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Protesters in Ukraine rip up Russian flag at embassy


Protesters pelted the Russian embassy in Kyiv with eggs on Saturday, June 14 and ripped up a Russian flag in protest at what they called Moscow's backing of separatist rebels in east Ukraine.Protesters pelted the Russian embassy in Kyiv with eggs on Saturday, June 14 and ripped up a Russian flag in protest at what they called Moscow’s backing of separatist rebels in east Ukraine. © Ukrainian News

Protesters pelted the Russian embassy in Kiev with eggs on Saturday and ripped up a Russian flag in protest at what they called Moscow’s backing of separatist rebels in east Ukraine, witnesses said.

The crowd of more than 100 mostly young people, many of them with their faces covered, held up banners with slogans such as “Russia go home”. The demonstrators then overturned several cars, including some which appeared to belong to the embassy, and damaged the metal gate but police did not intervene.

A demonstrator with his face covered holds up the license plate from a flipped car during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014.A demonstrator with his face covered holds up the license plate from a flipped car during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014. Some 300 people overturned vehicles of the embassy staff, teared down the Russian flag from the flagpole and threw eggs at the building in protest after pro-Russian rebels killed 49 Ukrainian troops by downing a military plane in the deadliest attack against federal forces in the two-month insurgency. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY © AFP

Ukraine accuses Russia, which annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine in March, of supporting the uprising in Russian-speaking regions in the east and the United States has accused Moscow of providing the rebels with tanks. Russia denies the accusations.

The protest followed the deaths of 49 Ukrainian servicemen on board a military transport plane that was shot down by the separatists early on Saturday.

A demonstrator throws a stone at a window of an overturned car during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014.A demonstrator throws a stone at a window of an overturned car during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014. © Ukrainian News

People flip a car over during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014.People flip a car over during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014. Some 300 people overturned vehicles of the embassy staff, tore down the Russian flag from the flagpole and threw eggs at the building in protest after pro-Russian rebels killed 49 Ukrainian troops by downing a military plane in the deadliest attack against federal forces in the two-month insurgency. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY © AFP

A demonstrator writes A demonstrator writes “Death invaders” using spray paint on an overturned car during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014. © Ukrainian News

Demonstrators throw eggs during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014.Demonstrators throw eggs during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014.© Ukrainian News


(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Reuters / Kyiv Post

Deadliest day for Ukraine in Kremlin-backed separatist war spurs outrage


Pro-Russian separatists look through the debris of an IL-76 transporter which was taken down by pro-Russian rebels early on June 14, on the outskirts of Lugansk June 14, 2014.Pro-Russian separatists look through the debris of an IL-76 transporter which was taken down by pro-Russian rebels early on June 14, on the outskirts of Lugansk June 14, 2014. Ukraine’s new Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko vowed Saturday to deliver an “adequate response” to pro-Russian rebels who downed a military transport plane, killing 49 troops. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU © AFP

June 14 marks the deadliest day of the undeclared war between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists in the country’s eastern regions after Kremlin-backed insurgents shot down a Ukrainian military cargo plane carrying 49 servicemen. All were killed.

READ: Kremlin-backed insurgents shoot down military plane in Luhansk, killing 49 says spokesman (VIDEO)

Most of them – 40 servicemen – were paratroopers of the 25th Dnipropetrovsk airborne brigade, while nine were from the Melitopil transport brigade and the plane’s crew. An investigation is under way by the general prosecutor into terrorism.

Terrible tragedy, 50 Ukrainian soldiers killed in a plane hit by terrorists’ rocket. Lack words for condolences to families, outrage at Kremlin,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Yulia Tymoshenko, President Petro Poroshenko’s main rival in the May 25 presidential election, was faster than the incumbent president in reacting to the accident.

“I and our faction in Verkhovna Rada are waiting for the decisive initiatives from the authorities on establishing peace. I guarantee that all of them will get unanimous support on our side,” she said in a statement published on her website.

Poroshenko’s statement appeared around 2 p.m. on his official website.

The president expressed his condolences to the families of the fallen Ukrainian military and border servicemen killed during the government’s anti-terrorist operation.

“I will make Sunday the mourning day for our military men. This is a great loss not just for the families of the dead, but the whole country. Ukraine is in sorrow, but we decisively continue to fight for peace,” Poroshenko stressed. “All those involved in the cynical terrorist act of such a magnitude, will inevitably be punished. Ukraine needs peace. But the terrorists will get an adequate response.”

