Tag Archives: Donetsk

‘If I Want, I Will Take Kiev in Two Weeks’, Putin Warns EU’s Barroso #Russia #Putin #Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin has issued a threat to outgoing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that he could “take Kiev in two weeks” if he wanted, 1 Italian media reports have said. 

According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the Russian leader made the belligerent statement in a phone call with the outgoing EU leader, who is set to be replaced by Luxembourg’s former prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

Despite the escalating tensions between all parties involved, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told negotiators in the Belarusian capital of Minsk that an “immediate ceasefire” is Russia’s priority.

However, both Ukraine and European Union member states accuse Russia of supporting the rebels fighting Kiev’s forces with military supplies and personnel in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of “direct and open aggression” in the eastern rebel-held cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Ukrainian forces have now withdrawn from Luhansk airport in the restive eastern region after firefights with pro-Russian separatists. Ukraine’s security council confirmed that the troops had withdrawn “in an organised manner”.

The reported exchange between Putin and Barroso comes as fears grow in Kazakhstan over Moscow’s rhetoric towards the country, following Putin’s claim that “Kazakhs never had any statehood” and the country was simply “created”.

In response, Nazarbayev warned that Kazakhstan may leave the Russian-led Customs Union, an economic coalition which includes Belarus, if it feels that its independence is threatened in any way by Moscow.

“Kazakhstan will not be part of organisations that pose a threat to our independence,” he told the Kazakh television station Khabar.

The massing of thousands of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border and reports of Russian incursions into Ukraine have put a spotlight on Moscow’s intentions in the post-Soviet states bordering the member nations of the Nato military alliance.

UN agencies estimate that more than 2,600 people have been killed in the fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian military since April.

Yahoo News UK.

  1. What Putin is really saying is ‘he can do whatever he damn well pleases because the west are too cowardly to stand up to him’ 

Vladimir #Putin is ‘dragging West towards new Cold #War with illegal invasion of #Ukraine

David Cameron spoke out as Nato said Russia had sent 1,000 heavily armed troops to join separatists in a “significant escalation” in “military interference”.

By James Lyons.Prisoners: A group of Russian servicemen detained by Ukrainian authorities.Prisoners: A group of Russian servicemen detained by Ukrainian authorities.

David Cameron has accused Vladimir Putin of provoking the West with an illegal invasion of Ukraine.

He spoke out as Nato said Russia had sent 1,000 heavily armed troops to join separatists in a “significant escalation” in “military interference”.

One No10 insider said Russian president Putin had dragged the world “back to the Cold War”.

British troops are expected to start ­exercises in Poland for a US-led show of force to reassure Eastern European Nato countries.

And Mr Cameron will also push for fresh sanctions against Russia at an European Union meeting in Brussels on Saturday.

Loggerheads: David Cameron and Vladimir PutinLoggerheads: David Cameron and Vladimir Putin.

The Prime Minister said: “I’m extremely concerned by mounting evidence Russian troops have made large-scale incursions into South-Eastern Ukraine, completely ­disregarding the sovereignty of a neighbour.”

He also urged fellow leaders not to be fooled by Putin’s decision to take part in talks with Ukraine in Belarus.

Mr Cameron continued: “It is simply not enough to engage in talks in Minsk, while Russian tanks roll over the border into Ukraine.

“Such activity must cease immediately.”

But rebel leader ­Alexander ­Zakharchenko bizarrely insisted the Kremlin forces were on leave.

Shelled: Workers try to repair the gate of a bakery damaged during shellingShelled: Workers try to repair the gate of a bakery damaged during shelling.

He declared: “Among us are fighting, serving soldiers who would rather take their vacation, not on a beach, but with us, among brothers, who are fighting for their freedom.”

The UN ­Security Council held an emergency session to discuss the crisis.

But as Russia has a permanent seat, there was no prospect of the invasion being condemned.

Meanwhile, 15 civilians were killed as Ukraine troops shelled Donetsk, it was reported.

Today, Vladimir Putin snubbed a traditional greeting of bread and salt on his visit to Minsk because he feared assassination by poisoning, sources claimed.

Mirror Online.

