Tag Archives: Russian President Vladimir Putin

#Ukraine crisis: Rebels push into port of #Novoazovsk

 Zakaria Yahia.Novoazovsk was hit by shells on WednesdayNovoazovsk was hit by shells on Wednesday.

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have pushed their way into the port of Novoazovsk, threatening to open up a new front in the war.

The mayor of the town on the Sea of Azov confirmed rebels had entered, as jubilant rebel supporters shared photos of advancing tanks on social media.

The rebels have been trying for weeks to break out of a near-encirclement further north in Donetsk.

Russia denies it is covertly supporting them on the ground.

The fighting came hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised a “roadmap” for peace in the east.

He was speaking in Belarus late on Tuesday after holding his first direct talks on the crisis since June with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Putin said Russia, which denies supplying the rebels with weapons and covert forces, would assist with a dialogue, but he insisted that stopping the fighting was a matter for Ukraine alone.

‘One hundred vehicles’

In a brief phone call, mayor Oleg Sidorkin told AP news agency the rebels had penetrated into Novoazovsk. There were no immediate details on the size of the rebel force but Russian media reports said Ukrainian forces had retreated in a hurry.

Earlier on Wednesday, rebel forces fired at least ten shells into Novoazovsk, a town of 12,700 people, AP reported from the scene. Four people were wounded in shelling the previous day, the mayor was quoted as saying.

Heavy weapons are routinely used by both sides in the fighting which has raged since mid-April, when Kiev sent in security forces to put down the rebellions in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Seven villages to the north of Novoazovsk were also captured by the separatists, officials in Kiev said.

national guardsman have been defending NovoazovskNational guardsman have been defending Novoazovsk.Soldiers fighting in Ilovaisk on TuesdaySoldiers fighting in Ilovaisk on Tuesday.

Novoazovsk lies far to the south of Donetsk region, near the port city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian security forces dislodged rebels in June.

Closer to the city of Donetsk itself on Wednesday, Ukrainian security forces said a column of 100 vehicles had been seen travelling in a southerly direction from Starobesheve to Telmanove.

These vehicles, which included tanks, armoured troop carriers, Grad multiple and rocket launchers systems, were marked only with “white circles or triangles”, the Anti-Terrorist Operation press centre said.

An unnamed Ukrainian defence source told AFP news agency that the vehicles had to be Russian.

Seeking to verify the report, an AFP journalist found traces of caterpillar tracks pointing south on the road between Starobesheve and Telmanove.

The journalist also heard explosions in the area and was told by a local resident that there had been fighting at Starobesheve overnight.

War in eastern Ukraine: The human cost

  • At least 2,119 people had been killed and 5,043 wounded since mid-April, a UN report on 7 August said.
  • 951 civilians have been killed in Donetsk region alone, the official regional authorities said on 20 August.
  • Official casualty counts only record certified deaths while in some particularly dangerous parts of the war zone, such as Luhansk region, victims are said to have been buried informally, for instance in gardens.
  • Rebels (and some military sources) accuse the government of concealing the true numbers of soldiers killed.
  • 155,800 people have fled elsewhere in Ukraine while at least 188,000 have gone to Russia.

‘Are we fighting?’

Rebel commanders in Donetsk told Russian media that 129 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered at Starobesheve on Wednesday, in a claim that could not be verified independently.

According to the rebels, a further 94 soldiers surrendered to them on Wednesday further east, in the town of Kuteinykove.

Meanwhile, the two sides are still battling for control of the town of Ilovaisk, amid claim and counter-claim over its capture and the number of casualties.

Accusations that Russia is sending both weapons and men into eastern Ukraine gathered force this week when 10 Russian paratroopers were captured on Ukrainian territory, near the Russian border.

Russian soldiers was captured in Ukrainian territoryRussian soldiers was captured in Ukrainian territory.

President Putin sought to play down the incident when he spoke to reporters in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Wednesday, where he met Mr Poroshenko.

“From what I have heard, they were patrolling the border and could have ended up on Ukrainian territory,” he said.

However, liberal Russian business newspaper Vedomosti raised concern on Wednesday that Russia was waging a covert war on the rebel side in eastern Ukraine.

Map of conflictIn an editorial (in Russian) headlined, “Are we fighting?”, it pointed to the case of the captured paratroopers as well as mysterious funerals for Russian soldiers, some of whom were said officially to have died on training exercises.

The Oslo Times.

