Sunday, May 29, 2016

Only Recourse for Russia: Sanctions & Isolation
Russia continues to intensify its undeclared war against Ukraine and trample its ceasefire commitments under the Minks Treaty without any sizable global condemnation. In everyday terms, Moscow is being treated as if it is committing misdemeanors rather than capital crimes. Despite spikes and lulls in the fighting, Russia continues to wage war against Ukraine and push its invasion, which military leaders fear will lead to an assault against other former captive nations.
Putin and his Kremlin junta, regardless of their excuses, are perpetrating war crimes against a neighboring state, crimes against their own people and civil society, and lies in athletics. Hardly the profile of a welcome global partner.
Several days ago, on the eve of the G7 Summit in Japan, Russian troops and mercenaries, in spite of their leader’s commitment to adhering to the Minsk Accords signed in February 2015, launched a widespread firefight against Ukrainian positions, in which seven Ukrainian soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded.
In a 24-hour period, Russian mercenaries attacked Ukrainian positions 31 times, reported Ukraine’s military press center. Officials said on Tuesday, May 24, that the killings were a result of a spike in attacks by pro-Russian rebels. Ukrainian commanders said the daily causalities were the highest since last August.
IHS Jane’s Country Risk Daily Report, among other sources, quoted Ukrainian military officials as saying that its positions in Donetsk and Luhansk regions had been shelled by Russian militants 30 times in the previous 24 hours.
The most intense fighting, as in previous weeks, was north of Donetsk, in the vicinity of Avdiyivka, an industrial center of 35,000 residents, which is located just 6 km north of Donetsk. According to the Ukrainian army, mercenaries regularly use machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade-launchers, and 82-mm and 120-mm mortars. While fighting is not limited to this area and also occurs west of Horlivka and east of Mariupol (both in the Donetsk region) and near Shchastya and Stanytsia Luhanska (in the Luhansk region), Avdiyivka has emerged as ground zero in recent weeks.
Oleksander Turchynov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, was quoted as saying that mercenaries backed by Russia had intensified attacks on Ukrainian troops using heavy weapons that were to have been withdrawn from the frontline under the Minsk treaty.
“I want to draw the attention of our strategic partners to the blatant and cynical discrediting by Russia of all the joint peace efforts,” Turchynov said in a statement.
According to the presidential administration spokesman for the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Oleksandr Motuzianyk, the casualties were reported in the town of Avdiyivka that suffered heavy shelling. The outskirts of Avdiyivka remain the hottest points of fighting along the front.
“After shelling our positions, the militants turned their weapons and fired in the direction of Donetsk,” the military press center said, adding the provocation was conducted to blame Ukraine’s army.
The invaders used heavy-caliber machine guns, grenade launchers and 82mm-calibre mortars. They used the same types of weapons to shell Ukrainian army positions near the town of Krasnohorivka. The terrorists also attacked Ukrainian positions near the villages of Shchastya and Sokolnyky using small arms and grenade launchers.
Some of more than 70 shells fired overnight to the positions of Ukrainian military, hit residential areas of the town and set some houses on fire. One local woman suffered shrapnel wounds.
Ukrainian military also reported spotting five Russian drones, two of them coming from the Russian territory.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has also been tabulating Russian violations of the Minsk Accords and attacks against Ukrainian troops:
In DPR (acronym for the renegade Donetsk Peoples Republic)-controlled Yasynuvata (16 km northeast of Donetsk), between 08:57 and 13:10 on May 23, the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) reported hearing 19 undetermined explosions and four single shots of small-arms fire 0.5-3 km west-southwest and northeast of its position. Between 13:21 and 16:22, the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions, five bursts and 12 single shots of heavy machine gun and small-arms fire 2-5km west and west-north-west of its position. Positioned 2km south of government-controlled Avdiyivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM between 13:04 and 13:24 heard 11 explosions assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar 4km east of its position. Between 16:05 and 16:58, the SMM heard four explosions assessed as impacts of recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm), 11 undetermined explosions, seven explosions assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar, 22 bursts of heavy machine gun fire and three shots and six bursts of small-arms fire. Between 17:14 and 17:15, the SMM heard one explosion assessed as an outgoing 120mm mortar round and five bursts of heavy machine gun fire 3km southeast of its position.
As it maintains its bloody deceit, Russia is denying that it is providing its terrorists in Luhansk and Donetsk with arms and regular soldiers to escalate its war that has claimed some 10,000 lives. It denies in the face of proof to the contrary its involvement in the war against Ukraine. Moscow is also forcing its demand for local elections in the war zone, which is being treated seriously by France and Germany. Elections in eastern Ukraine should not take place until Russia withdraws from Ukraine and its surrogates are arrested and tried.
According to credible officials, such as Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Alexander Hug, evidence collected by the organization indicates that Russian troops have been directly involved in the war in Ukraine since it first erupted in the spring of 2014.
Speaking at a press conference in Odessa, Hug said: “From the beginning, we wrote in our reports about different types of weapons. It includes, among other things, electronic equipment, which interfered with the work of our drones. We wrote in our reports that observers recorded the presence of armed men with visible insignias of Russian troops on their uniforms. We also talked to prisoners who said that they were the soldiers of the Russian army. Also, we saw traces – not the vehicles themselves, but the traces of their movement across the border (from Russia to Ukraine).”
At the G7 Summit, President Obama, perhaps frustrated by the duration of Russian war in Ukraine, made a strange remark about it. He openly complained to reporters that there was too much violence in Ukraine and urged his colleagues to resolve the situation in Ukraine.
Obama said: “We started to see some progress in negotiations, but we’re still seeing too much violence, and we need to get that resolved.”
It is difficult to respond to the American commander in chief who makes such a frivolous observation. Wars, undeclared wars, proxy wars, hybrid wars and other kinds of wars are wrought with violence, death and destruction in this case brought upon Ukraine by Russia. War is hell, Mr. President. The G7 cannot resolve the situation in Ukraine without Obama’s direction that the resolution must begin with Putin and his armies and mercenaries.
As these past seven days have shown, Russia still refuses to abide by entreaties and demands that it cease its war with Ukraine. The war continues to claim Ukrainian lives as world leaders exhibit greater signs of boredom and weariness, while turning their attention more and more to Kyiv’s domestic plague of corruption.
Moscow commits crimes on many levels with impunity, disparaging sanctions, treaty commitments and international law. In previous generations world leaders successfully turned to morality in determining their relations with countries near and far. They formed coalitions to defeat or at least subdue international lawbreakers. There is no justifiable, long-term reason to cower behind fear of Russian nuclear arsenal or its energy reserves.
The world is confronted with Shakespearean to be or not to be.

If the free world’s resolve and will to defeat Russia or at least to expel Russian armies and terrorists from Ukraine dissipates, then there will be no hope for regional and global peace, security and stability. Business as usual with Russia sends the wrong message to Moscow and prolongs the trauma faced by the former captive nations.