Jan. 19 — A horrific war is unfolding on the territory of the former Soviet Union at the behest of Washington and Wall Street. The Kiev regime in Ukraine has ordered jets, missiles, artillery, mortars and land mines to target homes, schools, hospitals and workplaces in the Donbass region in a war of terror waged with U.S. weapons and taxpayer money against an anti-fascist resistance movement.
Most workers and poor people in the U.S. are completely unaware of the war crimes being committed in their names and with their dollars.
The Ukrainian junta of oligarchs, neoliberal politicians and neo-Nazis installed in Kiev with Washington’s support in February 2014 has finally cast aside the last pretense of respecting the flawed ceasefire negotiated at Minsk, Belarus, in September.
On Jan. 18, Kiev officially launched a new military offensive against the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DNR and LC) of the Donbass mining region in the east, where the people voted overwhelmingly for independence from Ukraine in a referendum in 2014.
“Two hours ago,” said Yuri Birukov, aide to Ukrainian President Peter Poroshenko, on his official Facebook page, “the entire group of our military in sector B received an order and opened saturation fire on known positions of the separatists.”
Poroshenko, a billionaire oligarch “selected” in staged elections, rejected a last-minute proposal from Russian President Vladimir Putin to prevent the resumption of war, reported Russia’s Foreign Ministry. (ITAR/TASS, Jan. 18)
Donetsk Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko said: “For several weeks, we’ve been shouting and trying to prove that the Ukrainian military is using the truce to perform a massive regrouping of its forces to prepare for a large-scale offensive. But all of our appeals to the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] and Joint Centre for Control & Coordination have been ignored. The representatives of the JCCC have themselves felt the scale of the Ukrainian shelling,” as they came under fire in Gorlovka earlier in the day, he added. (RT.com, Jan. 18)
“A total of 56 shelling attacks from 82 mm to 152 mm weapons have been recorded over the past 24 hours,” reported Donetsk Defense Ministry Deputy Commander Eduard Basurin on Jan. 19. “A 500-kg bomb was dropped in Gorlovka by Ukrainian aircraft.
“A total of 44 people have been injured and nine people killed in the DNR over the past day,” said Basurin, “including a child who is in severe condition.” (RT.com)
The Novorossiyan News Agency documented dozens of artillery strikes Jan. 18 in four central neighborhoods of the Donetsk capital. All schools in the DNR have been ordered closed.
On Jan. 19, the Third City Hospital in Donetsk suffered a direct hit from a Ukrainian GRAD missile. A doctor was severely wounded and later died. Five others were injured. The children’s ward was evacuated to a bomb shelter. (Novorossia.su)
The city of Gorlovka was shelled continuously for 24 hours, residents reported. The city center was targeted, including the bus station. Although official numbers are not yet available, there are reports of dozens killed citywide.
During the ceasefire, while Kiev continually violated its terms, the Russian Federation discouraged the Donetsk and Lugansk militias from responding. Both people’s republics are dependent on Russia for humanitarian aid due to the blockade by Ukraine and its U.S./European allies.
Freed from this constraint, the people’s militia moved decisively to expel Ukrainian troops from the Donetsk airport and advanced to the outskirts of occupied Mariupol. Militia forces repelled attempts by Ukrainian forces to re-enter the airport and push into the city limits of Donetsk.
Piles of U.S.-made weapons were recovered from the liberated areas of the Donetsk airport. (South Front, Jan. 18) Zakharchenko reported that Ukraine used banned chemical weapons there. “After the shells burst, a pungent cloud of gas spread across the old terminal. They are firing banned munitions in breach of the Geneva convention,” he said after visiting the Donetsk airport with journalists. (ITAR-TASS)
Zakharchenko, folding up a tattered Ukrainian flag taken down from the terminal, challenged Poroshenko to come to the airport and meet with him face-to-face. (Graham Phillips video)
Pretext for war
On Jan. 12, a civilian bus was destroyed near the village of Volnovaha in Donetsk. Ten people were killed and 13 wounded. The bus had just passed through a Ukrainian military checkpoint.
Poroshenko — just back from participating in the “solidarity march” with French imperialism in Paris on Jan. 11 — seized on the bus tragedy to charge the Donbass people’s militias with “terrorism.” Poroshenko claimed the bus was targeted by DNR artillery.
The people’s militias and Donetsk government denied the charges, pointing out that they had no weapons in firing range, and called for an independent investigation.
In fact, experts say the bus appears to have been destroyed by a landmine placed by Ukrainian forces. (Col. Cassad, “Anatomy of a provocation”) Nevertheless, the junta took the bus’s destruction as a handy pretext for its long-planned new offensive.