Western Ukrainian fighters leave war, cite poor support #RussiainvadedUkraine

 Lily Hyde.A man reads the notice on the grave of Major Yuri Baran of the 5th Carpathian battalion, killed near Amvrosiivka on July 8 and buried in Memorial Square in Ivano-Frankivsk. © Lily HydeA man reads the notice on the grave of Major Yuri Baran of the 5th Carpathian battalion, killed near Amvrosiivka on July 8 and buried in Memorial Square in Ivano-Frankivsk. © Lily Hyde

Soldiers from western Ukraine retreated from the war front near Amvrosiivka in Donetsk Oblast on Aug. 23 while, back home in Ivano-Frankivsk, desperate wives and mothers blocked roads demanding the return of their men.

It is yet another setback in a difficult week for Ukraine’s army leadership, as volunteer battalions stranded for 10 days in Ilovaisk, a city some 50 kilometers east of Donetsk, called for a picket of the General Staff military headquarters to demand reinforcements and better arms. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces withdrew from Novoazovsk, east of Mariupol, on Aug. 28 as Russian army soldiers advanced. The National Security and Defence Council said on Aug. 27 that several settlements around Amvrosiivka are now under the control of Russian forces.

Speaking to the Kyiv Post by phone, the commander of the 5th Carpathian territorial defense battalion, Vitaliy Komar, said the unit was forced to withdraw from Amvrosiyivka when it was continuously shelled across the border from Russia by heavy artillery, as well as by tanks and artillery barrages from Russian forces inside Ukraine, destroying ammunition and provisions. The battalion has been at the frontline for nearly two months, since July 5, with no armored vehicles or heavy weaponry, he says.

“They took the decision to retreat until they get fully kitted out by the Defense Ministry,” Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast council member Yuri Romanyuk said.

Officials at Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and Security Service, including anti-terrorist center spokesperson Oleksiy Dmytrashkivsky, did not comment.

According to Komar, his battalion was the last Ukrainian military force to leave the area, with regular army units from the 24th and 72nd brigades, as well as other units, having retreated earlier. His unit had two killed in action since July 5, and seven wounded.

By Aug. 27, the battalion had left the war zone and made its way to the city of Znamyanka in Kirovohrad Oblast. Romanyuk said they were in discussion with the Defense Ministry whether to continue home to their base in Ivano-Frankivsk region, or be sent back to the Anti-Terrorist Operation.

In what is becoming a repeated refrain, the apparent failure of the government to provide its soldiers with even the most basic supplies is undermining both the conduct of the war and the morale of those fighting it.

“They were dumped,” said Romanyuk. “And absolutely all the territorial defense battalions are in this position. So they are in revolt against the Ministry of Defense. No one wants to endure this idiotic command anymore, and this inadequate attitude to soldiers, to the needs of the army and the National Guard.”

When they were sent east on July 4, men from the 5th battalion joked that they had not enough bullet-proof vests between them. “We’ll share,” one told local TV cameras. “Two people can wear one vest, so we’re covered front and back.”

The 420 men drove off in yellow school buses, wearing mismatched camouflage and boots their mothers had bought for them. They received 45 days training before being sent straight to the war zone. On July 8, their chief of staff, Major Yuri Baran, was killed. Since his death, one other soldier from the unit, 23-year-old Volodymyr Danyliuk, died in an ambush on Aug. 13 at the hands of Russian forces.

Mothers and wives have been calling ever since on an unresponsive government to either provide adequate arms and backup for the 5th battalion, or else rotate them out of the frontline and send them home. On Aug. 25 they blocked a bridge in Ivano-Frankivsk, paralyzing traffic into the town for several hours.

“We’ve knocked on every single door, and all the answers we get is that no one can do anything, our boys are doing their duty,” said Olga, whose husband is in the battalion. Olga, like all the women, did not want to give her last name for fear her husband would be punished or accused of cowardice. When the battalion was informed it would be sent east, draftees who did not want to fight without proper equipment were told they could be sentenced to 2-5 years for desertion.

