by Eric Zuesse
According to Donetsk People’s Republic Defense Minister Eduard Basurin, speaking Saturday April 11th, the recently reported ceasefire violations by the Ukrainian government’s side are violations by the Ukrainian government’s volunteer irregular battalions, not by regular units of the armed forces of Ukraine.
Furthermore, the DPR’s statement goes considerably farther to indicate that Ukraine’s President Poroshenko has actually been enforcing his side’s compliance with the ceasefire agreement. According to the announcement from the “Donetsk People’s Republic, Novorossiya”, posted on The Truth About the Situation in Ukraine FB page:
On Friday, the reports came that the Ukrainian 93rd separate mechanized brigade [the Ukrainan government’s forces] had demanded from the ‘Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists’ battalion [a group of neo-Nazi volunteer fighters] to abandon their positions in the area of Peski. The ‘OUN’ battalion is not controlled by the Kiev authorities.
“’Today, on the 11th of April, Ukrainian regular army’s units got involved in the armed conflict’ [said Basurin. He went on to note that this phenomenon, of the regular Ukrainian army fighting against its own irregular volunteer battalions, had occurred earlier, and not only on the present occasion:] On the 1st of April, the DPR Defense Ministry reported that the Ukrainian soldiers of the ‘Donbass’ battalion had opened fire on the positions of the ‘Right Sector’ [another nazi group]. According to the representatives of the DPR militia, Ukrainian units, which don’t want to obey the commands of the Ukrainian armed forces, ‘reserve the right not to abide by the ceasefire regime’.
This explanation by Basurin is crucially important, because it constitutes, from the ‘rebel’ side, a confirmation of good-faith follow-through by Ukrainian President Poroshenko: that he is disciplining his irregular troops who violate his commands.
Only if Poroshenko disciplines and compels compliance from the ideologically committed neo-Nazi battalions can the conflict between Ukraine’s government and the separatist regions be addressed by means of diplomatic agreements and compromises – such as the Minsk-2 Agreement — rather than by out-of-control military conflict. The latter would threaten escalation that could conceivably extend as far as nuclear war between the United States and Russia, which are the two real principals representing the respective two sides in the conflict between Ukraine and its breakaway regions. (The U.S. position is that no right of self-determination exists; Russia’s position, which coincides with the doctrine of self-determination recognized in international law, is that when your own government is bombing you, the right to secede from that government exists — such a government has lost its right to represent you.)
The original-language (Russian) report on this matter closes (as translated by me): “The Donetsk People’s Republic has repeatedly said that adherence to the truce depends entirely upon the Ukrainian side.” This repeated commitment by DPR is equivalent to their saying that if the military confrontation resumes, it will be solely because of violations from the Ukrainian government’s forces, not by those from the DPR.
The background to this entire issue is that, many times in the past, leaders of the various irregular Ukrainian units have said that they will not respect President Poroshenko’s authority but will fight as and when and whom (even Poroshenko himself) they wish. Here’s the description of this rebellion within the Ukrainian armed forces from my own prior report regarding that matter, which is essential background for understanding the recent news accounts of the Ukrainian war possibly getting dangerously out of control on account of ceasefire violations by the Ukrainian side:
On 10 January 2015, the Fort Russ blog headlined “Ukrainian Armed Forces Are Bombing the Right Sector,” and reported that Right Sector troops were now battling and being killed by Ukrainian Government forces, and were no longer being killed only in battels with Donbass separatists. Then, on January 21st, UNIAN headlined, “Yarosh Wounded in Grad Attack,” and reported that “Ukrainian MP and leader of the Right Sector organization Dmytro Yarosh has been injured by shrapnel from a Grad rocket strike.” Also on January 21st, Harrison Koehli bannered at sott.net, “Kiev Lies to Its Own Troops, Sends Them to Be Slaughtered,” and he documented (with recent videos) that Ukraine’s Colonel Oleg Mikats, Commander of Ukraine’s 93rd Brigade, had been captured by the pro-Russian separatists during a battle at the Donetsk Airport.
However, as Koehli failed to note, Mikats was also one of Right Sector’s leaders, and not only Mikats but also Yarosh himself had been in that battle, and Yarosh’s “hand is damaged seriously” from a “close exploding shell” and so Yarosh was evacuated to a military hospital. The Ukrainian site Unian headlined, “Yarosh Wounded in Grad Attack,” and said he “has been slightly wounded from shrapnel” and was up and about. “He is fighting on.” No mention was made of Mikats. As “J. Hawk” commented at Fort Russ on January 20th, “Mikats’ capture suggests he, a rising star in the Right Sector, tried to prove his organization would succeed where the regular military had failed. Imagine the hero’s welcome he’d have gotten in Kiev had he succeeded in retaking the Donetsk Airport.” And the fact that Yarosh himself was also there, suggests even more strongly, that Yarosh was aiming to achieve a military victory that Poroshenko’s forces could not. Yarosh’s Praviy Sektor success would have embarrassed Poroshenko by showing Ukrainians that only by means of the Right Sector’s taking charge of the government could the war against the residents of Donbass, the so-called ‘Terrorists’ — the ‘Anti Terrorist Operation,’ or ATO — be won.
