Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 21.10.2018
There is a particular cruelty, viciousness, and inhumanity to Russia’s war against Ukraine. The indiscriminate placement of mines by the invaders is one of the worst features of Putin’s War in Donbas. The United Nations estimates that the Russian-invaded and occupied zone in eastern Ukraine is now one of the most mined areas in the world.
On October 18, tragedy struck in the town of Zolote in Luhansk region in easternmost Ukraine. Two residents, a 45-year-old man and a 46-year-old woman, died when an explosive device detonated. It happened in the ‘No-Man’s-Land’ between the Russian army and the Ukrainian army, between Zolote-5 settlement (Russian-occupied) and the Vil’nyy farmstead of Zolote-4 settlement (in free Ukraine). Troops of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine cannot retrieve the bodies as they lie in a mine-laden area on the Russian side of the front line.
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are taking no measures to retrieve the bodies. Being responsible for the deaths of two Ukrainians, the Russians are taking no responsibility for the recovery of their remains.
On October 19, relatives of the victims appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross, to the Ukrainian side of the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC), and to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. There is some possibility that these organizations can use their influence with the Russians to get them to go to the area uncontrolled by the Ukrainian military to retrieve the bodies. Their exact location is known – the willingness of the Russian occupation troops to do the decent and humane thing is lacking.
The JFO announced the liberation of Vil’nyy farmstead on September 22. The settlement of Zolote-4, 50 kilometres west of the Russian-occupied city of Luhansk, Ukraine, is now under complete control of the Ukrainian authorities. When the 80 or so residents of Vil’nyy were freed from subjection to the Russian invaders, civil defence teams went to the farmstead to provide guidance about mines and unexploded ordinance. But because the Russians cynically do not mark minefields and plant mines prolifically and indiscriminately two residents were killed. Civilians are a target when it comes to the war Muscovy is waging against the Ukrainian nation.
The Ukrainian side of the JCCC reports: “Responsibility for the tragic death of two residents of Zolote-4 is rests entirely on the conscience of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. They, at the moment, are not taking measures to evacuate the bodies of the dead.” This is the horrific nature of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is Putin at war.