Russia without Ukraine is a country;
During the Great War, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Lenin took it back
During the Great Pariotic War, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Stalin took it back
During the Winter Olympiad, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Putin let it slip away
Ukraine Crisis - Russian Military Intervention
Russia began a slow-motion occupation of Ukraine in April 2014. In the face of insurrections by pro-Russian protesters that spread like wildfire through eastern Ukraine, local security forces either melted away or, in some places, swapped sides and joined the protesters. "We did not expect that the whole system of central and regional power would fall to pieces so quickly," Acting President Oleksander Turchinov said. Federalization supporters in Donetsk, Druzkivka, Gorlovka/Horlivka, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Luhans'k, Makiyivka, Melitopol, Slaviansk and Zaporizhzhya seized local adminstration buildings, and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the current Ukrainian government. If the Ukrainian government reacted passively to the Russian-backed Russian separatists they would be criticized as not defending their own interests and inviting more Russian aggression. But if they act, Russia could say they were being provoked. Inaction would invite opposition from right wing forces in Ukraine, while action would further alienate the Party of Regions.
Ukraine Crisis - 28 April 2014
The United States expanded its sanctions against Russia on Monday, targeting members of President Vladimir Putin's "inner circle" and technology that could be useful to Russia's military, in response to Russia's ongoing involvement in Ukraine. President Barack Obama said the US is holding broader sanctions against Russia's economy, such as its banking or defense industry, "in reserve.” The European Union reached a preliminary agreement to impose asset freezes and visa bans on 15 more people.
The United States restricted exports of high-tech defense products to Russia, the State Department said. “Effective immediately, the department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls will deny pending applications for export or re-export of any high technology defense articles or services,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement. “In addition, the department is taking actions to revoke any existing export licenses which meet these conditions. All other pending applications and existing licenses will receive a case-by-case evaluation to determine their contribution to Russia’s military capabilities,” Psaki added, urging Russia “to honor the commitments it made in Geneva on April 17 to deescalate the situation in Ukraine.”
Andrei Belousov, Putin's top economic adviser, said the new round of sanctions will have little effect on the country's economy and will only strengthen the resolve of the Kremlin and its allies. "The more sanctions there are, the more strongly the elite will consolidate,'' Belousov said.
"After a week of rhetoric from the administration, I had hoped we would have responded to Russia's blatant violations of its commitments to cease efforts to destabilize Ukraine with more than just a slap on the wrist," U.S. Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said in a statement. Senator Kelly Ayotte, a Republican from New Hampshire, called the new round of sanctions "tepid" and "insufficient" to deter Russia after the Kremlin's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea territory last month and amid its "ongoing actions to fuel unrest in eastern Ukraine."
While Ukrainian officials in Kyiv say their military campaign to clear Moscow-backed separatists from Ukraine’s troubled east is proceeding, the operation seems to be stalling amid indecision and fear of provoking Russian retaliation. Kyiv keeps issuing confusing instructions and shifting on-the-ground strategy, mainly out of fear that a more determined crackdown would lead to casualties. That might provoke Russia to order its massed forces across the border to intervene, as Moscow keeps threatening.
Pro-Russia separatists armed with baseball bats attacked a rally in support of Ukrainian unity in the eastern city of Donetsk. A group of about 1,000 “neo-Nazi thugs” came to Donetsk from Dnepropetrovsk to cause provocations, the press-service of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk reported. “We were expecting an attack. We had objective information. Really, the guys arrived with baseball bats, sticks and rods. Those were the ultras from Dnepropetrovsk, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk supporters. According to our info, there were also people from FC Dynamo Kyiv fan base. I have no information of any Right Sector involvement,” Vitaly Ivanov, a press-service member, who was at the scene, stressed.
A number of people sustained injuries, many of them head wounds after dozens of men dressed in military fatigues tried to disrupt the rally with baseball bats, firecrackers and what appeared to be at least one stun grenade. Protesters, estimated at about 2,000, waved Ukrainian flags and chanted “Donetsk is Ukraine!” and “Putin No!”. They quickly dispersed after the violence.
In another eastern city, Luhansk, near the Russian border, crowds cheered as one group of activists declared the area an independent state. One of the leaders of the self-proclaimed "Luhansk People's Republic" called on Russia to help it defend its sovereignty. Pro-Russia militants also took another town, seizing the police headquarters and municipal administration building in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region.
Hennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, was shot in the back while cycling on the outskirts of the city. He underwent surgery, city hall officials said, and was reported to be in “grave, but stable” condition. Kernes was a man who could have angered both sides. Kernes was a staunch opponent of the pro-West Maidan movement that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February and was widely viewed as the organizer who sent activists to Kyiv from eastern Ukraine to harass those demonstrators. But he has since softened his stance toward the new Kyiv government.
Ukrainian forces had evicted pro-Russia activists earlier in April, making Kharkiv the only major eastern city to have taken back control from armed protesters who have demanded a referendum on independence for most of eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine and Slovakiasigned a memorandum allowing for the start of reverse gas deliveries from Europe through Slovakia, acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk told reporters. “Ukraine has just signed with Slovakia, namely with Slovak Transit Company Eustream, a memorandum on the cooperation in the energy field , which stipulates the start of reverse natural gas supplies through the territory of Slovakia,” Yatsenyuk said. “According to this memorandum, if all parties meet the terms of the [mentioned] memorandum, we will be able to receive 8 billion cubic meters of gas per year,” he added. Following Russia’s decision to cancel all discounts for Ukraine’s Naftogaz in early April, the company started importing gas from Europe through Poland. The total amount of reverse gas delivered to Ukraine via this route is currently estimated at a modest 1.5 billion cubic meters per year. The new agreement with Slovakia, according to Naftogaz estimates, will guarantee up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually.
Ukraine Crisis - 27 April 2014
US President Barack Obama warned at a news conference in Malaysia that economic sanctions against Russia will be stiffened because he said Moscow is encouraging unrest in the largely Russian-speaking parts of eastern Ukraine. "There is strong evidence that they have been encouraging the kinds of activities that are taking place in eastern and southern Ukraine and so, collectively, us and the Europeans have said that so long as Russia continues down the path of provocation rather than try to resolve this issue peacefully and de-escalating, there are going to be consequences. And those consequences will continue to grow," said Obama.
In Washington, a national security official said new sanctions this week will target Russia's defense industry and companies with close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin. White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken told Sunday news shows in the U.S. that starting this week the latest sanctions would exert "additional pressure" on the corporate officials closest to Putin and the companies they control. Blinken said high technology exports to the defense firms would be targeted and predicted that "all of this together is going to have an impact."
An OSCE team of negotiators in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk has secured the release of one of the eight members of its international verification team being held by forces loyal to local separatist leader Vyacheslav Ponomaryov. The handover was reportedly granted on medical grounds. Separatists marched members of that captive OSCE team of military observers, whom they have variously labeled "prisoners of war" and "NATO spies," before cameras.
The Ukrainian Security Service acknowledged the capture of three of its employees after Russian television reports showed three blindfolded, stripped, and seemingly beaten men being "interviewed" in the hands of separatists in Slovyansk.
Pro-Russian separatists seized control of the offices of the regional TV and radio company in the eastern city of Donetsk and raised the flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic over the building, following a rally in the city center. The television centre in Ukraine’s southeastern city of Donetsk started rebroadcasting of Russia’s television channel Russia-24.
Peaceful rallies in eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov turned violent as a crowd of several thousand football ultras attacked a crowd of some 300 pro-Russian protesters. At least 14 people were injured, including two law enforcement. Thousands of fans of two Ukrainian football clubs Dnipro and Metalist gathered in Kharkov’s Constitution Square where they joined some 250 pro-Kiev activists holding a rally. Up to 5,000 ultras, according to local media estimates, intended to march in support of the country’s unity from the Square to Metalist stadium,
Ukraine Crisis - 26 April 2014
Ukraine's prime minister said Russian military aircraft have repeatedly crossed into Ukraine's airspace, in what he called Russian aggression. Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters Saturday that Russian forces had "violated" Ukrainian airspace seven times overnight. "We do understand the reason Russian military did it. The only reason is to provoke Ukraine to strike missile and to accuse Ukraine of waging the war to Russia," said Yatsenuk.
Russian military aircraft have not breached any state borders, including those of Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. “Russia’s means of objective airspace situation control did not record any violations of air boundaries of the states adjacent to Russia, including those of Ukraine,” Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. “Those media allegations are populist in nature, they contain no information on the time and place of the incident, as well as no data on altitude, speed and the direction of aircraft, as well as no other objective parameters,” the spokesman said.
