Tag Archives: Luhansk

The European Union’s wake-up call seems to be falling on deaf ears


Time to wake up Europe...
Russia’s military Feb. 27 military invasion and subsequent annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula was supposed to be the European Union’s wake-up call to answer Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

So was Russia’s war against Ukraine in the eastern oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. But not only has the EU failed to formulate a strong response, many of its members want to continue selling arms and doing business as usual with Russia. Now after Russian separatist leaders armed, trained and financed by the Kremlin are believed to have shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, killing 298 people, the EU appears to still be sleeping in response to Russia’s threat to global peace.

Ukraine reports overnight rebel attacks on border


Residents examine a bomb shelter in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on July 24, 2014. The bomb shelter built in the 50 years of the last century and prepared by city's powers for using accommodates about 300 people. © AFPResidents examine a bomb shelter in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on July 24, 2014. The bomb shelter built in the 50 years of the last century and prepared by city’s powers for using accommodates about 300 people. © AFP

MOSCOW (AP) — The Ukrainian army on Friday claimed that soldiers came under artillery fire from the Russian side of the border overnight and were attacked by rebels in several other places in the restive east.

Ukrainian forces are trying to close in on the rebels, cutting them off from the border with Russia which Kiev believes is the source of arms and reinforcement. Moscow has vehemently denied a role in the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and government troops which has left more than 400 people dead and displaced tens of thousands.

In a statement on Friday, the headquarters of the government’s military operation in the east listed at least seven locations where rebels attacked Ukrainian troops. They also claimed that attacks on two locations including a border crossing were supported by artillery fire from Russia.

Late on Thursday, Ukrainian troops entered the town of Lysychansk, which has been in rebel hands for several months, the military press office said. Rebels on Friday morning admitted in comments carried by Interfax that they had to flee the town which is 70 kilometers (45 miles) north-west of the regional capital Luhansk.

International observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on Friday were traveling to inspect the wreckage of the downed Malaysia Airlines plane and to search for more bodies. Human remains are still being found at the crash site more than a week after the plane went down.

All 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 — most of them Dutch citizens — were killed when the plane was shot down on July 17. U.S. officials say the Boeing 777 was probably downed by a missile fired by pro-Russian rebels, likely by accident.

Associated Press.

Russia: Voronezh region’s court leaves pilot Nadia Savchenko in custody


Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko, a 31-year-old navigator, was fighting with the Aidar volunteer battalion in eastern Ukraine when she was captured by illegal armed units in June near the town of Schastia, a suburb of Luhansk.  © CourtesyUkrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko, a 31-year-old navigator, was fighting with the Aidar volunteer battalion in eastern Ukraine when she was captured by illegal armed units in June near the town of Schastia, a suburb of Luhansk. © Courtesy

Voronezh – The Voronezh region’s court considered an appeal filed by the defense lawyers for Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko and made a decision o keep her in custody until Aug. 30, thus upholding the decision made by the Novousmansky district court.

Kyiv Post.

BBC News: US says evidence shows Russia fired artillery into Ukraine


Russian backed terroristsThe Pentagon sites ‘human intelligence’ showing that Russia, not separatists, attacking Ukrainian military positions

The US says it has evidence that Russia has fired artillery across the border targeting Ukrainian military positions.

Russia also intends “to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers” to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the state department said.

Russia has frequently denied sending any rocket launchers into Ukraine.

The US comment comes a week after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, with the rebels widely accused of shooting it down.

Multinational efforts to find the cause of the crash are under way, led by the Netherlands which lost 193 of its citizens. All 298 people on board the flight died in the crash.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced 40 unarmed military police are being sent to the crash site as part of efforts to find the last MH17 victims.

He said there would be more people working on the crash site and his government was looking at ways to make it more secure.

People in Kyiv mourn the victims of the MH17 flight

‘Human intelligence’

The US, which has repeatedly accused Russia of fuelling separatist sentiment in eastern Ukraine, says it believes that rebels shot down flight MH17 with a Russian-provided SA-11 Buk surface-to-air missile, probably by mistake.

Leading rebels in eastern Ukraine have given conflicting accounts of whether they had control of a Buk launcher at the time the plane was downed.

State department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Thursday the US had evidence derived from “some intelligence information” showing Russia firing artillery into eastern Ukraine.

She said the US would not provide further details so as not to compromise sources and methods of intelligence collection.

