The second military assault by pro-Kiev forces on cities and towns in the east and south of Ukraine this weekend was delivered with much greater firepower than a previous crackdown last month – and with a commensurately much greater death toll.
This time it seems that Washington has given renewed military impetus to the Kiev regime in the form of CIA-backed neo-Nazi paramilitaries operating alongside regular Ukraine forces – and also, very possibly, from the covert involvement of US mercenaries.
Yet, all the while, the Western governments and their lockstep news media broadcast Orwellian reports of an «anti-terrorist operation» conducted by the «Ukrainian government» – even though the latter is an unelected fascist junta that came to power through a murderous coup earlier this year.
At least 10 pro-Russian residents from the eastern town of Kramatorsk, near Slavyansk, were reportedly shot dead at the weekend. The mayor of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, told Russian media that the victims were unarmed civilians who had been part of a human chain to block the advance of Kiev forces when the latter opened fire.
Elsewhere, up to 40 pro-Russian protesters were also killed after a building they were occupying in the southern port city of Odessa was deliberately set ablaze…
In this second military offensive launched by the junta in Kiev there was evidently a determination to ramp up the firepower with deadly results.
Ground troops from the Ukrainian national army were backed up with helicopters that reportedly opened fire on checkpoints and residential areas around the city of Slavyansk. Two army helicopters were shot down by civilian self-defense units with the loss of one pilot and the capture of another.
More sinisterly, there are several reports that working alongside the Ukraine regular forces were armed cadres of the neo-Nazi Right Sector paramilitaries that brought the Kiev regime to power in the violent coup in February. Right Sector paramilitaries were reliably reported to be among the forces advancing on Kramatorsk and Slavyansk this weekend.
The same paramilitary group, which has been given official state security status by their leaders in the Kiev regime, was prominent in the clashes with pro-Russian protesters in Odessa and are accused of torching the Trade Union building, which resulted in dozens of deaths this weekend.
Undeterred by the murderous mayhem unleashed by the Western-backed junta in Kiev, Washington said it supported the «security operation».
Even more sinister is the reported involvement of foreign mercenaries collaborating in the assault that Kiev labels an «anti-terrorist crackdown».
Russian media over the weekend reported claims by self-defense activists in Slavyansk that they had intercepted radio transmissions among the Kiev forces, detecting English-speaking personnel. There were also reports of other foreign military personal with accents identified as being from NATO member Baltic countries.
These latest reports have not been verified but they are consistent with earlier sightings and video footage purporting to show the presence of US-backed mercenaries in Kiev and the eastern city of Donetz during March.
Moscow has said that it has evidence that up to 300 mercenaries from the US-based private security firms Blackwater (renamed Academi) and a subsidiary, known as Greystone, are active in Ukraine.
Even the rightwing British Daily Mail reported on those videos, posted on the internet, showing military personnel armed with American M14 carbines among civilian protesters in Donetz. The paper quoted a Western security expert who said the personnel had the appearance of «American mercenaries, not Russian soldiers».
It is well established since the American-led occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan that the US government has increasingly relied on private mercenary outfits like Academi and Greystone for covert military operations.
This affords Washington «plausible denial» of illegal intervention and obviates repercussions of international law for the American government when these mercenaries commit crimes such as homicide, as they notoriously were caught doing in Iraq.
The latter scandal was part of the reason why disgraced Blackwater had to re-brand itself as Academi and various other offshoots such as Greystone.
By the way, these US-based firms recruit former Special Forces from all over the world. So, the involvement of ex-troops from the Baltic countries is not at all anomalous.
Ultimately, these firms closely function for Washington’s political agenda, with their board of directors including arch-neocon hawk John Ashcroft, the former attorney general under the George W Bush administration.
The latest deadly assault by Kiev military forces on pro-Russian or federalist dissenters in the east and south of Ukraine raises the following disturbing scenario: Washington is stepping up its regime-change operation in Ukraine by integrating the national army with CIA-backed neo-Nazi paramilitaries and US covert mercenaries.
Compare the first military crackdown ordered by Kiev against protesters in eastern Ukraine last month. That offensive was launched days after the American CIA director John Brennan secretly visited Kiev on the weekend of April 12-13 to hold private discussions with the leaders of the Western-backed junta, including self-proclaimed Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the president, Oleksandr Turchynov.
