Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 02.01.2018
Russian invaders of Europe have inflicted the first battlefield casualties of 2018, on the first day of the year. Striking from occupied Donetsk city, Russian artillery bombarded the Butovka coal mine near the town of Avdiivka in free Ukraine. One Ukrainian soldier was killed in this attack. The area of the Butovka mine shaft is a defensive position of the Ukrainian armed forces close the invasion battlefront of the Russians. Also on on January 1, one Ukrainian serviceman was wounded in action outside the village of Kamyanka, which is also near the town of Avdiivka. One serviceman was wounded near Katerynivka, which is just over 60 kilometres west of Russia-occupied Luhansk city.
Russian armed forces attacking Ukraine from occupied Donetsk region are organized into the 1st Army Corps (Donetsk or so-called “DPR”). Putin’s army attacking from occupied Luhansk region are organized into the 2nd Army Corps (Luhansk or so-called “LPR”). Russian armed forces, both regular and irregular troops, have been invading Europe in Crimea and Donbas since 20 February 2014.
This is a tragic start to the year. A life has been lost. Two lives have been marred. All because of the stupid war which Putin started and refuses to stop.
After these attacks, Russia’s military position is unchanged. In fact, the Russian invaders have not taken any ground from Europe’s defenders since the Battle of Debaltseve in early 2015.
With these attacks, Russia’s political position has weakened. A black mark against Putin is that the 1st & 2nd Army Corps of the Russian armed forces – Putin’s invasion-occupation army in Donbas – are using heavy weapons which are proscribed by the Minsk Agreements. Ukraine is responding to attacks – never initiating them – with lighter, Minsk-permitted weapons. Another black mark against Putin is that he is violating the latest ceasefire, which was supposed to have taken effect on 27 December 2017. Russia broke the “Christmas/New Year’s ceasefire” within hours, and has repeatedly broken it every day since. Russia does not keep its word – that is the message being received loud and clear by the world community.
Russian attacks against Ukraine are militarily useless because they do not weaken Ukraine’s defence and they build the fierce determination of the Ukrainian people to defeat Russia and liberate the Ukrainian homeland in Crimea and Donbas.
Russian attacks against Ukraine are politically harmful to Putin as he has no chance in his re-election campaign of parading a victory to the Russian public. Russian attacks also make it impossible for major Western partners of Ukraine to lift sanctions against the Russian individuals and entities that are responsible for the war. Russian attacks make it more likely that other countries will join Canada and the United States in the promise to provide arms to Ukraine.
Ukrainians will honour their fallen defender, who was killed in action at Shakhta Butovka on New Year’s Day. Then they will redeem this supreme sacrifice, and fight on. They have no choice. Ukraine is their home and Russian invader-occupiers of Donbas and Crimea have no place in it.