Perhaps one of the reasons why Mikats had been captured was that Poroshenko’s line of command had intentionally left the Right Sector forces “to be slaughtered,” so as to prevent Yarosh from overthrowing Poroshenko. The U.S.-installed operatives were now warring against one-another, and not only against Ukraine’s pro-Russians.
On January 29th, Ukraine’s Political Navigator website bannered, “Yarosh Prepares a ‘Parallel General Staff’,” and reported that Yarosh had announced that “after a while, it will be implemented” — a “General Staff” of “volunteers” — to compete against and (as he expected) outperform Poroshenko’s military team. Yarosh was now just waiting for Poroshenko’s regime to collapse, so that Yarosh’s own people would grab power. And then what? He would dictate terms, to Obama, and also to Ukraine’s creditors? Really?
On January 30th, Fort Russ headlined, “‘Yatsenyuk and Turchinov started the war!’ — Poroshenko Bloc Deputy,” and reported that in the parliament or Rada, a Poroshenko ally was stating that Yatsenyuk, and his chosen colleague who was briefly Ukraine’s appointed president until Poroshenko, Aleksander Turchinov, were to blame for the war; Poroshenko wasn’t. Rats were scurrying from this sinking ship.
The next day, at the same website, the headline was, “Ukraine After Poroshenko — Analysis by Aleksandr Rodzhers,” and this analysis said that another violent Maidan would soon happen, and that U.S. “SecState Kerry personally flew to IMF to persuade them to stop Kiev credits under the pretext of ‘absence of reforms.’” If true, this would have collapsed war-effort and would have meant that Obama had now decided to abandon the neo-Nazis. More reliably, however, Rodzhers recounted: “Kolomoysky-controlled battalions [yet another group of fascist battalions] are still raiding business[es] but even more nakedly than before, completely ignoring the central authorities, both Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk. All representatives of central authorities have been pushed out of Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye, this process is also evident in Odessa and some other cities.” Kolomoysky was a former White House favorite; he now went his own way,to grab whatever the new chaos was making available to be grabbed.
Then, on 1 February 2015, Fort Russ bannered, “We call on all commanders to rise up and start overthrowing the government,” and reported that on that day, “a Volunteer Soldier National Assembly was held, with 500 militants who had fought in the Donbass. ‘We call on all commanders to rise up and start overthrowing the government. The battalion brotherhood is starting a national tribunal’, they chanted. … Their demands to the Verkhovna Rada included the impeachment of the President and the removal of legal immunity afforded to Rada members and judges.” Some wanted not just Poroshenko impeached, but also Yatsenyuk.
On February 2nd, Oleg Tsarev, a leader of the anti-coup government in Donbass, whose life had been threatened by Kolomoysky, reported in “Dnepropetrovsk Concentration Camp” that Kolomoysky was now a total dictator in the region (Dnepropetrovsk) over which Kolomoysky had been appointed governor. Four days later, Tsarev published “Stealing Is Not Work,” in which he reported that Tsarev’s own family business, which unfortunately happened to be located in that district, had been forcefully stolen by Kolomoysky. This was the libertarian ideal: real anarchy. Only armed people held power — government was as “small” as possible. The gangsters were the ‘government,’ because there was none other. This was pure libertarianism: only natural law existed, because no man-made law existed to oppose and restrain it.
Apparently, U.S. President Obama has now come down clearly on Poroshenko’s side, against even the neo-Nazis (such as Yarosh) who had carried out the coup which made Obama the master of Ukraine. In other words: it now appears that Obama does not want to escalate this conflict to nuclear war with Russia.
My previous view, that the ceasfire-violations on Thursday and Friday, April 9th and 10th, were consistent with Obama’s intentions to push to a US-Russia military confrontation in Ukraine, is wrong. I was seconding there the view by Igor Strelkov, the former commander of DNR forces, which fortunately seems to have been wrong. Barrack Obama might turn out not to be the catastrophically bad U.S. president he seemed just a few days ago — worse even than George W. Bush — though Obama has brought us closer to nuclear war than any previous U.S. president has.
Investigative historian Eric Zeusse is the author of They Are not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records 1910-2010, Christ’s Ventriloquists: The Events that Created Christianity, and Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.