The MH17 airplane crash


On July 23,  two cargo planes flew from Kharkiv to the Netherlands with the bodies of 40 victims of the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200 over Shakhtarsk County, Donetsk Oblast. All measures involving the transfer of the victims’ remains are being supervised by Serhiy Bochkovskiy, Director of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, Andriy Lysenko, spokesperson for the National Security Council’s News & Analysis Center, reported at the Center’s noon briefing, July 24, 2014.


Military action in the conflict zone


The Ukrainian army’s offensive in northern Luhansk and western Donetsk Oblasts continues. The battle to liberate Lysychansk continues. The militants are blocked in the city and all their escape routes have been cut off. Luhansk and Donetsk cities continue to be gradually surrounded and blocked.


Over the last 24 hours, pro-Russian militants shot Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints and positions more than 20 times in the areas around Sabivka, Lozova, Dzerzhynsk, Dmytrivka, Stukalova Balka, Hryhorivka, Luhansk, and Amvrosiyivka. Grad missile launchers were fired from the territory of the Russian Federation at checkpoints near the towns of Ilyinka, Kamyshne, Berezove, Amvrosiyivka, Voykhovskiy and Luhansk Airport; artillery fire was used against ATO forces positions near Marynivka; guns and grenade-launchers were used against checkpoints near Sverodonska and Smolianinova; and mortar was used against a checkpoint not far from Avdiyivka.


National Guard servicemen stopped a car in which 5 terrorists were trying to break through in the direction of Marynivka in Donetsk Oblast, under the guise of health department services. One of the five was a Russian citizen. During the detention, a Kalashnikov, an F-1 grenade and a hand grenade were seized. The men are currently providing testimony.


The border area


On July 23, ATO forces outside Amvrosiyivka shot down a Russian Orlan-type drone that was engaged in reconnaissance and adjusting the angle of fire from Russian territory. After this spy mission, a massive round of shelling from mortar and Grads rained from the Russian side between 22:10 and 22:55, on the Northern tactical group’s base camp.


The Russian Federation continues to draw its troops directly near the Ukrainian border and to engage in provocative actions. A RF Armed Forces field camp has been set up not far from the border in Briansk Oblast in Russia, adjacent to Chernihiv Oblast in Ukraine. In a wooded area near the village of Stariy Ropsk in Briansk Oblast, some 10 km from the international border, as many as 30 armored vehicles have been amassed. Another camp with the same number of armored vehicles has been set up in the woods near the village of Lady, also in Briansk, some 3-4 kilometers from the border. In the woods outside the villages of Churovychi, Zelioniy Kut and Rudnia-Tsata in Briansk Oblast, some 10 km from the international border, efforts are underway to camouflage the firing positions of infantry vehicles.


In the border areas across from Kharkiv Oblast, Russian military have placed 5 APCs, 3 tanks and other military equipment. For the purpose, they have chosen a children’s camp called Svitliachok located outside the village of Golovchino, Belgorod Oblast, RF. The latest information is that there are about 500 Russian soldiers in the camp and the number is rising steadily.


Provocations on the part of Russian Federation Armed Forces continue. Around 16:20 on July 23, a large convoy of Russian military equipment flying RF flags from 7 APCs and 2 ARVs drove at very high speed out into the no-man’s land at Russia’s Gaivoron border crossing opposite Sumy Oblast. After the personnel in the Velyka Pysarivka border crossing on the Ukrainian side came out to do battle, the convoy turned around and went in the opposite direction deeper into Russian territory. Also on Russian territory opposite Sumy Oblast from the direction of the village of Bezimenne, a military convoy of 7 APC with Russian flags was seen on the march. Turning off the asphalt paved road, the convoy moved along the Russian-Ukrainian border.


The latest information shows that locals in Belgorod Oblast of the Russian Federation are starting to sell off their properties and move into deeper oblasts of Russia.


The Russian Federation is once again disseminating false information about Ukrainian forces using phosphorus bombs. This kind of weapon is not, in fact, available in the Armed Forces or any other military formations in Ukraine, as it was banned in 1984 by international conventions to which Ukraine is a signatory. On the other hand, Ukraine has seen evidence that the terrorists from DNR and LNR are negotiating to get phosphorus munitions from Russia, which no one has denied so far. There is reason to believe that, should the Russian mercenaries be supplied with such munitions, they will undoubtedly accuse the Ukrainian side of using it.


Population centers in the conflict zone


On July 23, Donetsk terrorists attacked and robbed the Donetsk City shopping center. Damages have been assessed at several million dollars.


Resentment among locals in those territories being turned into a battle zone by Russian mercenaries appears to be growing. After the rally in Stakhanov, a similar protest was organized in Alchevsk. A crowd of several thousand local women demanded of the occupiers to leave their city.


With every passing day, it becomes more and more obvious by their actions that DNR and LNR, the self-appointed “people’s republics,” are really terrorist organizations. They are a real and present danger to the lives of the civilian population of Donbas. In the last few days, the SBU has thwarted a series of terrorist acts that might have cost the lives of hundreds of children in Sloviansk.


One breaking video from SBU cameras shows the rooms and yard of a branch of School #4 in the Cherevkovka District of Sloviansk. The terrorists set up a lab for preparing homemade explosive devices right in the primary classes. Many pieces of cut wire, switches and detonators were found on the premises. Powder and dishes with explosive materials were also evident. In this one building, 4 explosive devices had been installed and 0.5 kg of plastic explosives that were designed for distant detonation. These kinds of devices were used to booby-trap other schools in Sloviansk as well.


The Russian mercenaries also set up a stronghold and firing position in this school and had dug trenches. In neighboring School #16, the terrorists had set up a Grad system and in the Sloviansk Aviation College, a hidden stockroom was found with 22 crates of 30mm caliber ammunition.


An investigation is underway. One possible purpose for all this might have been that the mercenaries had planned to blow the schools up on September 1 and 2, when the children came back to school.


The videos are available for the press to review. After this kind of evidence, it is not possible to call these men “rebels.” They aren’t even bandits. They are Russian terrorists who are prepared to kill Ukrainian children.


International support


US Senate foreign relations committee chair Robert Menendes, defense committee chair Carl Levin, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA-D) sent a letter to President Barack Obama demanding that the self-proclaimed DNR and LNR be declared terrorist organizations. They also called on the White House to introduce the next level of sanctions against the defense, financial and energy sectors of the Russian economy in connection with events in Ukraine. In this way, the US politicians supported the Ukrainian President’s and Verkhovna Rada’s call to treat the bandits operating in eastern Ukraine as a terrorist group.


Most of the Board of Directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, including all EU member countries, gave instructions to the EBRD to stop any new investments in the Russian Federation.


At a bilateral meeting, Polish Foreign Ministers Radislaw Sikorski, and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmaier announced that the EU intended to go ahead with the third package of sanctions against the Russian Federation in connection with that country’s aggression against Ukraine and its support of the militants.


Translated by EMPR for IAC NSDC,