Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 29.11.2017
Russia has been invading Europe in Crimea and Donbas since 20 February 2014. Not a day has gone by since without an attack by the Russian armed forces and intelligence services against Ukrainian defenders and civilians. The human cost of Putin’s War is appalling.
10,220 Ukrainians have been killed by Russian invaders and their proxies since Putin’s War began. This current total was revealed by Iryna Gerashchenko, First Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, at a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council. Well over seven deaths per day can be attributed to enemy action since Russia commenced hostilities. In addition to 10,200 Ukrainians killed, 298 citizens of other countries were killed on 17 July 2014 when Russia shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 with a BUK missile.
2,335 servicemen and servicewomen were killed in action, defending their homeland from Russian invaders. More than 8,390 were wounded in action or were injured in the Anti-Terrorist Operation zone in Donbas. There have been notorious incidents of mass killings by Russia of Ukrainian armed forces members. On 14 June 2014, Russia shot down an Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft and killed 49 people, mostly paratroopers from the 25th Airbourne Brigade. On 29 August 2014, Putin announced a “humanitarian corridor for besieged Ukrainian soldiers” at Ilovaisk, and then promptly massacred the disarmed and retreating troops.
Ukraine acknowledges its casualties and Ukrainians honour their dead. Russia does the opposite. Putin has made it a crime to reveal Russia’s war dead. Russia buries its dead secretly and in shame – in numbered graves in Donbas or shipped back to Russia in trucks as “Cargo 200” (the Russian designation for military dead). When Donbas is liberated, mass graves will be revealed to the world, and the horror of Russian aggression will be laid bare.
Over one and a half million Ukrainian are officially registered “internally displaced persons.” IDP is a euphemism for a refugee who hasn’t crossed an international border. Russia has made over one and a half million Europeans homeless, taken away their livelihood, and stolen their future from them.
Ukrainians trapped behind enemy lines in Crimea and Donbas are a captive people. In Crimea, they have had their citizenship stolen from them. In Donbas, the factories and the coal that were their livelihood have been stolen from them. 162 Ukrainians are known to be hostages of the Russian terrorist groups, so-called “DPR” and “LPR,” in Donbas. 403 people are missing. In Crimea, 53 Crimean Tatars are political prisoners of the Russian invader-occupiers. 16 Ukrainian citizens have been abducted and are being kept captive in Russia.
These aren’t just numbers. They’re people. The stories of these people – the peaceful dead and the suffering living – must be told again and again in international forums. Russia is trying to make the world forget about its invasion of Europe in Ukraine and its crimes against humanity committed against Europeans in Crimean and Donbas. They must not be allowed to do so. 137 children have been killed by Putin’s War, to date. More will die if Russian aggression is not stopped. The West must be victorious over Russia, and defeat Putin’s invasion of Europe in Ukraine, so that thousands more will live and not die.