Monday, September 8, 2014

Truce in Ukraine? Tell It to the Dead
The much anticipated truce between Russian and Ukrainian armies in eastern Ukraine can be chalked up as another failure – again due to Russian violations.
An airborne officer friend of mine emailed this morning saying that Russians can’t be trusted – an often repeat observation in many quarters.  Russian soldiers have deceitfully bombarded Ukrainian military positions as well civilian homes, resulting in fatalities. Russian regular troops are also bombarding the terrorist organizations referred to as Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic.
Russian troops have been seen amassing in Crimea for debarkation to eastern Ukraine, he said. The city of Mariupol is also being barraged.
Moscow is attempting to create a supply chain to Crimea because it can’t provide assistance via air or sea. Russia is also seeking to divide Ukraine into two parts, hopefully seizing the eastern regions as it did Crimea,
“We are hoping for the best and expecting the worse,” he concluded.
Was this another NATO gambit to save Russia from defeat? Give it time to regroup during a ceasefire while it bombards Ukrainian troops and civilians?
The Associated Press yesterday reported shelling and other clashes between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists threw the ceasefire agreement into deepening peril Sunday, two days after it took hold.
At least two houses hit by artillery fire blazed in the rural village of Spartak, which lies just north of the main rebel-held city of Donetsk and adjacent to the airport, reported the AP.
A man whose house was struck by a shell said Russian mercenaries had fired from a spot nearby, and that apparently provoked a retaliatory attack from Ukrainian government troops.
A group of Russian mercenaries in the village danced and drank Sunday morning in celebration after what they said was a successful assault on a Ukrainian military encampment in the area, the AP reported. One said the group had captured eight government troops, though no captives could be seen.
Courageous Russian-language websites have reported that Russian mothers who are claiming the dead bodies of their soldier-sons are not told where and why their sons have died. They are not allowed to see the bodies but only glance through a peephole in the coffin to see a small portion of the faces. Perhaps worst of all, they are strictly forbidden from crying.
Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine are also not aware where they are. In reply to queries by locals, they have reportedly replied that they are in the Rostov region of Russia fighting Ukrainian invaders. They could not believe when told that they are in Ukrainian Donetsk.
Kyiv said Russian mercenaries and soldiers targeted Mariupol after President Petro Poroshenko announced his visit to the frontline city in the country’s east, further damaging a four-day cease-fire.
Road blocks near the port city on the Sea of Azov came under fire from militants, presidential spokesman Svyatoslav Tseholko said on Twitter. Shelling and small-arms fire continued during the past 24 hours across the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, said Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.
“I am not optimistic at all -- I have not been optimistic from the beginning,” Didier Burkhalter, chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which helped mediate and is monitoring the cease-fire, said at a news conference in Geneva. Even so, “we want to give it a chance.”

Poroshenko is visiting Mariupol against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which the United Nations estimates has claimed at least 3,000 lives since mid-April. Poroshenko said Ukraine would defend Mariupol to the bitter end. He also declared that he is willing to fight and die in this war that Russia instigated. Not mere words uttered by the commander in chief of Ukraine, whose eldest son is also on the frontlines defending his country against Russian invaders.