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#OSCE releases the 12-point protocol agreements reached between #Ukraine, #Russia and #separatists in #Minsk

by OSCE.
(From left to right) representatives of self proclaimed (From left to right) representatives of self proclaimed “People’s Republic of Donetsk”, Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko (L), Donetsk rebel leader Andrei Purgin (2nd L) and “People Republic of Luhansk” Igor Plotnitsky (2nd R) attend talks in Minsk. © AFP

Editor’s note: This is the Kyiv Post’s unofficial translation of the Protocol on ceasefire and other agreements reached by the Trilateral negotiation group in Minsk on Sept. 5. The original in Russian can be found here.


Based on the results of consultations of the Trilateral contact group regarding joint steps towards implementation of the Peace Plan of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and initiatives of President of Russia Vladimir Putin.

As a result of consideration and discussion of the proposals from members of consultations in Minsk on Sept. 1. 2014, the Trilateral contact group composed of representatives from Ukraine, Russian Federation and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an understanding was reached regarding the need to take the following steps:

  1. Provide for immediate and two-sided ceasefire.
  2. Provide monitoring and verification from the side of OSCE of the ceasefire.
  3. Conduct decentralization of power, including through approval of the Law of Ukraine “On temporary order of local self-government in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions” (Law on special status)
  4. Provide permanent monitoring at the Ukrainian-Russian state border, and verification by OSCE, with creation of a safety zone in the areas adjacent to the border in Ukraine and Russian Federation.
  5. Immediately free all hostages and illegally held persons.
  6. Approve a law to prevent persecution and punishment of persons in relation to events that took place in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
  7. Continue an inclusive national dialogue.
  8. Take measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Donbas.
  9. Conduct early local elections in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On temporary order of local self-government in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions” (Law on special status).
  10. Remove illegal military formations, military equipment and militants and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine.
  11. Approve a program for economic development of Donbas and renew the vital functions of the region.
  12. Give guarantees of personal security for participants of consultations.

Members of the Trilateral contact group:

Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini (Signed)

Second President of Ukraine L.D. Kuchma (Signed)

Ambassador of Russian Federation to Ukraine M.Yu.Zurabov (Signed)

A.V. Zakharchenko (Signed)

I.V. Plotnitskiy (Signed)

Kyiv Post.

NY Daily News: The games Putin plays #MH17

“The country that denied invading Crimea now says it had nothing to do with the downing of the Malaysian jet” – Michael Weiss

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Evidence that Kremlin-backed separatists in east Ukraine downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is now so overwhelming as to rule out any other culprit, at least outside the imaginations of conspiracy theorists or professional Kremlin propagandists.

For months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has waged maskirovka warfare in east Ukraine – an old, Soviet-perfected model of destabilizing foreign countries which is characterized by dissimulation, misdirection and plausible deniability, all done with the use of arms-length proxies.

Putin, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, continues to maintain that he has nothing to do with the separatists even as their political leadership has lately visited Moscow begging for more materiel and even opened a satellite office there to coordinate their activities more closely with their master and patron. It also pays to remember that Putin denied invading and annexing Crimea – until he didn’t.

U.S. officials, including one from the Defense Department, have confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the separatists – many of whom are in fact Russian nationals – downed the commercial airliner over the skies of the separatist-controlled region of Donetsk on July 17 using the Buk anti-aircraft missile system. This is a Soviet-era, vehicle-mounted munition with a range of 46,000 feet. The MH17 was blown apart at an altitude of 33,000 feet.

The separatists, who have previously claimed credit for shooting down Ukrainian military planes and helicopters, said they haven’t got the capability to hit an aircraft at the MH17’s altitude. Except that they admitted, albeit privately and inadvertently, that they’d done just that.

The Ukrainian Security Service, or SBU, has leaked a series of what it alleges are intercepted phone conversations from the separatist camp. In one, recorded in the aftermath of the tragedy, a separatist commander named Igor Bezler (or “Bes,” meaning “Demon”) tells Colonel Vasyl Geranin, a man whom the SBU says is an officer of Russia’s military intelligence agency, or GRU: “Just now a plane was hit and destroyed by the Minera Group,” referring to a rebel unit.

A week ago, Bezler admitted in a recorded “press conference” held in Donetsk that separatists had received tanks and armored vehicles from Russia for the purpose of defending Slavyansk, a city that recently was retaken by Ukraine’s military.

Western intelligence officials have told the Financial Times that they have judged the SBU intercepts to be genuine.

