’s formation, about 50 people showed up and contacted us to join it,” Guź said. “Sure, there are members of the Belarus KGB among them, but we will figure out a way of how to deal with it [later].”

In an interview with the Russian Rosbalt news agency, an anonymous Pahonia fighter said they had crossed the Belarus-Ukraine border legally. If questioned on their return home about what they were doing in Ukraine, they will answer that they were working in Kiev, the volunteer said.

“We don’t tell anyone about it, people would not understand. Only our closest relatives know that we went to war,” he added.

It is not known whether any of these volunteers have seen combat yet, but Semion Semenchenko, leader of the pro-Ukrainian Donbass volunteer battalion, had previously confirmed that 15 Belarusians joined them in order to fight against pro-Russian forces.

The Pahonia volunteers have said they decided to help Ukrainians in the fight against Russia because they believe Belarus may face the same threat in the future:

When Georgians said that Ukraine will be the next, nobody believed them. Lukashenko is quite smart, but Moscow will do away with him sooner or later. And we hope our Ukrainian brothers will help us just as we help them now. We are not being paid any money here,” an anonymous volunteer said.

“When Georgians said that Ukraine will be the next, nobody believed them”.

Anton Herashchenko, aide to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, told independent Belarusian radio station Euroradio that “there indeed are Belarusian citizens who want to fight against the terrorists in Ukraine”, but said “Ukrainian legislation does not allow for the use of foreign units.” He said if they still wanted to fight, “they can easily obtain Ukrainian citizenship.”

Fighting for the separatists

There have also been reports of Belarusians on the other side of the conflict. They too seek to keep their identities under wraps, after the KGB threatened criminal cases against them for being mercenaries.

In May, Ukrainian security services were said to have detained a Belarusian citizen named Aleh Šabalin, who was accused of having links to pro-Russia radical groups and carrying out preparations for a terrorist act.

Belarus’s foreign ministry denied he had been detained, and said that he had been a witness in the case, not the accused. Later reports said he and others had been released. It is not possible to independently verify the claims.

However, Natallia Krasouskaja has become perhaps the most high-profile person claiming to be Belarusian in the pro-Russian camp. In YouTube videos, she claims she is from Barysaŭ, in the Minsk region, and came to Ukraine in May to support the separatist forces.

Showing her Belarusian passport and addressing Lukashenko, she proclaims in one video that the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) has the backing of the Belarusian people.

The Belarusian authorities are not as enthused. As Krasouskaja notes in a later dispatch, the Belarusian KGB called her mother to inform her that they have filed a criminal case against her. She added that other Belarusian nationals in the DNR forces have also had criminal cases opened against them.

Lukashenko’s rhetoric

Meanwhile, back in Belarus, it seems that Minsk is trying to learn as much as possible from the Ukraine conflict, and protect itself against any such violence within its own borders.

On the international stage, Lukashenko performs a balancing act between his country’s allegiance with Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, while asserting Belarusian sovereignty, and maintaining good relations with Ukraine, despite Moscow’s best efforts to prevent this.

For example, though Belarus did move towards closer ties with Moscow by joining the Eurasian Economic Union of former Soviet states in May, it refused to join Russia’s trade war with Ukraine this month. Whenever he speaks about either side of the conflict in Ukraine, Lukashenko tends to be ambiguous, mainly urging all sides to end the fighting and restore Slavic unity.

At home, fear of combatants returning as ‘agents of foreign influence’ is leading Belarusian authorities to tighten security measures in an attempt to ensure stability, particularly ahead of the 2015 presidential election. Belarus has not had free elections since Lukashenko was voted in in 1994, but opposition groups are active and the situation in Ukraine may be an unwelcome complication.

In July the government amended its anti-terrorist legislation, which includes a section on financing terrorism, increased penalties for the recruitment of mercenaries as well as for training individuals with the purpose of having them participate in terrorist acts.

