Tag Archives: Ukraine

NATO Chief: Ukraine Has Cease-Fire ‘in Name Only’ #Ukraine #Ceasefire #Russia


U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove has little faith in the 2-week-old cease-fire between Ukraine and pro-Russian militants fighting in Ukrainian east. U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove has little faith in the 2-week-old cease-fire between Ukraine and pro-Russian militants fighting in Ukrainian east. © AFP

VILNIUS, Lithuania — NATO’s top general said Saturday the two-week-old truce between Ukraine and pro-Russian militants fighting in the country’s east is a “cease-fire in name only,” and he said that by enabling a free flow of weapons and fighters  across the border Russia has made it nearly impossible for outsiders to determine how many of its troops are operating inside Ukraine.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told a news conference after meeting with NATO military chiefs that he is hopeful about Saturday’s announced agreement for creation of a buffer zone between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces.

The deal reached by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the Moscow-backed rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe marks an effort to add substance to the Sept. 5 cease-fire agreement that has been frequently broken by clashes.

Breedlove has put the main blame on Russia for the continuing conflict.

“So the situation in Ukraine is not good right now,” he said. “Basically we have a cease-fire in name only.”

Breedlove said violence levels in Ukraine, including the number of artillery rounds fired in the past few days, are as high as prior to the cease-fire.

“So the cease-fire is still there in name, but what is happening on the ground is quite a different story,” he said.

Breedlove said Russian forces are still operating inside Ukraine but numbers cannot be pinpointed.

“Right now the border is being maintained open by Russian forces and Russian-backed forces, and the fluidity of movement of Russian forces and Russian-backed forces back and forth across that border makes it almost impossible to understand the numbers,” he said.

He said it is clear that the number of Russian troops in Ukraine has declined significantly over the past week or so, with some returning to the Russian side of the border — “which is good, except that they haven’t returned home and are still available to bring their military force to bear on Ukraine, should it be desired” by Russian government leaders.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine is a member of NATO, but both share borders with NATO-member countries. Recent Russian military behavior, including its annexation of the Crimea Peninsula of southern Ukraine earlier this year, is a major worry inside the U.S.-led alliance.


The New York Times.

#Putin’s aggression has left #Europe in pre-war state, says top Russian writer


by Luke Harding.
Mikhail Shishkin, considered by many to be Russia's greatest living author, says Europeans are yet to grasp the 'new reality'. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty ImagesMikhail Shishkin, considered by many to be Russia’s greatest living author, says Europeans are yet to grasp the ‘new reality’. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images.

Russia’s pre-eminent literary novelist today warns that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine amounts to a “black hole” that threatens to suck in the whole of Europe.

In an essay for the Guardian, Mikhail Shishkin says that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has left the unsuspecting European continent in a state of “pre-war”. He says that unlike Russians – conditioned to expect violence by remorseless state propaganda – Europeans have not yet grasped “the new reality that has set in”.

Shishkin is considered by many to be his country’s greatest living author. He is the only contemporary writer to have won all three of Russia’s most prestigious literary prizes, including the Russian Booker. Resident in Switzerland, he faced official vitriol after refusing to take part on a Kremlin-sponsored literary tour of the US last year. Shishkin said he didn’t want to represent a country where “power has been seized by a corrupt criminal regime“.

The son of a Ukrainian mother and Russian father, Shishkin describes Russia’s president as a “one very lonely ageing man” and “an insipid colonel” terrified of losing power. He says the “demise of Hussein, Mubarak and Gaddafi” and the flight of Ukraine’s leader Viktor Yanukovych spooked Putin, and prompted his seizure of Crimea in the spring and attack on eastern Ukraine.

“The instinct of self-preservation kicked in immediately. The formula for saving any dictatorship is universal: create an enemy; start a war. The state of war is the regime’s elixir of life,” the writer says.

Shishkin suggests that under Putin – who denied there were Russian troops in Crimea, only to later admit with a grin that they were there – Russia has gone “back to the Soviet times of total lies”. The novelist says that ordinary Russians are complicit in this lying, with the survival instinct under which Soviet citizens “lived for decades” now emphatically back.

“When Putin tells blatant lies in the face of western politicians, he then watches their reaction with vivid interest and not without pleasure, enjoying their confusion and helplessness. He wants Kiev to return on its knees, like a prodigal son, to the fatherly embrace of the empire. He is sure that Europe will boil with indignation, but eventually calm down, abandoning Ukraine to brotherly rape,” he writes.

