by Alexander DONETSKY
It has become a trend. Any time the Novorossia’s forces gain ground the West gets involved in vibrant diplomatic activities. That’s how it was in August-September 2014 and that’s what we have in February 2015. The West did its best not «to notice» hundreds of civilians dying in the Donbass when the Ukrainian army broke cease-fire to launch an offensive supported by heavy artillery. It razed to the ground populated areas but as soon as large contingents of punishers’ forces came under the threat of being eliminated, diplomatic, political and economic channels were used with an aim to influence Russia and make it convince the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics to immediately hold their fire.
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The West demonstrated a drive to act as a peacemaker by the time the Donetsk airport was ultimately liberated and the «Debaltsevo pocket» appeared where, according to some sources, a few hundreds of mercenaries coming from NATO countries are trapped at present. The punishers used the position at the airport to shell the residential areas of the Donetsk Republic’s capital. The trophies left in the airport area prove that many citizens of Poland, the United States, France and other European countries fight in the ranks of punishers’ forces.
Americans were the first to react by sending John Kerry to Kiev and threatening Russia with new sanctions in case no progress was made at the Minsk talks. As the punishers’ forces faced a debacle, many voices in Washington called for starting lethal arms supplies to Ukraine, no matter Europeans generally adopted a rather cautious approach on the matter with some exclusions. The British are ready to toe the line as the most loyal US ally in Europe along with the Baltic States and Poland – the countries considered to be the «US fifth column» by the old continent. The Americans’ warlike spirit raised concern in Europe. The US-made Javelin is a fire-and-forget missile with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance. The system takes a top-attack flight profile against armored vehicles, but can also take a direct-attack mode for use against buildings. This missile also has the ability to engage helicopters in the direct attack mode. The supplies of Javelin to Ukraine may make life more complicated for self-defense forces and European states. The Ukraine’s military have always been notorious for corruption, it will not take much time till the systems get into the hands of radical Islamists which operate in Europe ready to go beyond terrorist acts committed against the Paris-based weekly, especially in view of old partnership between Pravy Sector and Islamists (a more detailed story on the subject will follow).
The differences of opinion on the arms supplies issue do not mean there is a split between Washington and Europe when it comes to support of Ukraine’s regime. As strategy is concerned, the divergences are related only to the means of achieving the goal and the distribution of roles to be played while dealing with Moscow. Washington resorts to blackmail and puts forward demands, while Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande visit Kiev, Moscow and Minsk in an attempt to convince. The European tactics is more successful.
Petro Poroshenko never tried to hide the reasons he needed the talks for: to rearm the army and make up for the losses inflicted during the combat actions. The previous cease-fire was formally broken by Ukraine, it was never observed after the last year’s Minsk memorandum was signed. As Igor Plotnitsky, a self-defense forces leader from Luhansk, told Russian TV, «We give this chance to Ukraine to change its constitution, to change its attitude. The country will change as well as the people». It’s rather a wish that an affirmation. It’s not an occasion that his colleague from Donetsk Alexander Zakharchenko said there would be no new memorandums in case Ukraine violated the reached agreements.
With the «tough» stance taken by America (together with Great Britain) and the «soft» stance adopted by the continental Europe, the both are united on the Ukraine’s issue and it tells a lot. After returning to Kiev from Minsk Poroshenko discussed the achieved accords with British Prime Minister David Cameron to coordinate further activities. In a high faluting manner of a lecturing school teacher Cameron intertwined the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions with the Russian President’s «change of behavior». Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, the «good cop» from Finland, went on the loose as he warned that “We are in a make-or-break situation. If this does not last then we will see a frozen situation between Russia and the West for the foreseeable future.” “Let’s now stick to the ceasefire strictly and hope for the best, to try and normalize relations with (Russia) for the future,” he said.
There is no doubt Ukraine will not comply with the terms of the armistice. It’s enough to remember that by the end of 2014 Pravy Sector punishers’ battalions refused to carry out the commands of Ukraine’s military. Their leader Dmitry Yarosh called Petro Poroshenko a traitor while the Minsk talks proceeded. As soon as the first reports on the talks’ results appeared, the Ukrainian forces intensified the attacks. According to self-defense forces, a real hell broke loose in the village of Stanitsa Luhanskaya where the situation had been more or less stable during the previous three weeks. It became worse in Donetsk as Ukrainian artillery located in Peski shelled the city’s residential areas. There was an attempt to break through to the airport. Heavy fighting took place in Marinki.
According to Life News «Near midnight on February 12, as the terms of cease-fire agreement to become effective on February 15 were made public, Ukrainian forces intensified attacks near Debaltsevo trying to break through the encirclement. Heavy fighting is reported near Logvinovo located in the strategic position crucial for control over the Debaltsevo-Artemovsk highway where the so called Debaltsevo pocket was «locked» on February 10. In Minsk President Poroshenko denied the reports about Ukrainian military being encircled at Debaltsevo. After his statement made at the meeting of Normandy Four the attacks resumed near Logvinovo apparently to support the President’s statement». They used Grad and Uragan multiple launch rocket systems as well as Pion self-propelled artillery pieces. It was confirmed by different sources on the day the Minsk talks wound up.
The diplomatic efforts ended in success: an armistice in Ukraine is stated on paper, but will it become a reality from midnight, February 15?