Poroshenko also ordered a National Security and Defense Council meeting and instructed the Cabinet of Ministers to provide assistance to the families of the dead.  (more…)

Defense Ministry says terrorists use Russian machinery and equipment


equipment brought from Russia

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry reports on its website that terrorists in eastern Ukraine use machinery and equipment brought from Russia.

“During last several days as the operation aimed to provide an effective protection of state border was taking place, armed forces have terminated the activity of terrorist groups and military mercenaries in a whole number of cities in Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts,” reads the statement.

Moreover, Defense Ministry accuses pro-Russian terrorists of violating the international law and Geneva Conventions. “As a result, local civil population has to leave their houses and move to different regions of Ukraine, escaping from terrorists,” says the press release.

Material evidence found near Dobropillya in Donetsk Oblast allows to conclude that terrorist groups in eastern Ukraine consist of well prepared and equipped soldiers from Russia, including those from special military forces. “This could be proved by the stamp “For packages” that was found. It indicates the connection to one of the units of Russian armed forces,” mentions the Ministry’s statement.

Kyiv Post

Kremlin-backed insurgents shoot down military plane in Luhansk, killing 49


A member of pro-Russian separatist forces looks through the debris on the outskirts of Lugansk June 14, 2014 of an IL-76 transporter which was taken down by pro-Russian rebels early on June 14.A member of pro-Russian separatist forces looks through the debris on the outskirts of Lugansk June 14, 2014 of an IL-76 transporter which was taken down by pro-Russian rebels early on June 14. Ukraine’s new Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko vowed Saturday to deliver an “adequate response” to pro-Russian rebels who downed a military transport plane, killing 49 troops. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU © AFP

Kremlin-backed insurgents used surface-to-air weapons to shoot down a military cargo plane as it was landing overnight on June 13-14 at the Luhansk airport in eastern Ukraine, killing 49 servicemen, according to a military spokesman.

“Overnight on June 13 and 14, terrorists cynically and treacherously shot the IL-76, transportation air carrier of Ukrainian Air Force as it was approaching the land of Luhansk airport. Terrorists used an anti-aircraft installation and heavy machine gun,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

The ministry statement did not give a death toll, but Reuters cited military spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov as saying that 49 servicemen had been killed when the plane went down.

A Defense Ministry official with knowledge of the incident told the Kyiv Post by phone that “very, very many” were dead but refused to give the number because he was not authorized to speak with media.

Meanwhile, the National Guard press service mentioned that there were three Ukrainian planes overall going to Luhansk overnight on June 13-14 – first one landed successfully, second one was shot down and third one managed to retire.

Anatoliy Hrytsenko, the former defense minister, told the Kyiv Post that 40 of the servicemen killed were paratroopers from the 25th Dnipropetrovsk air brigade and nine were crew members from the Melitopil-based transport brigade.

The death of the 49 troops marks the biggest loss of servicemen suffered in a single event since Ukraine’s anti-terrorist operation began in April and brings the total number of killed servicemen to at least 115.

“On board [the cargo plane] were military personnel, machinery, equipment and supplies,” the Defense Ministry statement reads. “Supervisors of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and command of the Air Force of Ukraine express sincere condolences to the parents, relatives and friends of soldiers in connection with the tragic loss.”

So called “Luhansk People’s Republic” took the responsibility for shooting down Ukrainian air carrier, reports Radio Liberty referring to LNR spokeswoman Oksana Chygryna. “The plane was shot down by militia. (Ukrainian side) violated (LNR leader Valeriy) Bolotov’s decree about closed air space over Luhansk. The document implied relevant measures for violating it,” Chygryna said.

Dmitry Tymchuk, a military analyst and head of the Kyiv-based non-governmental organization Information Resistance, reported that Ukrainian anti-terrorist operation forces discovered at insurgent positions near the airport three “Igla” man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) believed to have been used to down the IL-76 cargo plane.

Two “Igla” MANPADS were found, one was technically defective (9M39 rocket remained in the pipe),” Tymchuk added.


This video, filmed by a CCTV camera and published on YouTube, is said to show the plane crashing in Luhansk overnight on June 13-14.

