“Novorossiya forces on January 26 ‘almost surrounded Debaltseve‘ – in the town, some 5,000 to 8,000 Ukrainian military holed up.
According to radio interceptions, the Ukrainian army lost throughout the DPR 962 – killed, 1,200 – wounded, more than 456 people missing.
Near the town of Izyum another village is located, where two portable German crematoriums have been brought. “If the Ukrainian military have stopped burying their fallen in the orthodox tradition, started just burning them, Ukrainian mothers should think seriously about the situation” – said head of DPR Alexander Zakharchenko.”
Photos by Graham.
New and old terminal, plus tower, all still in control of Ukrainian forces, but under commanders Motorola, Sparta battalion, and Givi, Somali, large territorial gains had taken Novorossiya forces to the building directly adjoining the old terminal, and swathes of territory, including hangars, large areas of runway.
Airport and territory scene of constant battles each day.
Originally published July 30th on http://worldtowrites.blogspot.com, minor change to title (below)
On July 22nd I was taken into captivity by Ukrainian forces at Donetsk Airport, along with ANNA News journalist Vadym Aksyonov. I spent the next 24 hours there, these are observations from that time…
– Despite Donetsk being in control of the pro-Donetsk/Russia side to a distance of 30km at points, Donetsk’s Sergei Prokofiev airport, just outside the city centre, is certainly held by Ukrainian forces. Information in Donetsk on that had been unclear, with reports differing on who controlled the large site, extensively rebuilt for Euro 2012.
– Which Ukrainian forces hold it is unclear, they wouldn’t identify themselves to me, and the Kiev government later said it was a unit which did not report to them.
– The road leading to the airport, completely dark at night with no lights, is lined with bombed out, burned out cars, blockades and, as a Ukrainian soldier told me later, is mined.
– There’s the rather surreal scene of Donetsk Airport carpark with about half a dozen cars in it, covered with dust, owners unable to collect them since the airport’s closure on June 3rd. It’s where Vadym and myself were detained –
– The mood of the Ukrainian soldiers the day I met them, July 22nd, was bad, with their saying the had sustained heavy casualties the day before, in excess of 12 as I understand. One soldier told me he ‘wanted revenge‘.
– When Vadym and myself had been detained initially, and several more soldiers burst on the scene, Vadym started speaking Russian and they immediately began beating him, as he lay on the ground. I began speaking Russian to them, asking them to stop, my accent immediately drawn attention to as they didn’t beat me, but began an interrogation, even an English lesson of sorts.
– Most of the soldiers spoke Russian, the one in this video, who smelt of alcohol and who had beaten Vadym, told me that I seemed to understand the Ukrainian language, but he was speaking Russian –
– The soldiers have a good idea who is on their side. The soldiers couldn’t understand why I was there, as an English correspondent who came from a country they all told me ‘supported Ukraine’. Even though most of them behaved ok, on some level (they did take my car, possessions and bullet-proof vest) with more extreme ones involved in Vadym’s beating, even among those seemingly more ‘normal’ ones there was a much sharper atmosphere than in my previous captivity. At one point in my makeshift cell I asked a soldier why I was being detained, he pushed me into my chair and shouting in my face ‘because you are a terrorist‘.
– I hardly saw any of the airport interior, as I was kept blindfolded in all the time I was being taken from place to place, yet there was clearly heavy damage there, and it had been effectively transformed into a military base.
– There was no running water in the airport and the toilet I was taken to was absolutely fetid, there was however electricity. The soldiers were accessing the internet, though whether from phones or wifi there is unclear.
– The soldiers seemed to be living mainly on in-flight products. All the bottles of water I was given were in-flight size, and the meal I was given was an in-flight meal.
– I was mainly kept in a cleared-out office room, its windows smashed, boarded up with Donetsk Airport folders and other items of office equipment. The room was next to a Ukraine artillery position and came under fire in the day.
– July 23rd, the day I was there, was calm during the day then fighting broke out early evening. The Ukraine side were firing heavily from their positions, and the pro-Donetsk/Russia side shelling, firing from theirs.
– Whereas 2 months before, the soldiers who captured me referred to ‘separatists’, this time the only description they used was ‘terrorists’.
– The Ukrainian soldiers believed everyone they were fighting against was Russian. They told me many times how all the fighters and equipment had come from Russia, despite my disagreeing with this.
– The Ukrainian soldiers further believe that all Russian news stations are ‘Kremlin propaganda’, and my working for one made me a Kremlin agent, Russian spy. They believe that Ukrainian news channels ‘tell the truth’, as they told me, a view explained to them that I did not share.
– The soldiers were a combination of those from the west, centre and east. To a man, they told me they were ‘patriots’, who believed they were fighting to ‘liberate’ Donetsk from ‘Russian terrorists’, and were uninterested in my different position on that.