A March 17 presidential decree requires every region of Ukraine to raise a territorial defense battalion, where volunteers can join draftees like Olga’s husband, who received his call-up papers one midnight in May. According to Olga, the vast majority of soldiers in the 5th battalion are draftees who were initially told they would remain in Ivano-Frankivsk to defend strategic targets like gas pipelines.

Impoverished Ivano-Frankivsk region raised nearly seven million hryvnias for food and equipment for its battalion, including helmets and bulletproof vests.

Councilman Romanyuk spoke to the Kyiv Post in-between negotiating the purchase of thermal underwear and bullet-proof vests. “We buy it all with our own money and send it ourselves,” he said. “No one else is looking after soldiers on the front line.”

This nationwide volunteer effort supporting the army is losing patience with what is increasingly viewed as incompetence or even sabotage by authorities.

“The 5th battalion’s moral, political and patriotic spirit is really high, they are ready to fight, but to fight within reason,” said Romanyuk. “To die stupidly with no justification – someone should take responsibility for that. A government who in three months is unable to buy helmets and bullet-proof vests has no moral right to be in power during wartime.”

Kyiv Post.

Putin’s Cherished Deniability Is Shattered #Russia #Ukraine

By Leonid Bershidsky.Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives a press conference after a summit in Minsk early on Aug. 27, 2014. © AFPIT WASN’T ME. © AFP.

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ability to deny Russia’s involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine has always been of utmost importance. The Kremlin has stressed that it is not a party to the fighting, and that all it wants from Ukraine is peace and a few trade concessions. Deniability, however, is fast eroding. Despite increasingly surreal disavowals from Moscow, it is now apparent just how invested Putin is in the conflict’s outcome. That investment terrifies Europe and the U.S., which have no desire to match it.

During talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last night, Putin reiterated his tired message that Russia “cannot talk substantively about a ceasefire, about any agreements between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk — this is none of our business, it’s the business of Ukraine itself.” The assertion rang more hollow than usual, however, amid published photographs of Russian troops captured in Ukraine and furtive hometown burials for Russian paratroopers killed there.

One such burial, of two soldiers, took place in the village of Vybuty near Pskov in northwestern Russia, where an airborne division is based. Efforts to conceal the deaths produced a fiasco. Though the wife of one paratrooper had reported his death on the Vkontakte social network, when a reporter, Ilya Vasyunin of the Russian Planet website, called the wife’s phone number, a woman who answered stated that the paratrooper was alive and well. Two reporters, from Russian Planet and TV Dozhd, who visited the cemetery where the two fresh graves had been seen were immediately attacked by men in black tracksuits. Local journalists, however, succeeded in photographing the graves. According to the independent TV Dozhd, the soldiers’ names and wreaths have been removed from the graves.

There are other reports of paratrooper funerals, which are hard to conceal. Soldiers have grieving families who do not necessarily share the authorities’ desire for deception. In any case, Ukrainian troops have captured some Russian paratroopers. For the first time since the conflict began in March, they were able to record interviews with them.

What the paratroopers said is immaterial given the circumstances under which they were questioned. What matters is that Moscow has admitted that they are Russian servicemen. The Russian defense ministry said the soldiers had been “patrolling the Russian-Ukrainian border and probably crossed it inadvertently in an unmarked area. As far as we know, they did not resist when they were captured by the Ukrainian military.”

That explanation was also cited by Putin, who pointed out, truthfully, that Ukrainian soldiers had also crossed into Russian territory and been sent back. The response might have sufficed to extend the deniability game if not for the soldiers’ deaths, and the efforts of other soldiers’ relatives to track down their loved ones supposedly taking part in military exercises near the Ukrainian border. The mother of one paratrooper, Lyubov Maksimova, gave a press conference Tuesday in which she apologized to Ukraine in the event her son had caused any harm.

In other words, if Russian paratroopers previously had blundered into Ukraine because border markings weren’t visible, they’ve made a habit of the mistake. In the process, some are getting killed. The captured Russian paratroopers, meanwhile, had ridden in unmarked vehicles without Russian insignia — a wholly unnecessary subterfuge had they simply been patrolling their own border.

