Captured Ukrainian soldiers say offensive planned for World Cup

From Fort Russ

By Paul Antonopoulos
May 24, 2018

Ukrainian soldiers captured by the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said in statements on Wednesday that Kiev might launch an offensive against Donbass during the upcoming 2018 World Cup held in Russia.

According to reports, two captured Ukrainian soldiers, Vasily Zhimilinsky and Vitaly Chmil explained the circumstances in which they were captured and answered questions from reporters. The two soldiers confirmed that they were not pressured by the Donetsk side.

“We were told that an offensive would begin either on the eve of the presidential election in Russia, when the snow melted and the earth dried up, or during the World Cup.”

The captured soldiers even revealed that “there was an order and it was all a matter of receiving more ammunition and fuel … The captain also told us that before the offensive, Javelin anti-tank missile systems would be delivered to every unit on the front line.”

Chmil confirmed suspicions that Ukrainian forces are readying for an offensive against Donbass defense forces. The two captured soldiers confirmed the presence of artillery systems at the Ukrainian army’s frontline positions.

One of the captured soldiers was declared a deserter by the high command of the Ukrainian military, although both soldiers were captured on the battlefield, but at different times and in different sectors on the contact line.

The conflict in Donbas began in 2014 when Ukrainian authorities launched a military operation against the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, who refused to recognize the new government in Kiev which came to power after a US-backed coup.

The official Minsk Agreements have done little to prevent constant Ukrainian forays and bombardments. The Donbass republics have persistently accused Ukraine of provocations and violating the Minsk Agreements, whereas Kiev habitually claims that the Donbass militias and “Russian occupation forces” alleged to be in the area are shooting at themselves and blaming Ukraine.

https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/05/captured-ukrainian-soldiers-say-offensive-planned-for-world-cup/

UAVs prohibited by Minsk agreements; Lugansk shoots down armed Ukrainian sabotage drone, April 21

From Fort Russ

By Tom Winter
April 21, 2018

Lugansk, Novorosinform. On Saturday, April 21, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was shot down by the anti-aircraft defense unit of the People’s Militia of the People’s Republic of Lugansk near Lugansk City. This is stated in an urgent statement by the defense ministry’s spokesman Andrei Marochko.

“In addition to reconnaissance functions, Ukrainian terrorists intended to use a drone to conduct sabotage against objects of socially important infrastructure in the territory of the People’s Republic of Lugansk. After the inspection of the apparatus, our specialists concluded that the apparatus was converted into a shock device and carried a military charge,” a representative of the People’s Militia said.

“We would like to remind you that a number of large-scale events are taking place on the territory of the republic with a large number of personnel. Including, preparations for the celebration of the 73 anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War,” he added.

“Currently, our specialists continue working on the Ukrainian UAV. I want to remind you that this is the second drone shot down by the air defense forces of the People’s Militia since the beginning of April. I remind you that the use of unmanned aerial vehicles is prohibited by Minsk agreements,” Marachko added.

Recall that the Ukrainian troops on the night of April 17 shelled the staging area for the military equipment, which was prepared to participate in the parade on the Victory Day in the People’s Republic of Lugansk. As a result of the bombardment, a tank from the Great Patriotic War, which was to take part in the Victory Day parade on May 9, plus four units of the military equipment of the People’s Militia of the People’s Republic of Lugansk, were damaged. The people’s militia accused the OSCE of being involved in the shelling of military equipment for the Victory Day parade.

At the end of March, militiamen of the Donetsk People’s Republic shot down a Polish Fly Eye drone. It was spotting for Ukrainian mortar fire on the village of Sakhanka in the south of the republic.

