by and for citizen investigative journalists

Putin’s Undeclared War: Summer 2014 – Russian Artillery Strikes against Ukraine

December 21, 2016

By Sean Case

Translations: Русский

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Click here for a one-minute introductory map tour that gives the main findings and context of this report.

The below text is an extract from the full report. The interactive data map underlying all of the findings discussed can be found here.


Terms such as civil war or internal conflict are often used to describe the war in Eastern Ukraine. However, the available evidence no longer supports this view. During summer 2014, Ukrainian officials and also the U.S. government were already publicly stating that the Russian military were active in the war. A number of subsequent reports have corroborated these claims, documenting the presence and death of Russian servicemen in Eastern Ukraine, as well as the existence of Russian military equipment inside Ukraine.

In this report, an under-reported aspect of Russian military involvement in the conflict is fully investigated: artillery attacks against Ukraine in summer 2014. In previous reports such attacks were proven to have occurred on several occasions, but these reports could not fully describe the real extent of these attacks. Using open source evidence, this report attempts to document the full scale of the Russian artillery attacks against Ukraine in summer 2014.

Building on the preceding reports, the intention of this report is to document the full scale of Russian artillery attacks against Ukrainian forces in summer 2014. The entire border region in the conflict area was searched for potential firing positions or artillery target sites. In total, hundreds of relevant locations were identified. The main findings can be summarized as follows:

  • Artillery units of the Russian Armed Forces fired at least on 149 separate occasions attacks against Ukraine in the summer of 2014. Another 130 locations were judged likely to have been used as artillery position.
  • 408 artillery target sites inside Ukraine within range of Russian artillery systems have a trajectory crossing the Ukrainian-Russian border, 127 of them are within 3 km of the Russian border.
  • In total, as evidenced by the number of impact craters, thousands of artillery projectiles were fired by the Russian military on targets inside Ukraine in the summer of 2014.
  • Due to the current lack of publicly-available satellite imagery evidence and the rigid classification criteria used here, these figures represent lower bound estimates of the true numbers of artillery attacks, i.e. there were likely considerably more than 149 attacks as already indicated by the 130 further likely artillery positions. Furthermore, it can be stated:
  • Artillery attacks of the Russian Armed Forces from Russian territory began from early July 2014 and increased in frequency and scale into August and September 2014.
  • Cross-border artillery attacks can be found in the entire border area of the conflict zone in the Donets’k and Luhans’k regions.
  • Due to the frequency, spatial distribution, and scale of the artillery attacks considered in this report, it is impossible to consider these attacks merely as accidents or as the actions of rogue units. These attacks can only therefore be considered as acts of war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
  • We invite all readers to access the interactive map to see for themselves all of the data used to create this report.
  • The following extracts give a brief overview of the methods in this report and of one of the case study areas considered in the full report.


We surveyed the area inside Ukraine within 22 km of the Ukrainian-Russian border in the Donets’k region, and the Luhans’k region border as far as Nyzhnya Vil’khova. Inside Russia, the entire area of the Rostov region adjacent to the search area in Ukraine was surveyed. The search for attack sites or firing positions was done manually, primarily using Google Earth, and repeated for the different satellite imagery dates. Within the search area, 2254 potential relevant sites were identified and considered. 518 of the identified features are artillery crater attacks sites inside Ukraine, while 305 were classified as potential firing positions in Russia or close to the border inside Ukraine. Note that the 305 potential positions describe the number of potential strikes from the positions.

Each potential firing position was classified by two analysts; if there was no agreement between the two analysts, a third opinion was obtained. Only if two analysts agreed on the classification, a site is considered as a ‘likely’ firing position. 279 out of the identified 305 potential positions were classified as likely firing positions. Likely firing positions were evaluated according to the likely type of artillery used, facing direction, date of appearance in satellite imagery, and number of visible marks. If visible marks strongly implied outgoing fire, the positions is classified correspondingly. For each position, an ‘aiming trajectory’ was also estimated.

