четверг, 25 сентября 2014 г.

Ukraine picks motley group to exchange for prisoners.

Extract from "NY times" article.

By Andrew E.Kramer
September 24, 2014

Donetsk,Ukraine- At first glance, the prisoner swap betweeen the Ukrainian goverment and pro-Russian separatists appeared fair enough: On a deserted stretch of a highway along the front side, each side released 28 captives, observing a principal of numerical parity.

Under the the watchful eyes of mediators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the prisoners walked past one another to freedom.

Then the questions started to pop up. The pro-Russian separatists released men appearing to be the actual prisoners of war.

The Ukrainians, however, widely understood to be lacking enough prisoners of their own to effect at one-for-one exchange, set free a motley group of a men, women and teenagers trackuits or dirty jeans, and taken, they said, from jails as far away as Kiev.

Soon enough, many of them were objecting to anybody who would listen there on the highway that they had never fought for pro-Russian separatists, and in fact had no idea how they ended up in a prisoner exchange in eastern Ukraine.

"I'm a civilian and I was included just to fill out the numbers,"Nikita Podikov, 17, said in interview.Ukrainian soldiers arrested him in a town near the front lines two weeks ago as they pulled back during a retreat, he said.

Mr.Podikov said the authorities accused him of belonging to a gang of pro-Russian assassins working behind enemy lines, but never gave any proof. "I never fought, I never killed anybody," he said.

"They arrested me, beat me for two days, and then kept me for trading," he said.On Sunday, he wound up in a prisoner swap of 27 men and one woman, only seven of whom were rebel fighters.

In interviews at their point of release and in a dormitory where former detainees are housed in Donetsk, a dozen men freed in exchanges over the weekend by the Ukrainian Army gave similiar accounts.

Some said they were arrested months ago in other parts of  Ukraine for pro-Russian political actions, such as joining protests calling for autonomy in eastern Ukraine or for disributing leaflets.

More typical of those released over the weekend was Valery Ginsberg, a businessman from Kiev, who was let loose on the highway in a swap on Saturday.

In an interview, he said he had never been to Donetsk. In Kiev, he was indeed known as a supporter of closer evonomic ties with Russia. He had been arrested on a pretext, he said.

"They traded us like cattle," he said. "I'm a citizen of Ukraine. How can they do this? I would have proved my innocence. I wanted to prove my innocence. But they never asked me."

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/25/world/europe/ukraine-prisoner-swaps-russian-separatists.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpSumSmallMediaHigh&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

среда, 24 сентября 2014 г.

Russia is calling for an international investigation into the discovery of burial sites with signs of execution at locations where the Ukraine National Guard forces were stationed two days earlier.
The head of Russia’s presidential human rights council, Mikhail Fedotov, has called on the authorities to do everything to “ensure an independent international probe” and “let international human rights activists and journalists” gain access to the site in Eastern Ukraine’s embattled Donetsk region.
The crime, Fedotov noted, shouldn’t “remain without consequences.” He didn’t exclude the discovery of other burial sites, reminding that mass killings are “the reality of the modern-day war” and that such crimes were committed in the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
The burial sites near the Kommunar mine, 60 kilometers from Donetsk, were first discovered on Tuesday by self-defense forces.

Four bodies have been exhumed, including those of three women. Their hands were tied, at least one of the bodies was decapitated, self-defense fighters said.
Two bodies were found Monday, and two others Tuesday.
Self-defense forces believe there might be other burials in the area.
"They are from Kommunar, which has just been freed [by DNR/DPR forces]. The people told me that the women had been missing and here we found four bodies. And I don’t know how many more people we might find,” a self-defense fighter, nicknamed Angel, told RT.
"The peaceful Ukrainian army came here and "liberated" them but I can’t understand what the Army freed them from. These women died horribly," his comrade, Alabai, added.