Earlier on Thursday, the EU said it was adding 15 people and 18 entities to the list of sanctions against Russia and Ukraine, in a move condemned by Russia’s ambassador to the UK as “illegal, unreasonable and counterproductive”.

Soldiers load coffins into cars under a Ukrainian flag during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies, of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from Ukraine at Eindhoven military air base, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. After being removed from the planes, the bodies are to be taken in a convoy of hearses to a military barracks in the central city of Hilversum, where forensic experts will begin the painstaking task of identifying the bodies and returning them to their loved ones.Soldiers load coffins into cars under a Ukrainian flag during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies, of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from Ukraine at Eindhoven military air base, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. After being removed from the planes, the bodies are to be taken in a convoy of hearses to a military barracks in the central city of Hilversum, where forensic experts will begin the painstaking task of identifying the bodies and returning them to their loved ones.

It comes as two more planes carrying the remains of some of the passengers and crew of flight MH17 arrived in the Netherlands for forensic identification at a barracks south of the Dutch city of Hilversum.

Difficult access

Dutch investigators have faced difficulties gaining access to the rebel-controlled crash site in eastern Ukraine, amid continuing fighting there.

Some OSCE monitors and investigators who did manage to visit the site say there is a discrepancy in the numbers of bodies counted on the ground.

With remains still being found one week on, experts warn it could be months before all victims are identified.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has proposed a multinational force to secure the crash site mounted by countries most affected by the disaster, namely Australia, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Dutch counterpart, Frans Timmermans, are in Kiev to try to secure agreement from the Ukrainian authorities for a Dutch-led police mission at the crash site.

Meanwhile, UK aviation investigators have managed to successfully extract data from the plane’s two black boxes, the Dutch Safety Board, which is leading the investigation, said on Thursday.

They are looking for voice recordings of the last moments of the plane’s flight, as well as potentially vital information from after any missile strike, which could yield clues about the impact and effect of the strike.

Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Vostok Battalion speaks during an interview in Donetsk. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/ReutersRebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Vostok Battalion speaks during an interview in Donetsk. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

Details of further EU sanctions on Russia and Ukraine are expected to come to light on Friday, with talks on stepped-up action – which may include a ban on buying debt or stock issued by Russia’s largest banks – also due to continue.

In other developments on Thursday:

  • Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned in protest at the disbanding of the ruling parliamentary coalition, paving the way for new elections. It is not yet clear if his resignation will be accepted by parliament
  • CNN says one of its freelance journalists, Anton Skiba, was abducted by armed pro-Russia separatists in Donetsk on Tuesday and has appealed for his release
  • Overall rebel military commander Igor Strelkov says in statement he has withdrawn his fighters from the outskirts of Donetsk

The fighting in eastern Ukraine erupted in April and is believed to have claimed more than 1,000 lives.
Fatal Flight Path of Flight MH17

For video’s go to the BBC News website.

To mock President Putin’s pride and test his paranoia is folly


Editors Note: Read the full article before making a comment, I admit to feeling anger when I first started to read this, but at the end I started to see sense.1 Another excellent article by Simon Jenkins at The Guardian.
'Barack Obama was a wimp. François Hollande was an appeaser. David Cameron was a hypocrite.' Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images‘Barack Obama was a wimp. François Hollande was an appeaser. David Cameron was a hypocrite.’ Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Why does foreign policy default to stupid? From the moment that we heard of the Malaysian airliner shot down over Ukraine it was clearly a tragic accident. Whoever’s finger was on the trigger, the tragedy cannot have been meant. This was not another 9/11. It was cock-up, not conspiracy.

Yet foreign policy craves conspiracy. Vladimir Putin blamed the Ukrainian government. Ukraine blamed the pro-Russian rebels. America’s UN ambassador, Samantha Power, “cannot rule out” Moscow’s responsibility. London howled blue murder all round. There had been blood. There had to be blame.

What happened was a ghastly mess in bandit country, meriting the swiftest possible restoration of dignity for the victims. Yet before even the bodies had been collected, politicians vied with each other for tightening sanctions, ending trade, expelling oligarchs and freezing bank accounts. Soon they were fighting like rats in a sack. Barack Obama was a wimp. François Hollande was an appeaser. David Cameron was a hypocrite. The philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy hurled down thunderbolts on everyone, “This is the spirit of Munich – appeasement. And it is a disgrace.”