Attack sites within Ukraine were evaluated in terms of size of attack (small: 10 or less visible craters, medium: 10 to 100, and large: >100), date of appearance on satellite imagery, and trajectory. The trajectory was evaluated using a technique based on US military analysis and was similar to that used in previous Bellingcat reports, a scientific report, and as evidence in the court trial of Nadiya Savchenko. Due to time constraints, it was impossible to fully evaluate the trajectories of each-one of the many thousands of artillery craters across the 518 attack sites. Therefore, in order to determine a general trajectory bearing in this report, five craters were selected from each attack site, and the trajectory was evaluated based on this sub-sample.

Furthermore, we attempted to determine which of the attack sites in Ukraine were linked to specific artillery firing positions in Russia. First, we determined the facing direction of the firing positions as described earlier in this section. Second, we determined the trajectory of the attacks. To account for the uncertainty in trajectory, the bearing derived was converted into a cone buffer with a bearing variation of 6° on each side The attack site and firing position trajectories were than intersected over markers indicating the centroid of the attack site and the firing position. Only attack sites that were ‘double-matched’ were retained.

Case Study – Artillery attacks from the Kuybyshevo area

The region with the highest density of likely firing positions is the area around Kuybyshevo, Russia. On the other side of the border (inside Ukraine), the area around the strategic important height Savur-Mohyla and the Marynivka-Kuybyshevo border crossing was contested in July and also August 2014. In July, the supply route for the forward Ukrainian army units based the border area led through this contested area. The Marynivka-Kuybyshevo border crossing was captured by the ‘separatists’ on 14.08.2014.

There is evidence suggesting that some cross-border attacks had already occurred in this area before 17.07.2014. It is also possible to identify some likely firing positions in Russia or inside Ukraine less than 2 km from the border in the available 16.07.2014 satellite imagery. Between 16.07.2014 and 26.07.2014, new likely firing positions, mainly identified as field or self-propelled howitzer positions, become visible inside Russia on satellite imagery. However, it was also possible to identify MLRS blast marks in the area already on 20.07.2014. After 26.07.2014, the satellite imagery coverage of the entire area is less complete. Nevertheless, the many visible firing positions visible on the imagery available to us, shows that the vicinity of Kuybyshevo was used as one of the primary staging areas for cross-border artillery attacks in the summer 2014 conflict.

The figure above presents four selected areas with likely firing positions in the Kuybyshevo area. The imagery in the first row shows two early likely firing positions, visible for the first time on the 16.07.2014 satellite imagery. One of them is located inside Ukraine, one is inside Russia, but both do not show signs of outgoing fire. The imagery in the last column shows the likely firing position inside Ukraine and the path that the vehicles likely used to cross the border, which is not visible in 02.07.2014 imagery, in this area. A third likely position inside Ukraine is at the end of the visible path leading further to the north.

The second row shows an area with at least three likely firing positions. The 23.07.2014 satellite imagery was presented in summer 2014 by the NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe as evidence for Russian cross-border attacks. Already, on the 20.07.2014 imagery, six self-propelled howitzers are visible in firing position in this area. In the 23.07.2014 imagery, again six self-propelled howitzers are visible. However, also two crossing lines with marks indicating outgoing fire are visible just south of the howitzers.

The third row shows an area which was used twice as a firing position for MLRS attacks against Ukraine. The first attack, leaving two distinct blast marks, occurred between 16.07.2014 and 20.07.2014. The blast marks indicate outgoing fire in north-westerly direction. On 15.08.2014, three new blast marks are visible in the same area. The attack firing towards the north must have been occurred between 02.08.2014 and 15.08.2014.

The last row shows another location with blast marks indicating outgoing MLRS fire. No such marks are visible on 15.08.2014. In the 04.09.2014 satellite imagery, two large blast marks are clearly visible in the area. Additionally, the 05.09.2014 imagery shows two vehicles in position. Because of their length of approximately 12 m, it can be assessed that the visible vehicles are likely BM-30 Smerch MLRS launchers.

In total, more than one hundred likely firing positions could be identified in the area around Kuybyshevo The map below shows the development over time. On the left, only likely firing positions which were visible before 17.07.2014 are considered, in the middle, all likely firing positions visible in the available satellite imagery until 03.08.2014 are presented. Note that for large parts of the area east of Ivanovo-Yasinovka no further imagery after 26.07.2014 is available for this period (until 03.08.2014). The right map shows all identified firing positions in the area in the summer of 2014.

The left image showing the early situation (before the downing of MH17) reveals that only a limited number of firing positions could have been identified in the satellite imagery. However, there are already a number of artillery target sites inside Ukraine in proximity of the likely Ukrainian camp near the Marynivka-Kuybyshevo border crossing with trajectories pointing towards the Ukrainian-Russian border. This suggests that a number of cross-border artillery attacks occurred in this period.

Around two weeks later (by the end of 02 August), a larger number of additional likely firing positions, with and without signs of outgoing fire, are visible. Furthermore, it can be noted that the number of artillery target sites inside Ukraine has been considerably increased. Between the new firing positions and attacks sites a number of potential links could be established (discussed further in the full report).

The final map showing the situation at the end of the summer 2014 reveals that further attacks were launched from this area in August and September 2014. A number of new likely firing positions and attacks sites are visible in the satellite imagery. Compared with the situation in early August, a number of these new firing positions are located closer to the Russian-Ukrainian border, and also some of these attacks sites are much deeper inside Ukraine..

The preceding extract was just a small part of the full report, which you can download here.

The data underlying this report is provided freely under the license: Creative Commons 0 Public Domain Dedication 1.0.

Sean Case

Sean’s work for Bellingcat is focused on the use of artillery systems during the Ukrainian conflict.


  1. So you really believe USA lies

    American brainwashing program that’s almost equivalent to muslims / islam.

    America a country that officially re-designates extremist Islamic terrorists as moderates just so it can supply them with weapons. If you believe any official narrative or information from the US you must have a screw loose, seriously.

    Russia is just the current patsy for all american problems,.

  2. mazay

    So many of comments are full of nonsense:
    Usa? Usa government? Islam?
    “This is just silly. The analysis is not valid at all. The whole thing is bollocks as usual.”

    All are attempts to silence meaningful discussion without contributing anything.

  3. Alex Stepanyk

    As I said, Russia is a sick nation. Russia is a country that still has not come to terms with it’s horrific past. Unlike Germany, which put it’s Nazis on trial and has made every effort to cut that cancer out of their national consciousness, Russia has done NOTHING about the killers who still live and still are in charge of the Russian government. Russia has never apologized to the Lithuanians, Estonians, Poles, Ukrainians, Georgians, etc., etc., for their murderous policies of RUSSIFICATION, of attempting to wipe out the languages, customs, religion, and national identities of hundreds of millions of people. Not only have they not apologized, but they have CONTINUED to oppress, brutalize and attempt to dominate and destroy many of these nations. You Russians cry about NATO expansionism, but there’s a reason all those countries want to join NATO: they are scared to death of Russians, a brutal people who to this day prefer to be ruled by a Tsar or dictator, rather than to live democratically. Save your Putin election statistics for other Russians who are brainwashed; people here in the West have had a good look at the face of Russian “democracy” and want no part of it. Russia is like a cancer patient whose cancer went in to remission temporarily, but has done nothing to completely remove the tumor. Until the Russian people themselves have their own Maidan, their own real revolution, and honestly confront the monstrous things they have done the way Germany did with the Nuremburg Trials, the cancer within Russia will continue to grow and the Russian people will continue to suffer.

    • James McGuire

      When the Ukrainian Puppet President willy wonka or the chocolate Idi Amin decided to attack the ethnic Russians in the east of Ukraine, because they supported there elected president kuchma. the Russians repeated an artillery attack much like
      field marshal Zhukov against the Nazi army ,in world war 2 , in defense of the ethnic Russians in the east. This was a resounding defeat for the Ukrainian military, ——-that led to the falls flag downing of MH17 to cover there defeat.

      • DDTea

        “Chocolate Idi Amin” is one of the most tasteless things I’ve read from a Russian troll. For all Russia’s noise about “Nazis” in Ukraine, I don’t think that Nazism really bothers Russia. There’s a “National Bolshevik” party in parliament. Nazi-admiring mercenaries from Wagner group fight Putin’s dirty wars. Ethnic Russians routinely launch pogroms against Caucasians.