Self-defense forces said that near the mine – which was abandoned by the Ukrainian forces a few days ago – there are other burial sites which will also be examined.
OSCE monitors have already visited and inspected the burial site.
According to the OSCE report published Wednesday, some of the victims buried not far from Donetsk were killed a month ago. Near an entrance to the village the organization’s staff saw “a hill of earth, resembling a grave” and a sign with the initials of five people and a date of death – August 27, 2014. This was one of the three unidentified burial sites discovered by OSCE monitors.
Prosecutors in the Donetsk People’s Republic have started an investigation.
Russian Foreign Ministry’s envoy for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov, said on Twitter that the Ukrainian army was to blame for the killings.
“The finding of mass burial sites in Donetsk area is yet another trace of the Ukrainian forces’ and radical nationalists’ humanitarian crime,” Dolgov said.
“This beastly crime targeting civilians attracts our attention even more to the necessity of investigating humanitarian crimes in Ukraine under international control,” he added.
Calling the burial “war crimes that cannot be justified,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry called on the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, alongside non-governmental organizations specializing in human rights, to give “a profound assessment” of what occurred. In a Wednesday press release, the ministry urged international bodies to carry out “an urgent, impartial, objective and comprehensive investigation” and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The press service of the Ukrainian Donbass operation called the Russian reports false, saying that not a single unit was located in the area, and instead blaming the self-defense forces for the killings of civilians.

среда, 17 сентября 2014 г.

The days of so-called "truce"

Kiev's junta didn't stop to kill the сivilians during all the period of truce.

WARNING! Some people could find this footage disturbing!

Donetsk.3 days ago. Putilkovsky market. The victims of massive shelling. Kuibyshevsky and Kirovsky districts.

Donetsk. 2 days ago.Video camera captured the moment of shelling.

понедельник, 8 сентября 2014 г.

Ukraine: Truce Reached, What Next?

