Eastern Ukraine - Determined to assist

Determined to assist

Bullet holes on a fence in the Ukrainian border town of Donetsk

Photo: Itar-Tass / IMAGO

First NATO, then Germany and France, and finally the G7 countries. All of them are demanding that Russia renounce troops near the Ukrainian border, all of them promise to help Ukraine - all of them are silent about the recapture of the areas around Donetsk and Lugansk, which Kiev has loudly announced. Is President Zelensky assuming responsibility for the potentially thousands of civilians killed in this case? Or do you attribute the dead to Russia for the sake of simplicity?

With the surge in solidarity with Ukraine, western politicians are trying to ignore the fact that Kiev has been ignoring essential provisions of the Minsk agreements for years. Why is? The local elections in Donetsk and Lugansk under international control, which were envisaged in the Minsk II treaty of 2015, will not be allowed until the border between Donbass and Russia is under the control of Ukrainian border organs. The Minsk Agreement states that “the control of the state border by the government of Ukraine” does not begin until “the day after the local elections”. Kiev continues to refuse to negotiate directly with the “People's Republics” and to amend the Ukrainian constitution so that Donetsk and Lugansk have an autonomous status. Not to mention the amnesty decided in Minsk for soldiers and politicians from the Donbass.

Because Western politicians persistently ignore Russian warnings of an imminent attack on the “People's Republics”, Dmitri Kosak made it clear to the presidential administration in Moscow on April 8th: If a second Srebrenica threatens in Donbass, Moscow will be forced to intervene. As a reminder, the massacre of Bosnian Muslims carried out by the Serbian militia in 1995 was one of the reasons for NATO intervening in the war in Yugoslavia.

For all those who think the comparison with Srebrenica is too far-fetched, it should be remembered that right-wing extremist volunteer battalions such as Aidar and Azov are in the forefront of the Ukrainian army and are marching at the front in Donbass with Nazi flags. What can be expected of these combatants against Russia-friendly civilians?

The author has visited eastern Ukraine several times in the past few years and knows why he is asking that. The arson attack on the Odessa trade union building on May 2, 2014, which left 42 dead, was a sign of what Ukrainian nationalists and the secret service structures that support them can be trusted to do. Hundreds of pro-Russian citizens of Ukraine have disappeared in Ukrainian prisons since 2014, as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch pointed out in 2016. Right-wing extremist Sergei Sternenko, who had just been sentenced to seven years in prison for the violent kidnapping of an opposition politician, was released from house arrest on April 9 by an Odessa appeals court.

In Moscow the realization has evidently matured that restraint towards “the partners in the West” no longer pays off. Support for the Donbass can be expected sooner or later. It is possible that this will calm down rather than worsen the situation. The readiness of NATO, especially the USA, to be drawn into a military conflict with Russia tends towards zero.