On March 27, the strategic unmanned aerial vehicle RQ-4B-30 Global Hawk of the US Air Force conducted reconnaissance along the front line in the Donbass.

https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/04/lugansk-shoots-down-armed-ukrainian-sabotage-drone/

OSCE takes notes and does nothing: Ukrainian army advances significantly in Lugansk region

From Fort Russ

February 18, 2018 – FRN –
DNR News – by Inessa Sinchougova

The Ukrainian forces have advanced significantly in the area of ​​Novoaleksandrovka in the Lugansk region. This was stated at a briefing by the deputy head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, Alexander Hug.
“Our observers have established facts that clearly indicate that the Ukrainian Armed Forces units have moved forward in the west of the Lugansk region near the village of Novoaleksandrovka.” – he said.
Hug added that during the trip to the contact line he personally saw Ukrainian soldiers.
Editor:

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the “world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization”. Yet, it takes no action to ensure the security, freedom, or fundamental human rights of Ukrainian residents in the Donbass and elsewhere following the Maidan coup d’etat three years ago or to ensure the security of Russia against massive weapons and troop buildups occurring near its borders by European states and the U.S.. Since the leadership is from EU states, this isn’t surprising.

The OSCE claims to participate in the Minsk agreements but takes no action to enforce the agreements (now thoroughly dead due to Kiev and American actions) or to stop the build up of Ukrainian Armed Forces and equipment against east Ukraine. It chronicles events against the Donbass and collects information, most likely to provide to the Kiev regime and its European and American partners. In fact, it seems to thoroughly support what is taking place right now in Ukraine. 

Given the immense suffering and destruction throughout Europe experienced by everyday people due to Hitler and fascism, it is overdue to fire these intelligence gathering note-takers, appoint real security leaders from the people, and restore freedom and security.

Ukrainian politician says he’s ready to take on Donbass, Minsk agreement allowed Ukraine military to prepare

Especially as the United States and other countries violated Minsk by training the Ukrainian military.

From Fort Russ

February 13, 2018 – FRN –

The authorities of Ukraine can regain control over the Crimea only by force. This was stated on air of the Ukrainian television channel “112” by the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, Yuri Bereza.
The Ukrainian parliamentarian assured that the Ukrainian Army has become “one of the strongest armies in Europe” and now its potential is sufficient for an offensive on Crimea.
“Only the Ukrainian soldier, the Ukrainian army is able to regain sovereignty in the Donbass and Crimea. There are no other options” – said Bereza.
He also added that the Minsk agreements were useful for Ukraine only because they allowed for the necessary military construction to take place and for the reoganisation of the armed forces.

Urgent: US delivers thousands of night vision googles to Ukrainian army (APU); US taxpayers also sending 210 “anti-tank” missiles

From Fort Russ

February 14, 2018 – FRN –

The United States has delivered a large batch of night vision devices to Ukraine – two and a half thousand devices to be precise, worth almost $ 6 million. These are enough for arming 10 battalions of  Ukrainian army (APU), said the US Ambassador in Kiev Marie Yovanovitch.
As the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Viktor Muzhenko, said 90% of the help to Kiev is provided by Washington. The US sends “defensive” weapons, as well as military advisers and instructors.
Ukraine is also awaiting a party of American anti-tank missile systems “Javelin“. The APU expects to receive 35 of these and 210 missiles for them, to the amount of 47 million dollars. The bill is paid by the United States.
The Pentagon has also allowed for $250 million dollars to go to arming the Ukraine, as part of its 2019 defense budget.

U.S. Defense Attaché to visit the Donbass front Feb. 7-8

Current U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is Marie Yovanovitch.
U.S. Defense Attaché is Colonel Thomas Wofford.

From Fort Russ

February 7, 2018 – Fort Russ News –

– Novorosinform, translated by Tom Winter –

American Defense Advisor will visit the front line in Donbass.

In the coming days, a foreign commission headed by the defense attaché at the US Embassy in Ukraine will arrive in the occupied territory of Donbass, and the situation on the frontline is expected to worsen Lieutenant-Colonel Andrei Marochko told journalists today. Marochko is an official representative of the People’s Militia of the Lugansk Peoples Republic,

“In the coming days, we do not exclude situation on the line of contact getting worse, in connection with the arrival of a foreign commission headed by the Defense Attaché at the US Embassy in Ukraine,” the lieutenant colonel said.

According to him, the foreigners plan to visit the settlement of Svetlodorsk in the period from February 7-8.

