Here is how the Fox News interview with that American-Ossetian girl and her aunt is being reported in the Russian news. I think even non-Russian speakers will get a sense of the hatchet job done on this just from the translator’s tone and coughing. If Vesti really wants to get schooled in propaganda production, they might pay closer attention to Fox. They’re masters at it. From this grade school project, Vesti is hardly an apprentice.
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By William Risch
Last night, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, told his nation that they were at war. The Ukrainian government, after attempting peace talks for several days, was ending its unilateral ceasefire with pro-Russian forces in the Donbass region, which it has been fighting for over two months. “They have publicly declared their unwillingness to support the peace plan as a whole and particularly the ceasefire,” he said. “Militants violated the truce for more than a hundred times.” Thus Ukrainian forces, including the army, National Guard, Ministry of Interior forces, and paramilitary battalions have officially renewed the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO).
This time, the ATO promises to be an all-out war. Since the ceasefire took effect June 20, both Ukrainian and rebel forces have reinforced their positions. More tanks, rockets, personnel, and supplies from across the Russian border have reached pro-Russian forces. The Ukrainian online news source Inforesist reported June 30 that separatist Igor Girkin (a.k.a. Strelkov), after complaining for weeks about a lack of support from Russia, had assembled a force capable of seizing Izium, the headquarters of Ukraine’s ATO: 5,000 armed men in Sloviansk and dozens of armored equipment, tanks, and multiple rocket launchers. Fresh reinforcements have arrived in nearby Krasnyi Liman and Kramatorsk. Inforesist stressed that Strelkov not only could take Izium, but also advance toward major industrial city of Kharkiv, due to the Ministry of Internal Affairs forces lacking heavy armament.
Facing forces like Strelkov’s, Ukraine’s ATO will cost many lives. It will make worse a refugee crisis that has already led to at least 27,200 internally displaced persons from eastern Ukraine as of June 27, according to a recent United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report. The hundreds of military and civilians killed could reach the thousands if air strikes and artillery assaults become even deadlier.
Despite the nightmarish scenario, all-out war looks inevitable. There is not even one hint that the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) or the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) even took President Poroshenko’s ceasefire seriously. During it, their forces killed a total of 27 Ukrainian security forces personnel and wounded 69. DNR and LNR leaders have suggested plans for creating a larger entity, New Russia (Novorossiia), which would incorporate other regions of eastern and southern Ukraine. On June 26, one of their key supporters – Oleh Tsarev, one of their representatives in peace talks with the Ukrainian government – announced competitions for designing national symbols for Novorossiia and a history textbook for the start of the new school year.
In the face of war, neither the United States nor the European Union can afford to let Ukraine lose the Donbass. The Budapest Memorandum of 1994, which led to Ukraine giving up its stockpiles of Soviet nuclear weapons, guaranteed that the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America would refrain from using force “against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” Over the past few weeks, Russia’s lending separatists advanced weaponry and armed volunteers from across the border has seriously threatened Ukraine’s territorial integrity. What looked like a local conflict lacking popular support at the beginning of June has turned into a full-scale invasion at the beginning of July. This invasion and Russia’s illegal seizure of Crimea have made a total mockery of the Budapest Memorandum.
Supporting Ukraine’s war for the Donbass does not mean sacrificing the blood and treasure of U.S. or E.U. member forces. Western countries could send military advisors to train a more effective army (one badly undermined by corruption over the past quarter century). They could send ammunition. They could help finance the construction of a more secure border between Russia and Ukraine. Most importantly, they could support more vigorous economic sanctions against Russia. The West either must do what it can to support Ukraine’s military effort, or it may have to admit that international borders need to be redrawn and that international guarantees like the Budapest Memorandum are mere scraps of paper.
William Risch is a contributing journalist at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Associate Professor of History at Georgia College. He is author of The Ukrainian West: Culture and the Fate of Empire in Soviet Lviv (Harvard University Press, 2011).Post Views: 640
While the battle between Kyiv and separatists intensifies, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) is helping stack the bodies via revolutionary justice.