Russia accused of new military incursions into Ukrainian territory #RussiaUkraine

Putin denies discussion of ‘peace plan’, saying Ukraine is ‘not our business'; Russians demand to know – are we at war?

 in Kiev.Images released by the Ukrainian anti terrorist operation reportedly showing Russian soldiers who were caught in the Donetsk region. The Russian defence ministry claimed that they mistakenly crossed the border while on patrol. Photograph: EPAImages released by the Ukrainian anti terrorist operation reportedly showing Russian soldiers who were caught in the Donetsk region. The Russian defence ministry claimed that they mistakenly crossed the border while on patrol. Photograph: EPA

Ukraine has accused Russia of new military incursions into its territory, a day after hours of talks between the two countries’ presidents appeared to yield little in the way of concrete results.

Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko had met in Minsk on Tuesday, speaking privately for two hours after several hours of broader round-table talks including EU representatives and the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan. But the two leaders had very different readings of what was agreed.

Ukrainian president Poroshenko claimed that all the heads of state present at the talks, including Putin, had signed up to supporting his “peace plan”, and also said that there was agreement that Ukrainian and Russian border guard services would meet soon to discuss the situation on the border.

Putin, however, said the discussions were “first and foremost [about] economic cooperation” and claimed that all talks about resolving the conflict should be between Kiev and representatives of the eastern regions.

“We did not discuss this matter substantively,” said Putin. “Frankly speaking, we cannot discuss any conditions for a ceasefire or possible agreements between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk. This is not our business; it is a domestic matter of Ukraine itself.”

Putin’s words ignore the fact that the Ukraine has lost control of a section of the border and believes Russian arms and fighters are crossing freely to aid the rebels. There are also increasing fears that regular Russian army units are active in the east.

These have been bolstered with claims of secret funerals for Russian servicemen apparently killed in action in Ukraine, as well as the most concrete evidence yet: the capture of nine serving Russian soldiers on Ukrainian soil. For the first time, sources in Russia’s defence ministry admitted that there were soldiers in Ukraine, but said they had been part of a border patrol that had crossed into Ukrainian territory “by accident”.

Putin admitted that Russian soldiers had been caught in Ukraine, but insisted they had crossed the border accidentally, and compared the incident to Ukrainian soldiers who have crossed the border to escape encirclement by rebel forces.

“After all, Ukrainian service members entered our territory with armoured equipment, and we didn’t have any problems. I hope that in this case, there also will not be any problems with the Ukrainian side,” said Putin.

Ukraine paraded some of the soldiers at a press conference in Kiev on Wednesday The soldiers, dressed in military fatigues, said they had realised since their capture that Russian media was lying about the situation in Ukraine. However, given the circumstances, it was not possible to tell whether the men were speaking freely or under duress.

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko claimed on Wednesday that more Russian soldiers had crossed into Ukraine in five armoured personnel carriers.

“Five armoured infantry carriers and one Kamaz truck  entered Amvrosiyivka with men in them,” Lysenko told journalists in Kiev.

“If this tactical group got lost and accidentally came into Ukraine like the paratroops of the 98th paratroop division then it remains for us to remind them that they can return to Russia, taking an easterly direction,” said Lysenko.

Disquiet in Russia over the country’s ambiguous role is beginning to grow, as more circumstantial evidence of military activity emerges. An editorial in the respected Russian daily Vedomosti on Wednesday said Russian officials had a responsibility to explain whether or not the country was at war.

“Is Russia fighting in Ukraine, and if it is, on what basis? If it’s not, then who has been buried in these fresh graves, and who is being questioned by Ukrainian security services?”


p style=”text-align:right;”>The Guardian.

If Russia is not at war, then who is in those freshly-dug graves? #khpg

Halya Coynash.
Pskov Graves

In its editorial comment, Vedomosti.ru warns that “in the conflict in the south-east of Ukraine the Russian authorities are in danger of repeating the mistakes of the Soviet regime” It asks: “Is Russia fighting in Ukraine and if so, then on what grounds? If not, then who is in those freshly-dug graves or giving testimony at SBU interrogations?”

Even Russian President Vladimir Putin’s KGB predecessors were unable to keep the death of large numbers of people secret, though they certainly tried. Efforts are still underway in Pskov and other parts of Russia to conceal the death or injury of a large number of soldiers sent to fight Russia’s undeclared war against Ukraine. Despite obvious pressure on relatives to keep silent and violence against journalists, it is becoming increasingly clear that many of those previously assumed to have been mercenaries, were soldiers. There are indications that at least some of those who went to fight were paid 250 thousand roubles, a large amount especially for Dagestan, where there is widespread poverty and unemployment.

On Tuesday, Ella Polyakova, member of the Russian President’s Human Rights Council and head of an NGO for the mothers of soldiers told TV Dozhd that she had been informed of around 100 wounded soldiers having been flown to the military medical academy in St Petersburg.  There is no information about how – or where –  they received their injuries and she is currently checking the information.

Polyakova and another member of the council, Sergey Krivenko have written to Russia’s Investigative Committee asking that an investigation be carried out into how 9 contract soldiers from the 18th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, many from Dagestan, died.  The official version is that they died on a shooting range in the Rostov oblast (near the border with Ukraine) on Aug 9 and 11.