These moments are dangerous. In 1914, the Austrian government declared the madcap shooting of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand a “Serbian government plot” and went to war. In 1983, the Russians shot down a Korean airliner that had strayed over Siberia, killing all 269 people on board. It was clearly an accident, the fighter pilots’ ground control being drunk and panicking. This intelligence was suppressed and the incident exploited to precipitate one of the most scary confrontations of the cold war.

Five years later it was America’s turn, when a US cruiser shot down an Iranian civilian Airbus A300 in Iranian airspace. The US navy wriggled and excused itself, while Iran seized on it as a crime of wanton aggression, aided by America rewarding its sailors with medals. Washington refused to admit legal liability, and took eight years to pay $62m in compensation to bereaved families.

What is terrifying is how such incidents are distorted to suit the interests of revenge. Clearly Putin has been reckless along Russia’s western frontier, backing Ukrainian rebels with enough weaponry to make accidents more likely to happen. Yet the idea that he willed the tragedy is as absurd as that Konstantin Chernenko willed the Korean massacre or Ronald Reagan the downing of an Iranian plane.

Putin must have been as appalled as anyone at the fate of the airliner. It also sabotaged his delicate power play in the region and threw him on the defensive. Intelligence from Moscow suggests that he is bruised and angry, retreating into his circle of hawkish advisers and their nationalist rhetoric. This is the moment Confucius advises us to give the enemy a bridge over which to retreat. Instead, the west’s hawks are having a field day, deriding Putin’s paranoia as if to goad him into doing something worse.

Visiting Russia in the 1990s after its humiliation in the cold war, I found it a sad and dangerous place, not unlike Germany after its defeat in 1918. Yet it was as if no western diplomat had read the Treaty of Versailles, or noted Keynes’ warning of the consequences. Much was done to build economic ties between west and east. Energy, investment and contacts flowed back and forth. Western companies cavorted with oligarchs and kleptocrats. Money stolen from the Russian people gushed into the wildcat banks of Cyprus and London and into the Swiss and British property markets. London must rank as the greatest receiver of stolen goods of all time.

So far, so good. But at the same time, Nato and the EU rolled forward over eastern Europe to the Russian frontier, as if aiming its guns at the gates of Moscow to taunt Russia for its defeat. Nato apologists argued that any country, be it Latvia, Georgia or Ukraine, should be free to join whichever club it liked (albeit objecting when Crimeans voted the other way). Yet only fools can ignore the fact of Russian pride and fear of encirclement. The post-cold war provocation of Putin was good public relations, but it was rotten history.

We are told that east Ukraine is one of many potential explosions that Putin could trigger along the Russian border, from the Baltic to the Caucasus. Everywhere are Russian minorities (or majorities) that could clash with local non-Russians. Europe’s leaders have no conceivable interest in stirring up such conflicts – and yet that was precisely what they sought to do in Georgia and Ukraine.

For Britain – or America – to try and lay down the law along Russia’s extensive borders is barking mad; to use a tragic plane accident as casus belli equally so. It is nothing but breast-beating machismo. Yet again we lurch towards the woolly-headed daftness of economic sanctions. It is beyond hypocrisy for the west to demand sanctions against Moscow when it happily buys Russian gas and sells Russia guns, ships, Knightsbridge flats and places at Eton. These double-standards are of our hand. According to the commons committee on arms exports, Britain currently sells arms worth £12bn to 27 countries listed by the Foreign Office as “of human rights concern”. It cannot enhance world peace to make Europe’s energy more expensive, Russian loans harder to get or Harrods less accessible to “Putin’s cronies”. Putin could not care less.

Economic sanctions are to modern statecraft what mounted lancers were to war in the trenches: magnificent but useless. Their continued deployment defies study after study showing them as cosmetic, cruel or counterproductive. Yet how many times has Cameron emerged from his Cobra bunker to threaten “tighter economic sanctions” against some rogue regime, to absolutely no effect? The rhetoric is always the same, to “send a message”, show resolve, impose a price, not to let “wrongdoing go unpunished”. It is as if Britain were some superannuated school prefect.

The emergence in Moscow in the 1990s of a tough, philistine nationalist like Putin was a near certainty. He may be a nasty piece of work but he runs what it is still a powerful nation. Mocking his pride and testing his paranoia is for fools. The one country that knows this and can keep a sane head on its shoulders is run by Angela Merkel. Thank goodness for Germany.

The Guardian.


  1. I must add that although I agree that flight MH17 was a tragic accident, it was an accident that would never have happened if Russia had not annexed Crimea which in turn led to unrest and civil war in the east of Ukraine