Ukrainian officials claim that Donbas crime bosses have been backing the pro-Russian militancy, hoping to cash in on the anarchy. Instead of confronting hardline separatists head-on in Slovyansk, a town they assess is at the heart of the pro-Russian agitation, Ukrainian leaders are now aiming to isolate them by encircling the town and preventing militants from moving in and out and recruiting and directing others in neighboring cities.
The leader of pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk says his group is ready to exchange OSCE observers they are holding for fellow rebels who are in the custody of Ukrainian authorities. Vyacheslav Ponomaryov said the detained members of an OSCE observer mission were spies and were “in all right condition.” Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic, said on April 26 that he will go ahead with an independence referendum for his separatist region on May 11.
Jan Techau, the director of Carnegie Europe, said "The goal of the Russian policies at the moment is to regain political control over all of Ukraine - either very quickly or over the next one or two years. [Russia] has played things very systematically over the last few weeks. This is the one thing that Putin has to achieve, because under his watch Russia "lost" Ukraine, if you will. Now he needs to right that wrong from his perspective. That's the goal.... Russia has always been of the opinion - and this is on the record - that Ukraine is not a sovereign nation, that it is not even considered a country. Putin has said that repeatedly. And so the idea of Ukraine deciding its own political fate, which is what the Maidan revolution and the current political parties in Kyiv want, is completely a taboo for the Russian side."
Ukraine Crisis - 25 April 2014
Contrary to previous reports, head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine appointed by the Verkhovna Rada, Arsen Avakov, stated that the special operation of the Ukrainian security forces in the Southeast of the country had not been suspended because of the exercises of the Russian military near the border. The special operation will be conducted in several stages, Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council, Viktoriya Siumar said.
Ukrainian officials said that they aimed to "blockade" the rebel-held city of Slovyansk as part of an "anti-terrorist" operation in eastern Ukraine. Kiev authorities said “the second stage” of the military operation in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk was launched, which will “completely isolate” the anti-government stronghold. Self-defense forces are preparing for an assault. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry says National Guard troops have completely blocked off the city of Slovyansk "in order to prevent the terrorists from obtaining reinforcements." The military do not intend to storm Slavyansk, fearing civilian casualties, the Ukrainian Security Service claimed. “We will not go the length of [civilian] casualties, to storm the city. We understand that this may lead to many people coming to harm,” General Vasily Krutov, first deputy head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said.
A Ukrainian military helicopter exploded on the tarmac of a base near the eastern city of Kramatorsk. Some Ukrainian officials said the explosion was the result of a rocket-propelled grenade fired by pro-Russian militants, while others said it was caused by a sniper who fired a single shot into a fuel tank.
The International Criminal Court announced a probe into possible crimes committed during the protests that led to the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, has decided to open a preliminary examination into the situation in Ukraine in order to establish whether the Rome Statute criteria for opening an investigation are met.
The White House says President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy have agreed to "coordinate additional steps to impose costs on Russia" over its actions in the Ukraine crisis. A White House statement said the leaders agreed that Russia has "continued to escalate the situation through its increasingly concerning rhetoric and threatening military exercises on Ukraine’s border." Obama discussed the Ukraine crisis in a telephone call with French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The White House said in a statement that the four leaders agreed Ukraine had taken "positive steps" to uphold the four-party deal it signed in Geneva last week to de-escalate tensions, while Russia had "not reciprocated." According to the White House, Obama said the United States is prepared to impose targeted sanctions to respond to Russia's latest actions, and all four leaders agreed to closely coordinate additional steps to impose costs on Russia.
Czech President Milos Zeman announced "a unanimous recommendation" from the EU and Eastern Partnership states that "the Russian Federation -- as a peaceful gesture with the aim of de-escalating the Russia-Ukraine conflict -- pull back its forces from the Ukrainian border." He added that there was also a recommendation that Ukrainian officials "carry out a decentralization of the country in line with the conclusion of the Geneva conference."
EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule reiterated the EU's commitment to sign the remaining chapters of the Association Agreement with Ukraine and confirmed that the implementation of the agreement is not a final goal in bilateral relations between Kyiv and Brussels. "The people of Ukraine, its independence and sovereignty should not become victims of geopolitical zero-sum games. This is not how politics is conducted in the 21st century. This is not why the Eastern Partnership was established. We will always support and stand by those who are subject to undue pressures," he said.