– Things had changed since my last time in captivity, whereas the soldiers then were open to talking freely, showing their faces, this time all the soldiers I saw were in balaclavas, or I was blindfold.
– Although the airport is under siege by the pro-Donetsk side, there is a corridor of sorts as they were able to take me out, by armoured military vehicle, under cover of darkness.
– Finally, Donetsk Airport is a place I’d advise any journalist to avoid for now. My channel, RT, told me it was too dangerous to go to, they were right, and it was the closest I came to touching the void. It’s a serious theatre of mounting fatalities, and very hard to imagine when a plane will ever take off from, or land there, again.
“Ополчение 26 января почти захлопнуло «дебальцевский котел» – в окружении оказались от 5000 до 8000 тысяч украинских военных.
«По данным радиоперехватов, украинская армия потеряла на всей территории ДНР 962 убитых, около 1200 с лишним раненных, 456 человек пропавших без вести.
Недалеко от города Изюм еще одно село находится, туда завезли два переносных крематория немецкого производства. Если военные не хоронят своих убитых товарищей по нашему православному обычаю, а начинают сжигать, то стоит задуматься украинским матерям», – сказал глава ДНР Александр Захарченко.”
Originally published on Pravda.ru, 26th November 2012, couple of words added for clarity, photos added. Graham
There is no doubt Euro 2012 was successful on a sporting level. However, nearly six months later, Ukraine is saddled with heavy debts, hotel rooms it can’t fill, and a rapidly devaluing currency, as the country’s economy teeters on the brink of recession. GDP is going down, unemployment is rising, salaries are stagnating and fears on the future are mounting. So, did Ukraine shoot itself in the foot with Euro 2012?
The Economic Background
Ukraine’s economy hit the buffers after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with GDP falling year-on-year as the newly independent Ukraine endured hyperinflation and a collapse in economic output while struggling to find its feet. In 1999, the Ukrainian economy fell to its lowest point, with GDP around half what it had been the year before independence.
Then, the turn of the century saw the start of an infectious economic boom, with fellow CIS states posting figures attesting to huge economic growth. Estonia and Latvia enjoyed year-on-year growth in excess of 10% pre-2008, as the former Soviet states came to the fore in a modern Europe. While Ukraine never quite enjoyed these numbers, the Ukrainian economy enjoyed a sustained growth period from 2000 up until 2008, posting an impressive 7.9% growth in 2007, and ranking 45th in the world GDP table, with $188 billion.
However, 2008’s global credit crisis knocked Ukraine for six. In Kiev, work on scores of ambitious apartment buildings and business centres literally stopped overnight. Meanwhile, a freefalling Ukraine hryvnia went from 5 to the dollar, to 8, with the government intervening to peg it at that rate. 3% unemployment in 2008 collapsed to near 9.4% in 2009. Inflation topped 26% as panicked investors withdrew from a country which seemed on the cusp of economic meltdown. Economic growth dropped to 2.1% in 2008, plunging to -14.8% in 2009.
In no small part due to IMF intervention, with the aid bailouts to the tune of $11 billion in 2009 and over $15 billion in 2010, Ukraine dragged itself back from the brink, to 4.2% economic growth in 2010. By that time, Ukraine was starting to look forward to hosting the Euro 2012 football tournament, as hopes started to crest on an event many believed would see huge capital flowing into the country.
Ukraine and Euro 2012
In 2008, with preparation work hit by the economic crisis, it had seemed Ukraine was set to have Euro 2012 taken from it, with UEFA President Michel Platini warning of “critical slippages” in preparation, and Scotland twice asking to take over as host. Euro 2012 was effectively rescued for Ukraine in 2009, with
Yanukovych committing to UEFA President Michel Platini that his country could carry out all the necessary work.
To this end, $6.6 billion was pumped from the state coffers into the preparation project. Private investment saw the total figure stand at $13.4 billion, as Ukraine scrambled to build hotels, upgraded roads and city centres, and completed work on stadiums (in Kiev, just days before the event kicked off).
Most of Ukraine got caught up in what many thought would be a gold rush, with billions flowing into the country from wealthy European football fans. Certain hotels in host cities Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kiev and Lviv increased their prices by 1000%, with reports of some establishments going so far as an 8000% rise in tariff. Despite a campaign to end ‘price gouging’, reports of the rates hit back in Europe, and started to affect potential visitor numbers.
In the end, Euro 2012 passed off fairly successfully, with a reported 1 million overseas visitors coming to Ukraine in the month of June, generating a state-reported $1.5 billion. Some were sceptical about this figure, estimating $800 million and fewer visitors, with the spectacle of empty seats, even at the final, stalking the tournament. In any case, there are few who believe the numbers would not have been greater had it not been for the pre-tournament greed which seemed to afflict the nation’s preparations. England, for example, traditionally one of the best-supported football teams at tournaments, returned over half of their allocation of 7,800 tickets to UEFA, taking their lowest number of supporters ever to a European Championship. France were followed by fewer than 1,000 fans at the event, sources claimed.