Lukashenko’s speeches have become increasingly loaded with security rhetoric. He has been urging the authorities to strengthen Belarusian sovereignty on the basis of a strong economy and a heightened level of international authority, as he seeks to retain full control of the domestic agenda.

On 22 April, in his annual address to the nation, Lukashenko ordered Belarusian security services to closely monitor and control those who promotes the “Russian issue” in Belarus, and immediately curb these kinds of discussions, regardless of who starts them.

A version of this article first appeared on BelarusDigest


The Guardian.

Pavlo Klimkin: The bitter lessons of #MH17


By Pavlo Klimkin.Debris lies at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people in eastern Ukraine.Debris lies at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people in eastern Ukraine.

Editor’s note: Pavlo Klimkin is the Foreign Minister of Ukraine. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) — During the last four months, the people of Ukraine have been fighting for their freedom, independence and European path in a war started by Russia-backed terrorists and their accomplices.

Ukrainian military forces suffer heavy losses in battles against terrorists equipped with the newest Russian weaponry. We’ve seen reports of the pro-Russian thugs shooting women and children, cynically calling it a “protection of the Russian-speaking population.”

The price we are paying to bring peace back to the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine is too high. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has proposed the decentralization of power as part of his peace plan. It means more freedom, more economic autonomy and more opportunities to use languages spoken in a particular community for every region.

Ukraine has also demonstrated its genuine willingness to resolve this crisis through negotiations and compromises. Our armed forces have shown exceptional restraint during their military operations in order to avoid casualties among peaceful civilians and prevent destruction of their towns and villages. Our unilateral cease-fire in the zone of the conflict had lasted from June 20 to June 30, during which 27 Ukrainian servicemen, from all over Ukraine, were killed by the bandits.

On July 17 we believe the terrorists fired at the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, cutting short the lives of almost 300 people. This was a tragic wake-up call to the whole world. From now on Russian exporters of terrorism bring tragedy and tears to people across the planet — from the Netherlands to Australia.

Ukrainians, knowing too well the bitterness of loss, sincerely share grief with the families of the deceased. Our government is conducting, together with a team of international experts, a thorough investigation of the circumstances of this heinous act of terrorism. There is already incontrovertible evidence that the airliner was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile system that had arrived from Russia.

Pro-Russian militants block the way behind Dutch and Australian forensic teams on their way to the crash site of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 28, 2014 in Donetsk. © AFPPro-Russian militants block the way behind Dutch and Australian forensic teams on their way to the crash site of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 28, 2014 in Donetsk. © AFP

For the first time since 1983, when a Soviet jet fighter deliberately shot down a South Korean Boeing 747, Russia stands entangled in such a horrendous tragedy. We remember that an objective investigation of that catastrophe was made possible only 10 years later, after the USSR collapsed. We would not like to have to wait that long to learn the truth about the tragedy of MH17.

Indeed, the guilty must be promptly punished.

We are encouraged with the growing understanding in both the West and the East of the nature of terrorism in eastern Ukraine. While U.S. senators and European Union ministers already consider designating the Donetsk People’s Republic and its Luhansk twin as terrorist organizations, we expect Russia to halt its support to terrorists. Since most of them are Russian citizens and “former” security service officers, we also urge Moscow to take them away from Ukraine. They must go home.

Russian sponsorship of terrorism in Ukraine amply demonstrates that in the 21st century any regional conflict invariably poses a threat to global security.

International and internal terrorism, as well as unbridled export of conventional and high-tech weaponry, have no regard for state borders, national sovereignty or human lives.

Ukraine has been consistently advocating not only international control of nuclear weapons, but today we also stand for the creation of a universal mechanism for international control of conventional arms.

We strive for a world based on the respect for international law and trust between nations.

CNN.com.