Ukraine Crisis - 24 April 2014
The counter-terrorism operation in Sloviansk was placed on hold because of the threat of Russian intervention. The operation was suspended, as the government worked to reformulate its plans in line with the latest reconnaissance data from the eastern border. "According to Ukrainian reconnaissance, the risk of a crossing of the border by Russian troops has grown sharply," the Kyiv Post said. The government also confirmed that in the result of the carried operation seven persons died.
Fighting between Ukrainian security forces and pro-Russia militants in eastern Ukraine left at least five militants dead on 24 April 2014. Ukraine's Interior Ministry said its forces, together with army units, had killed five pro-Russia militants and destroyed three of their checkpoints in the eastern city of Slovyansk. Ukrainian officials said that police had driven pro-Russia separatists out of the city hall in the eastern city of Mariupol, and that an attack by armed separatists on an army base in the town of Artemivsk had been repelled.
More than 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers, 160 tanks, 230 infantry vehicles and APCs and at least 150 artillery pieces are being employed in the crackdown in southeastern Ukraine, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. "According to our data, a contingent of over 11,000 people fully equipped with automatic weapons has been deployed. The operation involves about 160 tanks, more than 230 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, at least 150 guns and mortars and a large number of aircraft," Shoigu said. “Civilians are being attacked by national guard units as well as by battalions of extremists from Right Sector”.
Russia started military drills near the border with Ukraine in response to operations by Ukrainian forces against pro-Russian separatists and NATO exercises in eastern Europe, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. “If this military machine is not stopped, it will lead to greater numbers of dead and wounded. Planned exercises by NATO forces in Poland and the Baltic countries do not foster normalization of the situation surrounding Ukraine either.... We are forced to react to such a development…”.
Dmitry Tymchuk. of the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv, reported "Since Monday, April 21 we, the Information Resistance group, have noted the sharp decrease in the number of representatives of the GRU of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces in the territory of settlements in the Donetsk oblast occupied by extremists. At this moment, we are not able to say whether this is due to their exfiltration (withdrawal to the Russian territory) or their transfer to other Donbas raions [districts]. Let’s hope it’s the former. In any case, we are monitoring the situation."
President Putin said that if the authorities in Kyiv have in fact begun using the army in eastern Ukraine, then they are committing "a very serious crime against their own people." Putin said “It is just a punitive operation and it will, of course, incur consequences for the people making these decisions, including [an effect] on our interstate relations,”
The actions of the Kiev authorities in eastern Ukraine make the legitimacy of the upcoming Ukrainian early elections “questionable,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists. “The way the situation is developing in Ukraine, such criminal actions ordered by those in Kiev, they a priori put the legitimacy of the elections set for May under a serious question mark,” Peskov said.
US President Barack Obama accused Russia is not abiding by the Geneva agreement to ease the crisis in Ukraine, saying he is not hopeful Moscow will cooperate. He said Russia has chosen not to take the "wise path" and faces stronger sanctions, adding that Ukraine has been taking the concrete steps agreed to last week in Geneva, including offering amnesty to pro-Russian separatists who leave the buildings peacefully.
Ukraine's ambassador to the EU, Konstantin Yeliseyev said " My message to the European Union is to be more creative and more smart. We need to surprise Russia by our actions because what the EU is currently doing, they are introducing restrictive measures which were to a certain extent well-anticipated by the Russian Federation. What we need to do now is to proceed with real surprise actions. We need to be smart and creative."
Ukrainian acting president, Aleksandr Turchinov, has demanded that Russia pull back its troops back from the Ukrainian border, calling the ongoing Russian military exercises “blackmail.” In a brief address, Turchinov claimed that “terrorists have crossed the border… taking hostages and killing the patriots of Ukraine.” He also called for the Russian government “to stop interfering into the internal affairs of our country.”
Moscow categorically denied the accusations and said that Washington has orchestrated the unrest in Ukraine to further its geopolitical ambitions in the region. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “the Americans are running the show” and he denied claims of a Russian military presence in Ukraine. In addition, he said that the Russian troops massed along the Ukrainian border had been deployed for routine drills, something that has been verified by international inspectors. “Ukraine is just one manifestation of the American unwillingness to yield in the geopolitical fight. Americans are not ready to admit that they cannot run the show in each and every part of the globe from Washington alone,” Lavrov said.