Poroshenko moved up a vote in the Rada (parliament) to authorize three new mobilizations (military drafts) for 2015, of up to 104,000 people, raising the size of the Ukrainian military to 250,000. (Sputnik News, Jan. 15) The Rada also called on the European Parliament and European Union to add the DNR and LC to its list of “terrorist organizations.”
After terrorizing the populace of Donbass and launching a war that has killed nearly 5,000 people since April — according to official United Nations figures — Poroshenko staged a phony “memorial march” for the 10 bus victims in Kiev on Jan. 18. At the same moment, his regime was raining bombs on the people of Donetsk. (Novorossia.su)
To underline Poroshenko’s hypocrisy, a Jan. 15 Ukrainian military attack on another bus in Donetsk received virtually no coverage in the pro-imperialist media. In the Donbass, however, Andrei Purgin, chair of the Donetsk Supreme Soviet, said, “Yesterday a shell hit the bus with 23 workers from the dolomite plant in Dokuchaevsk, killing a woman and sending seven other people to the hospital in serious condition.” (Borotba.su, “War Chronicle”)
In an emergency statement Jan. 19, Donetsk Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko said: “Ukraine used the truce in order to arm themselves, and create a coherent unit able to carry out combat missions. Now we clearly see that Ukraine has violated the truce and Minsk accords. Ukraine shoots homes and civilians: children, the elderly and women. It applies the methods of terror. Ukrainian jets bombed Gorlovka. Shrapnel was even flying near the OSCE mission in Donetsk.
“My people are peaceful and do not want war, do not want to kill anyone. However, the armed forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic are prepared to respond to all these machinations. Our counterattack has already started. …
“Once again, I appeal to the international community and the OSCE: if you share our desire for a ceasefire, then force Kiev to abide by the Minsk agreement,” concluded Zakharchenko. (Anna-News, Jan. 19)
U.S. talks ‘freedom,’ makes war
The Ukrainian military’s intensification of war crimes is in line with the tasks Washington has assigned its clients in the Kiev coup government. These were enshrined in the “Ukrainian Freedom Support Act,” passed with near unanimous bipartisan support by the U.S. Congress on Dec. 4 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 18.
The congressional vote opened the floodgates to a new war buildup by the far-right regime in Kiev, aimed at destroying the anti-fascist resistance in the Donbass — the industrial and mining region encompassing Donetsk and Lugansk, formerly part of southeastern Ukraine — and putting NATO’s threats on Russia’s western border.
Obama had not yet signed the law when its repercussions began to be felt.
On Dec. 13, Ukraine’s State Aviation Service suddenly closed three major airports in eastern Ukraine. Reports quickly surfaced from local anti-fascist partisans and Russian intelligence that U.S. C-130 Hercules transport planes were unloading at Zaporizhia behind “hastily erected defensive towers.” (ITAR/TASS, Dec. 16)
Military analyst Boris Rozhin provided a detailed breakdown:
“Over the last four days, 32 military transport aircraft have arrived at airports in eastern Ukraine. They have unloaded not only anti-aircraft systems, drones with the necessary equipment, class 5-6 body armor, various optics and special equipment, but also several mobile systems of counter-battery fire, several BMP [armored assault vehicles], and 10 artillery systems.
“A leadership source reports that two days ago in the port of Odessa, three infantry fighting vehicles and 10 howitzers were delivered. Last week ended with the delivery of two APCs [armored personnel carriers] and IFVs [infantry fighting vehicles] from Eastern Europe.
“At the current pace,” Rozhin warned, “with weapons aid and technology from abroad, the restoration of the junta’s combat troops to pre-July levels can be expected by mid-January.” (Col. Cassad blog)
According to the independent news website Verb, Semen Semenchenko, leader of the fascist “Donbass” Battalion of the National Guard, and now a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament), bragged that Ukraine would soon receive U.S. Javelin anti-tank missile systems, designed to destroy armored vehicles, bunkers and helicopters. The Pentagon used these weapons extensively during the occupation of Iraq. (Glagol.su, Jan. 6)
For Washington, establishing a NATO military presence in Ukraine is vital to its long-term strategy of regime change in Russia and ultimately breaking up the Russian Federation.
As if on cue, Kiev’s Rada voted Dec. 23 to abolish Ukraine’s nonaligned status, deepen cooperation with NATO and “achieve the criteria necessary for the acquisition of membership.” (Timer.od.ua, Dec. 24) To enter into force, the changes will be voted on a second time, then signed by Poroshenko.
An official NATO mission opened in Kiev just over a week later, on Jan. 1, hosted by the Lithuanian diplomatic mission. (Ukrainia.ru)
The courage and determination of the people’s militias and the residents of Donbass is not in doubt. But to triumph over the enormous forces arrayed against them, they will need the solidarity of anti-war and working-class movements around the world.