The novelist – whose latest work The Light and the Dark appeared in English translation last year – is sceptical that western sanctions will have any effect in Moscow. Rather, he says, Russia is ready and psychologically prepared for further conflict. It is already in “an undeclared war against the west”. His conclusion is bleak: “One needs to realise: post-war Europe has already become pre-war Europe.”


The Guardian.

BBC Complains to Russia After News Crew Attacked #BBC #Russia


by Reuters.
The BBC has lodged a protest with Russian authorities after its reporters were attacked in Russia.The BBC has lodged a protest with Russian authorities after its reporters were attacked in Russia. Lewis Clarke / Geograph.org.uk.

British broadcaster the BBC has lodged a formal protest with Russian authorities, saying one of its news crews was attacked while looking into reports Russian soldiers had been killed near Ukraine’s border.

Unidentified men assaulted BBC Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg, a producer and a cameraman and destroyed their camera in southern Russia on Tuesday, the broadcaster said.

“The attack on our staff, and the destruction of their equipment and recordings, were clearly part of a coordinated attempt to stop accredited news journalists reporting a legitimate news story,” Thursday’s statement read.

“We deplore this act of violence against our journalists and call on the Russian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and to condemn the assault on our staff.”

The team, which had been filming in the city of Astrakhan were taken to a police station for four hours of questioning and their recording equipment was electronically wiped, the BBC added.

Astrakhan police spokesman Pyotr Rusanov said officers arrived shortly after the attack and were still searching for the culprits.

“At the moment, the attackers have not been detained, but an investigation is being carried out and a criminal case was opened,” he said.

On Tuesday, a NATO military officer said Russia still had about 1,000 soldiers along with hundreds of combat vehicles and artillery inside Ukraine.

Russia has denied sending troops into eastern Ukraine to prop up a rebellion by pro-Moscow separatists, despite what Washington and other Western powers say is overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

A Reuters journalist was threatened by unidentified shaven-headed men while looking into reports of deaths of Russian paratroopers in eastern Ukraine in late August. A Russian politician said he was badly beaten after drawing attention to the paratroopers’ funerals.


The Moscow Times.

#Poroshenko: ‘Today Ukraine is bleeding for its independence and territorial integrity’


by Kyiv Post.
Editor’s Note: The following is the transcript of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s speech to the Canadian parliament in Ottawa on Sept. 17. Scroll down for the video
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks to supporters of Ukraine during a rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa during his first official visit to Canada, September 17, 2014.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks to supporters of Ukraine during a rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa during his first official visit to Canada, September 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO/GEOFF ROBINS © AFP

Mr. Prime Minister,

Speaker Kinsella,

Speaker Scheer,

Honorable Members of the Senate and House of Commons,

Honorable Members of the Diplomatic Community,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

It is a deeply felt honor to address this distinguished legislative body.

I must thank you, Prime Minister, for inviting me to come to Canada, Speaker Kinsella and Speaker Scheer – for giving me such outstanding opportunity to address the Canadian Parliament. I see this as a tribute to my country and the Ukrainian people, and an expression of the unique, distinctive partnership that our nations enjoy.

Let me also just once use the third “official language” of Canada – Ukrainian:

Дякую вам за цю честь, дорогі друзі!

To be frank with you – I feel very much at home with you here today in a country that is very close to Ukraine. Not distantly but through our hearts and common ideas.

Indeed, Canada has become home to so many Ukrainians. The descendants of those early Ukrainian settlers who came here more than a century ago. In 1892, a century before Canada was the first to recognize Ukraine’s independence, the first Ukrainian emigrants Ivan Pylypiv and Vasyl Yelynyak arrived. They launched further numerous Ukrainian emigration to the Pacific Coast settling across the woods and prairies of Canada. The Ukrainian community has easily integrated into the Canadian society. They built railways and towns, schools and churches, heroically fought against the Nazi during the World War Second, contributed to the Canadian economy and culture. Later, the sons and daughters of farmers became prominent members of Canadian society – businessmen, scientists, artists, athletes and politicians. One of them, Ramon Hnatyshyn, became the Governor General of Canada.

The list is long and impressive – Premiers of Saskatchewan and Manitoba Roy Romanow and Gary Filmon, senators Raynell Andreychuk and David Tkachuk, artist William Kurylyk, hockey superstars Terry Sawchuk and Wayne Gretzky, and woman-astronaut Doctor Roberta Bondar.

