While moscow is counting on a frozen conflict, the ukrainian government is trying to force solidarity in the fight against terrorism
The situation in ukraine continues to escalate. The postponement of the planned astana peace talks between ukraine, russia, germany and france is an eloquent symptom of the current intractable conflict, which is once again drifting toward open warfare. Now the contact group chaired by the osce should quickly break the deadlock. However, the prospects are even slimmer here, as the parties to the conflict had to agree to implement the minsk agreement, which neither kiev nor the separatists want. Apparently a meeting has been arranged for friday, expect little.
The bus hit by a grad missile. Image: novorossia.Su
The separatists and ukrainian forces are rallying, the fighting especially around donetsk airport, which has become a symbol like kobane in syria, the partial mobilization ordered by poroshenko in three waves, and especially the 12 civilians killed in a grad rocket launcher attack on a bus at a checkpoint controlled by ukrainian forces near volnovakha, are obstructing efforts to find a peaceful solution. The shelling came just at the time when kiev not only stopped payments of pensions, salaries and other financial support for the people in the "people’s republics" but also wants to further restrict the movement of people. Only a few buses will be allowed to drive, roads will be mined, and the remaining crossings will be strictly controlled by new checkpoints. Not only the leaders and the militias, but also all the people who are still in the "people’s republics" republics are to be isolated as far as possible.
The osce observer mission has been reporting for days that the fighting is increasing in intensity. At the moment serbia provides the osce chairman, which will not ease the situation. Yesterday, the serbian minister of foreign affairs, who holds the chairmanship, strongly condemned the attack on civilians, but did not accuse either side of it, calling on all to stop fighting and return to the negotiating table. But as long as moscow does not exert heavy prere on the separatists, if this is possible at all, and the west does not make kiev give in, this will be empty rhetoric. According to the osce observer mission, the bus was in the area controlled by ukrainian security forces 35 km southwest of donetsk. Osce observers arrived on the scene three hours after the shelling, the missile is said to have hit 12-15 m from the bus. 12 people were killed, 17 injured. It was decided with the ukrainian and russian representatives to conduct an investigation to clarify who was responsible.
In the meantime, both sides are trying to exploit the civilian deaths for their own benefit and to play the usual game of blaming the enemy. It is not yet clear whether the shelling was carried out by the ukrainian or separatist side, although it is not necessary to ame that the attack was targeted, since grad rocket launchers are anything but precision weapons. While the ukrainian government has established that separatists were responsible for the shelling, without providing any evidence, dennis pushilin, the leader of the "people’s republic of" donetsk, said that the checkpoint was too far away for the separatists’ artillery to hit a target there. For him it is a provocation to torpedo the negotiations.
High noon for kiev
From a distance, it is not possible to determine who fired the shots. But the reaction from kiev suggests that it is now about aggravation, about the "people’s republics" militarily and thus risk a direct military conflict with russia. While moscow currently seems to be trying to reduce direct support for the people’s republics, it wants their representatives to negotiate directly with kiev. In any case, moscow does not seem to be seeking integration of the territories as it did with crimea, but rather an independent status for the territories in order to freeze the conflict, secure its influence over ukraine and present itself as a protective power for russians.
Kiev, on the other hand, wants to do everything in its power to avoid a frozen conflict that would bring instability to the country for a long time and, of course, prevent it from joining nato. Since the support of the western partners is still high, and they are also putting a lot of money into the bankrupt country, they are counting on a quick solution. The more time goes by, the more likely it is that the west will not want to risk an escalation of the conflict with russia over ukraine, which is by no means as isolated as it likes to claim.
Ukrainian president poroshenko ordered today a day of mourning for all civilians killed in the conflict, without mentioning that ukrainian armed forces and militias are also responsible for it. He claimed, without any doubt: "terrorists of the so-called donetsk people’s republic have carried out a rocket attack on the bus with civilians." responsible are the "gang" of the two people’s republics and all those who, "who support them, provide weapons and training, and incite to bloody crimes". The isolation of the people is now being blamed by poroshenko on this "attack" but had already been decided before. The fortifications to protect against attacks are already largely in place. Poroshenko also tried to equate the attacks by islamists in paris with the rocket fire: "the mass killing of people in paris and in volnovakha are similar events. The civilized world must unite in the fight against terrorism." from the very beginning, kiev had considered the separatists as "terrorists" and described the military suppression of the uprising, which initially resembled the maidan in many respects, as a "anti-terrorist operation" to legitimize – without protest arising in the west.
Ukrainian head of government yatsenyuk, darling of the u.S. Government and a hawk who incites war with his newly formed popular front party, is once again calling on ukraine’s supporter countries and the international community to help the two after the bus was fired upon "people’s republics" at "terrorist organizations" to declare. Then you could proceed with massive force, because the fight against terror legitimizes everything, besides, you do not negotiate with terrorists. Like poroshenko, he also sees an analogy between islamist terror and the separatists, whom he calls "russian terrorists" designates.
The ukrainian parliament, the rada, is also calling on the eu, the u.S., canada, australia, and japan to "people’s republics" as terrorist organizations, but also to strengthen sanctions against russia. Moscow has persistently violated the minsk agreement (the osce, however, makes clear that ukrainian forces are also violating the ceasefire). There are also demands to arm ukraine with weapons.
It is high time for a neutral peace mediator, but there is no such mediator, after all, because of the nato-russia conflict, the united nations is also switched off. So not only the ukraine conflict is boiling up, but also the conflicts in iraq, syria and libya remain unresolved. Here as well as there, rebellion seems to be the watchword – without alternatives.