Russo-Ukraine War - 2014
Ukraine's Prosecutor-General's Office said 01 June 2014 that criminal acts carried out by Russian citizens on Ukrainian territory had led to the deaths of 122 people, injuries to another 200, and various other severe consequences. At least 181 people have been killed in the Kiev government’s military operation against independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine, Ukraine’s acting prosecutor general said 03 June 2014. “In total, 181 people were killed and 293 injured in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” Ukraine's Acting Prosecutor General Oleh Makhnitsky said, adding that the death toll includes 59 Ukrainian servicemen.
At least 257 people were killed and over 1,300 injured during the punitive operations in Eastern Ukraine, the country’s Health Ministry reported 11 June 2014 in a report based on data from urgent medical aid in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
On 12 June 2014, Interior Minister Avakov accused Russia of allowing an armored column, including three tanks, to cross into Ukraine at a border control point manned by separatists. A spokesman for President Petro Poroshenko said the Ukrainian leader told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that the reported crossing was "unacceptable." Ukraine's government said Friday 13 June 2014 that its security forces regained control of Mariupol, a port city in the Donetsk region that has changed hands several times. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Ukrainian forces raised the country's flag over city hall. Earlier in the day, he said security forces had surrounded the rebel-held city. Pro-Russian separatists in Mariupol said five members of their group had been killed in fighting.
On Friday the 13th, the US State Department asserted Russia had sent tanks and heavy weaponry to separatists in Ukraine. The tanks are difficult to drive, meaning only someone who had training could operate them properly. That means it was unlikely that the separatists are driving them. The convoy was part of a larger group of military vehicles assembled at a staging area near Rostov-on-Don, about 50 miles from the border with Ukraine. Among them were at least 10 T-64 battle tanks - a Russian model which was designed in Kharkiv [Ukraine] in the early 1960s under the leadership of Aleksandr A. Morozov.
Pro-Russian separatists shot down a military transport plane, killing all 49 people on board. The 40 service members and nine crew were killed early 14 June 2014 when the rebels shot down the Ukrainian Air Force Ilyushin-76 in eastern Ukraine. The aircraft filled with troops and supplies was about to land at the Lugansk airport when it was fired on. The widely-followed Ukrainian defense analyst Dmitry Tymchuk, said Russian-designed anti-aircraft missiles known as "Iglas" had been found in the area, and were likely used against the plane. The downing of the plane overnight Friday was apparently the biggest single loss of Kiev loyalist forces.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that if reports of "pro-Russian armed gangs" acquiring heavy weapons from Russia were confirmed, it would mark "a serious escalation" of the crisis in eastern Ukraine. US Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to make clear Moscow's commitment to ending the flow of Russian weapons and tanks across the border into Ukraine.
A large crowd of protesters pelted the Russian embassy in Kyiv with bricks, stones and eggs, and overturned luxury cars parked just outside the complex. Acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia urged them to stop, but incited the crowd with his description of Putin. "Did I say that I am against you protesting? I am for you protesting. I am ready to be here with you and say 'Russia, get out of Ukraine.' Yes, Putin is a dickhead, yes,'' Deshchytsia said.
Andriy Parubiy, the head of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, estimated 16 June 2014 there were 15,000-20,000 "armed terrorists" in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and "more than half of them come from Russia" [these numbers seem high]. Ukraine's Government, videos, and eyewitness reports pointed to Russian troops moving toward Ukraine border.
At least 356 people, including 257 "civilians" [that is, people other than Ukrainin service members], had died since the beginning of the “anti-terrorist operation" in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, according to UN calculations. There were 14 children among the dead. The results prepared by the UN special commission in Ukraine were presented 18 June 2014 by Gianni Magazzeni, head of European Department of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.