The DNR may be adopting Russian laws, but one practice it’s exercising not found in the Russia codex is the death penalty. Several Russian news outlets reported that an order given by Igor Stelkov, the commander of the DNR’s militias, sentenced two men to death by shooting for “marauding, armed robbery, abduction, abandoning their military position, and hiding their crimes.” The two weren’t just regular grunts but commanders: Dmitri Slavlov, the commander of the Bulgar company, and Nikolai Lukyanov, the commander of Luka company.
Life News published a copy of Stelkov’s order.
Alexandr Mozhaev, a commander of a checkpoint neighboring Kramatorsk, told Kommersant that the men “broke into houses, robbed the families, and abused people. . . Such instances aren’t unique, but before someone just stopped a car, took the passengers jewelry and stole their money. Now, a decision was made to take harsh measures against these people so as to teach others a lesson.”
More evidence that things are spiraling out of control in eastern Ukraine.
Acts like this have to scare Putin. This is perhaps why Moscow is backing off its support for the DNR and has mostly been mute on the continued violence against separatists. All we get are repeated empty statements calling for an end to Kyiv’s “anti-terrorist” operation. Perhaps Moscow is now realizing that the separatists have gone off the reservation and are taking their revolution too seriously.
This is what Aleksandr Baunov argues in a recent article in Slon. With Poroshenko’s election, Kyiv is no longer a revolutionary threat. He’s calling for order and for the Maidan to be dismantled. This makes the president elect someone Moscow can work with. But the Donetsk People’s Republic? It might be becoming a liability. Baunov writes:
“The main danger for Putin now is the Donbass because it remains revolutionary. And therefore Putin will not increasingly meddle in it and will back off and stand aside. Although traffic in Kyiv still winds between the leftovers of barricades, the Maidan is not there, but in Lugansk and Donetsk, and that means you have to be on guard.”
. . .
“And Putin will become estranged from the Donetsk Republic. In all of his appearances at the Petersburg Forum there wasn’t a word about fascists, Banderovtsy or junta. There wasn’t even anything about Novorossiia or a unified Russian people. In the news, the Balkan floods, the train accident, the Nigerian abductions, and European and Ukrainian elections have all the more attenuated the topic of the junta and Right Sector. Even the chief ideologist [Dmitry Kiselev] has calmed down.”
I wonder if we can expect Putin to speed up his extrication from eastern Ukraine now that the DNR is decreeing revolutionary justice.Post Views: 524
Some of the content below might be outdated due to rapidly changing events.
By William Risch
Last week, world television stations featured horrific clashes with police and protestors in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Up to 100 died in shootouts on February 18-20. At the center of the protests – Independence Square, commonly known as the Maidan – the protestors’ main headquarters, the Trade Unions’ Building, burned to the ground. Then the violence suddenly stopped. After the political opposition reached an agreement with President Viktor Yanukovych, Yanukovych fled for parts unknown. Opposition leaders removed him from power and began laying the groundwork for a new government.
Ukrainians had real fears civil war would break out. In a poll taken in Ukraine January 25-27, up to 8 percent of respondents believed a civil war would definitely happen, 32 percent said it was a real danger, and 31 percent said it was a possibility; only 20 percent said they absolutely did not believe a civil war would happen in Ukraine. Yet there was no civil war. Nothing came of a February 22 meeting of separatists in the eastern industrial city of Kharkiv, a pro-Yanukovych stronghold. Over the next few days, elites from eastern and southern Ukraine ditched Yanukovych and announced that they would cooperate with Kyiv. The Russian invasion of Crimea, while alarming, has failed to produce mass support among locals for their would-be liberators.