        • Feanor

          Calling Russia a sick nation doesn’t exactly come across as good taste either. People on here are quick to call out pro-Russian trolls, as well they should be. But there seems to be little effort to address the antics of pro-Ukrainian trolls, or even correct their gross factual misrepresentations and inaccuracies.

          • Alex Stepanyk

            I’m sorry if I offended you by calling Russia a sick nation, but it is. As is Ukraine, but at least Ukraine is trying to do something to get “well”, whereas Russia has just swept it’s crimes under the rug. Imagine if Germany after WWII had not had a long period of De-Nazification, where all Germans were basically forced to confront the crimes committed in their name. Germany would be a very different country today, that’s for sure. Well, Russia has done ZERO to confront the crimes committed in the name of the Russian people during the Soviet era, so it’s really not surprising to see how the current regime is doing many of the same things. It’s also not surprising that Stalinism is making a comeback in Russia; pictures of Stalin can be found all over Russia, but in Germany you won’t see pictures of Hitler everywhere. Ukraine is doing it’s best to De-Russify itself, and also to come to terms with it’s own history. This is not easy and it can be painful, but at least it’s a start. In Russia, the current government in fact is doing it’s best to resurrect PRIDE in the old Soviet Union, and that is a cancer. A nation with cancer is a SICK NATION. You can call me whatever you want Feonor, but I’m far from a “pro-Ukrainian troll”. But hell, if it makes you or anyone else feel better, by all means, call me whatever you wish!

      • Alex Stepanyk

        No problem, Arya. I don’t read the garbage you post either. I read one of your lie filled rants and that was enough for me.

          • Bohdan

            lol man, you’re illiterate – learn to read and write before giving others any advice 🙂

  4. Dmitri

    To put things in a context, 3/4 of 79’s brigade contingent never returned from Saur-Mohila after those attacks.

    • Account

      It seems you’re dramatizing a lot. There’re full lists of Ukrainian casualties, including per military formation, and there’re no such losses. Maybe you’re talking about some specific event?

      • Feanor

        The full list isn’t terribly accurate. There have been reports of people coming forward claiming their family member wasn’t included on the casualty list because on military paperwork he was not officially listed as being at the front. This has in some cases even led to military service members having to stay in civilian hospitals with battle wounds. That having been said, it’s unlikely that an entire brigade is present in one location or involved in any one battle. I strongly suspect that what happened was a detachment of the brigade suffered horrific casualties.

        • Account

          Full casualties of 79th Brigade are 59 people up to date from the very beginning of this war. Confirmed by Ministry of Defence and civil volunteers who collect this data. Even if this list isn’t full, I have doubts the actual casualties are way higher than that.

  5. joe

    Great analysis. But it would be even greater if spineless EU politicians would do something about this another Russian crime. Not cosmetic sanctions against a few individuals but arming and training Ukrainian, Georgian and Moldnovan armies and implementing total embargo to Russia – like US did to Cuba. This Nigeria with snow does not stand a chance if EU politicians had at least a semblance of spine.

  6. Sergey

    and lets remember that it was Ukrainian mercenary fighters which first invaded Russia back in 1994 during Chechen wars, may be Russia would be more responsive now if Ukrainian government done something to stop them:
    “As war clouds gathered over Chechnya in 1994, UNA-UNSO leaders Anatoli Lupinos and Dimitro Korchinski began to lead Ukrainian delegations to Grozny to meet with Chechen leaders. This was followed in 1995 by the arrival of UNSO fighters organized as the “Viking Brigade” under the command of Aleksandr Muzychko, though their numbers (about 200 men) never approached brigade size. Besides fighting in the battle for Grozny some UNSO members (veterans of the Soviet Army) were employed as instructors. Their contribution to the struggle for independence (including 10 KIAs) was acknowledged with the issue of Chechen decorations after the war. While the Ukrainian government claimed that it opposed the participation of Ukrainian nationals in Russia’s “internal affair” it proved unable or unwilling to prevent it.”
    The Jamestown Foundation
    Radical Ukrainian Nationalism and the War in Chechnya
    Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 13
    By: Andrew McGregor

    • Geo

      Yes, and Yatsenyuk was on the front lines with a big American-made machine gun! He single-handedly eliminated the elite Russian Spetznaz. Saw on on LifeNews, RT, Svezda TV, Komsomilskaya Pravda, etc. – so it must be true!