Special Report: Where pro-Russian separatists get their weapons


By Thomas Grove and Warren Strobel.
Ukrainian servicemen stand near weapons, seized from pro-Russian separatists, near Slaviansk in this July 8, 2014 file photo. Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich/FilesUkrainian servicemen stand near weapons, seized from pro-Russian separatists, near Slaviansk in this July 8, 2014 file photo. Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich/Files

(Reuters) – On the last day of May, a surface-to-air rocket was signed out of a military base near Moscow where it had been stored for more than 20 years.

According to the ornate Cyrillic handwriting in the weapon’s Russian Defence Ministry logbook, seen by Reuters, the portable rocket, for use with an Igla rocket launcher, was destined for a base in Rostov, some 50 km (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border. In that area, say U.S. officials, lies a camp for training Ukrainian separatist fighters.

Three weeks later the rocket and its logbook turned up in eastern Ukraine, where government troops seized them from pro-Russian separatists.

The logbook, which is more than 20 pages long, records that rocket 03181 entered service on May 21, 1993, and had regular tests as recently as 2005 to make sure it was in fighting form. The seal of the Russian Defence Ministry has been stamped over the signature sending the weapon to Rostov.

A copy of the log was passed to a diplomat in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. Reuters was unable to verify its authenticity with the Russian military, and Moscow has consistently denied arming the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Igla and its logbook are just one indication that weapons are flowing from Russia into Ukraine. Interviews with American officials, diplomats in Kiev, and Russian military analysts paint a picture of a steady and ongoing flow. These people say weapons – from small arms to armored personnel carriers, tanks and sophisticated missile systems – have flooded into the region since May, fueling the violence.

In an interview with Reuters last week, a separatist leader said that Russia may have supplied the separatists with BUK rockets, which were used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. The destruction of the civilian passenger plane over eastern Ukraine on July 17 killed nearly 300 people.

Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, told Reuters: “I knew that a BUK came from Luhansk (in east Ukraine) … I heard about it. I think they sent it back. Because I found out about it at exactly the moment that I found out that this tragedy (of MH17) had taken place. They probably sent it back in order to remove proof of its presence.”

Armed pro-Russian separatists stand guard in the eastern Ukrainian town of Torez on July 21, 2014. © AFP.Armed pro-Russian separatists stand guard in the eastern Ukrainian town of Torez on July 21, 2014. © AFP.

Three U.S. government officials said the weapons flow from Russia increased dramatically several weeks ago in response to successes by Ukrainian government forces, including the recapture of Slaviansk, a separatist stronghold in eastern Ukraine. The new shipments included anti-aircraft systems designed to combat Ukraine’s air power, those officials said.

“If you trace the increase in supplies and materials … we’ve seen in the last few weeks culminating in this tragic incident, it’s clearly in the face of successes by the Ukrainian forces,” said a senior U.S. official, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity.

Moscow, which has said it is willing to cooperate with an international investigation into the loss of MH17, has denied sending any BUK missiles to the rebels. It has said Washington is attempting to destabilize Russia through events in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this week that Moscow was hopeful that monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe could be deployed along Russia’s border with Ukraine to dispel suspicions that Russia is aiding the rebels.

“We hope that this will dispel suspicions that are regularly being voiced against us, that those (border) checkpoints controlled by the militias from the Ukrainian side are used for massive troops and weaponry deployment from Russia to Ukraine,” he said.

Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine maintain most of their weapons have come from captured Ukrainian armories or have been seized directly from the Ukrainian military on the battlefield.

BORDER SKIRMISHES

In the weeks following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, tensions grew on the south and east frontiers of Ukraine. Kiev’s border guard agency said it stopped thousands of Russian citizens who tried to enter Ukrainian territory carrying weapons or bags full of camouflage.

Separatists started firing on border guard positions, according to Ukrainian officials. On May 29, the Stanychno-Luhanske border guard division in Ukraine’s Luhansk province was attacked by 300 gunmen with small arms and grenade launchers. Rebels seized control of the facility after five days of fighting. Other border guard divisions and checkpoints along Ukraine’s more than 2,000-km border with Russia also fell.

Separatists were able to ferry in people and equipment almost unhindered.