Polyakova also told Dozhd that soldiers contracted for service in Dagestan had been paid a lump sum of 250 thousand roubles for taking part in military action in the east of Ukraine.  She cited the head of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers in the Stavropol region, Ludmila Bogatenkova.   In a republic with a high rate of unemployment, the money is a major incentive.

Contract soldiers wounded in Ukraine are, she says, simply dismissed on their return to Russia.  She explains that there are no documents that will confirm that they have taken part in any military action.  “Russia is not waging a war, there is no military action”.

No documentary proof is therefore provided, however Polyakova’s assertions coincide in many details with information coming to light from the relatives of other soldiers.  Many of them have not been in contact since around Aug 17, and there are unfortunately good grounds for fearing that they may have been killed in the fighting that Moscow is continuing to claim it has nothing to do with.

After a number of soldiers were caught by the Ukrainian army, the Russian defence ministry, and later Putin himself, claimed that soldiers might have wandered across the border ‘by accident’.

Since the US and NATO have confirmed the presence of Russian military personnel in Ukraine and that arms and equipment are being sent across the border, this seriously strains credulity.  It also fails to gel with the stories journalists have been hearing from the relatives of soldiers who have not been in touch for the last 10 days.

The relatives of one young soldier say that he had told them that he was at military exercises in the Rostov oblast. When they asked why they couldn’t get through to him by telephone, during the last contact with him a week ago, he avoided answering and simply told them that all was well.

In that case, it almost certainly wasn’t and they received a strange telephone call from Ukraine asking them to come and “collect the body”.

The parents of Ilya Maximov from Saratov have heard nothing at all, and are obviously going crazy with worry.

As reported, it seems more than likely that the so-called humanitarian convoy military trucks, many of which entered Ukraine half-empty were used to carry the bodies of those killed back to Russia.

The funerals of many paratroopers and GRU military intelligence officers have been taking place in the last two days in the Pskov oblast in Russia with the dead buried without any indication of how they died and where.  There are also efforts to stop people finding out.

Perhaps the most disturbing is the behaviour of one of the soldiers’ wives, or somebody pretending to be her.  Novaya Gazeta explains that the wife of Leonid Kichatkin reported his death on Aug 22 on the social network VKontakte.  By the next day Leonid’s page had disappeared, and when Novaya rang the number that had been given, the woman who was supposedly Leonid Kichatkin’s wife insisted that her husband was alive, well and right next to her.  A man then took the phone and confirmed that he was Kichatkin.

The Novaya journalist found Leonid Kichatkin’s newly dug grave in the Vybuty cemetery outside Pskov.  The photo is that seen on his wife’s VKontakte page.

On Wednesday, Dozhd reported that the names, as well as the wreaths and ribbons, have disappeared from the graves of two paratroopers buried on Aug 25: Leonid Kichatkin and Alexander Osipov.

Four journalists, from Dozhd and Telegraf were assaulted and threatened at the cemetery on Tuesday by men who were obviously lying in wait and meaning business.  It is unfortunately likely that bereaved relatives are also being placed under pressure to hide the truth, made even more shameful by attempts to conceal even the deaths of men Moscow sent to fight its dirty war.
Halya Coynash

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

Dmitry Tymchuk’s military blog: Russia loses its last remaining shred of decency #DmitryTymchuk

Dmitry Tymchuk's military blog
Brothers and sisters!

Here’s the Summary for August 26, 2014

The bad news:

[1]. Russia has lost its last remaining shred of decency. The lying, conniving and treachery of the Kremlin leadership goes beyond any limits imaginable. The undeclared war against Ukraine is becoming more and more obvious, even to the most naive of outsider observers.

Yesterday, units of the Russian army were fighting their way into the Donbas by breaking through into Ukrainian territory in two directions at once. The Ukrainian army punched them in the teeth. Russian paratroopers were taken prisoner. The Russian Ministry of Defense declared that the Russian soldiers ended up on the Ukrainian territory “by accident.”

It gets worse. Russian MI-24 helicopters fired unguided missiles at Ukrainian border guards stationed on Ukrainian territory. Four of our border guards were killed, three more wounded.

To say that Moscow’s cynicism is astounding–is to say nothing. For months on end, Russians have been “accidentally” killing Ukrainians on Ukrainian soil and “accidentally” supplying arms to terrorists; they also “accidentally” downed a Malaysian Boeing [MH-17] (while trying to “accidentally” shoot down a Ukrainian AN-26). I think it would only be logical if during Putin’s next visit to any civilized country, he would be accidentally arrested, accidentally tried and accidentally hanged (true, most civilized countries eschew the death penalty … but accidents happen).