What happened? For one thing, Ukraine is not a federal state, but a centralized one. Ukraine’s armed forces and police forces take orders from Kyiv’s central government. The armed forces limited their involvement to general calls for unity and order. Kyiv’s new government returned Berkut, riot police, and other law enforcement to their barracks. Oligarchs and other elites in southern and eastern Ukraine most likely stayed out of separatist politics because of financial reasons. Ukraine’s banking system, unlike its U.S. counterpart, is highly centralized. The system of electronic cash payments, rather than being run by separate clearing houses in private banks, is run from one central server in Kyiv. It would have been very easy to block the accounts of aspiring separatist politicians and leave them without cash in as little as six hours.
Yet I would like to suggest another explanation. Serious differences scholars have noted between western and central Ukraine (“Western Ukraine”) and southern and eastern Ukraine (“Eastern Ukraine”) over such issues as relations with the EU and Russia, language use, and historical memory might not have been as salient as predicted. This scholarly consensus drew me, a historian of Lviv, Ukraine’s more “western” other, to Kharkiv and Donetsk. I visited these cities January 7-17 to find out more about people’s attitudes there toward the Euromaidan protest movement, the EU and Russia, and Ukrainian politics. In addition to interviewing Euromaidan activists in Kharkiv and Donetsk, I collected written narrative responses to questionnaires from 10 people in Donetsk who were from their mid-30s to their 60s, and I interviewed 4 residents from the Donetsk area who were in their 20s and 30s.
My findings confirmed the numerous polls indicating Eastern Ukrainians’ lack of support for the Euromaidan protestors. While a few were sympathetic to them, most saw them as people who didn’t work, were being paid by politicians, had no clue what they were doing, or were being manipulated by extreme nationalists. Two women in their late 20s and early 30s voiced similar perceptions. Yet almost all of them said that the “division” between Eastern and Western Ukraine was artificial, exploited by politicians. While criticizing some of the slogans made at Kyiv Maidan demonstrations and associating these with the far right, they seemed more concerned about protestors’ lack of plans for fixing Ukraine’s serious economic problems. While a woman in her late 20s saw Yanukovych as having been more effective than his predecessor, Leonid Kuchma, she stressed that Ukraine lacked real leaders fit to be president, and that it was unrealistic to remove Yanukovych from power. This woman also suggested that the Donetsk Region’s skepticism about the EU did not mean greater affinities for Russia. She said that Ukraine faced a false choice between Russia and the EU and that it should look after its own interests.
Thus, I see great potential for the new regime to gain support from such people. So far, that has not happened yet. March 1 was a sad reminder of this. In Kharkiv, hired thugs, some from Russian cities like Voronezh and Belgorod, came to a meeting of “patriotic Kharkivians” organized by Mayor Kernes and stormed the governor’s office, seizing about 30 Euromaidan activists inside and beating them up and humiliating them on Freedom Square. Those storming the building hoisted Russian flags from its upper floors. In Donetsk, demonstrators from a crowd of about 7,000 pro-Yanukovych supporters tried to storm the governor’s offices there and hung a Russian flag on a nearby flag post. Crimea’s parliament decided to move up to March 10 a referendum on the autonomous region’s status.
Despite these worrisome signs, the new regime and Euromaidan forces are trying to bring the country together. The interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, promised to veto a new language law that appeared to discriminate against Russian speakers and alienate potential support in Eastern Ukraine. The new government this weekend appointed billionaire oligarchs from Eastern Ukraine – Serhiy Taruta and Ihor Kolomoiskyi – governors of the Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions to provide greater stability and unity. Kharkiv Euromaidan activists last week put off plans to demolish the city’s Lenin monument and chose to have the public discuss the issue further. In Lviv, the reputed heartland of right-wing nationalism, members of Lviv’s intelligentsia early last week called on the government to enact more favorable policies for Russian speakers and back away from political extremists, and they urged people not to take the law into their own hands. We end the week with Ukraine facing not a civil war, but an unprovoked foreign occupation of one of its southern regions.
William Risch is Associate Professor of History at Georgia College and made two trips to Ukraine during the Euromaidan protests.Post Views: 838