Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 23.09.2017
The Russian invaders are setting the fields on fire and burning the crops. The steppe in Donbas is aflame in the hot, dry season at the end of summer, as Russia bombards Ukrainians with incendiary munitions. The smoke and flame create a scene out of ancient times. Invaders from Muscovy in 2017 are the barbarians coming over the walls of Rome in our time.
The active battlefront of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is in the south-east corner of the Donbas region. The trenches separating the Russian invaders and the Ukrainian defenders are in places only a couple of hundred metres apart. For the past three years, the Russians have been attacking Ukrainian defenders and civilians with artillery, mortars, grenade launchers, anti-aircraft artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, land mines, improvised explosive devices, snipers, heavy machine guns, and small arms fire. In August and September of this year, the Russians have started to bombard the battlefront and civilian areas to the rear with incendiary munitions, with the intent of burning the crops in the fields and burning the houses in the towns and villages.
Social media users alerted the world to this new depth of depravity of Russian war crimes. Captive Ukrainians in the occupied zone and free Ukrainians in the liberated zone all posted pictures and observations. August 8, 2017 was a particularly bad day. The Russian invader-occupiers made co-ordinated attacks with incendiary munitions in the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors. Wheat fields were set ablaze near Shchastya, which is on the Siverskyi Donets River north of Luhansk city. On the same day, crops were deliberately set ablaze near Avdiivka, which is north of Donetsk city. Four days later, on August 12, a large bombardment with incendiary munitions was made near Maryinka, which is a town west of Donetsk city. The smoke was was so thick and poisonous, that it drove residents out of the town. Maryinka residents wrote: “Ashes even fly to the household”; “In the evening, roof slates were heard cracking [due to fire] and there was black smoke – houses were burning at Sovkhoz”; “It’s impossible to open the window now, that nasty smell.” On August 21, pictures and reports came out of Shchastya again, with crops burning in the fields and a huge pall of smoke hanging over the town.
Russia fire-bombing Ukraine is a war crime. It serves no military purpose. Burning the countryside destroys cash crops in the fields and therefore the livelihood of farmers. It also causes widespread environmental damage. Burning the towns and villages destroys homes and places of business and the livelihood of the people there. The Russian invaders are engaging in mindless, senseless destruction, they’re not gaining a metre of ground on the battlefield, and they’re earning the undying hatred of the Ukrainian people for what they are doing.
Actions speak louder than words. Russia is attacking Europe in Donbas with fire.