We highly praise great Ukrainian-Canadian sculptor Leo Mol who crafted one of the best Taras Shevchenko monuments in the world, in Washington DC.

If I continue with the list, we will run out of time for this session.

Today the Ukrainian Canadian community is over a million people. It is strong, it is consolidated, it preserves the language of their Homeland, faith and traditions. Ukraine has always felt proud of Ukrainian Canadians and is grateful for their lasting support.

On behalf of the people of Ukraine, I would like to express gratitude to you, brothers and sisters, for your lasting support!

However, it is not only history that bonds us, but also the shared values that make Canada and Ukraine integral parts of a global family of democracies.

Today Ukraine pays a very high price for defending what we believe in – democracy and freedom to choose our own future. For more than two decades we proudly stated that Ukraine gained its independence without shedding a single drop of blood.

Today Ukraine is bleeding for its independence and territorial integrity.

Governor General of Canada Ramon Hnatyshyn in his speech at the Ukrainian Parliament in 1992 stated: “We must not forget people’s suffering which we are witnessing”. That day he spoke of brave Ukrainian and Canadian soldiers who kept the peace across the world in conflict and unrest zones. These words remain so true, as never before.

Today thousands of brave Ukrainian men and women are sacrificing their lives for the right to live the way they chose to, on their land, under the blue and golden colors of the Ukrainian flag, colors which are so dear to many Canadian Ukrainians. In these dark days we feel your support.

It is time we see our friends in our need. And there is no other way to put it – Canada is a friend indeed.

As Commander-in-Chief, as a Ukrainian and a father of a soldier, I thank Canada for each life that is being saved today in the Ukrainian Donbas by a bulletproof vest or a helmet you gave us.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s speech to the Canadian parliament on Sept. 17 in Ottawa.

Once again I thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, and your Government, to the Opposition, to Canadian parliamentarians and senators, all Canadians and fellow Ukrainians for standing tall and making your voice heard. For helping financially, with technical assistance and non-lethal military aid, for supporting us at the international fora such the UN or NATO or G-7.

I would like to use this great opportunity to thank all Canadian Parliamentarians for their continuous support of Ukraine. I would like to especially thank for the emergency debates in this House of Commons during critical periods of the Maidan Revolution of Human Dignity. We heard your voice and it was important for us. It is also due to your support that we have won. Thank you for that.

I would like to express gratefulness for the work of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs committee on Ukraine, for the election observation mission which helped ensure that the will of the Ukrainian people was respected. 500 observers were the biggest mission during our elections. It confirmed that the elections were transparent and fair. You helped us establish a new Government in Ukraine. Thank you. We are expecting your mission on Oct. 26 at parliamentary elections in Ukraine for we want to show that they will also be fair and transparent.

Thank you for many visits by Parliamentarians and Ministers, and for your visit to inauguration, Mr. Prime Minister. Canada was one of the first countries to recognize Ukraine’s independence. You also promptly recognized the results of the presidential elections and it was important for us. You are always with us at the most critical junctures.

Also I would like to thank Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird for his support of Ukraine during Maidan.

I have a long list of sincere gratitude. I really feel your support. I am confident that we will have peace, we will stop the war with the assistance of the whole world. We will do everything for the world to be united. Canada helps us, it shows that it is with Ukraine. Thank you!

Without this support provided by the Government of Canada, by all parliamentarians and by the Ukrainian Canadian community under the leadership of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, it would be much harder for Ukraine to face the challenges of today.

No other leader or nation, no one, I mean it, with the possible exception of Poland was so straightforward and earnest when sending the signal across to Russians and the rest of the world that fighting a nation which is trying to chart its own path is just conceptually wrong. That arming rebels with advanced antiaircraft systems, providing them with operators, intelligence and flight data is wrong. Those who were equipped, trained and financed by Russia executed a terrorist attack shooting down a civilian MH17 flight killing 298 innocent lives of nationals of Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and others. One Canadian was killed as well.

I think that war in the east of Ukraine is war against terrorism. It is our common war. I am confident of that.

With your support, with the support of global community we will win this struggle. And we will fulfill the dreams of many Ukrainians in our homeland and across the world – Ukraine will be a strong, independent European nation.

Yesterday was one of the most important days in the history of Ukraine. The Verkhovna Rada ratified the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. When I was in the Parliament yesterday, it was the last “goodbye” from Ukraine to the Soviet Union.