Kremlin-backed insurgents have fought pitched battles with Ukrainian forces throughout the region, managing to capture a National Guard base as well as a headquarters of the State Border Guard Service.

They have also seized control of several border crossings to allow reinforcements in the form of fighters and weapons to pass from Russia into Ukraine.

Luhansk is one of the nerve centers of the pro-Russian separatist movement in the country’s restive east where a referendum on secession was held on May 11 and gunmen have seized control of key buildings and set up checkpoints around the city.

Ukrainian officials declared boldly on June 13 that their forces would wrest back control of the entire eastern border with Russia in the coming days.

The declaration came shortly after National Guard troops and militiamen from Azov and Dnipro 1 units neutralized armed separatists in the southeastern port city of Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast and seized control of the city.

Later, President Petro Poroshenko ordered the Donetsk regional government to move its offices to the port city and begin work immediately. Regional authorities had previously been evicted by armed separatists, who have occupied the State Regional Administration building in central Donetsk, using it as a headquarters.

Kyiv Post

Bordering on Lunacy: Putin’s Frog-in-a-Pot War


A chalk board reads A chalk board reads “Long Live DNR!” at the headquarters of separatist militias of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”(DNR) in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on June 13, 2014, after it was stormed by Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian forces said they had hoisted the national flag over the strategic rebel-held port of Mariupol on June 13 in their biggest advance since Petro Poroshenko’s election as the insurgency-wrecked country’s pro-Western president. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU © AFP

There’s an anecdote about a frog in a pot of water that goes like this: If you put a frog in a pot of hot or boiling water, it will immediately jump out (or die). But if you put it in a pot of cold water, and then gradually heat it, the frog won’t notice the change in temperature until it’s cooked.

I’m not sure if that’s actually true or not, but it’s a useful metaphor for the type of warfare Russian President Vladimir Putin has now unleashed on Ukraine. The idea is that people tend not to notice very gradual change, and if the process is carefully managed, people can be taken from one state of affairs to another, quite different one, without them even noticing exactly how or when they got there.

Ukraine is now at war. Part of its territory has already been annexed. Its soldiers are being killed by foreign fighters, armed and equipped from abroad, and sent to the country to seize key administrative buildings, military facilities, and even entire, strategically placed towns. Ukraine has lost control of its eastern border, and foreign tanks and troops are roaming one of its eastern provinces. All this has happened in the last four months.

But so gradual has this change in the state of affairs in Ukraine, that there are some who would not even recognize that Ukraine is, in fact, at war with Russia. It’s even difficult to say when this war broke out: was it with the annexation of Crimea, or with the appearance of the “little green men” in the peninsula? Was it, as some believe, when Russian special forces were allegedly sent to steady the Yanukovych regime as it was rocked by public protests, and activists began to be abducted, tortured and killed by men speaking “chistiy” (or Russian-accented) Russian?

What we can say is that things have definitely been going badly for Ukraine since late February, and things are still going from bad to worse. Few would have thought, in those dreadful days after the ouster of Yanukovych, that Ukraine would soon lose Crimea to Russia – but it did. Then there were the anxious last two weeks of March, when it seemed that mainland Ukraine might be invaded. Then in mid April the “little green men” turned up in the Donbas, and buildings started to be seized, and the hitherto unremarkable town of Sloviansk became the center of a pro-Russian rebellion, and a humiliating thorn in the side of the weak and disorganized Ukrainian armed forces. Abductions and killings, of journalists and activists, became commonplace. We learned the names of some of the Russian mercenaries behind the seizure of parts of the Donbas. Then a battalion of Chechen fighters appeared, and tried to take over Donetsk airport. The bodies of Russian mercenaries began to be sent back to Russia openly. And now tanks, stolen from Ukrainian bases in occupied Crimea, are being openly driven around towns in the east.

This evolution of circumstances, this gradual turning up of the heat, did not happen naturally – every major event, from the theft of Crimea to the deployment of Chechen fighters and tanks in the Donbas, has been carefully, artificially crafted and managed by Russia. Putin, an old KGB colonel, is conducting this war with lies, propaganda and subterfuge, and is very carefully and gradually raising the temperature for Ukraine. Little by little he adds new outrages, or mixes in a new ingredient (“little green men”, Chechens, tanks), to the pot of war in which he is stewing his neighbor. Sometimes he turns one burner down at little – perhaps a small redeployment of troops from the border – while tweaking up another slightly – say by threatening to cut off gas supplies. He calls for peace talks and for Kyiv to stop its anti-terrorist operation in the east, while at the same time letting more and more armed men cross the Russian border into Ukraine. But at all times he is gradually raising the temperature of the conflict.