“The work of a military delegation from the United States can be connected with testing the readiness of units of  mechanized brigade 54 of the Armed Forces to carry out offensive operations. It is during this period that we expect provocations from Ukrainian forces in the area of the Svetlodarskaya arc,” the representative of the Defense Ministry stressed.

“In addition, in the vicinity of the settlement Mironovsky, we note the arrival of a group of foreign officer-instructors. According to preliminary information, the mercenaries arrived from Canada for special tasks on the contact line,” Andrei Marochko added.

Recall, according to the Ministry of Defense of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Ukrainian troops in the interval between March and June intend to begin a full-scale war in the Donbass.

Some related background:
Yesterday presidential candidate and Yabloko party leader Yavlinsky said that Russia should give up supporting the Donbass.

Recall that Ivan Vynnyk, the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of the Bloc of Peter Poroshenko and secretary of the Committee on National Security and Defense, believes that after the adoption of the bill on the reintegration of Donbass Ukraine legally can cleanse the DNR and LNR.

Andrei Biletsky, MP, and leader of the Nazi “National Corps” *, the founder of the regiment “Azov” * MP Rada, in turn, said that the leadership of Ukraine should decide to give the order on the approach of the Armed Forces in the Donbass. And in parallel, Kiev must start a war of sabotage within the Russian Federation.

http://www.fort-russ.com/2018/02/american-defense-attache-to-visit.html

DPR on the Azov Sea incident, contact line violations, and shelling of water filtration plant — OSCE and media are silent

March 13, 2017 – Fort Russ News –

RussiePolitics, translated by Tom Winter –

On March 11 two Ukrainian fighting ships entered the territorial waters of the Republic of Donetsk, in flagrant violation of the Minsk accords and in the media silence that we have gotten used to.

The deputy commander of the Armed Forces of Donetsk, E. Bassurin, said that on Saturday, by order of the commander of the 73rd Maritime Special Operations Center, 1st captain E. Shevchenko, two warships were sent to the territorial waters of the Republic of Donetsk in the Sea of Azov, for reconnaissance and organizing provocations against the positions of the combatants.

The Donetsk fighters opened fire, a ship was damaged, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed, and three wounded.

One can wonder the interest of such a maneuver, both strategically and politically. By this kind of action, Ukraine totally discredits any intention of implementing the Minsk accords or even to find a peaceful exit from the crisis. But it is true that it enjoys a particularly favorable media coverage in the West, and political cover that allows it, for the moment, to act with impunity. Even its revisionist nationalists are invited to university conferences, as France has crossed the red line by dint of compromise.

Let us not forget that this action is part of the Ukrainian process of systematic violation not only of the Minsk accords, but also of international standards protecting civilians in times of war. Thus, they continue fire on the water filtration station every time it is repaired in order to deprive the civilian populations of drinking water. The Ukrainian army uses artillery about 1200 times in 24 hours; fighters find tanks and heavy Ukrainian artillery right on the line of separation, while they should be pulled back from it, and OSCE looks the other way.

How long will they continue keeping their eyes closed?

http://www.fort-russ.com/2017/03/ukrainian-warships-in-donetsk.html

LPR & DPR announced their conditions for political settlement in Donbass

From RusVesna.su

LPR & DPR Announced Their Conditions for Political Settlement in Donbass | Русская весна

The Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics demand to create real system of self-governance in Donbass within the framework of the Minsk negotiation process.

This was stated today by the acting Foreign Minister of the DPR, the representative of Donetsk at the political subgroup negotiations in Minsk Natalia Nikonorova.

“One of the most important points is a coexistence with the central power (Kiev) on a contractual basis, i.e. this the authority to conclude contracts, and on this basis development in any direction: social, cultural, scientific,” she said in an interview to the Russian agency TASS.

“This is what we agreed on, having signed the Minsk Agreements. This is real self-governance, which responds the European charter of local self-governance”.

Elections in Donbass in this case are an integral part of the settlement of the conflict.

“We will choose our bodies of authority. Elections will take place according to a majority system. Any party like “Svoboda”, any “Right Sector”, Radical party can’t be on our territory.

When all of the territory of our region is covered in graves, these people will come to us to campaign? It won’t happen,” stated the representative of LPR at negotiations of the political subgroup Rodion Miroshnik.

