Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 11.09.2018
There is supposed to be a new ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. It is known as the “school ceasefire” and it was supposed to have begun on the first of September. But the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have attacked Ukrainian defenders and civilians every day and night since. In fact, Putin’s army invading Europe in Donbas has attacked every day and night since April 2014.
Breaking ceasefires is only one of the war crimes the Russian Federation commits in its war against Ukraine. Muscovy breaks every provision of the Minsk Agreement and has no intention of ever adhering to a single one of them. The guarantors of Minsk, France and Germany, desperately pretend that Putin’s War isn’t happening and do nothing to enforce the deal that they made in February 2015. Putin is invading the largest country that lies wholly within Europe: Ukraine. He is getting away with it, scot-free.
The Minsk Agreement was supposed to go into effect on 15 February 2015. It’s first provision is an “immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.” The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are invading Ukraine in the south and in the east. They now occupy Crimea and part of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. The 1st Army Corps (Donetsk or so-called “DPR”) and the 2nd Army Corps (Luhansk or so-called “LPR”) are units of the 8th Army of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation that are fighting on the battlefront in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian 8th Army has never respected the Minsk ceasefire. Yesterday, for example, September 10, the invader-occupiers from Muscovy attacked positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine 24 times. The Muscovites used 120 and 82 millimetre barrel diameter mortars, armament of armoured personnel carriers, grenade launchers of various types, large-calibre machine guns, and small arms. They attacked Ukrainian fortifications near the settlements of Krymske, Zolote, Mayorsk, Shumy, Pivdenne, Pavlopil, Lebedynske, Vodyane, and Shyrokyne. One Ukrainian soldier was killed in action and one was wounded in action. Ukrainian military intelligence assesses that two Russian soldiers were killed and four were wounded. This was just one day of the Russian Federation violating the Minsk Agreement ceasefire. Putin’s army breaks the ceasefire every day.
The Minsk Agreement requires the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the ‘contact line.’ But the Muscovites bring heavy weapons right up to the front and use them regularly. In the ceasefire violations by the Russian Federation on September 10, for example, the invaders used Minsk-prohibited 120-mm and 82-mm mortars three times, against the Ukrainians at Krymske, Luhanske, and Vodyane. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine noted on September 8 that it saw eight BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket systems at a compound near Khrustalnyi; the OSCE SMM noted that this was in violation of the withdrawal lines. There is no follow-up by OSCE member states to these violations by the Russian Federation. Putin doesn’t withdraw his heavy weapons and he gets away with it.
The Minsk Agreement requires “effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the OSCE.” Armed formations under Russian command routinely deny passage and deny access to OSCE SMM teams. The Russian army has shot down many OSCE unmanned aerial vehicles used for monitoring and it has blinded OSCE surveillance cameras. Incredible as it may seem, the Russian Federation continues to be a member of the OSCE and even has its nationals on OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine teams. The OSCE SMM refuses to adhere to the Tbilisi Declaration of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly which declared that the Russian Federation is the aggressor in the war in Ukraine. The OSCE SMM allows Putin to monitor his own invasion.
Minsk requires “local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.” The Muscovite invaders who maintain an illegal occupation regime in Donetsk region have announced a so-called ‘election’ will be held on November 11. This will be a Soviet-style affirmation exercise to acclaim the figurehead of the Moscow-led terrorist formation, the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic.” Putin is not only violating the Minsk Agreement, but he is announcing his plans to do so two months in advance. This is how confident he is in the impotence of France and Germany as guarantors of the Minsk Agreement.
The Minsk Agreement requires an “all-for-all” exchange of prisoners of war and hostages. On 27 December 2017, 233 prisoners of war who were members of illegal armed formations were exchanged by the Ukrainian side for 73 hostages who were being held in Russian Federation-occupied territory. This was not an “all-for-all” exchange as the Muscovites held back many Ukrainian captives from the prisoner swap. The First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Iryna Gerashchenko, is Ukraine’s representative to the humanitarian subgroup of the Tripartite Contact Group under the Minsk Agreement. Ms Gerashchenko noted on September 5 “complete disregard for the deal by Russia and its puppets.” The Russian Federation abandons its own citizens when they become prisoners of war in Ukraine, and uses this as one of many excuses to violate the “all-for-all” prisoner exchange requirement of the Minsk Agreement. A consequence of Putin’s War is that there are many Ukrainians who are hostages of the Moscow regime of state terrorism being held in the Russian Federation and in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula (Moscow-occupied), as well as in the dungeons of Donbas. Putin is a kidnapper on a massive scale, and he gets away with it.
The Minsk deal requires “reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area.” The Russian Federation captured 409 kilometres of the international border and has no intention of giving it back. Putin’s invader-occupiers deny access to the border to the OSCE SMM, to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and to the United Nations. Putin uses his illegal control of the international frontier to send truck convoys and rail shipments of war matériel to his army that is invading Europe in Donbas. No one stops Putin.
The Minsk Agreement requires that foreign troops leave Ukraine. “Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. Disarmament of all illegal groups,” is what the Minsk Agreement provision says. The Russian Federation maintains an army of approximately 35,000 regular troops in eastern Ukraine. Putin maintains a tank army inside Donbas that is larger than any single European power. Open source intelligence researcher Alex King has documented over a thousand pieces of heavy armour inside the parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions that the Russian Federation controls: tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery, etc.. The Digital Forensics Research Lab and Bellingcat regularly document the presence of armed formations and military equipment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation inside Ukraine in Luhansk and Donetsk regions. All Putin has to do is change the insignia and the flags of his army and deliberately ignorant Western powers pretend that “he is not there” when it comes to Putin’s war against Ukraine.
Putin’s War is raging in the heart of Europe. The Russian Federation invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014. The occupation of Crimea and the partial occupation of Donbas are consequences of Putin’s War. The Minsk Agreement was supposed to be a ceasefire and a settlement in Donbas, but Putin has violated every single one of its provisions from Day One. France and Germany have failed as guarantors of the Minsk Agreement because they have refused to enforce its provisions on the Putin regime. The peace of Europe is shattered because of Russian aggression and because of French and German appeasement. As long as Putin breaks the Minsk Agreement with impunity, the world is at war.