Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ukraine update - 10/22/2014

Kiev govt used cluster munitions in populated zones in E. Ukraine – HRW

21 October, 2014

Fragments of cluster munitions used by the Ukrainian military to shell the town of Gorlovka, the Donetsk region. (RIA Novosti /
Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
Fragments of cluster munitions used by the Ukrainian military to shell the town of Gorlovka, the Donetsk region. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)

The forces of the Kiev government used cluster munitions in populated areas in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, says Human Rights Watch. It adds that the use of this forbidden weaponry violates the laws of war.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) was documenting the “widespread use of cluster munitions” in fighting between government troops and self-defense forces, according to investigation carried by the watchdog

While it was not possible to conclusively determine responsibility for many of the attacks, the evidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk [Donetsk Region, Eastern Ukraine],” says the report.

The UN is “concerned” by the report, a spokesman for Secretary General Stephane Dujarric said at a briefing, adding that Ban Ki-moon is calling for a “political solution.”

Kiev however denied the use of cluster munitions by the Ukrainian military in the operation in eastern Ukraine.

"Ukrainian military did not use weapons forbidden by international legal law. This also applies to cluster munitions," Andrey Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine's National Security Council, said at a briefing on Tuesday.

He also said that the observers could have been given "provocative information" from DPR militia, as he proposed to increase the number of international observers in eastern Ukraine.

"When it comes to the use of cluster munitions on civilian quarters of Donetsk, then I must say that the Ukrainian military did not use weapons on the peaceful quarter of the city."

Donetsk, which before the launch of the Kiev military operation in April had a population of about 1 million people, is now literally in ruins. Heavy shelling claimed hundreds of civilians in the city.

On Monday a huge blast rocked a chemical factory in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, the city council says on its website. The blast wave reportedly shattered windows in houses in a radius of several kilometers.

An investigation says that at least six civilians were killed and dozens injured in these attacks. But the real casualty number is probably higher, says HRW, as the watchdog hasn’t yet probed all the allegations of the cluster munition use in the conflict zone.
A destroyed building at Donetsk airport. (RIA Novosti / Gennady Dubovoy)
A destroyed building at Donetsk airport. (RIA Novosti / Gennady Dubovoy)

It is shocking to see a weapon that most countries have banned used so extensively in eastern Ukraine,” said Mark Hiznay, senior arms researcher at HRW. “Ukrainian authorities should make an immediate commitment not to use cluster munitions and join the treaty to ban them.” 

The danger of cluster munitions is that each of them contains hundreds of smaller submunitions. After the bomb explodes the container opens up “dispersing the submunitions, which are designed to explode when they hit the ground,” says the investigation.

The submunitions are spread indiscriminately over a wide area, often the size of a football field, putting anyone in the area at the time of attack, whether combatants or civilians, at risk of death or injury.” 

The Convention on Cluster Munitions signed in 2009 includes 114 countries so far. However Ukraine has yet to join the treaty.

A destroyed residential building at Donetsk's airport area. (RIA Novosti / Gennady Dubovoy)
A destroyed residential building at Donetsk's airport area. (RIA Novosti / Gennady Dubovoy)

There is particularly strong evidence that Ukrainian government forces were responsible for several cluster munition attacks on central Donetsk in early October,” HRW said. 

The watchdog identified cluster munitions by the distinctive craters, remnants of the submunitions found at the impact sites, and remnants of the rockets found in the vicinity. 

Ukrainian forces should immediately make a commitment to not use cluster munitions and to investigate and hold accountable any personnel responsible for firing cluster munitions into populated areas. Ukraine should accede to the treaty banning their use,” HRW said.
A destroyed building at Donetsk airport. (RIA Novosti / Gennady Dubovoy)
A destroyed building at Donetsk airport. (RIA Novosti / Gennady Dubovoy)

Ukraine’s authorities neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, says the group, adding that Kiev didn’t respond to a letter sent by the Cluster Munition Coalition in July or a letter sent by HRW on October 13. 

Firing cluster munitions into populated areas is utterly irresponsible and those who ordered such attacks should be held to account,” Hiznay said. “The best way for the Ukrainian authorities to demonstrate a commitment to protect civilians would be an immediate promise to stop using cluster munitions.”