The armistice reached by contact group on September 5 in Minsk was the first peace initiative reached in Ukraine to be accepted by all parties. It’s a very positive move but there is a slim chance the ceasefire would endure. 
* * *
The agreement envisioned prisoners’ exchange and open routes for humanitarian aid, the parties ordered ceasefire to be breached soon after. As Donetsk and Lugansk self-defence forces reported, the chasteners continued to shoot. The ceasefire was breached in Gorlovka, Makeevka and street fighting took place in Dzerzhinsk. As of midnight, Sept. 6, the Ukrainian government forces opened fire at Makeevka with dense smoke seen coming from mine N88. According to witnesses’ reports, artillery fire was heard in the Petropavlovsk district of Donetsk. The ability of Poroshenko to control «private armies» is questioned. Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of Neo-Nazi Pravy Sector, said he would carry the order out adding that the preparations for combat were underway and he planned «to free Donbass from occupying forces». He added there was no doubt the enemy will be defeated. Journalist E. Belozerskaya made no bones about it saying that Poroshenko has not given the national radicals any legal status making them free to act like gangs and do what they want. 
The militarist rhetoric spurs mistrust on the part of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Prime Minister Alexander Zaharchenko, the Prime Minister of the Donetsk Republic, said Novorossia would agree to cease fire in case the Ukraine’s military does the same. The ceasefire is related to other agreements, for instance, prisoners exchange and the status of self-proclaimed entities. Igor Plotnystkiy, the leader of the Lugansk People’s Republic, says the accord is concluded only to stop bloodshed, it does not mean the Republic refuses to change its policy aimed at sovereignty outside the state of Ukraine. 
In his turn Poroshenko says the Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are not issues on the agenda. It’s not clear how to narrow the differences between two opposite stances. Yulia Timoshenko still enjoys significant influence. She rejected the «Putin’s plan» as a way to convert Ukraine into Transdniestria. The contact group plan does not include a Ukraine’s representative at large to complicate things. 
* * *
The implementation of Minsk peace accords will influence the outcome of autumn parliamentary election. The people of Ukraine are subject to militaristic propaganda and calls for bloodshed are heard here and there. Anti-European rhetoric is also getting stronger along with the calls for making short work of «Kremlin’s agents» and «traitors». On September 5 protesters in Kiev demanded to stop the transit of Russian gas to Europe. They said if they don’t carry out their obligations, why should we? Let them give us three nuclear bombs or comply with agreements. No matter how ridiculous it may sound, the meaning is clear. This kind of sentiments greatly complicates things for the Poroshenko’s ‘peace party» hoping for sweeping victory in October. 
The failure of «anti-terrorist operation» will be used to the advantage of those who put the blame on the supreme commander. Poroshenko has already started attempts to re-direct the discontent by punishing scapegoats. Deputy Defence Minister Bogdan Butsa was dismissed being accused of failure to provide logistics for the fighting forces. There will be other officials to be fired. The end of war may not benefit the presidential supporters. The economy is in doldrums accompanied by rising foreign debt and depletion of gold reserves, weak national currency and reduced industrial production, hiked public utilities costs, questioned preparedness for heating season and living standards going down. The war is blamed for all these woes. If peace prevails there will be nothing to be used as a cause for economic collapse. It will dash all the hopes for winning the election. 
The President’s team is not united. Making comments on the Minsk accords Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said peace should be achieved not according to the Russian President’s plan but rather on the basis of the Plan offered by the President of Ukraine and supported by the US and the EU. He means the so-called 15 point Poroshenko’s plan which actually is nothing else but an ultimatum demanding the surrender of Donbass. It is aimed at emasculation of the Minsk accords and continuation of combat actions. In her turn Yulia Timoshenko initiated a referendum on NATO membership. Another opponent of President and Verkhovna Rada MP Oleg Lyashko said that the armistice will make the enemy stronger and lead to increased Russian presence while «patriots» are doomed to slavery and dishonor.
With rising voices calling for war Poroshenko appears to be unable to stop combat actions without being threatened by coup. With troops withdrawn from Donbass thousands of armed and angry people will move to Kiev to be joined by advocates of using force for solving the problem of Novorossia. 
* * *
The international situation is not right for long-term peaceful settlement. The Wales September 4-5 NATO summit actually declared war on Russia. In the declaration the Alliance states «We condemn in the strongest terms Russia's escalating and illegal military intervention in Ukraine and demand that Russia stop and withdraw its forces from inside Ukraine and along the Ukrainian border. This violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity is a serious breach of international law and a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security. We do not and will not recognize Russia's illegal and illegitimate 'annexation' of Crimea. We demand that Russia comply with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities; end its illegitimate occupation of Crimea; refrain from aggressive actions against Ukraine; withdraw its troops; halt the flow of weapons, equipment, people and money across the border to the separatists; and stop fomenting tension along and across the Ukrainian border. Russia must use its influence with the separatists to de-escalate the situation and take concrete steps to allow for a political and a diplomatic solution which respects Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and internationally recognized borders». NATO has pledged some 15 million euros to Ukraine with several of the bloc’s member states pledging separate bilateral support and military cooperation involving medical supplies, as well as lethal and nonlethal military equipment.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced a "comprehensive and tailored package of measures," including the donation of 15 million euros «through NATO» at a joint news conference with the Ukrainian President on September 4, the first day of the NATO summit in Wales. He said that this would be in addition to other measures such as advising Ukraine on defense reforms and further bilateral aid. «This is about improvement of logistics, the improvement of command and control, the improvement of communications, and cyber defense,» Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said. Poroshenko claimed that some of the NATO member states said during bilateral consultations they are ready to supply Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal arms, including «high precision weapons,» as well as with medical equipment. No official confirmation of the agreement on provision of such weapons has been made by NATO or any of its states. 
The summit said NATO is committed to growing military presence and formation of a new rapid response force to include the military of Great Britain, Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway and the Netherlands. The mission is to counter the «aggression» on the part of Russia. The European participants endorsed the militarization in the vicinity of Russian borders only after Washington emphasized the need to meet the «Russian threat». It’s especially important for the White House to demonstrate that the fears have justification. For this purpose it needs the war to go on. At the close of a two-day NATO summit on September 5, President Obama expressed doubts that new ceasefire in Ukraine would hold and promised a new round of sanctions to keep pressure on Russia to respect its neighbor's borders. "We are hopeful, but based on past experience also skeptical that in fact the separatists will follow through and that Russia will stop violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Obama said. "It has to be tested." This kind of rhetoric against the backdrop of Washington’s threats to toughen the sanctions against Russia and talks about putting Ukraine under the NATO’s umbrella lead to the continuation of conflict. 
The demands to hold talks were voiced in the West only after another failure of anti-terrorist threat. The European Union and the United States agreed to indirectly recognize the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as equal partners at the talks. Ukraine is promised a military and financial aid package. Kiev may use the chance for regrouping the forces before launching another offensive.

Source: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/09/08/ukraine-truce-reached-what-next.html

вторник, 2 сентября 2014 г.