      • Sergey

        Don’t know about Yatsenuk, never mentioned him in my message. You are right, Jamestown Foundation Washington, D.C.-based institute for research and analysis, founded in 1984 with the help from CIA as a platform to support Soviet defectors is definitely like Russia Today, can ‘t trust those Americans. And Andrew McGregor, is obviously a deep Russian mole who is Director of Aberfoyle International Security, a Toronto-based agency specializing in security issues related to the Islamic world. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto’s Dept. of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations in 2000 and is a former Research Associate of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs.

  7. Feanor

    Hey Sergey

    Sorry I can’t reply directly because the reply button for your last post isn’t showing up for me. Likely this blog format didn’t envision being able to reply this many times to a thread.

    Anyways, your original post made fun of Ukrainian efforts to prove Russian military involvement. This is was I was responding to. This conflict is definitely a civil war within Ukraine but one that Russia has been quite deeply involved in. Without Russian involvement the rebels would have been crushed quickly and relatively bloodlessly. Remember how tiny the rebel forces were at the beginning. If the Ukrainian government wasn’t looking for a fight, and had handled this better, they wouldn’t be facing the rebel army they are facing now. But if Russia hadn’t been involved the same is true.

    On the subject of “5 months”. Strelkov/Girkin and his ties to Russian intelligence services are hard to investigate. However remember the first major military-style assault on Slavyansk? When they tried to use vertical envelopment and lost iirc 2 helos destroyed and 2 more damaged? One of the downed helos was hit by MANPADS. Those MANPADS with overwhelming likelihood came from Russia. At that point in the game the rebels didn’t even have full control over law enforcement within their own borders, never mind disarming military and border guards units. Russia was involved from the start. Remember the Nona-S that they got from the Ukrainian platoon that marched to Kramatrosk and handed over their equipment to the Strelkov/Girkin group? Well by the time they were evacuating Slavyansk there were 3 Nona-S systems in rebel hands, with no record of their capture. Not to mention the steady supply of 120mm mortar rounds. The level of Russian involvement initially may have been small but it wasn’t 5 months into an ongoing civil war that Russia entered. Russia was there from the start, backing the rebels.

    There’s an even better example, with some dark implications. The rebels became the rebels when protesters in Lugansk and Donetsk broke into the SBU buildings and opened the arsenals to find giant stockpiles of weapons, out of all proportion to what a regional SBU HQ should have. Well before they even did that, rumors were circulating that the SBU was planning a crack down and amassing weapons. Those rumors were so wide spread and pervasive that they even hit open message boards and livejournal pages online. I was following the conflict from abroad at the time and I have clear memory of seeing them crop up on multiple pages. And the rumors turned out to be 100% correct. One could chalk this up to startling incompetence on the part of the Ukrainian government but given that SBU buildings are fairly well closed off and given that we’re talking mostly about small arms and a few machine guns here, I don’t think it would have been easy for casual protesters to find out about this. So who leaked the info? And not just leaked but made sure it was plastered all over the internet?

    And to top it off, in Kharkov where the crackdown did come, because the protesters went for the city administration building for the third time instead of the SBU, the protesters weren’t gunned down. Just regular riot gear was used. In other words, it seems unlikely that the government was really planning something along those lines. So, to recap.

    1) Large numbers of weapons concentrated in SBU buildings.
    2) Crackdown on protests outside of Donetsk and Lugansk did not involve live ammunition being used against protesters.
    3) Information about the weapons was vigorously spread both in the real world and online.

    Russian involvement in sparking and supporting the anti-Kiev protests in the east comes long before there was any war, and is easily comparable to similar sinister means of “democracy promotion” used by the US.

    • Bohdan

      Hi Feanor,

      just wanted to let you know that I strongly agree with your analysis of Russian military involvement. Most importantly, I agree that there would be no “civil war” (a term I disagree with) without Russian military involvement, exactly for the reasons you provide – early, mostly non-violent (and hopefully without any casualties) riot suppression.

