Sunday, June 28, 2015

Young will not be fooled by thug Zakharchenko

Official message of Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko to the young people of the South-East of Ukraine on: June 28, 2015: 

I heartily greet my young fellow countrymen, residents of the South-East on the Day of Youth! For my part, in fact, for all the Donbass, you’re like relatives and family. Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa, Kharkov and Nikolayev, Kherson and Zaporozhye – these are beautiful Russian cities, true sister cities of Donetsk and Lugansk....

I urge you, the young people of the southeast, to cast aside all your fears, to unite your efforts, and present a united front against the [sic] occupation regime. Free yourselves, be masters in your own land; stand up to defend your culture, traditions, and mother tongue! ...."

[More of this rubbish, if anyone is interested, here from 'Novorossia Today'*.]

Compare with this..

".... many Russian speakers in Ukraine — who live primarily in the country’s east and in large cities — are demonstratively turning to Ukrainian as a badge of self-identification. A concise tutorial on how to switch from Russian to Ukrainian, written by a Kiev blogger, has earned thousands of shares and reposts. Patriotic Russian-speakers in Kiev and big eastern cities are pledging on social networks to speak Ukrainian to their children, hoping to make the next generation more fluent and natural speakers of their native tongue..." 

And this about volunteer workers helping people in eastern Ukraine: "We realized that young people in our country are the same," he said, adding that news stories about different ethnicities exaggerate the differences, and that all young people want a better future...

Self-appointed 'Oplot' militant thug Zakharchenko will not fool or impress the young....while he and his Putinist zombies are in charge the future for the young residents of separatist-held territories of Ukraine  is grim. To see what this future looks like they need only look at Abkhazia, Transnistria and other 'black hole' frozen zones of the former Soviet Union.

p.s. And I thought Novorossia was dead...isn't it?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Russia must pay for occupied territories in eastern Ukraine

Ivan Yakovyna in "Novoye Vremya"  notes the importance of a recent official appeal of Ukraine to the Council of Europe.

It declares the territories in eastern Ukraine not under Kyiv's control to be temporarily occupied, as result of armed aggression, by the Russian Federation. According to Kyiv, responsibility for the welfare of people in this territory should therefore fall onto what is the de facto occupying power.

Yakovyna considers  this to be an extremely beneficial and important decision that should have to been made a year ago at the beginning of the occupation when it could have saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives [rather than declaring the Anti Terrorist Action - ATO].

Now the Kremlin has two choices - either take on the burden of maintaining the Donbas,  or commence direct negotiations with Ukraine about the conditions of reintegration of the occupied territories back into Ukraine. Kyiv should insist: We will only take occupied parts of Donbas back in one package together with Crimea.

Friday, June 05, 2015

British Ambassador's statement at UN

"There are three things that now need to happen to prevent further escalation [of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine].
First, Russia must immediately withdraw its military forces from Ukraine, stop its flow of weapons to the separatists, and make every effort to secure a political solution to this crisis. This includes the immediate release of Nadiya Savchenko, who has been illegally detained for nearly a year. 
Second, we urge Russia to use its considerable influence on the separatists to cease their provocative behaviour and live up to their commitment to implement fully the Minsk Agreements. The separatist forces are Russia’s creation; they are Russia’s tool. Russia has the capacity and the influence to control the separatist forces. It must exercise that influence to ensure compliance with the Minsk agreements. If it is not ready to do so, this Council must be clear in its condemnation.
And third, it is vital that all parties engage seriously in the process and implement the Minsk agreements..."

Thursday, June 04, 2015

More Maryinka-type attacks likely soon

Pavel Felgenhauer in 'Novoye Vremya' explains why Russian and separatist fighters attacked Maryinka yesterday and why it is likely these kind of attacks will increase in the weeks to come, until any remnants of any peace process disintegrate.

The next attacks may occur in Lysychansk or Schastya in a few weeks time after a large mass demobilization of conscripts in the Russian army takes place.

Freezing the conflict in the Donbas or its termination brings no benefit to the Kremlin. Putin faces a possible sharp drop in his ratings next year and mass protests cannot be ruled out.

Currently Russian society is mobilized against a perceived external threat and has rallied around the Kremlin. But if this threat diminishes and the conflict in Ukraine is frozen, economic [and social] issues will come to the fore in the public consciousness. A decline in real wages and household incomes is predicted so for the Kremlin it would be dangerous to freeze military conflict.

The appointment of Mikheil Saakashvili, a man Putin loathes, to the post of governor of the Odesa region has worsened relations between Putin and Poroshenko to even greater depths, to a point where informal contacts between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine have all but disappeared.