Russian tanks crossed the Ukrainian border, although Russia won't admit that it's involved in this war, and still talks about volunteers and about "self-defense in the Donbas." Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces engaged in fierce fighting in the east of Ukraine on 19 June 2014, as top rebel military commander Igor Strelkov acknowledged heavy losses among pro-Russian forces outgunned by government forces. He said up to 200 rebels were killed and hundreds more were wounded in the battle. Strelkov said the Ukrainian military advance would completely cut the rebel supply lines to Slovyansk, and he issued a desperate plea to the Kremlin for military assistance. One Ukrainian military source said 4,000 pro-Russian combatants were involved, while rebels sources in Donetsk said Ukrainian infantry supported by 20 tanks and many other armored vehicles were storming the village of Yampil.
The head of NATO said Russia has resumed a troop build-up along its border with Ukraine. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels that "at least a few thousand more" Russian troops had been deployed in what he said was "a new Russian military build-up" around the Ukrainian border. He called it "a very regrettable step backwards."
Ukrainian government forces on 20 June 2014 announced a week-long cease-fire in their fight against pro-Russian separatists in the country's east. The interior ministry said the cease-fire would continue until June 27. It quoted President Petro Poroshenko as saying that during that time, government forces would fire only if they came under attack from separatists. Ukraine’s new president called it a first step in a peace plan designed to end the deadly pro-Russian insurgency. The plan called for a unilateral cease-fire that would give rebels a chance to disarm or leave the country. It also includes establishing a corridor allowing separatist fighters to leave Ukraine for Russia, the creation of a 10-kilometer buffer zone along the Ukrainian-Russian border, decentralization of power in the country and protecting the use of the Russian language.
Pro-Russian separatists rejected Ukraine's unilateral cease-fire. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared to back the separatists, denouncing Ukraine's cease-fire as an "ultimatum." Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he supports the Ukrainian leader's decision to declare a cease-fire in southeastern Ukraine but said the plan would not be "viable" without "practical actions." Russian President Vladimir Putin put troops in central Russia on "combat alert" for snap drills. Russian officials said the drills involved some 65,000 troops. In particular, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered the Airborne Forces commander "to airlift the 98th Airborne Assault Division using military transport aircraft for 1,500 km from its permanent base in Ivanovo to the Chelyabinsk region, with an airborne drop at the Cherbarkul range. Shoigu said that the 28th and 35th Motorized Brigades began the training June 20, when both units were put on alert ahead of the rest of the military forces in the region.
In the face of Western sanctions and only limited gains on the ground, Russia’s government seems to be preparing the Russian people and the pro-Russian rebels for a winding down of the southeastern Ukraine’s two-month-old secessionist war. A leader of pro-Russian separatists battling Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine said 22 June 2014 the rebels would observe a truce until June 27, to run parallel with Poroshenko's cease-fire. Ukraine said pro-Russian separatists near the Russian border shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter, killing at least nine servicemen. The downing near the eastern city of Slovyansk, a rebel stronghold, came less than a day after rebels announced a temporary cease-fire in their push to gain autonomy from the Kyiv government.
On 24 June 2014 President Vladimir Putin asked the upper house of Russia’s parliament to revoke the right it granted him in March to send the Russian military into Ukraine to defend Russian nationals and Russian-speaking Ukrainians. And the next day Russia's upper house of parliament voted to withdraw permission for Russian troops to go into Ukraine, fulfilling a request made by President Vladimir Putin.
But Putin may just be talking conciliation while stepping up covert action in eastern Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said 25 June 2014 it was "critical" for President Vladimir Putin to "publicly" call for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to disarm. He also said Putin must stop the flow of fighters and weapons, including "tanks and rocket launchers," across Russia's border with Ukraine. Russia could face tougher sanctions from NATO countries if it fails to comply with requests to help end the violence between Ukraine loyalists and Russian separatists within Ukraine's borders.
Sergei Markov, an adviser to the Kremlin on Ukraine policy, said that separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces would see Putin’s decision as “a catastrophe.” Russians in Russia, who’ve given massive approval to Putin’s neo-imperial policies in Crimea and Ukraine, might react negatively as well.
