Only someone who takes no interest in the events in this Eastern European country could fail to see that the new government in Kiev is doing all it can to provoke Russia into sending troops into Ukraine. And when their many attempts at provocation met with no success, Ukrainian troops openly attacked Russian border crossings on June 20, 2014.
Media accounts in Europe and the United States are replete with stories about Russian troops battling Ukraine in two of its regions. But not a single European, American, or Ukrainian journalist who has visited the region has been able to track down even a single Russian soldier. The constant accusations that Russia is supporting insurgents with arms shipments, including heavy equipment, have also never been confirmed.
Even the official documents presented by Kiev allegedly showing that those military vehicles were being kept at Russian storage depots turned out to be fictitious. That paperwork was concocted by someone who lacked even the slightest understanding of the Russian norms for filling out such documents.
But no one in Europe or America is shining a spotlight on the actions committed by Ukrainian officials, actions that would have prompted troops to be sent into the perpetrator’s country if they had been committed against any other power. For example, would Paris allow someone in France to begin methodically killing French citizens using aircraft, heavy artillery, and tanks?
How would the United States react if another nation’s foreign minister or interior minister, as well its ambassador to the United States, engaged in a frenzy of looting at the American embassy? And meanwhile, imagine the minister of foreign affairs launching into a torrent of abuse directed at Barack Obama in front of TV cameras, and a few days later the deputies from the pro-government factions showing up for a session of parliament sporting t-shirts emblazoned with his words.
That event, of course, is quite indicative of the level of refinement of the politicians and ministers in Ukraine. In addition, the demands from Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk that Russia return the money that was paid for the last five years of gas used in Ukraine say a lot about his grasp of economics. But there have also been more serious provocations.
For example, Ukrainian military aircraft violated Russian airspace while attacking militias during the May fighting near the village of Dolzhansky in the Luhansk region. Government troops have launched mortar attacks on the Rostov region of Russia. On June 13 an armored personnel carrier from the Ukrainian army penetrated Russian territory.
The military vehicle broke down, and then another crossed into Russia to assist the trespassers, and its crew threatened Russian border guards with weapons brought in by the provocateurs.
And the president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko openly admitted in an interview with Time magazine that the current Ukrainian leadership, which came to power after a coup d’état with the assistance of neo-Nazi militants, views Russia as its prime enemy. He stated frankly that his dream was to punish Russia, but using foreign military might, not Ukrainian forces.
The only way to achieve this would be to provoke Russia into an invasion. And Ukraine has been plugging away toward this goal ever since the «peacemaker» Poroshenko came to power.
The irony of the new Ukrainian president’s claims to be a force for reconciliation became even more remarkable when he announced his desire to resolve the conflict in the Southeast peacefully, then abruptly began killing the civilian population of the Donbass. His methods included firing incendiary bombs and shrapnel into urban neighborhoods, which is a war crime.
Even after the announcement of a cease-fire, government troops continued combat operations against their own people. At dawn on June 21, they were fighting in the city of Sverdlovsk in the Luhansk region, as well as near the Izvarino border crossing.
However, some of the government troops had no intention of obeying the ceasefire order. When the suspension of hostilities was announced during Poroshenko’s trip to the Donetsk region, the governor of the Dnepropetrovsk region, the oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, openly told the president that he «will never obey and his army will finish off these separatists anyway».
It was Kolomoisky who financed the creation and arming of several battalions of mercenaries (using funds from his bank, Privat) who distinguished themselves with the cruelty of their slaughter of the civilian population in many cities in the Donbass: Mariupol; Krasny Luch; Slovyansk; Schastye; and Stanitsa Luganskaya … This all goes to show that in reality Poroshenko not only has no control of the Kiev-based Maidan movement that is unwilling to either fight or release the buildings they captured six months ago, but he also has no firm grip on either the troops that were mobilized with so much effort or the regions that still profess outward loyalty to him.
In fact, Poroshenko chose direct military aggression against Russia in order to garner approval for his grip on power. By the close of June 20, government troops had opened fire on the refugees who were lined up to cross into Russia at the Dolzhansky border checkpoint.
As women and children fled in panic, the Ukrainian military fired after them, shelling into Russia. A splinter from a mortar shell wounded a Russian customs official in the head, as well as a female refugee, and a building at the Novoshakhtinsk checkpoint in Russia was destroyed. The battle with the Russian border guards continued until that evening.
At dusk, during a battle with the local militia, the Ukrainian National Guard opened fire on Russian territory at another border crossing in the Luhansk region – Izvarino, which is located 50 kilometers from Dolzhansky.
It’s hard to see how any of this could be viewed as anything but military aggression against Russia designed to provoke a reaction. And this is how the «peacemaker» Ukrainian president can achieve his dream of using Western countries, which have promised him military assistance against Moscow, to «punish Russia».
And will the ambitions of a man who cannot control his own government be worth the number of victims that Europe and the US will have to bear if Ukrainian provocateurs unleash a military conflict with Russia?
Alexander DONETSKY | Strategic Culture Foundation