However, the freezing of the conflict in the Donbas would increase the likelihood of preservation and stabilization of power in Kyiv, which is unacceptable for the Kremlin. [Putin's overarching aim is to trash Ukraine's economy and turn the country into an unmanageable wreck. A successful, western orientated Ukraine is his greatest nightmare.]

If the front lines remain stable during July and August, Russia and the separatists will have to wait until the next year to mount further serious offensive attacks. In the meantime the regime in Kyiv will only get stronger.

For Russia and the separatists it is now only a matter of when, on what pretext, and to what degree, to renew the conflict.

Leonid Bershidsky, in a BloombergView article in which he quotes from a recent Chatham House publication that predicts dire consequences if NATO and EU do not challenge Russian aggression, agrees with this analysis.

"[Putin] cannot afford a prolonged lull in events, because he must keep his audience focused.

If Western leaders don't signal their willingness to normalize relations -- for example, to cancel sanctions while freezing the conflict in eastern Ukraine, or to pressure Ukraine into a softer approach to reintegrating separatist-held territories -- Putin can only make the conflict more acute.

In recent days, fighting has flared up again with the pro-Russian rebels attacking, but so far failing to take, the town of Marinka near Donetsk. If previous experience is any indication, when the rebels suffer military setbacks, regular Russian troops come in and wreak havoc on the Ukrainian military. If the current shaky truce breaks down and this happens again, the West will not be able to keep playing its waiting game. It may lean toward arming Ukraine and, instead of building up its economy, drag it into a destructive, full-scale war. In other words, for the West, too, the stalemate may turn into a zugzwang.

While they understand the root causes and the current shape of the "Russian challenge" perfectly well, the best Western experts -- and therefore the Western leaders -- lack the courage to take a stand. Just like after the Crimea annexation, the choice before them is simple: Fight to win or do a deal. There's no waiting it out."

I hope G7 leaders meeting in Schloss Elmau, Germany this weekend will rise to the new challenge, decide on a firm response,  and not allow themselves to be bullied by upstart Putin.

Monday, June 01, 2015

DNR and LNR in terminal decline

"Financial Times's" Roman Olearchyk, writing from Donetsk, describes how "Fighting in Ukraine leaves economy shattered and factories idle".

'' provides a run-down of the current economic state industrial enterprises in DNR and LNR, giving figures that reveal the massive drop in output.

Because DNR and LNR are not economically viable the two pseudo-statelets are now running huge fiscal deficits and are incapable of paying state employers, pensionsers, and recipients of welfare payments while at the same time trying to maintain tens of thousands of armed men equipped with hundreds of pieces of military hardware.

Russia has contributed  - some payments are now even being made in rubles, but it is becoming clear leaders in the Kremlin will not financially support the occupied territories in the long term. The cost of subsidising recently annexed Crimea is huge already - the Russian economy simply cannot withstand subsidising a large portion of Donbas too.

Much industry there is dependent on Ukraine proper for supplies. The steel mills of east Ukraine are primarily supplied by iron ore from Kryviy Rih in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast. The biggest plant producing blast furnace coke for is in Ukraine-controlled Avdiivka. Huge steel works in Mariupol are not so badly affected, but even if the city and its vast steel mills were to fall to separatists the problems do not go away - rather they become even more intractable. Serious difficulties will remain with supply and export of produce to and from factories in the east to traditional markets. And output from Donbas factories and mills is just not required by Russia which produces much analogous produce..

Many have commentated that some kind of end game between the masters of the universe in the USA and Europe, and the Kremlin, is in progress. Western leaders have gone quiet on Crimea...perhaps offering tacit acceptance of its Russian-held status in exchange for withdrawal of Russian forces and the end of Russian support for separatists in the east of Ukraine. The wishes of Ukraine's population seems to be a side show in all of this.

But any compromise between Kyiv and and disparate separatist groups that include irregular militia, Russian regular troops working under cover, Russian mercenaries , and fanatical crackpots is totally unrealistic.

Jerry Toms, in a RadioSvoboda piece explains why. It is dawning on the separatists that not only has the Novorossiya project  been scuppered but that they are also incapable of getting a grip of the declining economy in the areas they control. However, they are definitely not prepared to give up the power they hold whilst the build-up of arms from Russia continues.

Toms compares the separatists to the trapped bungling 'Dog Day Afternoon' bank robbers... list the names of the more radical field commanders who have been eliminated or arrested in recent times in an attempt by DNR commanders, led by Aleksander Zakharchenko, to try to centralise control. And it seems 'Party of Regions' people are seeping back into positions of authority there, trying to rescue the vestiges of their 'empires of dirt'?