Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 14.02.2018
Since the Battle of Debaltseve three years ago, Russia’s invasion army has made no gains in Ukraine. The Ukrainian defenders of the homeland and of Europe have not given up any ground, and have liberated some Ukrainian territory in Donbas region from the foreign invaders from Muscovy. Putin is frustrated by three years of static and fruitless trench warfare. Putin doesn’t have the political wisdom to withdraw from Donbas and Crimea so that sanctions on Russian individuals and entities can be lifted. Instead, he orders new attacks again and again. Sanctions remain and Russia gains no military victories in its war against Ukraine.
February 11 marked the third anniversary of the signing of the failed Minsk Agreement – “Minsk II.” It has failed because Russia has violated every term of the agreement and every ceasefire made under it. Russia’s propaganda campaign to blame Ukraine for the failure of Minsk II has been woefully weak and laughably ineffective. Because Minsk II does not diminish Ukrainian sovereignty over the territory of Ukraine, the Ukrainian armed forces have been able to liberate Ukrainian villages from the Muscovy invaders, and consolidate defensive positions along the battlefront in Donbas. The Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, observed that the Ukrainian armed forces have not lost any ground in the past two years, and have moved the front line in Ukraine’s favour by as much as 10 kilometres in places. On February 13, Russian propaganda outlets printed angry denials of Turchynov’s statement about Ukraine’s tactical advances on the battlefield, but presented no information to refute the solid evidence of Ukrainian gains.
Turchynov elaborated on his remarks on February 12. He said that Ukraine’s new law about the occupied territories – which states that Russia is the aggressor – does not exclude the possibility of Ukraine liberating its territory by force. Indeed, it would be wrong for any law of Ukraine to constrain the sovereignty of the Ukrainian state within the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine. At the same time, the law on the occupied territories “does not negate the peaceful path,” according to Turchynov, and it is consistent with Ukraine’s obligations under the Minsk Agreement.
On February 13 the Russians lashed out in frustrated fury. The enemy shelled Ukrainian positions near Troitske, Luhansk region for over five hours with 82-mm and 120-mm mortars and with 122-mm artillery, according to the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine. The Russians also used anti-aircraft guns, grenade launchers, large-calibre machine guns, and small arms in the Troitske attack. Social media had many reports of Russian shelling coming out of occupied Debaltseve; the target of this attack was Luhanske in Donetsk region. In a one hour attack against Luhanske, the Russians used 120-mm and 82-mm mortars, which are banned from use under the Minsk Agreement ceasefire. The Russian invaders of Europe also attacked Novozvanivka, Popasna, Mayorsk, Zaitseve and Stanytsia Luhanska. The greatest escalation of Russian attacks occurred in the Luhansk sector of the invasion battlefront. This is unusual, as the Donetsk sector has been the predominant target of Russian aggression in recent months.
Every day Russia attacks Ukraine. Every day Ukraine holds the line against Muscovy and gives no ground. By not achieving victory in Ukraine, Putin is suffering defeat. Because Putin lacks political wisdom he fails to withdraw from Crimea and Donbas on terms of his choosing. Because Putin lacks military talent and he will suffer defeat of his war against Europe on terms of Ukraine’s choosing.