The European Union recognized the right of the Ukrainian authorities to take security measures to protect the sovereignty of the state. Michal Mann, spokesperson for EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, said this at a briefing in Brussels. "We have full confidence in the Ukrainian government... We recognize Ukraine's right to take legitimate actions to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said, while commenting on the holding of an antiterrorist operation in eastern Ukraine. He noted that Ukraine was fulfilling its obligations under the Geneva agreement.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that the crisis in Ukraine threatened to "spin out of control" and urged all sides to "refrain from violence". "The secretary general is deeply concerned about continued violence in eastern Ukraine, which has led to loss of life, further instability and which is contributing to a climate of fear and anxiety," Ban said in a statement released by his office. "As the stakes are now so high, the secretary general is seriously concerned that the situation could quickly spin out of control with consequences we cannot predict," he added. "Military action must be avoided at all costs," Ban continued, urging all sides "to immediately refrain from violence, intimidation or provocative actions and find a way forward toward de-escalation."
The armed conflict in Ukraine’s southeastern town of Slaviansk needs to be de-escalated peacefully, as opposed to continuing the “anti-terrorist” operation, the deputy chief of the Party of Regions said, adding a bad peace was better than a good war. “We believe that only peaceful methods must be allowed. We are against further escalation of the conflict”. Chechetov blasted the government in Kiev for misrepresenting the Geneva accords of agreed to last week. “They spin the Geneva agreements so that the provisions to clear administration buildings and disarm would only refer to the southeast and lead to further de-escalation,” he said. “Steps should be taken simultaneously in Kiev and in the east.”
Pictures presented by Washington and Kiev as evidence of Russia's involvement in Ukraine, and published on Monday by the New York Times, were unverified and in fact contradicted the claims they were to support. The US State department acknowledged the error and the New York Times back-tracked on its Monday story, which claimed “photographs and descriptions from eastern Ukraine endorsed by the Obama administration … suggest that many of the green men are indeed Russian military and intelligence forces”. The NYT also cited the State Dept’s Psaki admitting “the assertion that the photograph in the American briefing materials had been taken in Russia was incorrect”. She explained the picture was only part of a draft packet that wasn’t used by Kerry at the talks. Psaki then claimed to have other evidence connecting “the Russians and the armed militants” in eastern Ukraine but would not provide details.
The Right Sector movement said members of the organization will join paramilitary units currently being formed to crackdown on pro-federalization protests in eastern Ukraine. The movement said that its members will join so-called "battalions of territorial defense" and military units. Right Sector radicals blockaded an administrative building in the western Ukrainian city of Kolomyya to protest the appointment of the new local administration head, picked by the acting Ukrainian president Aleksandr Turchinov, local media reports. The Right Sector and local self-defense say there should not be any city official named until popular elections. The city administration officials say they have not been able to continue their work and warn that the blockade of the building will affect the life of local residents.
Separatists in Donetsk region are ready to resort to any measures to disrupt the presidential elections scheduled for May 25, Sloviansk self-proclaimed mayor Viacheslav Ponomariov told the Gazeta.ru online publication in an interview. "We will take all necessary measures to ensure that elections in the southeast do not take place," he said. At the same time, according to Ponomariov, he and his accomplices will stop at nothing: "We will take someone hostage and hang him by the balls." According to the separatist leader, they need hostages to exchange them for detained separatists. Ponomariov recalled a captured American journalist. "We need hostages. We need a small coin, you see. Many of our comrades are jailed," he said.
In eastern Ukraine, journalists, local politicians, and ordinary citizens have been going missing at an alarming rate. Simon Ostrovsky, an American journalist who had been held captive since April 21 by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, has been freed. His employer, the US outlet Vice News, said in a statement April 24 that Ostrovsky is in "good health."
Russian journalists and TV crews have repeatedly been denied entry to Ukraine on various pretexts.The new authorities also accused several Russian television channels of propaganda and ordered local cable providers to cut them off. Later, some providers – primarily in eastern Ukraine – resumed broadcast of Russian channels.
Ukraine Crisis - 23 April 2014
U.S. Army paratroopers landed in Poland, at the start of military maneuvers aimed at easing anxieties in allied eastern European countries alarmed at Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said a company of about 150 members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Italy, will be part of a “rotational” U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe in the wake of tensions over Ukraine. "This exercise is the first in a series of expanded US land force training activities in Poland and the Baltic region that are scheduled to take place in the next few months and beyond. Additional companies from the 173rd will move in the coming days to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for similar exercises," said Kirby. Initially, some 600 troops will take part in what Kirby called a “persistent rotational presence” that will last about one month. He added that fresh troops will then move in, and this presence could last a year or more.