Washington was forced to acknowledge the CIA boss was in Kiev only after news of the clandestine rendezvous was leaked to Russian media.
That first military assault ended as an embarrassing fiasco for Kiev. Members of the Ukrainian army dispatched to quell protests in the eastern cities largely disobeyed orders by refusing to open fire on civilians designated as terrorists by the junta. There was a minor deadly clash in Kramatorsk where four protesters were reportedly shot dead.
But in the main, the offensive ordered by Kiev fizzled into a retreat or capitulation by soldiers on the ground. Dozens of soldiers laid down their weapons, handed over their Armored Personnel Carriers, and were generally warmly received by the civilians.
Then, about two weeks after Brennan’s stealth visit to Kiev and days after the failed crackdown, US Vice President Joe Biden turns up in the Ukrainian capital in a show of support for the regime.
That was April 22. Biden seems to have been given the «Ukraine file» since he has taken an inordinate personal involvement in supporting the Maidan protests which sparked last November against the incumbent elected President Viktor Yanukovych.
It was Biden who phoned Yanukovych days before he was forced out of office by the fascist Svoboda and Right Sector paramilitaries on February 22 to say «game over».
The week after Biden’s visit to Kiev we then see the second crackdown. Oddly, days before the second crackdown, the unelected president in Kiev, Oleksandr Turchynov, was saying that loyalist forces had «lost control» of dissenting regions to the east and south. His downbeat assessment indicated that remnants of the Ukraine military and police were not capable of carrying out the crackdown ordered by Kiev – or least incapable on their own.
Biden’s visit points to a spine-stiffening mission to Kiev, where previously the CIA director John Brennan had not achieved the desired result.
It seems significant that the second military assault launched by the Kiev junta has thus shown more deadly resolve in its execution. Tragically, the number of dead over the weekend testifies to that, and the danger is that the death toll will only increase in the coming days with the Kiev junta warning that «the anti-terrorist operation» is to continue despite the carnage of the weekend.
Washington, which has invested $5 billion over the past 20 years in implementing regime change in Ukraine, seems to have yanked the strings tighter on its puppets in Kiev, demanding a much stiffer military response to crush the anti-Kiev protests it the east and south. The apparent integration of regular Ukrainian military with CIA-backed neo-Nazi paramilitaries and covert American mercenaries is consistent with this renewed Washington-led regime change effort.
The greater covert intervention by Washington in Ukraine is also consistent with the unprecedented build-up of NATO forces in the region. The latter has to be seen as a concerted campaign of state-sponsored intimidation, just as shooting civilians on the street is.
Meanwhile, against this consistent picture of Washington-led regime change in Ukraine, Western mainstream media continue to allege Russian interference and subversion.
For weeks, the Western media have been chortling about «little green men» allegedly sent by Moscow to destabilize Ukraine in a dastardly plan to annex eastern regions. And yet these puerile claims fail to be substantiated beyond snickers and innuendo about «little green men».
American ambassador to the UN told an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Friday: «There is horrible violence in eastern Ukraine and that violence is coming – as it has been for weeks now – from Russian-directed agents and paramilitaries and their associates».
Within hours of Power uttering these words, without any supporting facts, Western-backed neo-Nazi paramilitaries and its fascist junta were responsible for killing more than 50 people across Ukraine.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend on the White House meeting between President Barack Obama and German leader Angela Merkel: «President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that broad new economic sanctions would be imposed on Russia if its threat to eastern Ukraine disrupts the country’s presidential election later this month».
Again, divorced from fact and reality, the Western governments and their servile media accuse Russia of threats against Ukraine, when the opposite is true. It is Washington and its allies that are threatening Ukraine and its neighbour Russia, with subversion, regime change and relentless aggression.
And yet Britain’s ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant has the audacity to accuse Russia of «breathtaking hypocrisy».
Russia’s description of events in Ukraine as a Western-orchestrated crisis is backed with evidence, facts, motive and coherent analysis. What has the West offered to support its claims beyond bombast, falsified claims (faked NATO photos for example that the New York Times had to retract), and, never mind hypocrisy, «breathtaking irrationality»?
The Kiev junta is murdering people with Western collusion, and with utterly twisted Orwellian propaganda they are calling it «anti-terrorism» and «defense against Russian aggression».
Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation