A previous similar collection of links to news items appeared here.
They said this before, and the U.S. and NATO found no evidence that it had happened. We’ll see. But it does sound as if Russia is distancing itself — literally — from the separatists.
Russia’s interference in Ukraine’s national election must carry consequences [Washington Post editorial]
Again this time, no evidence of a Russian military pullback. The separatists are determined that no voting will occur in their regions this weekend.
Several things puzzle in this article. I am unaware of any previous reports of “looting” or hostage-taking. And how is it that every “ordinary citizen” quoted happens to agree with the headline?
Unless it were that the “green men” never had that much public support to begin with.
(1) No confirmation yet that Russia has moved its troops.
(2) The separatists display determination that the Sunday election not occur in their territories.
(3) It is puzzling what the separatists sought to accomplish by this, so similar to the bombing in Nigeria the same day. The latter has been attributed to Boko Haram. How can this fail to strengthen sentiment against them?
Here is another case where the content suggested by the URL differs significantly from the article.
Here are details about harassment of elections officials.
It appears Russia may be losing control of the separatists.
I wonder who is using mortars and artillery, and how they obtained them.
Again, the URL differs significantly from the title. If you mouseover the link, the URL will appear in your status bar.
The article looks at US-Russian relations apart from the Ukraine crisis — which actually seem pretty good — and how things are likely to be following tomorrow’s election.
“The Pentagon agreed for the first time that there had been some ‘small-scale’ troop movement away from Ukraine and evidence of preparations for more. But ‘tens of thousands of ready troops along that border . . . still are escalating the tension there in Ukraine, and we continue to call for the removal of all those troops,’ said Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary.
“Fighting continued in at least two areas of eastern Ukraine on Friday, where pro-Russian separatists — armed, financed and directed by Moscow, according to Washington and its allies — have occupied public buildings and declared an independent republic.”
“Western officials insist they only want a peaceful election in Ukraine and have no preference among the presidential candidates. But as they contemplate a future relationship with Russia, there is little doubt that they consider Petro Poroshenko, the wealthy businessman and former cabinet minister who leads the polls, as someone who could solve their problems in both Ukraine and Russia.
“‘We cannot invent the ideal leader,’ the diplomat said, ‘and Ukraine has a history of very problematic leadership,’ including massive corruption and rule by Russian-linked oligarchs.
“But Poroshenko, he said, has a number of ‘useful qualities,’ including ‘very good channels’ to Moscow.”
What do the separatists think they stand to gain from this offensive?
What is Russia’s role in the battle at the airport?
Who is using mortars, and where did they obtain them?
Still no reports of any substantial Russian pullback.
Fighting continues at the airport. Still no report of any substantial Russian pullback. I am uncomfortable that Poroshenko consistently refers to the separatists as “terrorists.” He remains the president-elect, but fully supports the military operations of an interim government of questionable legitimacy. He calls for talks with Russia, but blames Russia for the ongoing violence.
Russia’s intentions remain unclear. “Wednesday … Russian officials appeared to pivot from what was initially a cold, but vaguely conciliatory, response to Poroshenko’s election victory, to declaring his authority an outright failure.”
“Ukrainian border guards have reported at least one gunbattle as they blocked groups of armed men trying to cross into Ukraine from Russia.”
“On Tuesday, Russia’s Federal Security Service rejected the Ukrainian claim that a convoy of vehicles loaded with weapons attempted to break through the border and engaged in a gunbattle with Ukrainian border guards.”
Still no report of any substantial Russian pullback.
It is becoming clearer that the entire insurrection may be little more than a Russian special-ops invasion of Ukraine.
Thursday’s clashes coincided with more apparent infighting between eastern Ukraine’s separatists. The pro-Russian Vostok battalion, a militia known to include Chechen and other Russian fighters, besieged the headquarters of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” in the separatist enclave of Donetsk on Thursday, local journalists reported.
I did not comment on the speculations of Chechen involvement in yesterday’s headlines, as they seemed to me to be mere rumors.
One can question how there can be infighting among the separatists.
Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news service reported Thursday that 33 of the separatist fighters killed during fierce clashes outside the Donetsk airport on Monday were Russian nationals. “All of those dead have been identified,” said Alexander Borodai, who calls himself the prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, according to RIA Novosti. Russian media reported that the bodies would soon be returned to Russia.
Recall my opening remark about a Russian invasion.
Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the self-proclaimed “people’s mayor” of Slovyansk, told Russia’s Interfax news agency that the four election monitors — a Dane, an Estonian, a Swiss and a Turk — were “fine” and that the group was in negotiations with the OSCE to release them.
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, said Thursday that the Ukrainian government “bears the most responsibility” for the disappearance of the OSCE monitors, Interfax reported. Churkin accused Kiev of failing to complete procedures that would have granted the monitors “immunity” in Ukraine, thus leaving them legally vulnerable.
Churkin’s remark strikes me as very strange, and shows that we’re observing a propaganda war. What “immunity” did Ukraine need to secure for these monitors on its own soil?
So Putin has begun to make good on that promise.
What’s new here, compared to the earlier version of this article linked to yesterday, is that the “infighting” among the rebels pertains to an effort to purge their ranks of common criminals. It began when members of one faction looted a nearby supermarket.
[C]onfirmation from NATO on Friday that most of those troops had pulled back brought no relief to the edgy streets of Donetsk: The Russians are already here. …
Acting Ukrainian Defense Minister Mykhilo Koval said Friday that military operations in Donetsk and the surrounding areas would continue “until these regions begin to live normally, until there is peace.”
