Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Russia Voluntarily Withdrawing Troops from Ukraine?
Reuters moved a story earlier today that sounded plausible but didn’t feel right. The news service reported that President Poroshenko said today Russia had removed the bulk of its forces from Ukraine, “raising hopes for a peace drive now underway after five months of conflict.”
I tweeted the news, noting that this a hopeful sign but let’s not cheer too loudly.
Reuters went on to report that Poroshenko delivered his remarks during a televised cabinet meeting, during which he noted that “Ukraine would remain a sovereign, united country under the terms of a peace roadmap approved last Friday, but said parts of the east under rebel control would get special status.”
Poroshenko was quoted by Reuters as saying almost in the next breath: “According to the latest information I have received from our intelligence, 70% of Russian troops have moved back across the border. This further strengthens our hope that the peace initiatives have good prospects.”
Have the Russians voluntarily agreed to abide by the terms of the truce? Have they voluntarily ordered their troops to withdraw from Ukraine? Has the truce succeeded and all of the sides are cooperating like schoolyard buddies?
Reuters certainly would have you believe that from its article.
However, checking the transcript of the speech, Poroshenko did not leave that impression.
He said: “Due to the courage and valor of Ukrainian militaries, glorious soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the National Guard, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Border Service in June-August, we managed to significantly reduce the area controlled by militants.
“Millions of Ukrainian citizens, primarily residents of the Donbas, have been liberated from terrorist captivity.
“But our heroic attack forced the enemy to resort to the direct invasion of the territory of the Ukrainian state, the use of units of the regular army of the Russian Federation, massive supply of technology and precision weapons with experts who know how to use it professionally and who calmly kill Ukrainians.
“Human life is the highest value, and we must do everything possible to stop the bloodshed and put an end to suffering.”
As I have suggested previously, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the National Guard of Ukraine and the volunteer battalions had scored numerous victories against the Russian mercenaries and liberated many towns and villages from them. The victories ultimately compelled Moscow to send in its regular army in order to save the situation because Ukraine seemed to be on the verge of defeating Russia – an outcome that the European Union is deathly afraid of.
While citing the victories at the beginning of his speech, Poroshenko referred to the 70% almost at the end of it.
“I would like to provide recent data from the main intelligence directorate: 70% of Russian troops had been withdrawn from Ukraine. It creates grounds for the prospects of peace initiatives. Today, future developments depend on our joint efficient and coordinated work, on the unity of the whole country.
“We are going to establish order in the organization of management of troops, when the front line, the line of defense will be maintained by the brigades, when battalions of territorial defense will have their own tasks not in direct clash with the enemy, but in the defense of territory. When integrated units of the Ministry of the Interior will have their own function and protect the cities liberated from occupants,” he said.
In the middle of his address, Poroshenko was as inspiring and steadfast as he has been since becoming president. He said the truce was declared during difficult conditions and the terrorists have been periodically provoking Ukrainian troops – Ukrainian soliders and civilians were killed during the ceasefire. He also assured his listeners that Ukraine did not make any concessions regarding its territorial integrity and political system.
Poroshenko stated: “Once again I emphasize, this is a war for the independence of Ukraine, for the existence of our country. We will not surrender the issue of sovereign government, the issue of the independence or territorial integrity issues to anyone.
“We remain a unitary state.
“The very idea that every meter of the Ukrainian land will burn under the feet of invaders should become a factor restraining from large-scale invasion.
“Strengthening the defense is a way to fight for peace.
“We do not want war, we want peace, but if you want peace, we must keep the powder dry.”
He also warned that war could return to Ukraine at any time and consequently all Ukrainians must be prepared for it.
“We shouldn't take off our guard and should remember that war can emerge anywhere. We must explain to the people of Ukraine, which deserves fair and open discussion, what is the situation in the country, what are the threats for Ukraine, what responsible steps from politicians and senior officials are required. I have no doubt that we will manage to organize this. There will be peace in Ukraine. We will do everything for that. I believe that everything will be fine with Ukraine.”
Despite a vicious ground war with Russian soldiers and mercenaries and EU pressure not to defeat Moscow, Poroshenko has stood resolutely and bravely at the helm of his ship. He intends to lead Ukraine to victory and ensure that it will not be vanquished.

He has the right stuff to do it.