The Latvian government welcomed the Pentagon announcement, calling it “a fast and practical response.” Lithuania’s president said the deployments will “strengthen our readiness for collective defense and add to ensuring the safety of our people.” Estonia’s defense minister said it will “significantly” increase his country’s security.
Ukraine formally called off an Easter truce with pro-Russian separatists in the country's east and announced "anti-terrorist operations" are on again. First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema told reporters during a Cabinet meeting 23 April 2014 that "appropriate steps" will be taken and that results will be seen shortly. Yarema said Ukraine has received assurances from the United States that it would not be left alone to face Russian aggression. He expressed hope that the U.S. support will be more substantive. Ukraine's interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, had already ordered security forces to resume "anti-terrorist" operations in eastern Ukraine.
The European Union noted Ukraine's right to defend its territorial integrity, but urged the Ukrainian authorities to do so in keeping with the spirit of the Geneva agreements. The spokesman for European diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton, Michael Mann, having noted that Ukraine had the right to defend its the territorial integrity and sovereignty, said that Brussels also urged the authorities to refrain from the use of force, which may further worsen the situation on the ground. Mann expressed the confidence that the Ukrainian leadership will continue to implement the agreements reached in Geneva, and urge all the four parties, including Russia, to do the same.
Dmitry Tymchuk of the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv wrote "The main problem is that law enforcement officers are prohibited from using weapons to kill.... At the initial stage of the operation, the Ukrainian government introduced restrictions on the special forces (guarantees that there would be no victims among the “civilian population,” which is nonetheless armed and commits acts that fall under the definition of terrorism), which initially did not allow them to conduct the ATO. After the Geneva Agreements were signed by Ukraine, these restrictions have received the status of hard conditions."
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) established the involvement of a Russian citizen in the murder of Horlivka City Council deputy Volodymyr Rybak (Batkivshchyna Party). SBU spokeswoman Kateryna Kosareva told this to journalists at a briefing at the Anti-Terrorist Center. "SBU established the involvement in the murder of Horlivka City Council deputy Volodymyr Rybak of the so-called Strelok (Shooter) group, which is operating in Donetsk region, and a Russian citizen, Lieutenant Colonel of the Main Intelligence Department Igor Bezler, call sign 'Bes,'" Kosareva said. According to SBU, it was established that on April 17, Bezler ordered the chief of the self-proclaimed Horlivka police, to neutralize Rybak, who had previously tried to put up a national flag of Ukraine on the building of the district state administration.
Leader of Ukraine's Right Sector ultra-right nationalist movement Dmitry Yarosh, who is wanted in Russia for terrorist crimes in Chechnya in 1994-95, announced plans to create a special battalion, "Donbass", manned by activists from the Donetsk region. Yarosh, who is running for the Ukrainian presidency in the May 25 polls, told reporters that Right Sector activists and trained fighters were ready to assist the Ukrainian law enforces in cracking down on federalization supporters. "We coordinate all of our moves with the leadership of the SNBO [National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine], the Interior Ministry and the SBU [Ukrainian Security Service]. At present, there are no grounds to fear that Right Sector activists' participation in the special operation conducted by the Interior Ministry and the SBU in the east might provoke a wave of clashes with Donbass residents," Yarosh said.
The leadership of the Lviv branch of Right Sector assured the OSCE mission that "Right Sector had dissolved its militant wing. It was transforming into a political party and did not consider itself to be a part of the 'armed groups' mentioned in the Geneva Statement," it said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Kyiv and the US of distorting an agreement reached in Geneva last week to defuse the crisis in Ukraine and of ignoring what it said were provocative actions by Ukrainian nationalists. Despite the call for disarmament of “all the illegal armed groups” specified by the agreement, Kiev, Washington and a number of European leaders “keep harping on the necessity to ‘hand over weapons’ [referring] only to the Ukrainian citizens defending their rights in southeastern Ukraine.” With that, the Western powers “are turning a blind eye to the ongoing provocative actions of the gunmen of the far-right groups, including that of the so-called Right Sector.”