      Russia’s hands are neck-deep in the blood of thousands killed during the Eastern Ukraine conflict, on both Ukrainian and Russian sides.

      • Feanor

        Just so we’re on the same page, I hold the US and US-backed political forces in Ukraine equally complicit for the war in Ukraine. And it’s important to understand that, the war aside, Ukraine as a country is in terrible shape because of the nature of Ukraine’s national elites. If Ukraine had anything other then a plutocratic collection of oligarchs fighting for power, it would not have ended up where it is today.

        • Bohdan

          Dear Feanor,

          can’t comment on the role of US and US-backed political forces, but the rest of your statement I, sadly, agree with.

          I need to get back to work on Monday, so won’t be able to devote as much time to this thread. Too bad that it’s not safe to share personal communication details in this environment, I would probably not mind communicating a bit more.

    • Sergey

      Again, one can’t call it Russian invasion when majority of the fighters are local Ukrainians. Insistence of Ukrainian government that this is not a civil war but it Russian invasion is just propaganda and psychological trick to make Ukrainians fight each other, as you remember initially government soldiers were very hesitant to use weapons against separatists. And it required several bloody accidents, at least one of them provoked by Right Sector Yarosh to start this war. Also calling this invasion just distracting from any attempts to make peace, as no citizens in any country will agree to allow invaders to prevail. Again, for me inability of Ukrainian government to demonstrate hundreds of Russian military prisoners or even Russian volunteers is a good indication that the impact of Russians at least in personnel is vastly overestimated, especially in the beginning of civil war.

      Strelkov/Girkin brought a group from Crimea, he said it was mainly local Ukrainians.

      The New York Times journalists interviewed Sloviansk militants and found no clear link of Russian support: “There was no clear Russian link in the 12th Company’s arsenal, but it was not possible to confirm the rebels’ descriptions of the sources of their money and equipment.”[146] Commenting on the presence of the Vostok Battalion within insurgent ranks, Denis Pushilin said on 30 May, “It’s simply that there were no volunteers [from Russia] before, and now they have begun to arrive – and not only from Russia.”[147] Stephen Ennis wrote in his BBC news blog that, on the Ukrainian state television talk-show Shuster Live on 13 June 2014, the British journalist Mark Franchetti, who had just spent weeks with the Vostok Battalion, described the Battalion as largely untrained locals from eastern Ukraine, with a smattering of Russian volunteers. He also stated that the fighters in the Battalion who were now in the Donbass were “mainly normal, ordinary citizens who are absolutely convinced they are defending their homes – as they put it – against fascism”. Franchetti stressed that he was not saying that there were no Russian troops operating in Ukraine, but that he did not come across any himself. He stated “I can only speak about what I saw with my own eyes”

      Professor Robinson noted that 90 per cent of the rebel troops are Ukrainian citizens.

      A recently published list on Ukrainian anti-russian site Mirotvorets of 1,572 people who joined DNR formations in summer of 2014 shows that 78% of them were Ukrainian citizens, primarily from Donbas, 19% Russian citizens, 2% citizens of other countries, primarily Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Israel, and 1% had unknown citizenship.

      When Ukraine actually publish some information, it does not support their claims
      SBU published members of well known separatist Somali battalion, seems all local Ukrainian citizens, no Russians

      Ukraine authorities have been able to identify only 176 foreigners serving in armed groups of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, which reportedly include large numbers from Russia, Serbia, Belarus, France and Italy, among others

      Weapons and ammunition, that might be different matter, although again, I have yet to see any good analysis of weapons and ammunition present in separatist territory. Why not look first at Ukrainian military and police weapons already present in Donbas region and assume it fell into separatist hands?

      Well, stockpiles of weapons in SBU building. You have to remember, all Donbas was center of former President Ynukovich support base, he won there >90% of the vote, he had his people everywhere in police and administration in many regions, majority of power block in Donbas refused to recognize new revolutionary government, police refuse to arrest protesters and many joined in. Instead trying to negotiate with local powers Revolutionary government decided to bring Special Forces from other regions to stop the protests. SO it is not really surprising that rebels found out about stockpiles of weapons and decided to stop the attack.

      Seems at least two major weapons depot fell into separatist hands.