Putin has proved difficult to predict, but perhaps, given what we have seen of his tactics in the last few months, we can now make a cautious prediction: he will continue to conduct this new type of war, his Frog-in-a-Pot war, until he achieves his aims, or until he is stopped.

Putin has himself alluded to what these aims might be: the dismemberment of Ukraine and the establishment of a new, Kremlin vassal state on the territory of Ukraine’s south and east, which he refers to as Novorossiya. He thinks in terms of maps, and it irks him to see Transdnistria (Moscow’s vassal state in Moldova) and his newly conquered Crimea cut off from Mother Russia. The solution to him is to take a swathe of Ukraine’s south and east, linking all his isolated possessions (and that goes for Kaliningrad as well: Latvia, Belarus, beware!).

So there probably won’t be an all-out attack and invasion of Ukraine by Russia – a swift, decisive sweep into enemy territory of the type we have seen in conflicts past. Instead, the situation in Ukraine will slowly deteriorate, until one day Kyiv will wake up to the realization that it has lost control of half of its territory, perhaps without even a single major battle being fought.

However, that’s assuming everything goes Putin’s way, and the frog doesn’t manage to escape being cooked.

Putin’s plans can be foiled if Ukraine can get his hands off the burners. That means, first of all, securing the border. Although some progress is reported to have been made, Ukraine has yet to prove that it has the strength to establish firm control over its frontier with Russia. But the border must be closed, and kept closed, to stop weapons and men from Russia getting into Ukraine to cause more and worse havoc. The anti-terrorist operation must not be stopped, no matter how Moscow protests. If there is any halt, Russia will simply use the opportunity to consolidate its position in the Donbas before starting to make mischief anew.

Next, Ukraine must continue to press for tough sanctions from the West against Russia – sanctions that don’t just have teeth, but sanctions with six-inch razor-edged fangs that can slice and rip into Russia’s exposed and vulnerable financial system, and its flabby industry, doing them some serious, painful injury. Wars cost money to prosecute, and the less of it available to Russia the better.

At the same time, Ukraine must work to reduce its dependency on Russian gas, and make sure it pays a fair price for the reduced amount it will still have to buy in the near term. For that, it will need firmer backing from the countries that consume 50% of Russia’s gas exports to the EU (50% of which is delivered through Ukrainian transit pipelines) – Italy and Germany.

Russia’s unfair actions in its undeclared trade war with Ukraine, which has already been going on for nearly a year, must be referred to the WTO, and trade sanctions applied and enforced by that organization.

On the diplomatic front, Ukraine must do everything it can to highlight Russia’s international isolation from the civilized world and its disgraceful position as the leader of a motley pack of rogue states. Russia must pay a diplomatic price in the United Nations for its aggression. Little has been achieved on this front since the General Assembly vote condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and that was in March.

The black propaganda campaign waged by Russia against Ukraine must be more strenuously opposed. All too often, ridiculous and outrageous lies spewed by the Kremlin-controlled Russian media end up being parroted by “useful idiot” leftist commentators in the Western media, distorting Western perceptions of what is actually happening in Ukraine. Moscow has an army of Internet trolls dedicated to bending Western public opinion in the direction it wants. Ukraine has to counter this with its own army of troll slayers. Public initiatives such as http://www.stopfake.org are doing great work, but more needs to be done at the government level in Ukraine to counter the falsehoods emanating from the Russian media.

All of the above, and more, have to be done to douse Russia’s smoldering aggression, and stop the frog getting cooked. In future, for the frog to escape the pot once and for all (meaning ensuring Russia can never again threaten Ukraine’s very existence as a state), a whole set of other measures will need to be taken, such as rebuilding and reequipping Ukraine’s army, integrating the country’s economy with that of the European Union, and healing the raw wounds Putin has torn in Ukrainian society by artificially fostering divisions and mistrust between east and west.

But before all that, Ukraine first has to recognize that it is indeed a frog in a pot, and that the heat is rising.

Euan MacDonald

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