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state television that Russia would retaliate if its legitimate interests or Russians are attacked. He said Moscow's response would be the same as it was in South Ossetia in 2008, which led to a brief war with Georgia. Lavrov said: "If we are attacked, we would certainly respond. If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I do not see any other way but to respond in accordance with international law. Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation." Russia invaded Georgia in August 2008 after fighting broke out between Georgia and its Russia-backed breakaway territory of South Ossetia.
Russia must publicly call on separatists in eastern Ukraine to disarm and release the occupied buildings, as envisaged by the Geneva agreement. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said this during a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov late on Tuesday, the press service of the U.S. State Department reported. "With Foreign Minister Lavrov, the secretary expressed deep concern over the lack of positive Russian steps to de-escalate, cited mounting evidence that separatists continue to increase the number of buildings under occupation and take journalists and other civilians captive. He urged Russia to tone down escalatory rhetoric, engage diplomatically in the east with the OSCE and Ukrainian government, and issue public statements calling for those occupying buildings to disarm and stand down in exchange for amnesty," reads the statement.
Pro-Russian activists are trying to negotiate with the authorities in Donetsk region. They vacated Yenakiyeve Executive Committee building, in Makiyivka and Mariupol they dismantled barricades. In Yenakiyeve pro-Russian activists have vacated the building of the executive committee, which immediately restored the work, in Makiyivka barricades have been dismantled in the building of the executive committee. In Mariupol they also dismantled the barricades inside the building of the city council, but executive committee officials are still working in other buildings. Separatists have released the tenth and eleventh floors of the building of the Donetsk Regional State Administration captured by separatists.
There is a “real” possibility that Ukraine will split into several parts in the ongoing crisis, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said. “The risk that eastern regions of Ukraine will become detached is real. I am afraid that we will not have to wait long before we see more acts of the Ukrainian drama,” Tusk said. He also claimed that the conflict will have an “enduring impact” on Europe’s security, predicting it is not going to end anytime soon.
The Information Resistance group headed by Dmitry Tymchuk rates the threat of anti-Ukrainian extremist activity highest in Donetsk Oblast, followed by Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts. Dmitry Tymchuk wrote "... even with separatists creating conditions for Russian invasion, we estimate the probability of this invasion in eastern regions in the nearest future as fairly low (30%). Calls for Russian troops to enter – that is blackmail aimed at Ukrainian authorities to force them to make the “referendums” happen."
Ukraine Crisis - 22 April 2014
The United States announced it was sending some 600 troops to Poland and the Baltic states to take part in military exercises. The Pentagon said the US forces, based in Italy, were expected to arrive in Poland on 23 April 2014 to start exercises. A spokesman said that US troops were also heading to the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to participate in exercises due to occur over the next few months.
US Vice President Joe Biden called 22 April 2014 for Russia to live up to its recent agreement to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, adding that the country is "in the struggle for its very future." The United States said it will make a decision "in days" whether to impose new sanctions on Russia if Moscow does not make an effort to implement the agreement signed in Geneva last week. Biden also warned Kyiv it must tackle the "cancer of corruption." A White House statement Tuesday said the United States will provide Kyiv with $8 million in non-lethal military aid, including communications equipment and vehicles.
Biden said Washington would help crisis-hit Ukraine reduce its dependence on gas supplies from neighboring resource-rich Russia. “An American team is currently in the region working with Ukraine and its neighbors to increase Ukraine’s short-term energy supply,” Biden said. “More teams are coming to support long-term improvements so that no nation, to be precise, Russia, can no longer use energy as a political weapon against Ukraine and Europe,” he said.
The White House issued photographs it claimed show that a Russian soldier seen in eastern Ukraine this month was also in Georgia during the Russian invasion in 2008. Since they shot into the international spotlight in late February when they appeared at Crimean sites in green uniforms with no markings, they have been dubbed “little green men”. The photographs have not been independently verified. Uniforms and equipment used by the armed men, such as helmets spotted in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass, were identical to the ones used by Russian special forces. The weapons, including the latest Kalashnikov AK-100 assault rifles and in some cases RPG-30 anti-tank grenade launchers, are also consistent with the arms used by Russian special forces.