That led to more ambitious attacks on Ukrainian targets. On June 14, for instance, separatists shot down a Ukrainian IL-76 military transport jet coming in to land near the eastern city of Luhansk. All 49 people on board died; charred pieces of the fuselage and engines littered the rolling wheat fields outside the village of Novohannivka.

The weapon used that day, according to separatists who later spoke about the attack, was an Igla rocket launcher, sometimes known generically as a MANPAD, for man-portable air-defence system.

The origin of the weapon remains unclear: There is no evidence this was connected to the Igla rocket seized by Ukrainian forces a week later along with its log book. Iglas were used extensively in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia in the 1990s and are easy to transport and common in eastern Ukraine. Videos, posted online after Ukrainian troops drove separatists out of Slaviansk on July 7, show boxes marked 9M39 – the model of missile used with an Igla – stacked in the basement of the mayor’s office.

The day after the IL-76 was shot down, Valery Bolotov, top commander of the Luhansk People’s Republic, claimed responsibility. “I can’t tell you anything more detailed on the IL-76, but I will repeat that the IL-76 was hit by our militia, the air defense forces of the Luhansk People’s Republic,” Bolotov, who wore a camouflage T-shirt, said in a video posted on YouTube.

Pro-Russian separatist commander Igor Strelkov takes part in a news conference in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, in this July 10, 2014 file photo. Credit: Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev/Files.Pro-Russian separatist commander Igor Strelkov takes part in a news conference in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, in this July 10, 2014 file photo. Credit: Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev/Files.

The commander said that separatists in Luhansk controlled nearly 80 km of the border from Dolzhanksy to Izvaryna at that time, but denied getting weapons from Moscow, saying they had been pillaged from Ukrainian army and police store rooms.

A separatist officer in Slaviansk who used the nom de guerre Anton also said the Igla in the IL-76 attack was not Russian but a weapon seized from Ukrainians. He declined to say whether the separatists received other weapons from Russia.

Alexander Gureyev, a Russia supporter from Luhansk, told Reuters last week that all the separatists’ weapons had been found in local arms warehouses.

“We had to boost our arsenal,” he said. “If you have small-caliber weapons and they’re shooting at you with Howitzers – that’s not right. But now they’re getting it from us with Howitzers, mortars, tanks. It’s given them something to think about.”

He declined to detail the origin of heavy weapons, but said separatists were “thrilled” when the IL-76 was shot down. “It was like a holiday in the city. People thought things would change and that with such a success people would stop dying in this conflict.”

He said the Luhansk rebels had decided to station anti-aircraft sharpshooters at the nearby airfield in retribution for the deaths of at least eight people in what he called a Ukrainian airstrike on the rebels’ headquarters in Luhansk.

“They simply flew above us, we were already fed up with it all and decided that we would start shooting at everything,” he said. “We simply took anything out of the sky that flew above us.”

“RUSSIAN BONEYARDS”

Not everyone believes the separatists’ assertions that their weapons had been seized from Ukrainian troops.

A diplomat said that arms had started to come in from Russia regularly around the time of the independence vote in Crimea in May. In the past couple of weeks an increasing amount of materiel had arrived “in reaction to the collapse of Slaviansk,” he said. That included T64 tanks from stocks of old weapons discarded after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Anton Lavrov, an independent Russian military analyst said: “It would be stupid to deny that Russia supports the separatists. The main question is only the scale of this support.”

He said pro-Russian separatists have been found in possession of a Kamaz Mustang military transport vehicle that is not used in Ukraine and cannot be bought there. Reuters could not independently verify that.

“There was a serious escalation in the middle of June, when heavy weapons began to appear among the separatists, including tanks and artillery in such quantities that it would be hard to attribute it to seizures from Ukrainian stockpiles.”

Another independent Russian military analyst, Alexander Golts, also said the rebels had received arms from Russia. He described it as “all old Soviet weaponry.” He said rocket launchers were spotted in April or the beginning of May very early in the conflict.

