Some news from the last few days.
Front Line News.
Things are a little calmer, with a slight drop off in firing attacks, but there’s still a good deal of lead passing back and forth.
Today’s report: Russia’s forces are keeping up a steady rate of firing, but they’ve reduced their mortar fire. On Wed they launched 8 firing attacks, 2 of them using mortars. Seven Ukraine held areas hit, with firing reported as continuing into today. No Ukrainian losses reported as of 7am today. For Tuesday’s firing: Russia’s forces launched 9 firing attacks, hitting 8 Ukraine held areas & wounding 2 Ukrainian soldier.
OSCE Quarterly report: Jan 2019 – March.
Figures and stats have a tendency to downplay the intensity of any conflict. Nevertheless after 5 long years, these here give us a detailed window into Europe’s forgotten war.
Ceasefire Violations (firing): 83,047. Down 19% on last quarter.
Heavy Weapons Explosions: 1,163. This is from tanks, mortars and artillery.
Weapons Violations: 757. Heavy artillery/weapons seen near front line.
Freedom of Movement Restrictions: 199. This is stopping OSCE patrols access.
86% of the restrictions by Russia’s forces, with majority near the Russian border.
#FreeAzovSeaSailors Campaign Day.
With the 24 Ukrainian servicemen appearing in court, yesterday we held the second of our #FreeAzovSeaSailors Campaign Days.
Nov 25th, 2018: Three Ukrainian naval boats were sailing from the Black Sea to a Ukrainian port in the Azov Sea. The flotilla comprised 2 small armoured gunboats named the Berdyansk & Nikopol and the tug boat Yany Kapu.
Their journey would take them close to Russian occupied Crimea and needing to pass under Russia’s illegal Kerch bridge, from Russia to Crimea.
The three captured Ukrainian boats moored in occupied Crimea.
In an unprovoked attack and with Russian military helicopters and even jets flying over the area, several large Russian naval coastguard ships proceeded to attack the Ukrainian boats. As the below BBC video below shows, they first targeted the slow moving Yany Kapu.
The ship on the left tries to cut off the tug boat, forcing it to slow down. This allows the ship behind to attempt to sink it by ramming. Sounding like a like a crazed, drunken pirate, the voice you hear is that of the captain of the ramming Russian ship. It was he who posted this widely shared video on social media.
Seen below, having failed to sink the tug boat, Russia’s forces eventually opened fire on the boats, injuring 3 Ukrainian sailors. Surrounded by large numbers of Russian ships and helicopters, Russian special forces then boarded the Ukrainian boats, capturing all 24 servicemen on board.
A shell hole in the armoured gun boat Berdyansk.
Edging towards 5 months on, and Russia’s playing out its usual court room shenanigans. Typically we see the Kremlin inventing reasons not to put people on trial, thereby giving them more time for those arrested to be used as political pawns. Yesterday in a Moscow court, 3 stooges… sorry “judges”, predictably extended the pre-trial arrest of the 24 servicemen until the end of July. This they claim is because the prosecution asked for more time to compile their fraudulent case. Naturally all this makes a mockery of Russia’s legal system, but then the Kremlin’s kangaroo courts are what they are.
Some of the Ukrainian sailors and servicemen in court.
Our campaign day went well. Over the last couple of days we had several thousand retweets, with myself using yesterdays media and lawyer reporting to keep people updated on Twitter and Face Book. The #FreeAzovSeaSailors hashtag is a publicly accessible record of Russia’s illegal detention of these 24 extremely brave and resilient, military personnel.
Soon we’ll be holding another Campaign Day and this time I’ll spend more preparation time promoting the date before hand. My thanks to all who joined in the event.
And Finally, we have the Best Russian Propaganda you’ll EVER see.
You may have read my small piece about where in hell did these so-called “separatist” republics in Ukraine get all the ammo they’ve fired off over the last 5 years? Well here’s the answer…
Russia’s propaganda would us believe, they buy it from… er… Ukraine’s army.
On Russian social media, Inside Donetsk post the official news from Russia’s Donetsk people’s republic. On April 17th, their military spokesman Edward Basurin is reported as claiming “The armed forces of Ukraine sell us ammunition.” Laughably (it’s always laughably), they are trying to say Ukraine’s giving them old USSR ammo.
True to form, not one shred of evidence was presented to back up what would be a major world wide news story. If true, we would be talking Ukraine having sent hundreds of thousands of tons of ammo, via hundreds, if not thousands of trucks sent back and forth across the front line. Over the last 5 years, this ammo exchange would have presumably happened every single week/month, and yet no one, including the OSCE has ever reported seeing these convoys, or witnessed the unloading/storage/distribution of this gargantuan amount of ammo.
And yet not one single person, be they civilian or military thought to photograph or film these amazing events; events which would have created turmoil in the Ukrainian government, seen sackings of senior members of the Ukrainian military high command and had a serious detrimental impact on the morale of the Ukrainian army?
Hmm… so remind me the last time Russia passed up an opportunity to inflict that level of ridicule and pain on anyone? Especially when if true, genuine evidence would have shattered the widespread belief that Russia is supplying all the ammo, a fact now made all the more believable by this unsubstantiated claim.
And talking of evidence. The picture they used is of course wholly unrelated and shows nothing more controversial than a Ukrainian ammo store in 2009.
Website link to the above 2009 stock photo Inside Donetsk used.