Large Convoys Reported to be Moving Into the Region
BRUSSELS—Naftali Bendavid reports: Russia has sent convoys of tanks, howitzers and other weaponry along with troops into eastern Ukraine in recent days, possibly aiming to consolidate separatist enclaves there in preparation for a long-term standoff, Western observers say.
The new incursions represent a sharp increase in Russia’s presence in the region, posing a significant new challenge to the peace plan signed in early September in Minsk, Belarus.
“This is a severe threat to the cease-fire,” the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. “Any attempt by separatist forces to seize more territory in eastern Ukraine would be another blatant violation of the Minsk agreement.”
The flow “includes Russian artillery, tanks, air defense systems and troops,” he said.
‘We…are again at a point in which we can’t say for sure how this conflict will proceed.’
—German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
In addition, international monitors in the region said that the Russian-backed rebels have been gaining territory, and that the mission’s surveillance drones have been shot at and jammed.
‘While our aim is to try to work to consolidate the cease-fire, it is more on paper.’
—Lamberto Zannier, OSCE secretary-general
Russia’s Defense Ministry denied the allegations of a military presence—troops or weaponry—in Ukraine, calling them, like previous ones, “regular concussions of the Brussels air.”
Since the cease-fire was reached between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists on Sept. 5—under Russian auspices—the two sides have regularly accused each other of violations. Hundreds of deaths of fighters and civilians have been recorded since then. Read the rest of this entry »
— Andrei Nikitchyuk (@AndreiNikit) July 24, 2014
Pro-Russian separatists smash ballot boxes in Donetsk Separatists and their supporters determined to disrupt Sunday’s (May 25) presidential elections, smashed ballot boxes outside the headquarters of People’s Republic of Donetsk on Friday.
Pro-Russian protesters stormed the prosecutor’s office in the separatist-held city of Donetsk on Thursday, lobbing stones and smashing windows after accusing the office of working for the Western-backed government in Kiev.
“The prosecutor’s office was issuing criminal orders from Kiev against its own people, charging them with separatism and other fake crimes.”
— Igor, a 43-year-old protester from Donetsk
Donetsk, a city of about 1 million people in Ukraine’s industrial east, is at the center of an armed uprising across the steel and coal belt by mainly Russian-speakers threatening to secede from Ukraine.
The violence, in a city already largely under the control of separatists, underscored the shifting security situation and suspicions in the region. Read the rest of this entry »
HORLIVKA, Ukraine (Reuters) – Marko Djurica reports: Masked gunmen in military fatigues took control of a government building in another Ukrainian town on Wednesday, as pro-Russian separatists tightened their grip on a swathe of the country’s industrial east largely unopposed by police.
Local media reports said the gunmen turned up at first light, and were later seen by a Reuters photographer to be controlling entry to the building in the town of almost 300,000 people. They refused to be photographed.
The heavily armed men wore the same military uniforms without insignia as other so-called “green men” who have joined pro-Russian protesters with clubs and chains in seizing control of a string of towns across Ukraine’s Donbass coal and steel belt abutting the border with Russia.
A police official in nearby Donetsk, the provincial capital where separatists have declared a “People’s Republic of Donetsk”, said separatists were also in control of the Horlivka police division, having seized the regional police HQ earlier in April.
Wednesday’s takeover followed the fall of government buildings on Tuesday further east in Luhansk, capital of Ukraine‘s easternmost province, driving home just how far control over the densely populated region has slipped from the pro-Western central government in Kiev. Read the rest of this entry »
ALL Jewish people should leave Ukraine at once, a Holocaust survivor warned last night, after anti-Semitic leaflets were handed out in the country.
Marco Giannangeli writes: The pamphlets and posters, distributed in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk, demanded that the Jewish population register, pay a new tax or leave.
They are a terrifying echo of the anti-Jewish atrocities carried out by Ukrainians under Nazi occupation during the Second World War.
“Jews have no place in Ukraine, because nothing has changed.”
The leaflets, apparently signed by pro-Russian group the People’s Republic of Donetsk, have enraged the world.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week: “After all of the miles travelled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it is grotesque.”Sam Pivnik, 86, was only 14 when his family were rounded up in Bedzin, western Poland, and sent to the death camp at Auschwitz.
After his parents, brothers and a sister were chosen “with the flick of a glove” for extermination by “Angel of Death” Dr Josef Mengele, the teenager, tattooed with a prisoner number, was left to survive alone. Mr Pivnik, who now lives in Golders Green, north London, said he was not surprised by the literature’s anti-Semitism.
“Jews have no place in Ukraine, because nothing has changed,” he said last night, “and as long as Jews remain there, nothing will change. They had no business staying in that country after the atrocities of 1939-1945. Read the rest of this entry »