Top ten ways you can tell if Russia invades Ukraine

written by Dmitry Orlov
Last Thursday the Ukrainian government, echoed by NATO spokesmen, declared that the Russian military is now operating within Ukraine's borders. Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn't; what do you know? They said the same thing before, most recently on August 13, and then on August 17, each time with either no evidence or fake evidence. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

You be the judge. I put together this helpful list of top ten telltale signs that will allow you to determine whether indeed Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday, or whether Thursday's announcement is yet another confabulation. (Credit to Roman Kretsul).

Because if Russia invaded on Thursday morning, this is what the situation on the ground would look like by Saturday afternoon.

1. Ukrainian artillery fell silent almost immediately. They are no longer shelling residential districts of Donetsk and Lugansk. This is because their locations had been pinpointed prior to the operation, and by Thursday afternoon they were completely wiped out using air attacks, artillery and ground-based rocket fire, as the first order of business. Local residents are overjoyed that their horrible ordeal is finally at an end.

2. The look of military activity on the ground in Donetsk and Lugansk has changed dramatically. Whereas before it involved small groups of resistance fighters, the Russians operate in battalions of 400 men and dozens of armored vehicles, followed by convoys of support vehicles (tanker trucks, communications, field kitchens, field hospitals and so on). The flow of vehicles in and out is non-stop, plainly visible on air reconnaissance and satellite photos. Add to that the relentless radio chatter, all in Russian, which anyone who wants to can intercept, and the operation becomes impossible to hide. 

3. The Ukrainian military has promptly vanished. Soldiers and officers alike have taken off their uniforms, abandoned their weapons, and are doing their best to blend in with the locals. Nobody thought the odds of the Ukrainian army against the Russians were any good. Ukraine's only military victory against Russia was at the battle of Konotop in 1659, but at the time Ukraine was allied with the mighty Khanate of Crimea, and, you may have noticed, Crimea is not on Ukraine's side this time around.

4. There are Russian checkpoints everywhere. Local civilians are allowed through, but anyone associated with a government, foreign or domestic, is detained for questioning. A filtration system has been set up to return demobilized Ukrainian army draftees to their native regions, while the volunteers and the officers are shunted to pretrial detention centers, to determine whether they had ordered war crimes to be committed.

5. Most of Ukraine's border crossings are by now under Russian control. Some have been reinforced with air defense and artillery systems and tank battalions, to dissuade NATO forces from attempting to stage an invasion. Civilians and humanitarian goods are allowed through. Businessmen are allowed through once they fill out the required forms (which are in Russian).

6. Russia has imposed a no-fly zone over all of Ukraine. All civilian flights have been cancelled. There is quite a crowd of US State Department staffers, CIA and Mossad agents, and Western NGO people stuck at Borispol airport in Kiev. Some are nervously calling everyone they know on their satellite phones. Western politicians are demanding that they be evacuated immediately, but Russian authorities want to hold onto them until their possible complicity in war crimes has been determined.

7. The usual Ukrainian talking heads, such as president Poroshenko, PM Yatsenyuk and others, are no longer available to be interviewed by Western media. Nobody quite knows where they are. There are rumors that they have already fled the country. Crowds have stormed their abandoned residences, and were amazed to discover that they were all outfitted with solid gold toilets. Nor are the Ukrainian oligarchs anywhere to be found, except for the warlord Igor Kolomoisky, who was found in his residence, abandoned by his henchmen, dead from a heart attack. (Contributed by the Saker.)

8. Some of the over 800,000 Ukrainian refugees are starting to stream back in from Russia. They were living in tent cities, many of them in the nearby Rostov region, but with the winter coming they are eager to get back home, now that the shelling is over. Along with them, construction crews, cement trucks and flatbeds stacked with pipe, cable and rebar are streaming in, to repair the damage from the shelling.

9. There is all sorts of intense diplomatic and military activity around the world, especially in Europe and the US. Military forces are on highest alert, diplomats are jetting around and holding conferences. President Obama just held a press conference to announce that “We don't have a strategy on Ukraine yet.” His military advisers tell him that his usual strategy of “bomb a little and see what happens” is not likely to be helpful in this instance.

10. Kiev has surrendered. There are Russian tanks on the Maidan Square. Russian infantry is mopping up the remains of Ukraine's National Guard. A curfew has been announced. The operation to take Kiev resembled “Shock and Awe” in Baghdad: a few loud bangs and then a whimper.

Armed with this list, you too should be able to determine whether or not Russia has invaded Ukraine last Thursday.

Reprrinted with author's permission.