It was the last Rubicon that we had to cross. We will never return to our awful past. I am confident that our values, our freedom, our democracy, our European future and prospects of participation in various international organizations can be achieved. For Ukrainians passed one of the most difficult tests. We paid the highest price for the desire to be a European country. That’s why we will defend our independence and freedom. We want to become a fully-fledged member of the EU.

This happened simultaneously with the ratification at the European and broadcasted in the two parliaments.

Implementation of the agreement will not only harmonize Ukraine’s trade and customs rules with the EU standards, it will help my country draw closer to democratic norms and market-oriented economy.

At the NATO Wales Summit I’ve declared my country’s desire to move closer with NATO and become the closest non-NATO ally. I hope you will support this.

all Allies strongly condemn Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, illegal annexation of Crimea and stand ready to support territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within the internationally recognized borders.

I am thankful to Canada; your country was one of the soundest supporters of Ukraine at that summit and committed to provide $1 million to the NATO Trust Fund. It will help Ukraine build up its Command, Control, Communications, and Computers capabilities.

Dear friends, let’s look beyond the crisis and war. Let’s think how we enhance the Special Partnership between Ukraine and Canada.

I am convinced that we need to pay more attention to the bilateral cooperation in such spheres as energy, trade, investments, information and air-space technologies.

In cooperation with Canada we hope to accomplish an ambitious project of consolidating Ukraine’s informational space. By launching the telecommunication satellite built by Canadian company MDA we will be finally able to provide all our regions with reliable and trustworthy information as well as to export telecommunication services.

There should be more projects like this.

I hope that both negotiating teams translated our firm signal, Prime Minister’s and mine, and next time we see each other, we will have Ukraine-Canada Free Trade Agreement ready to sign.

Having said that I can’t help but mentioning one particular program that played significant role in enhancing our people-to-people contacts – I talk about Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program (CUPP).

During the years of independence CUPP has hosted over a thousand of students from Ukraine, who were able to work as interns right here at the Canadian Parliament. This program has given birth to some sparkling stars in the Ukrainian social and political universe. Some of the CUPP graduates take high positions in our government; some of them are leaders of the Ukrainian civil society and business community.

I thank the Canadian Parliament and the Ukrainian Diaspora for helping us breed a new generation of Ukrainian leaders.

Mr. Prime Minister,

I remember you mentioning that Canada is probably the most Ukrainian nation outside Ukraine itself. This is true. Let me reciprocate. There are great European nations, which stood at the source of foundation of modern Canada. Canada has friends all over the Globe, and the closest one next to it. However, I doubt that you will find another nation, which could tell, so sincerely, what I am about to tell you. Ukraine is probably the most Canadian nation after Canada itself.

I had this feeling today at the meeting with a lot of Canadians. Thank you for that.

Let me refer to Winston’s Churchill’s words who truly loved your country and visited it seven times from 1900 to 1954. We recall him as brave leader who confronted the Nazi aggression with courage. In summer 1929 he wrote from Canada to his wife: “Darling, I am greatly attracted to this country…I am profoundly touched and I intend to devote my strength to interpreting Canada to our people.”

These words resemble my feelings today. I won’t write these words to my wife since she is here with me today. I will simply tell her this. And again, please let me quote Churchill once again: “I love coming to Canada. God bless your country.”

Thank you! Merci! Дякую! And Glory to Ukraine!


Kyiv Post.

Taruta says Donetsk will feel ‘raped’ because of new law #Ukraine #Russia


by Katya Gorchinskaya.
Donetsk Oblast Governor Serhiy TarutaDonetsk Oblast Governor Serhiy Taruta © Katya Gorchinskaya.

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Donetsk Oblast Governor Serhiy Taruta says that the people of Donbas “will feel raped” by the new law 1 passed on Sept. 16 designed to bring self-governance to the region — Ukraine’s most populous — where war has been raging for months.

Fighters of the volunteer Azov Battalion equated the law with treason because the law essentially gives up part of Ukraine’s territory.

“Everyone would like a road map, but the kind that we would not feel raped,” Taruta said on Sept. 16.

Ukraine’s parliament approved a law on the temporary settlement of conflict in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts on Sept. 16. President Petro Poroshenko said it was designed to bring peace for the next three years, and grant a special status and local self-governance to the territories controlled by the Russia-backed separatists. It also grants amnesty to the militants in charge, without specifying if any of their crimes in the embattled east will be punished.

But Taruta said the law raises many more questions that it answers. He says he has “some 50 of them in the list.”