Any goodwill Ukraine had hoped to generate to boost future visitor numbers was undermined by what many, in Ukraine for the first time, viewed as profiteering both from accommodation and restaurants, where a ‘foreigner double-price menu’ passed from urban myth into fact. The Tymoshenko picture further complicated the picture, with many foreign leaders boycotting the event, and a spotlight being cast on the imprisonment of the former Prime Minister on what many believe to be politically motivated charges.
2012 was always going to be a challenging year for Ukraine. In June, Ukraine was due to repay a $2 billion loan to Russia’s VTB Capital, and $500m in outstanding eurobonds. In the event, Ukraine issued a $1 billion eurobond to partially refinance the VTB $2 billion, putting off payment of the outstanding $1 billion to June 2014, and accepting increased interest payable on the deal.
Follies and Foreign Investment
On the streets of Ukraine, the evidence of one’s eyes is a revealing barometer of the economic situation. Kiev is still ringed with buildings in various stages of non-construction. Caught up in the pre-2008 boom, many dozens of sizeable apartment blocks and business centres had started to go up around the city. To the construction investor, Ukraine offers a more relaxed climate than in much of
Western Europe, often without requiring finance put in escrow to ensure the completion of any structure commenced. In the boom years, there was a scramble to pump money into constructing that very property which now gives even central Kiev the slight feeling of a work-in-progress, but not in progress. (Pictured above, Mirax Plaza)
The picture today, with apartment blocks in particular, is further muddied by the mid-2000s trend of selling apartments in blocks either in construction, or still in the planning stages. Thus, many of the complexes around Kiev, on which work stopped abruptly in 2008, belong in a labyrinthine financial category. Technically, many of the unfinished apartments are owned by the private individuals who had bought them, often lured by prices as low as $25,000 for an apartment. In most cases, though, the company they entered into the contract with is now liquidated. Were construction to start again, any company taking on project completion would potentially either need to honour the claims of the existing stakeholders, or face a series of legal challenges. Both of which would be inimical to any profit to be made. So billions of dollars currently lie tied up across Ukraine, particularly Kiev, in buildings which may never see completion, while statistics tell that the Ukrainian construction industry is down 9.1% year-on-year.
The 100-metre-plus intended partner to 2007-completed Business Centre Parus, Ukraine’s third tallest building, on Baseina in central Kiev, had its outer frame completed long ago, and there is currently some work taking place on the site. But that work is essentially maintenance, with no date scheduled for outfitting of the empty shell once intended to be a monument to the commercial power of the third biggest city of the Soviet Union.
A key problem is falling foreign investment, which the State Statistics Service report as down to $4.6 billion in 2011, from $4.7 billion in 2010, both figures being significantly below the $8 billion Ukraine attracted in 2005. Investors were then rushing to pour money into the country in the aftermath of the Orange Revolution speculators had believed would make the country the next ‘Baltic Tiger’. Corruption and infighting put pay to that idea, and now the Euro is over, Ukraine is at least under no illusions about the task going forward. One thing making that task the more difficult is the interest on debt repayments. Erik Nayman, Managing Partner at investment company Capital Times, estimated interest on Ukrainian foreign-currency annual debt at 12 percent, in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, meaning almost $1.5 billion currently goes from the budget to simply servicing this debt, before starting to pay off the $12.4 billion, or 7.5% of Ukraine’s $165.25 Billion GDP. Ukraine’s overall debt is currently at over $60 billion, or 36.5% of GDP, having been down at 12.3% of GDP in December 2007.
The Ukrainian Economy Today
Continuing falls in demand for Ukrainian iron and steel are having deep repercussions on industry, with production having decreased from a 2007 high of 42.8 million tonnes to 29.8 million by 2009, and industrial production down this October by 4.2% on the year before, that at least better than September’s 7% drop. The prized agriculture sector, with Ukraine the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil, had fallen by 4.6% year-on-year at the start of October, before a rally saw grain exports actually surpassing 3 million tonnes in November, a record. Employing as it does, 15.8% of Ukraine’s workforce, or 3.5 million, the agricultural sector is highly significant and, for the moment, is at least staving off mass redundancies, seeming to have recovered somewhat from the bizarre trade sanctions earlier in the year, which saw Ukrainian cheese banned from Russia.