Senior United Nations human rights official Ivan Simonovic warned the U.N. Security Council that the situation in eastern Ukraine is rapidly deteriorating. He said 423 people were killed in fighting in the east between April 15 and June 20, and said the cross-border flow of arms and Russian recruits to the region is increasing.
Speaking before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, on 26 June 2014 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of waging an “undeclared war” against Ukraine by backing and arming the separatists, calling it an “aggressor” which has destroyed regional stability. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it is "critical" for Russia "in the next hours" to call on pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine to disarm. The Obama administration said it was ready to impose fresh sanctions on Russia if Moscow fails to take action to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.
The parliament of the union of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics ratified a constitutional act that proclaims the creation of the Union of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk during its first session on 26 June 2014. The constitutional act, which was passed unanimously, states that the Union of the People’s Republics (UPR) is “a democratic, confederate, and state based on justice” that acknowledges and protects the equal rights of citizens. According to the constitution, the UPR is open to the accession of other states and is a denuclearized zone. Earlier, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics declared the official union of their constitutions and the formal creation of Novorossiya as a confederate Union of People's Republics.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko signed a landmark trade and economic agreement with the European Union in Brussels 27 June 2014, and said he would decide later whether to extend the unilateral cease-fire he announced a week earlier in the military campaign against pro-Russian separatists. Poroshenko said Ukraine had paid "the highest possible price" to sign the free trade agreement with the EU, which he called "historic."
At the Brussels summit, EU leaders set an 30 June 2014 deadline for Putin to demonstrate support for calming the unrest in Ukraine. The 28 leaders called for Moscow to meet several conditions, including visibly supporting the Ukrainian government's proposed peace plan. Ukraine's government also should be granted oversight of three major border checkpoints, according to the statement. The Obama administration's new sanctions would include imposing a ban on any interactions with some of Russia's largest banks, cutting off technology transfers to Russian energy and defense firms, and shutting down business with Russian defense companies. This could prove difficult for the European bloc.
Even if sanctions are implemented, analyst James Nixey of Chatham House said Putin's actions will not change. "Putin is what he was. He is a KGB colonel with a specific view of the world and a few sanctions, (or) measures designed effectively to protect Western economies, are not going to change his basic goals, which are to ensure that certain states -- in this particular case, Ukraine -- remain east of an east-west dividing line," Nixey said. Nixey says Russia will continue to try to destabilize Ukraine. And, with Ukraine's own political and economic challenges, that could be an easy task.
Sergei Glazyev, Putin's presidential adviser on regional economic integration, told the BBC: "Europe is trying to push Ukraine to sign this agreement by force.... "They organised [a] military coup in Ukraine, they helped Nazis to come to power. This Nazi government is bombing the largest region in Ukraine." Asked if he believed Mr Poroshenko was a Nazi he replied: "Of course." He also warned against EU euphoria. "I think after the signing of the agreement with EU, [the] European public will be... surprised when this Nazi Frankenstein, which was born by the Euro bureaucrats and some politicians, will knock on the European countries' doors," he said.
A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin says the comment by Glazyev did not represent the Kremlin's official position. Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Interfax as saying the remark by Sergei Glazyev, a senior Putin adviser, "does not reflect the official point of view" of the Russian government. In an interview with the BBC released on June 27, Glazyev also said Poroshenko's signing of a key accord on closer ties with the EU was as illegitimate as the Ukrainian president himself.
Putin's taking of Crimea was popular in Russia, in part because it looked so painless: a simple bloodless transfer of power. But eastern Ukraine was a bloody, murky conflict with mounting casualties and refugees. This was a war most Russians did not want their sons involved in. After Poroshenko's election, the Ukrainian response was probably tougher than Putin expected. More than 420 people have been killed in fighting between pro-Russia rebels and government forces in eastern Ukraine since mid-April 2014, the UN estimated.
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