He says it’s not at all clear how many regions in Donetsk Oblast will now be in Ukraine: “Are there two Donetsk regions or one?”

Members of the volunteer Azov Battalion are expecting more war, not peace from Russian President Vladimir Putin.Members of the volunteer Azov Battalion are expecting more war, not peace from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s also unclear what territory is governed by the new law. The text of the law states that it works within the territory designated as the anti-terrorist operation zone on the day the bill comes into effect, but no clearly marked borders of this territory exist.

Taruta also said that Ukraine considers the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as terrorist organizations, but the law effectively assigns them a new legal status. He said it’s not clear if and how the Russian border will be sealed off to prevent further shipment of arms and militants from Russia. It’s also unclear what laws will govern over the designated territory; who is going to enforce it and even run regular activities like education.

“There are no answers in this document,” Taruta concludes. “We don’t mind concessions, but not at any price.”

He said Poroshenko took the initiative over the law, without consulting with people on the ground. “Unfortunately, the president takes responsibility to make his own decisions,” Taruta said.

In Gurzuf, some 40 kilometers of Mariupol, fighters of the Azov Battalion who are training at a former residence of fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych learned about the parliamentary vote via their tabs and TV, and were furious.

“This law is no different than most Soviet laws,” says Andriy, an Azov fighter who used to be a history professor at a university before the war. He does not mind showing his face, but refuses to give his last name. “If a law is criminal, we do not recognize it. The law that cannot defend sovereignty and defend the state, we do not recognize.”

Members of the pro-Ukrainian Azov Battalion train in Gurzuf, some 40 kilometers outside Mariupol, The Donetsk Oblast city that some believe may be Russian President Vladimir Putin's next target.Members of the pro-Ukrainian Azov Battalion train in Gurzuf, some 40 kilometers outside Mariupol, The Donetsk Oblast city that some believe may be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s next target.

At the same time, Andriy insists his position has nothing to do with anarchy. He says that simply the new law contradicts many other pieces of Ukraine’s legislation that, in his opinion, overrule it.

“We do not want to break laws, in fact we want a legal base of the European level,” he says.

Andriy said that the ceasefire and, in fact, the whole peace process initiated in Minsk earlier this month is “political fiction from both sides.” By “both” he means Ukraine and Russia, because he thinks that participation of Donetsk and Luhansk People Republics representatives is just window-dressing, while the presence of OSCE is naive.

In fact, he says that President Poroshenko is naive in this case as well. “Unless it’s a carefully weighed out position,” he adds. But his view of Russia’s President Putin is perfectly defined.

“Putin is basically a Stalinist… who cheats every step of the way,” Andriy says. “We must morally be ready that this war is for tens of years.”

Back in Mariupol, Taruta discussed with representatives of local government and volunteers the structure of the defense of the Azov Sea port city of 500,000 people. Clearly none of them believes in the peace process and go into the nitty-gritty of the three lines of defense that are supposed to keep this strategic city out of reach of the Kremlin-financed separatists.

Members of the pro-Ukrainian Azov Battalion train in Gurzuf, some 40 kilometers outside Mariupol, The Donetsk Oblast city that some believe may be Russian President Vladimir Putin's next target.Members of the pro-Ukrainian Azov Battalion train in Gurzuf, some 40 kilometers outside Mariupol, The Donetsk Oblast city that some believe may be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s next target.

Although the new law on special status of territories in Donetsk Oblast sets an early election in the designated areas on Dec. 7, Taruta says they will not take place in Mariupol, which has been expecting an attack from Russian troops for weeks.

“No, it won’t concern Mariupol. I hope we won’t lose Mariupol, and it won’t concern Mariupol,” Taruta says. He says early elections, in the form set up by the new law, are a bad idea.

“You can’t hold an election in one street in the village, but not another,” he says.

Taruta also said he talked to people “on the other side,” meaning the Donetsk People’s Republic, about the election, and discovered that there is no preparation for an election “there.”

“No laws of Ukraine govern over them, from the point of view of those in DNR,” he said.

(Kyiv Post deputy chief editor Katya Gorchinskaya can be reached at katya.gorchinskaya@gmail.com).Kyiv Post+ offers special coverage of Russia's war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.Kyiv Post+ offers special coverage of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.


Kyiv Post.

Footnotes are the opinion of this blog and not of the Kyiv Post.


  1. This could be the worst proposal made by Petro Poroshenko in his time as President of Ukraine, with many seeing it as a betrayal to the people who fought so hard and died so that Ukraine could remain as one.