Washington is in no doubt Russia is the source of many of the weapons. At least 20 tanks and armored personnel carriers have crossed the border from Russia since the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17, a senior U.S. intelligence official said.

In a media briefing on July 22, U.S. intelligence officials also released satellite photographs of what they said was a training site for Ukrainian separatists near the Russian city of Rostov. The photographs appear to show increased activity at the site between June 19 and July 21.

A Moscovite volunteer called Valery Kolotsei, 37, said he joined the rebels in Ukraine’s Luhansk region for a few weeks in May and June. He said he had connected with other volunteers over Vkontakte, Russia’s version of Facebook. They had gathered, he said, in the Rostov region, where U.S. officials say a camp for training Ukrainian separatist fighters sits.

Kolotsei said the rebel group he joined used a motley array of weapons, including a mortar produced in 1944.

“OUT OF CONTROL”

Before the MH17 incident, U.S. spy agencies issued multiple warnings that Russia was shipping heavy weaponry, including rockets, to Ukrainian separatists, U.S. security officials said.

The officials said that before MH-17 went down, the United States had become aware separatists possessed SA-11 BUK missiles, but believed they were all inoperable. Officials acknowledged, too, that U.S. intelligence agencies do not know who fired the missile or when and how separatists may have obtained it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has firmly denied his country had any involvement in the fate of MH17. Putin and the separatists blamed Ukraine for the disaster, with some suggesting a Ukrainian missile team brought down the passenger aircraft.

Ukraine rejects such claims. Vladyslav Seleznyov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military operations in eastern Ukraine, said: “The Ukrainian army has portable missile systems of the Igla and Osa type and the complex BUK. However, they are not used in this campaign because there is no need for them.” The rebels have no aircraft, he said.

Despite the MH17 tragedy, the conflict shows little sign of diminishing. Another U.S. official said: “There are indications that some groups feel betrayed by Moscow not doing enough. Others don’t like the way this is headed.” He said some rebels fear the fighting has “gotten out of control.”

Olexander Motsyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, told Reuters in an interview that his country has evidence Russia is preparing to supply separatist rebels with a powerful new multiple-rocket system known as the Tornado. According to military websites, the system first saw service earlier this decade and is an improvement on Russia’s older Grad missile launcher.

The evidence for this, Motsyk said, includes satellite photographs as well as intercepts of telephone conversations. He declined to be more specific.

Referring to the flow of weapons from Russia into eastern Ukraine, he said: “Nothing has changed after the downing of the civilian airliner.”

(Grove reported from Donetsk, Strobel from Washington; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Jason Szep, Matt Spetalnick and Phillip Stewart in Washington, Elizabeth Piper in Kiev, Alissa de Carbonnel in Moscow, and Maria Tsvetkova, Anton Zverev and Peter Graff in Donetsk; Editing by Simon Robinson and Richard Woods)


Reuters.

Dmitry Tymchuk’s military blog: No doubt who shot down #MH17


Pro-Russian militants block the road behind Dutch and Australian forensic teams on their way to the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 28, 2014 in Donetsk. © AFPPro-Russian militants block the road behind Dutch and Australian forensic teams on their way to the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 28, 2014 in Donetsk. © AFP

Kyiv Post Editor’s Note: To counter Russian propaganda lies about the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula on Feb. 27, Dmitry Tymchuk has set up the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv. He served in the Army air defense from 1995-1998, the National Guard from 1998-2000 and in the Defense Ministry in subsequent years on missions to Iraq, Lebanon and Kosovo. His blogs are translated into English by Voices of Ukraine. The Kyiv Post has not independently verified his findings, but will correct any misinformation brought to our attention at news@kyivpost.com or 38-044-591-3344 or any of our contacts at http://www.kyivpost.com/contacts.

Brothers and sisters!

Here’s the Summary for July 28, 2014

The bad news:

  1. Nevertheless, “Putin’s distemper” is a very cruel thing. And it seems that the Head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov is somewhere at its penultimate stage.

