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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Eastern Ukraine: Anti-terrorist operation is ongoing amid an increasing international pressure of Russia and Russian increasing military forces along the borders with Ukraine

Ukrainian tanks in the zone of anti-terrorist operation
(Image: Kyiv Post)
A massive anti-terrorist operation being launched by Ukrainian Armed Forces and SBU in Eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions is ongoing after a day of a ceasefire, declared by Ukrainian forces in order to allow OSCE specialists and members of the international investigative teams to carry out their work on the crash site of the Malaysian MH17 airplane, hit by the rocket over Donetsk region more than two weeks ago and leaving 298 people dead.

Thou the Russian backed terrorists violated the ceasefire several times during that day and continued the fights close to the crash site on the next day as well, so that the OSCE members and the investigative team were forced to leave the crash site on Saturday, 2 August, due to the security issues. Though the experts have examined the site and the personal belongings of the passengers. The remaining bodies and bodies’ rests of the killed passengers were reported to be sent to Kharkiv early on Sunday and then they will be transported to Europe for the further investigation.

Meanwhile, the fights for the Eastern Ukrainian cities continues, as Ukrainian military advances, freeing more and more Ukrainian cities every day and actually surrounding Donetsk and Luhansk, where the Russian terrorists have their strongholds and main bases. Ukrainian forces have serious losses, as more than 300 soldiers were reported to be killed during an operation, but these numbers could be bigger, according to the accounts of the eyewitnesses and participants of the anti-terrorist operation.

The terrorists are currently surrounded by Ukrainian Armed Forces, but they still have some corridors to receive the weapons and even military technique from Russia. Thus, a column of the Russian military technique and tanks were reported to be seen in Luhansk region and close to Donetsk as well. Several columns of the tanks and military technique were destroyed by Ukrainian military forces, the same as many checkpoints and bases of the terrorists as well.

Though the terrorists still continue to control the biggest cities of the region, Donetsk and Luhansk, shelling the residential districts, destroying the infrastructure and the buildings. Unfortunately the numbers of the casualties among the civilians also grow, but it is still difficult to estimate the numbers correct due to the difficult and deteriorating situation.

In addition to that both Donetsk and Luhansk are on the edge of a real humanitarian catastrophe, as there is no water and electricity supply in the cities anymore, the infrastructure is almost totally destroyed, there is a serious shortage of food and medicine supplies as well. Despite the fact that many residents managed to flee the zone of the fierce fights and anti-terrorist operation, there are still dozens of thousands of residents remaining in the besieged cities.

Though Ukrainian authorities and officials responsible for the anti-terrorist operation claim Ukrainian military demonstrates serious success and that there is a hope that this operation could be finalized probably till the end of this month in case the border will be taken under control and the constant flow of Russian weapons, finances and mercenaries will be finally stopped.

Meanwhile the world powers continue an increasing pressure on Russian and its leadership due to its unwillingness to deescalate the situation. On the contrary, Russia continues supporting the terrorists in Eastern Ukraine and it also didn’t show any cooperation in the investigation of the Boeing-777 crash. In addition to that Russia continues deployment of the additional troops and military technique to the territories along the border with Ukraine. There are the reports and satellite pictures presented by NATO and demonstrating Russian military camps and facilities along the border with Ukraine, including numerous tanks and heavy military technique, supported by the military aviation as well. All the technique and troops are ready for an attack. Ukrainian authorities, NATO and EU representatives and US discuss the serious possibility of a full-scale Russian invasion into Ukrainian territory. NATO in its turn had an emergency meeting held on Saturday and dedicated to the issue of a possible Russian aggression and its spreading. The serious measures should be taken by NATO to support Ukraine and to ensure stability and security to the countries-members of NATO as well, according to the official statements issued during this meeting. In addition to that USA is also ready to support Ukraine and its military. Several US Senators even addressed US President Barak Obama calling to support Ukraine militarily, though US doesn’t consider the option of a military participation in Ukrainian crisis at the current moment.

US President Barak Obama had a phone conversation with the Russian president Putin in Friday, 1 August, though the sides didn’t reach the common solution. Mr. Obama called on Putin to use all the powers to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine and expressed his deep concern regarding the fact that Russia continues to support the terrorists operating in the Eastern Ukrainian regions. Putin’s administration in its turn state that the sanctions imposed by US and EU are “counter-productive” and could only deteriorate the situation. US also threatened Russia with the new wave of sanctions in case there will be no indication of Russian willingness to deescalate the situation. These sanctions could be really serious, adding them to the recently imposed financial and economical restrictions of US and EU. US and EU packages of sanctions affected Russian bank and financial systems and also key sectors of the Russian economy, including oil, gas, military industry etc. Several oligarchs and political figures from the closest Putin’s circle also experienced personal sanctions of US and EU.

Thus, the situation in Eastern Ukraine remains tense, as Ukrainian forces are advancing Donetsk and Luhansk and are ready to free these cities as well, but the terrorists still have strong positions and support of Russia. The increasing military powers of Russia being concentrated by the neighboring country along the border with Ukraine are also the source of serious concern.