Defense experts say that there is no way ragtag insurgents could operate a surface-to-air missile as sophisticated as the Buk. But the rebels are not quite ragtag insurgents.

Their self-proclaimed military commander is a man named Col. Igor Strelkov (also known as Girkin). According to the European Union, which sanctioned him in April, Strelkov is also an officer of the GRU. This means that the entire anti-Kiev insurgency is not just pro-Russian in orientation but overseen and led by an outed Russian spy.

This is a crucial fact that has been obscured in much of the recent media coverage of the war for east Ukraine and just who’s involved in waging it. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said yesterday: “Russia can end this war.” What she meant was, the separatists are a wholly owned, if not quite wholly operated, subsidiary of the Russian government.  (more…)

Flight MH17: US President Barack Obama – ‘We’re going to make sure that truth gets out’

UN Security CouncilThe UN Security Council earlier issued a joint statement calling for an ‘independent, international investigation’ of the crash

The United States told an emergency session of the UN Security Council today that it had early indications that the missile that destroyed Malaysian Airlines 17 on Thursday originated from inside territory controlled by separatists in eastern Ukraine and that it couldn’t rule out that Russian personnel had assisted in its firing.

The US envoy to the UN, Samantha Power, ended a sometimes emotional intervention on the floor of the Security Council declaring: “This war can be ended, Russia can end this war, Russia must end this war.”

Earlier the Council stood in silence in tribute to the victims and issued a joint statement calling for an “independent, international investigation” of the crash and stressing the need for “immediate access by investigators to the crash site”.

At the White House, a still cautious President Barack Obama said some of the details of what happened were still to be determined and he did not want to “get out ahead of the facts”.

But he added that the “eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine; we’re going to make sure that truth gets out”. While he did not explicitly assign blame to Russia, he said President Vladimir Putin had the power to stop the violence. “So far at least he has not exercised it,” he said.

Pointing to the terrible toll suffered by “our great ally the Netherlands,” Mr Obama said the incident should be a wake-up call for Europe and the world that there are consequences to an escalated conflict in eastern Ukraine.”

The President, who had ordered a new layer of sanctions on Russia on Wednesday, suggested the loss of MH 17 “sadly brings home the degree to which the stakes are high for Europe and not simply the Ukraine people”.

The call by the UN for an immediate investigation came amid concern that evidence at the crash site could be removed or deliberately compromised by those responsible.

“If indeed Russian-backed separatists were behind this attack on a civilian airliner, they and their backers would have good reason to cover up evidence of their crime,” Ms Power told the Council. “Thus it is extremely important than an investigation be commenced immediately.”

One after another, members of the Council accused Russia of dishonesty regarding its role in stoking the uprising in eastern Ukraine that led to the tragedy.

“Russian officials have claimed that armed separatists in Eastern Ukraine represent a spontaneous local insurgency. We know that this is not the case,” remarked British ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant. “The United Kingdom urges Russia to reflect carefully on the situation they have created.”

In her intervention, Ms Power said that US intelligence had concluded that the jetliner was probably shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air system.

She added: “Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11 it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel, thus we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the system.”

Shuffling papers and apparently barely listening to the repeated criticisms of his colleagues, Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador, sought to deflect the gathering global opprobrium.

“Pressure should not be brought on this investigation, trying to prejudge its outcome with broad statements and insinuations that are unjustified in such a difficult situation,” he pleaded.

He suggested that air traffic authorities in Kiev were at fault for allowing a passenger jet to fly over a war zone. The incident happened in the broader context of Kiev inflaming the situation, with support, he said, from western nations. He cited the United Sates in particular. “We place all blame on the Kiev powers or government,” he said.

The Independent.

SBU intercepts phone conversations of separatists admitting downing a civilian plane (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Wreckage of the Boeing 777 which crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17. Wreckage of the Boeing 777 which crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17. © AFP

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was allegedly shot down by a group of Russian-backed Cossack militants near the village of Chornukhine, Luhansk Oblast, some 80 kilometers north-west of Donetsk, according to recordings of intercepted phone calls between Russian military intelligence officers and members of terrorist groups, released by the country’s security agency (SBU).

One phone call apparently was made at 4:40 p.m. Kyiv time, or 20 minutes after the plane crash, by Igor Bezler, who the SBU says is a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. He reports to a person identified by Ukraine’s SBU as a colonel in the main intelligence department of the general headquarters of the armed forces of the Russian Federation Vasili Geranin regarding the shot down plane, which is about to be examined by the militants.

