Friday, May 2, 2014

Ukraine SITREP update - May 2nd, 20:14 UTC/Zulu: massacre in Odessa

It appears that a massacre did take place today, but not in Slaviansk, but in Odessa were 38 people died when a building in which they had sought refuge was set ablaze.  Here is what RT reports:
At least 38 anti-government activists died in fire at Odessa’s Trade Unions House after suffocating with smoke or jumping out of windows of the burning building, Ukrainian Interior Ministry reported. The building was set ablaze by the pro-Kiev radicals.  Some 50 people, including 10 police officers, were also injured in the incident, the official statement said. It was not immediately clear whether those injured in Friday street clashes in Odessa were included in those numbers.  According to the ministry, the Friday standoff on Odessa included “anti-Maidan” activists on one side and “football fans” from Odessa and Kharkov, as well as "euro-Maidan" activists, on the other. A criminal case on the charges of mass unrest has been opened.  The Trade Unions House was set on fire by pro-Kiev radicals after they surrounded and destroyed the tent camp of anti-government activists that stood in front of the building on Odessa’s Kulikovo Field Square. It was torched in a storming attempt after some of the anti-Maidan activists rallying in the square barricaded themselves inside the building.  Thirty of the victims were found on the floors of the building having apparently suffocated to death with smoke. Eight more died after jumping out of the burning Trade Union House’s windows, according to police.  Earlier reports of the clashes in Odessa said that both sides used Molotov cocktails and, allegedly, gunfire. 
While the exact circumstances of this tragedy are unclear, it appears that we are dealing with the massacre of pro-Russian activists by nationalist thugs (aka "football hooligans").  As I mentioned earlier, a Russian intervention in Odessa is far more likely than in the Donbass which seems capable of protecting itself without Russian assistance.

Also, and with some reluctance, I want to inform you about one interesting but unverified source (caveat emptor!): there is a Spanish speaking air traffic controller in Kiev who regularly tweets info about the events in the Ukraine here:

Now I personally never use Twitter (or Facebook), but a reader has called my attention to this guys who seems to have some pretty good information.  According to him, some "military in Kiev" had requested the help of Russia, after which some Russian cargo plane has flown near Donetsk.  According to him, radio intercepts indicate Russian paratroopers.  The aircraft then turned around.  What that a para drop?  Finally, he reports that Ukrainian military aircraft have been challenged by Russian interceptors and have had to withdraw.  Now, since all this is based on radio communication it could be fake or just somebody trying to create a panic.  But for those of you who understand Spanish I wanted to pass you the info so you call follow this directly on Twitter. 

Whether Russia moves troops in now or not, my sense is that this massacre in Odessa will have serious consequences as the Russians will not ignore it.

I will try to keep you posted as best I can,

The Saker