It is difficult to say whether he still recognizes his wife or if he can defecate by himself, but he is absolutely sure that what is happening in Ukraine is directed against Russia. In particular, Lavrov claimed today that the Maidan that took place in Ukraine is a “geopolitical project against Russia.”

I understand that all the free-from-lying time Mr. Lavrov has, he spends shaking up cupboards and peeking under sofas looking for Banderites and CIA agents.

I think it is no longer possible to help him. It remains only to warn diplomats from other countries that they should be more careful with Lavrov at any international get-togethers. F*ck knows how this infection spreads.

  1. Today, Aidar Battalion reported: for the past 24 hours, the battalion has incurred serious losses. Four of our border control guards died yesterday as a result of the artillery shelling from the Russian territory. Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers and the National Guard keep dying.

These guys have fulfilled their duty to the very end. The freed land of Donbas must always remember this blood shed by patriots. Eternal memory to the heroes.

  1. Russia continues to build up the number of its troops near the state border with Ukraine.

In addition to the units previously concentrated at the border, [new] units from other regions of Russia are currently being deployed. Earlier, the movement of the divisions of the 32nd Motorized Rifle Brigade and the 24th Separate Brigade of the GRU of the General Staff were recorded from Novosibirsk Oblast [region].

This weekend, we documented the redeployment of units from the Russian 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade [MRB] to the state border with Ukraine. It looked strange, given that the Brigade’s permanent place of deployment is in the Murmansk Oblast [region] of Russia [in the northwest]. Today, however, these data have been confirmed.

The 200th MRB has tanks, BM-21 “Grad” and BM-27 “Hurricane” MLRS, 2SZ “Acacia” self-propelled artillery at its disposal. That is everything that Putin’s troops have unleashed on Ukraine in recent weeks.

The good news:

  1. The ATO forces took Debaltseve and the elevated Hora Savur Mohyla, and entered into Shakhtersk, Torez [Donetsk Oblast], and Lutugino [Luhansk Oblast]. Pervomaisk and Snizhne are currently being freed, Horlivka is next.

In fact, two strategic objectives are currently being resolved in the ATO. The first [objective] is to finally “separate” the DNR and LNR [Donetsk- and Luhansk People’s Republics]. The second [objective] is to fully unblock and fortify our divisions in the sector along the border, and to conduct the personnel rotation [in those units]. Not as fast as we would like [it to be], but still, these tasks are getting done.

  1. The Russian version of the Malaysian Boeing-777 crash, born in the depths of a Russian propaganda office under the name of the “General Staff of the Russian Federation,” is crumbling before our eyes.

Experts from the international commission that is studying the causes of the airplane crash reported: the data from the flight recorders of the aircraft indicate that a rocket blow was the cause of the destruction and the crash. And today, the chief designer of the Su-25 fighter jet Volodymyr Babak (since it is well-known that Russia insists that the “Boeing” was shot down by a Ukrainian Su-25) announced that the passenger airliner could not have been brought down by this fighter jet–and clearly explained why this was extremely unlikely in the technical sense.

Thus, the circle closes. It is obvious that the plane got struck by a surface-to-air missile system [SAM], and there is enough data regarding who had this SAM in their possession.

We have no doubts as to whose fault this is, but the international community demands concrete evidence. And this evidence does not keep you waiting.

  1. Five-party talks were held between the U.S., France, and the heads of government of Germany, the UK and Italy. The result–an agreement on new sanctions against Russia. Now, finally: sectoral sanctions. An informal assessment of the effect of these sanctions has already been publicized–up to 100 billion Euros over two years.

At the same time, Russia lost the court case at the Hague, initiated by former Yukos shareholders, and it will need to reimburse them $50 billion in damages.

In Russian literature, in these cases one uses the interjection, “Oh!”

In a Hollywood blockbuster [one uses], “Oops…!”

Kyiv Post.