      Donetsk State Chemical Production Plant “Vast stocks of conventional munitions and military supplies have accumulated in Ukraine,’’ then-Sen. Barack Obama said at one of the biggest official government munitions depots, the Donetsk State Chemical Production Plant, in Donetsk. Standing amid the stockpiles, they called for the immediate destruction of 15,000 tons of ammunition, 400,000 small arms and light weapons, and 1,000 MANPADS. “The new government in Kyiv was now in charge of more than 80 highly volatile depots that held 7 million small arms and light weapons, and as much as 2 million tons of conventional munitions, even though NATO warned that they were designed to hold far less than that. Worse, many of the explosives were kept in shacks outdoors, or left completely unguarded”.

      When pro-Russia protesters stormed a police station in Slavyansk, in eastern Ukraine, they seized several hundred firearms. They also took control of the biggest weapons cache in eastern Europe, which lies beneath their feet. Since March a group of protesters have been guarding the entrance to the Volodarsky salt mine, which holds an underground collection of at least a million firearms ranging from first world war heavy machine guns to Soviet-era Kalashnikovs.

      70 to 100 insurgents armed with assault rifles and rocket launches attacked an armoury in Artemivsk on 24 April.[177] The depot housed around thirty tanks. Ukrainian troops attempted to fight off the insurgents, but were forced to retreat after a substantial number of men were wounded by insurgent fire

      Plus weapons sold to rebels, weapon trafficking was a big business for Ukrainian corrupt military and criminal groups

      And lets be frank, it was not Russia which started this civil war, it was a new revolutionary government who wanted war, it had it main supporters in Western Ukraine, cared very little about Russian speaking population in East and South who supported previous President, there was a lot of talk among educated Ukrainian elites that Ukraine needs to be “cleansed by blood” from Russian influence. Would it have been better if Russia did not get involved? Nobody knows, Government might have crushed rebels, or it might have started guerillas campaign which again due to presence of friendly power across the border might have led to civil war anyway. I’m pretty sure every civil wars starts with military telling government they are going to crush rebels in a week. The Russian involvement actually was surprisingly limited, they might have expected the anti-revolutionary movement spread without their involvement, you have to know about the state of Ukrainian military to realize, that if Russia wanted to invade, it could have crushed Ukrainian military in a few weeks, hell, a lot of soldiers would not fight Russians, you can just see Crimea. Even now despite the boast of Ukrainian army, Russia would have no problem with defeating it, it has superior training, weapons, numbers and there just so many way it can invade Ukraine (East, North, South from Crimea, and even East from Transnistria) there is no way to defend against it. Same reason Russia does not want Ukraine in NATO.

      • Geo

        When Russian forces conduct bombardment of Ukrainian military units across the border from Russian territory, knowing well that Ukrainian units can’t retaliate (Russia has nukes), – this hardly qualifies as “civil war”. Not to mention Russian generals commanding the troops (Debaltseve) or Russian brigade-size units conducting raids into the Ukrainian rear positions and surrounding Ukrainian units (Novoazovsk offensive, Illovaisk pocket). When Russian military captures Crimea and blocks Ukrainian military units, or Russian ships block Ukrainian ships…. The list can go on and on….

        Man, you Olgino trolls are sooo aweful. You continue to make this nonsense stuff about “civil war”, but nobody except your brain washed citizens believe it. Want to play fair? How about allowing Ukrainian TV channels to broadcast in Russia – without sensorship?! How about disclosing number of Russian combat casualties in Ukraine, or Russian military equipment lost? Oh, yes, it’s your government’s secret

        • Feanor

          I don’t think labeling anyone who disagrees as a troll is conducive to intelligent conversation. In this case, while I disagree with some of what he says, he is providing intelligent commentary with adequate sources.

          On the subject of civil war. Plenty of civil wars see foreign interference. This does not fundamentally alter the nature of the conflict. If there wasn’t a strong base of local discontent, this conflict would not have been possible nor would it have lasted. Truth is that Poroshenko and his ilk are mostly disliked or even hated across the rebel territories.