Russia denied having any soldiers in Ukraine. It says all the pro-Russian separatists are locals. Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his annual question and answer session with the public, once again denied allegations of a Russian military presence in Ukraine, describing them as "nonsense." "There are no Russian units, special services or instructors in the east of Ukraine," said Putin. But Russia has a long record of “maskirovka” (disguised warfare), which it has employed in conflicts such as Chechnya and the Caucuses. Putin, a former KGB agent, has been known to employ this military strategy in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The number of OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) special mission observers in Ukraine will be enlarged to 500, in order to implement the Geneva agreement, representatives of the Russian delegation said on Tuesday. Initially, the mission will comprise 100 observers, but the number may further be enlarged to 500. The mission's headquarters will be in the capital Kiev. A previous OSCE mission, invited by the central government in Kiev, has tried to enter Crimea at least three times in early March, but was denied entry. Warning shots were fired on one occasion.
Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has called for the relaunch of an "antiterrorist" operation against pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, citing the death of a politician from his party in the region. The bodies of "two brutally tortured individuals" were found near Sloviansk of Donetsk region, one of whom resembles kidnapped deputy of Horlivka town council and member of Batkivschyna party, Volodymyr Rybak. "Terrorists, who in fact took hostages the whole Donetsk region, overstepped the limits when started to torture and kill patriots of Ukraine. They dared to toss a challenge not just to our country, but to the whole world as well, when they demonstratively outraged upon the decisions, which have bee adopted in Geneva. These crimes are committed under the complete favor and with the connivance of the Russian Federation," Turchynov said.
Acting President of Ukraine and Verkhovna Rada Chairman Oleksandr Turchynov ordered security task force to resume counter-terrorism actions to protect Ukrainians in east. "I demand from security task forces to resume and carry fruitful counter-terrorism actions meant for protection of Ukrainian citizens, who live in the east of Ukraine, against the terrorists," read a statement from Turchynov.
Police in Donetsk region refuse to help the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine in the antiterrorist operation, Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces Main Command Center Major General Oleksandr Rozmaznin told reporters in Kyiv. “To our great regret, we do not feel cooperation of the police in Donetsk region. They do not help us when our troops are in certain areas," Rozmaznin.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry demanded that the Russian side, in accordance with the Geneva accords, "publicly dissociate itself from armed separatists and provocateurs, urge them to immediately lay down their arms and vacate the occupied administrative buildings, condemn the seizure by them of hostages, including journalists, as well as cases of xenophobia and anti-Semitism that are spread by separatists." "Ukraine urges the Russian side to stop avoiding its responsibilities, put an end to constant attempts to thwart the implementation of the Geneva agreements, and ensure the fulfillment of its obligations through real actions," reads the statement.
Russian permanent envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin doubts that the agreements on the crisis in Ukraine concluded recently at a Geneva meeting would be implemented anytime soon. "Surely, it would be naive to expect that all this would happen quickly," Churkin said. In particular, Churkin mentioned the need to confiscate 3 million firearms that are in the wrong hands in Ukraine now. "The weapons are in the hands of radical nationalists. If we talk about the disarmament of supporters of federalization and decentralization in eastern Ukraine, then will these radicals who have sometimes been declared the National Guard and so granted official status will be disarmed as well?" he said.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told lawmakers the country can weather the sanctions imposed by the West over the situation in Ukraine. In a televised speech to the Russian parliament, Medvedev said he will not let Russian citizens become hostage to political games and unfriendly actions.
Russian aggression against Ukraine has increased the number of supporters of Ukraine's obtaining membership of NATO, but they are still inferior to the number of supporters of non-alignment. Such a conclusion could be drawn from the results of a survey conducted by the Razumkov Center and the Rating Sociological Group.
Some 35.8% would support accession to NATO, and 47.9% would oppose it," sociologists noted the level of support if such a question were put to a national referendum. Some 17.3% of respondents support Ukraine's accession to the Tashkent Treaty on Collective Security in the CIS, and 60.9% are against it. Some 44.8 % of those polled are in favor of Ukraine's non-aligned status, and 32% are against this.
With regard to integration projects with Russia, they do not gain support. For example, 20.1% support the creation of a single union state with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, and 70.5% are against it. Only 7.5% of Ukrainians want to see Ukraine as part of Russia, and 84.8% are against it. Only 8.5% of respondents support the idea of the transition of the region in which they live to Russia, and 85.3% do not support it.
The study was conducted by the Razumkov Center and the Rating Sociological Group from March 28 to April 2, 2014 in all regions of Ukraine, apart from Crimea. A total of 3,011 respondents aged over 18 were interviewed. The poll's margin of error is 1.9%.
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