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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ukrainian crisis: anti-terrorist operation in Eastern Ukraine is ongoing as Putin makes an unexpected statement

Ukrainian security and Armed Forces launch an anti-terrorist
operation in Eastern Ukraine
(Image: Euromaidan Press)
Situation in Eastern Ukrainian regions remains tense, as Ukrainian SBU, Armed Forces, National Guard and security forces continue massive anti-terrorist operation in order to eliminate separatist and terrorist activities of pro-Russian and Russian militants and to restore security in the region on the eve of the early presidential elections. Ukrainian security forces are controlling currently several Eastern Ukrainian cities, where separatists and terrorists have left the administrative buildings. Thus, as a result of an anti-terrorist operation in Eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol the block posts of separatists have been taken by Ukrainian forces, the building of a city council was retaken, and nearly 16 separatists arrested. As for another volatile city, Slovyansk, the operation is ongoing there, as Ukrainian forces take the separatists positions and surround the city in a circle, blocking the terrorists inside, but the pro-Russian forces continue to control some positions there. Thus, despite the successes of Ukrainian military operations separatists are still presented in the region, and Ukrainian Intelligence continue to intercept the talks between Russian high officials and local separatists leaders, what proves Russia’s direct involvement in destabilizing of the situation in Ukraine.

At least 14 Ukrainian servicemen were killed and 66 wounded during launching of an operation, according to the official numbers, though Ukrainian military expert and journalist Dmutro Tymchuk, head of “Information Resistance”, claims these numbers are unfortunately higher. Separatists have significant losses as well.

It’s worth mentioning also that Ukrainian acting President Oleksandr Turchinov has issued a decree recently to dismiss several high security forces officials participating in ATO and to replace them, what brought good results. In addition to that SBU is planning to arrest nearly a dozen of Eastern and Southern Ukrainian governors and to open criminal cases against some politicians, who were spreading separatist speeches and involved in separatist and anti-Ukrainian activities. Some of these personalities could receive a life term in prison, according to SBU Head Oleh Makhnitsky.
Ukrainian soldiers in Eastern UKraine
(Image: Kyiv Post)

Meanwhile, as the situation still remains tense and there are serious threats of intensifying of provocations and possibility of terrorist attacks to be carried out in Ukrainian cities during the 9th May celebrations, Russian President Vladimir Putin made an unexpected statement during his conversation and press conference with Swiss President and Head of OSCE Didier Buckhalter.

Putin’s speech included the statements that separatist “referendum” on the issue of federalization of Ukraine, which is planned to be held in Donetsk and Luhansk regions on 11 May, should be postponed due to instability and necessity of “national dialogue” and forming of the conditions of holding this “dialogue”. In addition to that Putin stated that the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine to be held on 25 May are a “move in the right direction” and said that Russian will recognize these elections. This position seems to be really strange, as official Russia and Putin as well never recognized Ukrainian current authorities and repeatedly stated that the power in Ukraine was captured by “junta” and that the elections cannot be held due to the current deepening crisis.

But, if to read the full statement of Putin carefully, everything becomes clear. Putin stated at the beginning of his speech, that the power in Kyiv was taken by the current authorities as a result of a coup d’état taken place in February, and current Ukrainian government is totally responsible for the current events in Ukraine and all the recent tragedies, as it “failed” to disarm the “radical and nationalistic groups”. Thus, nothing changed in Russian attitudes, and this unexpected statement regarding the upcoming elections changes not a lot. As for the referendum, Ukrainian side has information about some changes in the Russian scenario for Eastern Ukraine, according to SBU, which intercepted the talks between Russian high officials and local separatist leaders. This false and illegitimate “referendum” could be held just several days later, and this current changing of positions could only a chance to regroup and consolidate the powers, so Ukrainians must be extremely careful and ready for any kind of provocation.

In addition to that Putin stated that all the additional military troops and technique deployed along the border with Ukraine have been withdrawn and returned to the places of their dislocation. But neither Ukrainian military observers and personnel nor NATO could confirm it. Russian forces are still stationed along the border, their numbers haven’t increase, but there are still about 38040 thousand personnel.

Swiss President and Head of OSCE Didier Buckhalter and Russian
President Vladimir Putin during their joint press-conferense
(Image: Official website of Russian President)
Swiss President and Head of OSCE Didier Buckhalter in his turn has declared during this press-conference OSCE “political roadmap” in order to resolve the deepening crisis in Ukraine. This roadmap indicated several key steps to be done, which include total disbarment of Ukraine, and OSCE claimed to be even ready to form special funds and send them to Ukraine in order to help the country with to disarm. In addition to that it offers to stop an anti-terrorist operation conducted by Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine. This totally repeats and supports today’s statement of Putin and his demands to immediately halt a “punitive operation of Ukrainian security forces against the peaceful citizens”. OSCE plan includes series of roundtables, discussions, talks and consultations with Ukraine, Russia, EU and USA and opening of a “pan-national dialogue” in Ukraine.

Ukrainian side still didn’t respond officially these offers and statements, and the military operation is ongoing. In addition to that Ukraine is expecting to receive another financial aid from USA till the end of this week. USA remain on the position of supporting Ukraine in its fight for sovereignty and integrity, though there are some disagreements among some US politicians regarding the strategy, as some of the high officials insist on more harsh and wide sanctions against Russia to be implemented. USA also indicated that stability in Ukraine, development and democratic process are the key goals, and holding the presidential elections is one of the most important steps on this stage, that’s why USA and EU will do everything possible to support Ukraine and help it to guarantee holding of these elections.