However, worries exist that at the rate Ukraine is currently exporting grain, the country will simply run out of produce. And with 57.9% of Ukrainian GDP coming from the stagnant service sector, GDP is down 1.3% in the third quarter, compared to 2011, with fears the GDP growth rate for the year could be as low as 0.5%. This is particularly disappointing when compared to earlier in the year, with Euro 2012 growing the economy by an estimated 3 percent, and GDP up 2.5%, hitting even 4.7% in June. Now, GDP growth is negative for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2009. Moreover, inflation, once the bane of the Ukrainian economy, has actually hit around zero, pushing the cost of credit up to 20-25%, as companies can no longer rely on inflation covering part of such costs.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that the continued pegging of the hryvnia is concealing its true value, and costing the economy billions, with the National Bank of Ukraine having reported a Ukrainian government spend of around $2 billion on gold in September, and $2.5 billion in October to keep the currency pegged at 8 to the dollar. If this support were to stop, the hryvnia could, analysts estimate, hit 10, or even lower. Such worries have had Ukrainians rushing to convert their currency into dollars, with banks struggling to keep up with demand. Ukraine currently languishes at 53rd in international GDP tables, nestling near New Zealand and her population around 10% that of Ukraine’s.
Factors such as the building of 19 new hotels in the first 9 months of the year, the Kyiv Post reported, adding more than 2,000 new rooms in total, and other mostly Euro-related factors, had fuelled a 6.5% year-on-year economic thrust in Q3 of 2011. In Q3 2012, hotel occupancy was down 10%, and the prospects for Ukraine reversing the tourism sector decline, bleak. The tourist industry saw numbers of visitors to Ukraine shoot up from 6.4 million in 2000, to a high of 25.4 million in 2008, down to 21.4 million in 2011. If each tourist trip to Ukraine is valued at a conservative $1000 to the economy, an extra million tourists equates to $1 billion coming into Ukraine, serious money in a country where 35% live below the poverty line and the average gross monthly salary is a mere $319, around the level of Colombia or China. Financial website Friedlnews.com reported a buoyant retail sector, with turnover up more than 14% compared to 2011, providing little compensation for factors such as oil processing slumping by 30.4% year-on-year, in addition to an energy sector swinging from 6.1% year-on-year growth in September, to a 5.2% deficit in October.
Euro 2012 is not responsible for the current economic woes of Ukraine, and hosting the competition has certainly delivered benefits to the country. Ukraine now enjoys upgraded roads, infrastructure and facilities. If what lies at the end of those roads is another recession for a country still reeling from the global credit crisis, however, there will be searching questions about whether it could all have been done better.
Автор Борис Шевчук
На въезде в село на высоком каменном постаменте стоит “Полуторка”. Для многих такой же, как Т-34 символ Победы. У основания постамента аккуратно сложены мешки с землёй. Но это не от любви к истории: за мощным основанием памятника украинские военные могут прятаться от обстрела. Рядом расположен блок-пост.
Вокруг на многие километры степь и бесконечные поля до самого горизонта. Внизу река Кальмиус. По ней сейчас проходит линия разграничения между Украиной и территорией, контролируемой ДНР. На противоположном берегу Кальмиуса расположено небольшое село – Старомарьевка.
Единственный автомобильный мост в этом районе, построенный ещё во времена СССР, был взорван отступающей украинской армией. Перед тем, как его уничтожить, военнослужащие ВСУ заботливо предупредили местных жителей, чтобы те убрались подальше от окон. Теперь автомобильное движение по мосту невозможно. Лишь по узкому, опасно накренившемуся над водой участку, пешеходы на свой страх и риск переходят на другую строну.
До войны население Гранитного насчитывало около 3500 жителей. Есть здесь две школы, детский сад, дом культуры, библиотека, мед. пункт, почта, магазины. После начала активных боевых действий часть жителей бежала от войны. Сколько осталось населения никто не знает. Это в основном те, кому ехать некуда. В селе есть дети, но в школу они не ходят: очень опасно. Тем не менее учебный процесс не прерывается: дети получают задания от учителей, которые тоже здесь есть. Почта не работает. Было время, когда в магазинах почти не оставалось продуктов, а у людей денег. Выживают только благодаря домашнему хозяйству. Выпасать домашний скот запретили ещё осенью. Поля тоже остались не убранными. Пенсий и других соц. выплат люди не видели на протяжении четырёх месяцев. Электричества не бывает неделями. Серьёзные перебои с мобильной связью.
Подвалы и погреба для местных жителей стали вторым домом. В них по долгу приходится пересиживать артиллерийские обстрелы. Кто стреляет и куда никому не ведомо. В Гранитном частично или полностью разрушено около 70 домов вместе с хозяйственными постройками. В Старомарьевке прямым попаданием разрушено два жилых дома. Много домов пострадало от осколков и взрывной волны.
Несколько местных жителей, в том числе детей, были убиты при разных обстоятельствах. Об этом будет отдельный материал.
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