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Weapons Convoys Seen in East Ukraine

Published: August 27, 2014 (Issue # 1826)



  • Pro-Russian rebels drive a tank through Krasnodon on Aug. 17, one of several dozen military vehicles seen during the day.
    Photo: Sergei Grits / AP

KRASNODON, Ukraine — For several evenings this month, convoys of military weaponry passed with clockwork-like regularity through Krasnodon, a rebel-held town in eastern Ukraine near the porous border with Russia.

The convoys were seen three times last week by Associated Press reporters, and one of them carried about 30 units of weaponry and supplies. All were coming from the direction of Russia and heading west to where pro-Moscow separatists were fighting Ukrainian troops.

One rebel fighter described how easy it was to cross into Ukraine through a Russian-controlled frontier post in a convoy that included a tank, adding that the border officer appeared unfazed at the deadly cargo.

NATO and Ukraine have accused Moscow of covertly shuttling heavy artillery and other weapons to the separatists — allegations that Russia routinely denies. NATO says since mid-August, those weapons have been fired from both inside Ukraine and from Russian territory.

A safe distance from the shelling that has scarred other areas of the separatist Luhansk region, Krasnodon acts as a hub to supply the rebels with weapons and for getting much-needed humanitarian supplies to residents.

The town of 40,000 people is only 15 kilometers from the border. Residents venture out in the morning to buy groceries, but the streets are empty by evening. Only rebels sit and drink at the few bars still open.

Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the largest rebel-controlled city, Donetsk, said earlier this month that his forces were being bolstered by 1,200 fighters who underwent training in Russia. He said the fighters have 150 armored vehicles, including 30 tanks, and have gathered near a “corridor” along the Russian border.

When asked about the military hardware, Zakharchenko insisted it was all taken from Ukrainian forces in battle — a notion scoffed at by the Ukrainian government.

On three evenings between Aug. 19 and Aug. 23, AP reporters saw large convoys of military hardware pass through Krasnodon from areas near the Russian border and head north and west, toward the fighting. They were later seen returning empty of their cargo. On other days during that period, the reporters only heard the convoys.

Supplies heading west, toward the conflict zones, are frequently seen both during the day and night near Krasnodon.

It was not the first time that AP journalists had seen heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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