          On the subject of censorship, Russia is hardly a shining example but it’s not like Ukraine is doing any better. 5 years ago there was considerably more political freedom in Ukraine then there was in Russia (not because there were strong positive protections for political freedom but more so because the governing elites didn’t care). Now the situation is getting worse in Ukraine then in Russia. And this has little to do with Russian propaganda which typically prefers not to focus too closely on issues that could make Russia look little better by comparison.

          • Geo

            Saying situation in Ukraine’s media is WORSE than in Russia is laughable. There is NO media in Russia, only propaganda. Or did you want to say that Ukraine’s current president is undemocratic and wishes to get all media under control? What do you expect from a founder of Party of Regions?! He is looking at Russia and thinking: “it would be nice to have as much control over media and people”. But he has position to his actions and general discontent of the public, which will probably doom him. You are saying that this is WORSE than what happened under Yalynkovich and dictatorship laws? Oh, really???

            Finally, comparing that with Russia – oh, that’s not an intelligent conversation. Go try to organize a demonstration in Moscow against Putin. Or at least to air a program with details of his corruption or the work of his troll and hackers factories. Good luck

        • Sergey

          Standard definition of civil war: A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same state or country, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly united state

          As you noticed there is nothing in definition about who provides the weapons, who commands the troops, or provides the money, and etc. What do we have in Ukraine& Two organized groups, one mainly representative of Donbas region, the other represent armed forces of revolutionary goverment. Both groups consist mainly of citizens of Ukraine, with some foreign fighters on both sides, which makes it a civil war. I put references which prove my point. One can actually find that even if you take official Ukrainian government figures they show again, that the majority of separatist fighters (~75%) are local Ukrainians which means it is a civil war: “They believed that Russian forces made up 8,500 to 10,000 of the 36,000.” However, the report also notes that Nato gives a very different assessment of Russian troop numbers in Donbas. Nato estimates that up to 1,000 GRU personnel (Russian military intelligence) and Russian officers are helping the rebels, according to the report

          that is your claim that this is Russian invasion, so it is up to you to demonstrate facts supporting your case. I’ll just mention, that:
          Russian forces conduct bombardment of Ukrainian military units – that was not shown, it was only demonstrated that Russian artillery may be was shooting across the border (they still need to demonstrate that the target sites were not from Ukrainian artillery shooting from the border at separatists, and that the shooting actually led to deaths in goverment army), Russians might have shot at separatists, Russians might have shot into empty field may be trying to force fighters away from its border, Russians might have responded to shooting by Ukrainian artillery, accidental or not. “Moscow, though, claimed that Ukrainian artillery ‘deliberately bombarded’ an area within the Rostov region in the summer of 2014, when the clashes between the government forces and the Russian-backed combatants escalated into a full-blown military conflict with tanks and missile strikes. “

          disclosing number of Russian combat casualties in Ukraine: Ukrainian government tried to do it by looking at recent military deaths with some help from Russian NGO, claiming more than 260 people were killed in eastern Ukraine. There are two problems here:
          First, it does not consider level of accidental deaths (accidents, murders, suicides) in Russian army. For example in 2006 total of 554 servicemen had died in 21,252 accidents and other non-combat-related incidents.

          Second, Russian military instructors and mercenaries are present in other places, for example, Syria where mercenary “Slavonic Corps”, operated since 2013, and there were reports of deaths in Syria actually reported as deaths in Ukraine. Also same “Slavonic Corps” is a private mercenary outfit and it is not part of Russian army. It is known to participate in fighting in Crimea and Donbas. Who is hiring them that is a question, but considering repeated claims of Ukrainian media that deposed officials from Ynukovich government stole billions of dollars, it is quite possible that money, weapons and mercenaries fighting in Donbas are paid by such former Ukrainian officials.
          “Wagner first visited Syria in September 2013 alongside the ‘Slavonic Corps’, at which point he was not a Commander and OSM did not exist. OSM has operated in Ukraine during the civil war mainly conducting operations against corrupt groups in the LNR and DNR, they are allegedly responsible for the killing of both Batman and Mozgovoy. Their first actions were as ‘Polite People’ in Crimea, seizing UA positions and disarming UA bases. A Russian Defence Official has claimed that OSM is about 1,000, but much like everything about this company, it is very hard to verify. The lowest estimates are battalion (400) sized.”


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