Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 16.04.2018
On balance, Putin comes off looking as weak after the strike against chemical weapons facilities in Syria by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. The coalition demonstrated that they are vastly more powerful than Russia and its rump proxy in Syria, the Assad regime. And they did it in a mere 45 minutes, very early in the morning on April 14. Russian forces stood down and did nothing to aid the beleaguered Assad. Russian propaganda TV had no ‘victory’ to present to its zombified domestic audience. It resorted to its staple fare, which is anti-Western hate propaganda.
Putin is a KGB thug, and easy to understand. Humiliated in Syria, he will lash out and he will strike where he thinks his enemies are weakest. He struck at the United Kingdom with a nerve agent attack, but was surprised at the unity and resolve of Britain’s allies in response. He constantly strikes at United States democratic institutions, but was surprised at a new round of sanctions which caused an economic shock to Russia. He struck along with his puppet Assad at Douma, Syria with chemical weapons, but was surprised at the US/UK/France counter-strike.
One thing Putin has learned from experience is that no ally fights alongside Ukraine in the trenches of Donbas. Ukrainian armed forces stand alone in the defence of Europe from foreign invaders from Muscovy. No substantial help comes from other Western democracies. Putin will go with what he knows, and exacerbate his war against Ukraine (ongoing for over four years) into a much bigger war. He hopes for an easy victory and a domestic propaganda triumph that will keep his brittle dictatorship afloat. There are many signs that Russia is planning a new military offensive against Ukraine, to be triggered by a staged provocation.
The demonization of Ukraine in Russia’s state media has intensified dramatically. Rhetoric against the Revolution of Dignity of the Ukrainian people in 2014 has exceeded all moral bounds in its vulgarity and violence. The Russian people are being psyched for more war.
Ukraine supported the strike against chemical weapons facilities in Syria. Helped by Russia, Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in Douma, Syria on April 7. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine stated that “the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances is a gross violation of international law, and the entities responsible for it must be held accountable.” Putin would wish Ukraine had behaved like Russia’s puppet state Belarus, which condemned the US/UK/France strike against chemical weapons facilities in Syria.
Russia is preparing fake, non-UN peacekeepers along with its client state Belarus. Putin finds it convenient to let Aleksandr Lukashenka do the talking about bringing ‘peace’ to Donbas. This sounds to Ukrainian ears as being a threat – which it is. Russian paratroopers were training in Belarus on April 10-12, under the guise of peacekeeping, including practicing the “neutralizing of militants.”
Russia will block real United Nations peacekeeping. There is no chance of a genuine peacekeeping mission taking place in Donbas. There is a high probability that fake peacekeepers will intervene massively in eastern Ukraine after a staged atrocity by Russia’s intelligence services. They will not bear the letters “UN.” Russian invaders show the letters “МС” instead, which stands for Миротворческие Силы, or “peacekeeping forces.” Russia will try to turn Donbas into Transnistria, a Russian-invaded and occupied part of Moldova.
On March 29, Russia sent the 75th weapons, ammunition, and matériel convoy to the 1st and 2nd Army Corps (so-called “DPR” and “LPR”) of the Russian armed forces in eastern Ukraine. These military resupply convoys cross the international Ukraine-Russia border without being inspected by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, or the International Committee of the Red Cross. Russia fakes these convoys as ‘humanitarian’ but open source intelligence establishes that they are not.
Russia maintains a maritime blockade against the Ukrainian ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol on the Azov Sea – an act of war.
On March 26, Ukraine expelled 13 Russian spies under cover as diplomats, in solidarity with the United Kingdom and other Western democracies for Russia’s never agent attack in Salisbury, England. Russia retaliated by expelling 13 Ukrainian diplomats, which reduced the ability of Ukraine to give consular assistance to the many Ukrainian hostages of the Russian regime of state terror.
Russian invasion forces on the battlefront in Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine have dramatically increased the number of their attacks on Ukrainian defenders and civilians since March 24. Russia has violated the Minsk Agreement ceasefire a total of 916 times from the beginning of March 24 through the end of April 15. Many of these attacks were with weapons that are proscribed by the Minsk Agreement. Ukraine successfully defends against Russian aggression, and only with weapons allowed by the Minsk Agreement.
The Anti-Terrorist Operation under the authority of the Security Service of Ukraine is being subsumed under a Joint Forces Operation under the authority of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine. Ukraine is preparing for a more organized defence of the homeland, and laying the groundwork for the liberation of Russian-occupied territory. Russia has gained no ground in Putin’s Donbas war since the Battle of Debaltseve at the beginning of 2015. Ukraine has taken back some small parts of its own territory in the past year. Talk of liberation is growing and it coincides with the designation of Russia as an aggressor state and the start of the Joint Forces Operation. Putin is running out of time to win any kind of a victory against an increasingly competent and professional Ukrainian armed forces.
On April 13, the deputy head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Viktor Kononenko, stated that Russia is creating the preconditions for a large-scale deployment of its troops, under the pretext of ‘protecting’ the Russian-speaking population. The plans include creating a provocation such as a mass-casualty event at a pro-Russian event, at a sports event, or at a religious procession.
As Putin attacks in Donbas with expanded aggression, he is counting on Western friends of Ukraine standing by, doing nothing of use, and letting the nightmare unfold – as they have done for over four years. Western democracies have done nothing to stop Putin – nothing to stop the weapons convoys, to stop the shelling, to stop the Kerch bridge from being built, to stop the crippling cyber attacks, to stop the economic warfare, to stop the abuse of political prisoners, to stop the plundering of Crimea and Donbas. Over four years of war in the heart of Europe, and Western leaders won’t even say the word “war.”
Putin has good grounds to hope for an easy victory in Ukraine, given the wretched appeasement of Western leaders. But the Russian dictator’s weakness is that he doesn’t understand the Ukrainian people. Putin is a fool who believes his own propaganda about Ukrainians as “Little Russians.” He has no comprehension that the real meaning of the Revolution of Dignity and the subsequent defence of the homeland from Russian aggression means that the Ukrainian people are united, independent, and free as they have not been for centuries. Russia will attack Ukraine with greater ferocity, and it will do that soon. But Russia will never win … Ukraine will never die. For a limited mind like Putin, it may be “back to the U.S.S.R.” For the Ukrainian people, it is back to the Ukrainian National Republic … back to the Zaporizhian Sich … back to Kyivan Rus’.