U.S. hidden war continues in Donbass

By Greg Butterfield
April 21, 2016

Ukrainian Army and paramilitary battalions on the night of April 17-18 attacked the northern and western outskirts of the capital city of Donetsk, the towns of Dokuchayevsk and Sakhanka in Zaytsevo, and other locations in the Donetsk People’s Republic. All the attacks violated the Minsk Accords ceasefire agreed to by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in February 2015.

A Zaytsevo village official reported that several houses were also damaged as the Kiev regime’s forces shelled the area with dozens of 82mm and 120mm rounds, along with tank shells, grenade launchers, large-caliber machine guns and small arms fire. (DONi News, April 18)

Similar attacks on the independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics happen nightly and casualties are frequent. The Western-backed regime consistently violates the ceasefire, with incidents steadily growing since January.

The U.S. corporate media hide the injuries, deaths and destruction of homes, schools and hospitals, for which Washington and its masters on Wall Street are ultimately responsible.

The Donetsk Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of April 9-15, Ukrainian forces violated the ceasefire 283 times, firing 2,197 shells, including using 1,402 heavy weapons explicitly forbidden from the area under the Minsk ceasefire. Four civilians were wounded, including a 74-year-old resident of Zaytsevo. Four soldiers of the Donetsk people’s militia were killed. (DAN News, April 15)

Meanwhile, in neighboring Lugansk, four people’s militia were killed and eight wounded in Ukrainian attacks on a single day, April 15. (Lugansk Commentary)

Donetsk Defense Ministry Vice-Commander Eduard Basurin noted that international observers repeatedly confirm violations by Kiev of its obligations regarding withdrawal of heavy weapons. The Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe documented and published a list of the Ukrainian side’s violations of the Minsk Agreements on April 14.

Basurin charged the OSCE mission with covering for the Kiev war criminals, who, he said, “continue a policy of genocide against their own people for the sake of their Western masters and with the connivance of the international community.” (DONi News, April 15)

Washington behind two years of war

Ukraine’s war against residents of Donetsk and Lugansk, in the Donbass coal-mining region, began on April 15, 2014, less than two months after a U.S.-backed coup in Kiev brought to power a coalition of capitalist oligarchs, neoliberal politicians and outright neo-Nazis.

U.S. officials were front and center in the Euromaidan movement that carried out the coup. State Department officer Victoria Nuland, Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt and Senator John McCain rushed to offer their solidarity to the pro-Western, anti-Russia demonstrators, who were fueled by Western money and politically dominated by fascist parties and paramilitary gangs.

Wall Street was eager to profit by stanching the flow of Russian fuel to Europe and seizing Ukraine’s rich agricultural land. Most importantly, the U.S. and NATO saw Ukraine as a dagger pointed at the heart of their main target — Russia.

When the new regime in Kiev immediately sought to ban the Russian language and implement other measures against the mainly Russian-speaking residents of southeastern Ukraine, it spurred the rise of an anti-fascist protest movement in Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk.

In March 2014, the people of Crimea voted in a referendum to reunite with the Russian Federation, preventing NATO from occupying the longstanding Russian military base there. Russia’s integration of Crimea served as the pretext for international sanctions against Russia and an escalation of NATO military activity throughout eastern Europe.

As the anti-fascist movement spread across the Southeast, protesters took control of government buildings in Donetsk and Lugansk. In response, Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov launched the so-called “Anti-Terrorist Operation,” a U.S.-backed military offensive. They blamed the upheaval on Russia.

People in Donbass armed themselves and formed local militias for self-defense. They were joined by volunteers from Russia and other former Soviet republics and later by other internationalist volunteers. The people’s militias set back the attacks of the disorganized Ukrainian forces.

On May 11, 2014, Donbass residents voted overwhelmingly for independence from Ukraine, establishing the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Despite suffering numerous defeats by the better organized and motivated Donbass militias, the Kiev regime continued to wage war on Donbass.

The U.S., meanwhile, continues to fund Kiev as it totters toward bankruptcy. Ukraine banned the Communist Party of Ukraine and holds thousands of opponents as political prisoners. Washington supplies military equipment both directly and indirectly through third countries. Today the Pentagon is training fascist paramilitaries at bases in both western and southeastern Ukraine.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden pledged an additional $335 million in military assistance to Ukraine on April 1. Then on April 15, after a new government was formed under Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, Biden phoned former leader Petro Poroshenko to assure him that the next $1 billion loan guarantee was forthcoming. He also condemned “pro-Russian militants” for escalating the conflict in Donbass. (Interfax Ukraine)

Humanitarian crisis

On April 16, Alain Aeschlimann, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Ukraine and Donbass, blamed “the ongoing shellings and limited number of checkpoints for entrance and departure” for cutting off essential humanitarian help for civilians. (DONi News)

Earlier, the U.N. World Food Program reported that the war had left 1.5 million people hungry, including 300,000 in need of immediate help. (New York Times, April 4)

For two years, many international human rights organizations have tried to ignore the crimes of official Kiev and Ukrainian troops, charges Donetsk Ombudsman Daria Morozova. They overlook the children, women and elderly who are killed along the contact line. Morozova said her office has submitted over 700 cases documenting violations by the Ukrainian forces to the European Court of Human Rights.

This ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Donbass, the plight of anti-fascists inside Ukraine and Western media censorship will be some of the topics taken up at the Fourth International Anti-fascist Conference to be held in Krasnodon, Lugansk People’s Republic, on May 7.

Activists from the Donbass republics, the former Soviet Union and around the world will map out a plan of action to intensify anti-war solidarity and break the media blockade. The U.S.-based International Action Center is one of the convening organizations.