Here’s some of today’s news. OK, some of it’s from yesterday but whose counting?
Front Line Update.
Over the last 24hrs things were a lot quieter. Russia’s forces only launched 15 firing attacks, one of the lowest number for a while. With a lot of negativity towards Russia, this lull in fighting maybe linked to the Kremlin wanting things quiet whilst the UN General Assembly is ongoing in New York. Having said that, they may have just run out of shells?
Bringing home the reality of the daily fighting in eastern Ukraine, today the OSCE reported, thus far there’s been a total of 205,616 ceasefire violations this year. That’s a whole lot of lead flying around.
Picture below is of 26 year old Ukrainian soldier Volodymyr Buzovsky. Killed Sept 23rd during heavy Russia shelling near Luhanske in the Donetsk Oblast (province). Served as senior sergeant in 72 Separate Mechanized Brigade.
Noticed this today. Russia’s building another military base in eastern Ukraine. I say building, but as below images are from Aug 2017, it’s safe to say Russia’s built it by now.
Location is outside the village of Shymshynivka, not far from the occupied city of Luhansk. As with other Russian bases, we can expect to see a range of prefab buildings for use as barracks and some ancillary buildings. There’s been a large armoured combat unit here since 2015. However, the base itself was small, with just a cluster of buildings.
New base buildings under construction.
Combat unit on the left. New base being built on the right.
Combat unit of around 100 pieces of hardware. Inc tanks, armoured combat vehicles and artillery.
Location. There are several other Russian bases in this area.
Last night the true identity of one the Russia’s military intelligence (GRU) officers was revealed. Turns out this chap, using the cover identity of “Ruslan Boshirov” is not a Russian tourist with an overwhelming desire to visit Salisbury cathedral, but in reality Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated GRU officer bestowed with Russia’s highest state award – Hero of the Russian Federation.
He looks to have been deployed in Chechnya and probably eastern Ukraine.
Exposed by Bellingcat Open Source group – read their full report on this.
Also BBC Russia has been digging and confirmed the Bellingcat findings.
BBC video report.
Most British news media covering the story today.
Amusingly, Russia Today (RT) couldn’t bring themselves to write Colonel. Instead wrote Colon, suggesting Chepiga was a punctuation commando. Following on from the Kremlin’s Skripal assassination fiasco and subsequent RT comedy interview, it’s probably just a cock-up typo.
At UN General Assembly, Dutch and Australian Foreign Ministers spoke about their countries’ joint decision to hold Russia responsible for its part in downing flight MH17.
In May, both the Netherlands and Australia “asked Russia to enter into negotiations with us on the matter of state responsibility. The Netherlands and Australia have been in contact with Russia through our diplomatic channels. It’s important that the negotiations can start in the foreseeable future.’
Netherlands Government website for below statement.
Speaking for all of us, yesterday at the UN General Assembly, President Poroshenko of Ukraine told Russian state media he wouldn’t talk to them because they are “fake news.”
Russia’s Contract Army.
The Kremlin says there are indeed (holidaying) Russian citizens fighting in Ukraine of their own free will, but no regular Russian soldiers. This is the military equivalent of semantics, or bullshit, depending on your point of view.
With Russian military in full command of all forces in occupied Ukraine and Russia needing a backbone of competent troops to rely on, most reliable assessments put the number of regular Russian military in eastern Ukraine at several thousand.
This leaves a force of around 30 – 35,000 troops, this figure again the reliable assessment of the number of troops occupying eastern Ukraine. These are made up of Ukrainians, Russians & a few mercenaries from other countries. They are all contracted soldiers.
Oct 2016, US mercenary (known as the bum with a gun) Russell Bentley, featured in a YouTube foreign mercenary recruitment video. Back then he claimed basic monthly wages for soldiers was $250 (video is now deleted for having promoted terrorism). Using Bentley’s figure, if we go for the lower figure of 30,000 soldiers, this means Russia’s paying out 7.5 million dollars every month in wages.
Russia’s Ministry of Defence website informs us Russia has 425,000 contracted military personnel. These temporary military contracts can be offered to current soldiers about to leave the service, former soldiers and civilians. Potential recruits can undergo a probation training period of up to 6 months, during which time their Russian commander agrees whether they’ve made the grade. That’s 6 months before they have to sign a contract. Potentially 6 months of fighting for Russia without any official record of them having done so.
This flexible contract service scam allows Putin to say there are no regular Russian troops in Ukraine, when in fact the bulk are paid, trained, equipped and led by Russia.