The second intercepted conversation released by the Security Service of Ukraine was apparently between militants nicknamed “Major” and “Greek” immediately upon inspection of the crash site.

“It’s 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft,” Major is recorded as saying, as he admitted to seeing no weapons on site. “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”

In the third part of conversation Cossack commander Nikolay Kozitsin talking to an unidentified militant cynically suggests that the Malaysia Airlines airplane could’ve been carrying spies, as, otherwise, it would have no business flying in that area.

Read the full transcript of an intercepted phone call below:

Igor Bezler: We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).

Vasili Geranin: Pilots. Where are the pilots?

Igor Bezler: Gone to search for and photograph the plane. Its smoking.

Vasili Geranin: How many minutes ago?

Igor Bezler: About 30 minutes ago.

SBU comment: After examining the site of the plane the terrorists come to the conclusion that they have shot down a civilian plane. The next part of the conversation took place about 40 minutes later.

“Major”: These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.

“Greek”: Yes, Major.

“Major”: The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first “200” (code word for dead person). We have found the first “200”. A Civilian.

“Greek”: Well, what do you have there?

“Major”: In short, it was 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft.

“Greek”: Are many people there?

“Major”: Holy sh__t! The debris fell right into the yards (of homes).

“Greek”: What kind of aircraft?

“Major”: I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main sight. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.

“Greek”: Is there anything left of the weapon?

“Major”: Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.

“Greek”: Are there documents?

“Major”: Yes, of one Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson.

Militant: Regarding the plane shot down in the area of Snizhne-Torez. It’s a civilian one. Fell down near Grabove. There are lots of corpses of women and children. The Cossacks are out there looking at all this.

They say on TV it’s AN-26 transport plane, but they say it’s written Malaysia Airlines on the plane. What was it doing on Ukraine’s territory?

Nikolay Kozitsin: That means they were carrying spies. They shouldn’t be f…cking flying. There is a war going on.

Kyiv Post

#Negotiator says hundreds of #hostages held by #separatists in #eastern #Ukraine

Nikolay Yakubovych is one of a few people who negotiates release of hostages from prison in eastern Ukraine. They are often exchanged for detainees held in government prisons. © Katya GorchinskayaNikolay Yakubovych is one of a few people who negotiates release of hostages from prison in eastern Ukraine. They are often exchanged for detainees held in government prisons. © Katya Gorchinskaya

When the revolution transformed into war Nikolay Yakubovych’s status also changed. Previously, he was a centurion of Maidan’s self-defense, but on May 2 he became a prisoner of war in Horlivka, Donetsk Oblast. 

With the help of a colleague he was released and became a negotiator to help other prisoners. He is now also advising National Security and Defense Council Secretary Andriy Parubiy, but has no official capacity. Yakubovych had previously been an investigator at a police department in Belarus, but immigrated to Ukraine in the mid-2000s with his Ukrainian wife.

Kyiv Post: How many people are currently being held hostage by separatists, according to your estimates?

Nikolay Yakubovych: In Luhansk it’s in the order of 150, and in Donetsk and Horlivka there is also more than 100, probably close to 120. There are at least 20 people in Horlivka, there are civic activists that the militants have started grabbing. The same is happening in Donetsk. Horlivka is like a separate state, they have their own management there, and the same is in Donetsk.

KP: Is there anyone who is keeping up-to-date lists of prisoners?

NY: We’re constantly receiving information via civil society, people on the ground when somebody gets captured and pulled away.

KP: How many separatists and mercenaries are held by the other side, by the Ukrainian government?

NY: There is a track record kept, but I cannot tell you. The people who are taken, some of them are investigated and then released, and the number changes constantly. At the moment, there are more than 200 people arrested who are under criminal investigation.

KP: Where are they held, in Kyiv or in Donbas?

NY: Most of them are in Kyiv. Some of them are in pre-trial detention in Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv region.

KP: How is the decision taken whether to send them to Kyiv or not?

NY: There is a check conducted and evidence collected of their involvement in the separatist actions. If the person did not commit any crimes – if they are just ideological supporters – naturally, they are released after a check and then tracked in a certain way.

KP: Who takes decisions about the exchange of prisoners and how is this decision taken?

NY: This is a very complex process, all these procedures are now tied to the president. In other words, this all goes through the president of Ukraine, through the administration of the president. There is a certain staff that gets informed about certain offers, which are then examined and a general decision taken.

KP: Do you know who is in charge of this in the president’s administration?

NY: As far as I know, it’s (First Deputy Head of the President’s Administration Henadiy Zubkov. (more…)


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