In reality, Putin did not invent any “hybrid war” (African countries fought in this war format for half of the 20th century). His accomplishment is that he invented a “war for cowards.” Its essence lies in the fact that, before Putin, even the most cunning and treacherous dictator would somehow be responsible for the aggression he started. Putin is the first to come up with a way to use overwhelming lies and disingenuity to drown the neighboring country in blood, while bearing no responsibility for the slaughter. There is neither intelligence nor strategic brilliance here–only ingrained villainy.

[2]. Moscow is going to push another “humanitarian convoy” into Ukraine.

With his little eyes gleaming like a seasoned kleptomaniac, Sergey Lavrov, head of the Russian MFA and a professional propagandist declared, “Yesterday, we sent an official note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, informing [them] of our intention to prepare the next convoy of humanitarian aid.”

So, these bastards no longer bother to get permission to bring cargo into a foreign country. They simply “inform” of it. Then again, after the first “humanitarian aid” illegally entered into the Donbas, it would have been hard to expect otherwise.

[3]. Ukrainian media spread some sad news–at the current “Customs Union–Ukraine–European Union” meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Putin dedicated “less than 3% of his speech” to the armed conflict in Ukraine.

I’m a bit confused–what is so strange about that? Do you often see a maniac and a murderer flaunting his deeds in public? Like any criminal, VVP [Putin] will savor the details of his self-made Donbas massacre later, in a close circle of henchmen, with his sidekick [Sergey] Shoygu pouring prison chifir, the slag [Dmitry] Kiselyov huddling by the marble Kremlin toilet, and the merry jokester [Vladimir] Zhirinovsky beating on a guitar and singing The Folsom Prison Blues.

In public, Putin cannot afford such luxury.

The good news:

[1]. The situation in the ATO area, unfortunately, gives no cause to launch celebratory fireworks, but neither is there reason to panic and shout ‘all is lost.’

According to our information, adequate measures are being used in the Ilovaisk area–we cannot give out the details (and hope it isn’t a false start). Troubling messages arrive from the south, but we found no confirmation to the reports of some wide-scale “advance” of Russian troops on Novoazovsk (our data shows that clashes are happening in this area, but those involve enemy forces that broke through earlier that have not been destroyed yet–we are currently confirming this information).

At the same time, the ATO forces are carrying out raids, and simultaneously regrouping in several areas of the operation. We hope to see these actions followed by more optimistic reports.

[2]. President Poroshenko, in the meeting with the heads of the Eurasian troika and EU representatives in Minsk, suggested that all parties in the conflict in Ukraine exit from it “while saving face.”

How the current negotiations in Minsk will end, and what result they will give today, if any–that we don’t know. At least, for now. But it is clear that Putin has two options–to leave the situation now, with his hands bloody to the elbows, or to drown in that blood entirely. Hopefully, he understands that in the history of the world, such blood baths have ended well for no one.

[3]. Today, at an urgent meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, it was decided that–security forces will buyout all military equipment produced by Ukroboronprom [Ukrainian Defense Industry] State Enterprise and immediately ship it off to the combat action area. Repair of military equipment from now on will be carried out without delays, and armaments promptly issued from the MOD warehouses on requisition of the ATO forces.

I think that if such a decision had taken place two months ago, the ATO would have gone much better thus far. However, military officials still have a chance to sabotage this useful initiative even now. Let’s hope that will not be the case.

Ukraine cites support for peace plan #RussiaUkraine #Minsk

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gets traditional salt and bread upon arrival in Minsk, Belarus on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Poroshenko arrived in Minsk on Tuesday for discussions with Russia and Ukraine with a view to creating a new political impulse towards finding a political, sustainable solution to the situation in Ukraine. (AP Photo/ Dmitry Brushko)Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gets traditional salt and bread upon arrival in Minsk, Belarus on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Poroshenko arrived in Minsk on Tuesday for discussions with Russia and Ukraine with a view to creating a new political impulse towards finding a political, sustainable solution to the situation in Ukraine. (AP Photo/ Dmitry Brushko)

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — The Interfax news agency is quoting Ukraine’s president as saying the leaders he met with in Minsk, which included Russian President Vladimir Putin, support his peace plan.

It was not immediately clear if the support prefigured a quick end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces.

Putin, whose country is accused by Kiev and the West of arming and supporting the rebels, was to speak to reporters separately.

A father, a volunteer, holds his little daughter as relatives and friends say good-buy to volunteers before they were sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion unit fighting against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. It was the second straight day that attacks were reported in the vicinity of Novoazovsk, which is in eastern Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk region but previously had seen little fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)A father, a volunteer, holds his little daughter as relatives and friends say good-buy to volunteers before they were sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion unit fighting against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. It was the second straight day that attacks were reported in the vicinity of Novoazovsk, which is in eastern Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk region but previously had seen little fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Associated Press.