Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 21.10.2017
Russia is invading and occupying parts of Ukraine. The Russians have imposed a division across Ukrainian land, at the extent of the advance of Putin’s armies. Russian armed forces and Ukrainian armed forces face each other across two battlefronts: one is north of Ukraine’s Crimea region in the south; the other is within Ukraine’s Donbas region in the east. The division Russia imposes also cuts across families and friends – it is a wound to the heart of the Ukrainian nation. In Luhansk region, there is only one working and agreed-upon crossing of the battlefront. That crossing is at Stanytsia Luhanska, over the Siverskyi Donets River. 10 kilometres to the south-west of the crossing is Luhansk city and immediately to the north is the town of Stanytsia Luhanska. The crossing itself is a ruined bridge. The Russian invaders mostly destroyed the bridge over the Siverskyi Donets in 2014 and it is impassable to road traffic. To go between the Russia-occupied zone and free Ukraine, travellers must walk carefully across the fragments of the bridge as well as undergo checks by Ukrainian border guards and the terrorists of the so-called “LPR.” A journey that used to take a couple seconds in a vehicle, before the Russian invaders came, now takes six hours or more by foot.
A new checkpoint has opened in Luhansk region, near the village of Zolote. Zolote is in the “grey zone” between the Russia-occupied territories (held in the name of the so-called “LPR”) and free Ukraine. It is 35 kilometres west-north-west of Luhansk city. The Zolote checkpoint will take vehicle traffic, and will be the only checkpoint in Luhansk region to do so.
There is overwhelming demand by Ukrainians to go from one place in their own country to another place in their own country – and they’re not going to allow foreign occupiers from Muscovy to stop them. The Ukrainians prepared their side of the Zolote checkpoint long ago. The essential work of de-mining had to be done safely, completely, and to the satisfaction of the Ukrainian side of the Joint Centre of Control and Coordination (JCCC) and the staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And it was. For their part, the Russian side of the JCCC and the Russian army and Russia’s terrorists of the so-called “LPR” put up every kind of impediment to the work of opening the Zolote checkpoint. It is still not clear if the side in the Russian zone is safe.
The Ukrainian side of the JCCC delivered a message saying the obstructions and delays by the Russian side are “the direct evidence that the occupation authorities thoughtlessly regard towards the citizens of the regions and they do not want to improve the conditions of their life.”
When Ukrainians move and communicate between Russia-occupied Donbas and free Ukraine they strengthen Ukrainian unity, strengthen Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invaders, and strengthen pressure on the Putin regime to release its numerous Ukrainian hostages. Ultimately, it gives the lie to the notion that there is any real, native separatism in Donbas. In fact, there is only the violence of foreign Muscovy invasion and occupation and “separatism” is a manufactured project of Russia’s intelligence and security services. The more Ukrainians move and communicate within their own country, the sooner the day will come when the Russian invaders are gone. Every car that crosses at Zolote and every pedestrian that crosses at Stanytsia Luhanska exposes the radical wrongness of the fact that Russians have brought violence and destruction and oppression to peaceful Ukraine, for no reason whatsoever.