That means taking on a separatist movement that gets more support from Russia by the day, as trucks laden with fighters and weapons rumble across a porous border that is only lightly defended by Ukrainian forces.
Despite president-elect Petro Poroshenko’s promise to crush the rebellion in the east and unite his fractured country in “hours,” even senior Ukrainian officials acknowledge that the armed forces are ill-equipped to counter what amounts to a stealth Russian invasion.
* * *
Ukrainian officials estimate that five to seven trucks slip into the country daily with supplies and reinforcements for the rebels.
* * *
Within the rebel leadership, commanders who are closely associated with Russia are taking on a more prominent role. The entrance to the rebel-occupied regional administration building in Donetsk is emblazoned with a massive, Hollywood-style poster of Igor Girkin, who goes by the pseudonym Igor Strelkov and is believed by Ukrainian authorities to be a Russian intelligence officer.
Girkin is now defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and is closely associated with the Vostok Battalion, a well-trained rebel unit that includes many Russian and Chechen fighters. The group seized the administrative building on Thursday, causing dismay among some civilian leaders of the rebellion who feared a coup.
The attack, which began in the early morning hours, involved as many as 500 pro-Russian rebels armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, a spokesman for the Ukrainian border service said.
So the separatists have mortars.
The separatists’ goal here would be to have a portion of the border completely open so that munitions and personnel can come into Ukraine from Russia without restriction.
“New Russia” was a nation that existed in the 18th century, occupying much of what today is Ukraine.
“[O]utside Donetsk and Luhansk, pro-government oligarchs have set up private armies to ward off the spread of the insurgency. ” This does not strike me as a good idea.
Pro-Russian forces appear to have the upper hand.
Overall, Russia continues efforts to “destabilize” the eastern part of Ukraine by promoting “very well-led, very well-financed, very well-organized clashes with Ukrainian forces,” said Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander, “It is very clear that the Russian influence is a part of this.”
The President addressed a wide range of topics.
It would seem to me the first condition for peace would be the expulsion of Russian nationals from the separatists’ ranks, and sealing the border to prevent further Russian infiltration.
I’m surprised that he demands the return of Crimea.
He speaks to corruption, which was evidently pervasive.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a statement that he was sending in the police out of necessity and as “a test of proficiency, spirit and patriotism.” He said their willingness to serve in the east will help instill trust in the institution, long seen as corrupt. Avakov said he had fired 21 police officers from the city of Chernihiv on Sunday because they refused to go, while 86 obeyed the directive.
In contrast to this country, where police forces are generally part of local governments; in Ukraine, as in Russia, the police are a nationalized force under the “interior ministry,” which again is a wholly different critter than the U.S. department of the same name. The U.S.S.R. interior ministry constituted an internal army charged with quashing rebellions within the U.S.S.R.’s own borders.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that about 30,000 Ukrainian refugees are now in Russia’s Rostov region, which borders Ukraine.
Rostov is adjacent to the separatist district. That these refugees fled to Russia suggests they sympathize with the separatist cause. Their activities no doubt contribute to the porosity of the border.
It’s not the way it sounds: the public admission only pertains to humanitarian aid, and only from May 30 forward.
Russian citizens have poured into eastern Ukraine in recent weeks to join the fight against the government in Kiev, although most of them have insisted that they are volunteers and are not working on behalf of the Kremlin. The Ukrainian government has also said that it has seized convoys of weaponry crossing the border from Russia, and separatists recently overran a border control center in Luhansk, Ukraine’s easternmost region.
The overwhelming majority of headlines linked to here above come from the Washington Post‘s daily e-mail to me of — headlines. That e-mail today for some reason included nothing pertinent Ukraine. This link is from Yahoo! News/Agence France Press.
Ukraine’s interior minister said on Friday that federal forces had inflicted “high casualties” on separatist rebels led by a Chechen commander in the southeastern port of Mariupol.
“The terrorists from the Donetsk People’s Republic are being headed by a criminal boss known as ‘The Chechen,'” Avakov wrote in a Facebook post.
Well-equipped gunmen from Chechnya — a Muslim Russian republic that fought two post-Soviet wars for independence before falling under Kremlin control — have appeared in growing numbers among the separatists.
On Friday, the U.S. State Department confirmed Kiev’s suspicions, saying Russia has been sending the separatists military equipment, including tanks and rocket launchers.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said a convoy of three Russian tanks, several Grad rocket launchers and other military vehicles had crossed the border from Russia into eastern Ukraine over the previous three days.
The article also includes coverage of the ongoing battle for Mariupol.
Mariupol is considered strategically important because it is situated on major roads and steel is exported through its port. Separatists have infiltrated Mariupol several times during the conflict, and full Ukrainian control may prove to be only temporary. But in a sign that Ukrainians expect to stay in charge, Poroshenko ordered Serhiy Taruta, the Donetsk governor who has been ruling from Kiev in recent weeks, to relocate immediately to Mariupol.
There is this statement from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov:
“Rather than extending a hand to these people, inviting them to the negotiating table and agreeing on how to continue to live in the country all together, the military operation continues,” Lavrov said on Russian television. “Naturally, under the roar of cannon fire, shelling and strikes from combat aircraft, such dialogue is impossible.”
Perhaps I’m naïve, but it’s hard for me not to see that as disingenuous given ongoing Russian-backed aggression, such as the 2014-05-27 battle at the airport.
I am suspending this collection in order to devote more time to job search.
(Originally posted 2014-06-17.)