The involvement of Russian airborne troops in the conflict appears to be a recent phenomenon. Ukrainian servicemen had never captured regular Russian soldiers before, and reporters in the conflict zone had only seen nationalist volunteers and some Chechen fighters helping out the Ukrainian separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The flow of Russian weapons into the area was documented, and the participation of instructors from Russian intelligence strongly suspected, but that was the extent of it until this week.

Now, with the rebels being hammered by the Ukrainian army, such support is presumably no longer enough. Unwilling to surrender the fight, Putin is surrendering his cherished deniability instead.

European and U.S. leaders are nevertheless careful not to call this a Russian-Ukrainian war. Nor has the first credible evidence of Russian troops engaged in eastern Ukraine led to calls for further economic sanctions. To call Putin’s increasingly obvious bluff would necessitate supporting the Ukrainian side, possibly with military aid. No one is prepared to do that.

Even Poroshenko is talking only of “stopping the supply of equipment and armaments to the fighters,” lest he saddle his supporters with uncomfortable truths. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, unofficially charged with pacifying Ukraine, is probably right in counting on Poroshenko and Putin to work out some kind of deal. Further escalation could spell disaster for both men. Eventually, they will have to figure out how to stop.

(To contact the writer of this article: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.net).

(To contact the editor responsible for this article: Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.net).

Bloomberg View.

Victoria Petrenko: It’s time to call Russians Russian #RussiaUkraine #WordGame

 Victoria Petrenko.Bystanders watch a fire consuming a school in downtown Donetsk on August 27, 2014, after being hit by a shelling. Several civilians died when their car was completely burned after being hit by shell fragments in central Donetsk, the rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG© AFPBystanders watch a fire consuming a school in downtown Donetsk on August 27, 2014, after being hit by a shelling. Several civilians died when their car was completely burned after being hit by shell fragments in central Donetsk, the rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG © AFP

It’s time to stop the game in words and call a spade a spade, Russian Russian. We all know that the Russian Federation started this war against Ukraine when unidentified “green men” invaded Crimea. Or maybe earlier? Maybe on Feb, 20 when snipers shot at protesters in Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti?

Or maybe even much earlier, when a “friendly” neighbor-state published anti-Ukrainian books (like Mikhail Kalashnikov’s “Independent Ukraine: Breakup of a Project”), produced movies in which Ukrainians are shown as traitors and cowards or when Russian President Vladimir Putin shouted at the NATO Bucharest summit in April 2008: “…Ukraine is not even a state. What is Ukraine? Part of its territories is Eastern Europe, but the greater part is a gift from us.” We all know that the Russian government started this war against Ukraine not today and not yesterday, but didn’t say this aloud.

When Russian servicemen invaded Crimea we called them “green men” or “Crimean Cossacks,” When a Moscow citizen planted the Russian flag atop the Kharkiv State Administration we called it an “anti-government protest.” When Russians occupied key posts in the so-called, self-proclaimed ‘People’s Republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk, we called them “Ukrainian rebels.” And even after the Russian army shelled Ukrainian territory, Russian helicopters killed border guards, after tanks, artillery and infantry have crossed from Russia the border of sovereign Ukraine, we still call it “fighting between governmental forces and pro-Russian militants.”

In spite of all the proof we have, all evidence we know, the world continues to use the phrase “pro-Russian rebels” instead of “Russian forces.”

Of course the most convenient term in this diplomatic game is to use the word “terrorists” – no one wants to have war with Russia, but every country is ready to help fight the terrorist.

It also gives Putin a chance to retreat and take a role of “peacemaker,” since officially Russia has no attitude to “civil” war inside Ukraine.

Until recently Ukraine did everything to prevent the open intervention and used all diplomatic means to stop the aggression, but now, when regular armies of two states are facing off in a third front in a fierce battle outside the southeastern city of Novoazovsk, isn’t it the time to announce openly at the international level that we have not a civil conflict, but Russian-Ukrainian war?

And those countries that cooperate with it support the aggressor? Isn’t it the time to recognize massacres in eastern Ukraine as war crimes? Isn’t it the time finally to call Russian not a green man, rebel or separatist, but Russian?

(Victoria Petrenko is a Kyiv Post website editor).

Kyiv Post.