Why Are Swastikas Hot In West Ukraine?
Ceasefires don’t erase history: The hatreds left by Nazi and Soviet occupations 70 and 80 years ago continue to play out on Ukraine’s streets and battlefields.

17 October, 2014

LVIV, Ukraine — Ostap Stakhiv, the leader of a political organization of Ukrainian nationalists, The Idea of the Nation, had been looking for popular support for many years without much success. Then the delicate-seeming 28-year-old started thinking that maybe there was something wrong with the insignia—a lion climbing up a steep hillside—printed on the group’s tracts and fliers. So Stakhiv chose another: the swastika, slightly modified, that Hitler adopted as the emblem of the Nazi Party in 1920 and that millions of Europeans, including millions of Ukrainians, associate with death.

It worked. Earlier this week, Stakhiv was busy setting up five tents around Lviv for this month's election campaign. He’s preparing to run for the local parliament on October 26th. The organization's newspaper, with double swastikas on the front page, was being distributed along with other propaganda materials, and Stakhiv and his aid, Yulia, marveled at the strength of the symbol. "A yellow swastika on a black field stands for power and spirit," said Stakhiv.

It also stands for just about everything negative that Russian President Vladimir Putin preaches about Ukraine being taken over by crypto-, and not-so-crypto-, Nazis. But young Stakhiv insists that’s wrong. He says he’s campaigning in opposition to "oligarchs running the country, the actual enemy of Ukraine" and sees his mission as opposing the politics of the current president, the billionaire Petro Poroshenko, who, Stakhiv claims, does not see the real picture.

A yellow swastika on a black field stands for power and spirit,” said Stakhiv.
"The swastika is a very strong symbol, and as soon as we adopted it, we immediately grew popular among young people,” said Stakhiv. “Those who join us know exactly what they want, and they are ready to go to the very end." Today, Idea of the Nation is represented in 14 regions of Ukraine and counts over 1,000 activists, its leader told The Daily Beast.

How to explain the growing popularity of Nazi symbols in Ukraine? They keep turning up. Ukrainian soldiers have been seen and photographed wearing helmets with swastikas and the letters SS on their helmets.

A spokesmen for the volunteer Azov Battalion, where the symbols are common, eventually denied they are related to Hitler. He insisted that the battalion insignia reminiscent of the Nazi Wolfsangel, symbol of, among others, the 2nd SS Panzer Division that fought the Russians on the Eastern Front, was actually nothing but the crossed letters "N."

In fact, most nationalist and ultra-right youth organizations in Ukraine today use symbols that millions of Ukrainian citizens associate with the Nazi army that occupied and brutalized Ukraine during World War II. And one reason, certainly, is that the much longer and very deadly occupation by the Soviets is also a huge part of the national consciousness. The 1933-34 famine known as the Holodomor—“extermination by hunger”—took the lives of some 4 million people.

On Monday night, a few dozen revolutionary nationalists from another movement, Autonomous Resistance, marched around the streets of Lviv with the red and black flags of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UIA. These were Ukrainian rebels fighting in the woods of western Ukraine, sometimes in alliance with Nazi forces against Soviet soldiers and sometimes against the German army occupying Ukraine.

The activists chanted "Freedom to the people! Glory to Ukraine!" on the way to the monument in Lviv to Stepan Bandera, the UIA leader. To millions of ethnic Russians living in eastern Ukraine, Bandera, who allied himself with Adolf Hitler at times, symbolized ethnic cleansing in the worst years of the Second World War. But to many nationalists he is a hero who tried to protect the interests of his people.

"Just as our grandfathers demanded freedom for Ukraine from foreign empires we demand freedom from Russian occupiers today," said one of the movement's leaders, Yarina Voloshin, wearing a red dress and carrying a black purse.

On the same day, thousands of nationalists marched to Ukraine's parliament in Kiev, led by ultra-right Svoboda party leaders. The nationalists, who clashed with police, demanded the UIA be recognized as Ukraine's national heroes. Dozens of people, including 15 policemen, were injured in those melees, and police detained 50 nationalists who tried to break through rows of security to get into the parliament.

Earlier this week Putin referred to the UIA as a "pro-fascist organization" and condemned Ukraine for glorifying it. Putin also blamed Ukrainian nationalists for attacking the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine. "Regrettably, the vaccine against the virus of Nazism produced at the Nuremberg tribunal is losing its original strength in some European countries," Putin told the Serbian daily Politika.

But in Lviv, which is considered the heart of the country's nationalist movements, legislators and the local administration insist the Nazi symbols are not dangerous for the country. "I don't care what flags or symbols they use for as long as they fight for Ukraine's freedom," Vice Governor Vladimir Kharchuk told The Daily
Beast. To people in western Ukraine, where thousands related to victims of communist repression, the hammer and sickle did not look any less evil than the swastika, yet several organizations still had that insignia on their official documents. "I personally prefer the Ukrainian official flag, and the emblem of Lviv—a kind looking lion—to a Swastika."

But as others have discovered in these times of enormous passions, kindly symbols don’t attract crowds.

Ukraine Launches White Phosphorus Attack - by Donetsk

By Ukrainian Positions at Pesky, from where phosphorus is being fired. Was fired on Novorossiya positions, from Donetsk airport, and civilian positions, at Oktobersky, before training in on here, by Pesky.

America Laughs as EU Is Punished for Ukraine Disaster
Rather than adding a huge territory (larger than France) to their empire on the cheap, the Europeans must now pour money into an economic basket case

Alexander Mercouris

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

22 October, 2014

Despite declarations from politicians about agreement over ‘parameters’, there is no real solution for the gas crisis in Ukraine.

Meanwhile in Moscow, the first snow has fallen. Perhaps in a week or so, Ukraine will follow.
A summary of the state of affairs: the Russians since June have insisted on a gas price of $485/1000 m3, but will offer a discount of $100, provided Ukraine first pays the outstanding gas bills. And from now on, considering the behavior of the Ukrainians in the past, the Russians will only deliver new gas on a pre-paid basis. The Ukrainians reject this and demand that the “just price” should be $269 (past and present), as negotiated by ousted president Yanukovitch in December.

But that price was from a time when Ukraine was still in Russian orbit and Russia’s friend. Currently it is a western colony and now market prices prevail. Under pressure from the Europeans, they've offered to pay the outstanding debt on a temporary $320 basis, until a final agreement can be reached. The Ukrainians however insist that this kind of money paid would be for gas delivered, not payments on outstanding debt. The Russians declined and went home.

So what’s next? Temperatures will fall and Ukraine is going to suffer. It's not difficult to predict what the Ukrainian government will do next: illegally tap, just like they did in 2009, forcing the Russians to shut off deliveries intended for Europe as they pass through Ukraine. And since the Europeans, on orders from Washington, have halted the construction of South-Stream, (after all, we don’t want to be too dependent on Russia, do we?), Europe is now dependent on pipelines in Ukraine.

Guess what’s going to happen next? Europe is forced to foot the Ukrainian bill. And isn’t that fair? Let's not forget that the EU politicians who showed up at Euro-Maidan as water-carriers for the US global empire proclaimed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Well then, pay! And at the expense of European taxpayers, no less.

Rather than adding a huge territory (larger than France) to their EU empire on the cheap, the Europeans must pour money into an economic basket case, with a population four times that of Greece, and in far worse economic condition. Good luck with that. (And on top of all that, the EU has ruined relations with Russia, one of its largest consumer markets.)
Their American masters can't stop laughing. 

Russia Expands Western Food Import Ban
Yevgeny Razumny / Reuter

22 October, 2014

Russia's European food import ban on Tuesday will be expanded to include animal fat and meat byproduct imports, Russia's food safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said on Monday, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.

"On October 21, 2014, temporary restrictions will be introduced on imports to Russia from the European Union of a number of products used for food purposes," the agency's press service told RIA Novosti.

The ban applies to "namely, cattle and pig by-products, meat offal, cattle fat, pork fat (including lard) and bird fat," RIA Novosti reported.

Russia, in response to European Union sanctions, placed a temporary ban on most food imports from nations that had sanctioned Moscow for its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and subsequent support for pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Russia, the EU's second biggest food market after the United States, decreed a one-year ban on Aug. 6. on European fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat.

Reuters reported in early September that the ban could cost the EU 5 billion euros ($6.4 billion) in lost revenue, citing an internal EU document.

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