According to him, also the work of the Ukrainian media will not be allowed in Donbass. Only the inhabitants living in the region can participate in elections, and the Central Electoral Commission of Ukraine won’t be able to control the electoral process.

“The figure of displaced persons from Donbass fluctuates from 200,000 when Ukraine speaks about pension payments, up to 2 million when Kiev speaks about elections. Sorry, but with such a manipulative system give me such a resource in 2 million, I win any elections,” noted Miroshnik.

He specifically stressed that the LPR and the DPR demand the creation of a whole list of the constraining mechanisms in the relations between Donbass and Kiev.

“This is the presence of law enforcement agencies, this is also cross-border cooperation, because we want to live quietly with ours brothers from the Russian Federation. This is a linguistic question. It is unacceptable for us to forbid the Russian language. And as well differentiation of financial flows,” listed Miroshnik.

Translated by Ollie Richardson, originally publsihed at RusVesna

http://rusvesna.su/news/1487316685

Building a post-West world order of sovereignty, international law, and mutual respect — Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Munich Security Conference, February 18, 2017

Leaders with a sense of responsibility must now make their choice. I hope that this choice will be made in favour of building a democratic and fair world order, a post-West world order, if you will, in which each country develops its own sovereignty within the framework of international law, and will strive to balance their own national interests with those of their partners, with respect for each country’s cultural, historical and civilisational identity.

From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation:

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s address and answers to questions at the 53rd Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 18, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ten years ago, President of Russia Vladimir Putin addressed this conference with a speech that many in the West saw as a challenge and even a threat, although what his message emphasised above all was the need to renounce unilateral action in favour of honest cooperation based on mutual respect, international law, joint assessment of global problems and collective decision-making. Unfortunately, the warnings he sounded then about the negative consequences of attempting to obstruct the emergence of a multipolar world have become reality.

Humanity stands at a crossroads today. The historic era that could be called the post-Cold War order has come to an end. Its main result, as we see it, was the complete failure of the Cold War institutions to adapt to new realities. The world has become neither ‘Western-centric’, nor a safer and more stable place. This is evident in the results of ‘democratisation’ in the Middle East and North Africa, and in other places too.

NATO expansion has created a level of tension in Europe unseen in the last thirty years. Yet this year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Russia-NATO Founding Act in Paris, and 15 years since the Rome Declaration on a new quality of Russia-NATO relations was adopted. These documents’ basic premise was that Russia and the West took on a joint commitment to guarantee security on the basis of respect for each other’s interests, to strengthen mutual trust, prevent a Euro-Atlantic split and erase dividing lines. This did not happen, above all because NATO remained a Cold War institution. It is said that wars start in people’s heads, but according to this logic, it is also in people’s heads that they should end. This is not the case yet with the Cold War. Some statements by politicians in Europe and the United States seem to confirm this particularly clearly, including statements made here yesterday and today during this conference.

I mentioned NATO expansion just now. We categorically reject the allegations of those who accuse Russia and the new centres of global influence of attempting to undermine the so-called ‘liberal world order’. This global model was pre-programmed for crisis right from the time when this vision of economic and political globalisation was conceived primarily as an instrument for ensuring the growth of an elite club of countries and its domination over everyone else. It is clear that such a system could not last forever. Leaders with a sense of responsibility must now make their choice. I hope that this choice will be made in favour of building a democratic and fair world order, a post-West world order, if you will, in which each country develops its own sovereignty within the framework of international law, and will strive to balance their own national interests with those of their partners, with respect for each country’s cultural, historical and civilisational identity.

Russia has never hidden its views, and has always been sincere in advocating work based on equal footing in order to create a common space of security, good-neighbourliness and development from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The tensions of recent years between North America, Europe and Russia are unnatural; I would even say they go against nature.

Russia is a Eurasian state with a variety of cultures and ethnicities. Predictability and goodwill in relations with all countries, primarily, its neighbours, have always been inherent to our policies. This line of thinking underlies our close work within the CIS, the Eurasian Economic Union, the CSTO, the SCO, and BRICS.

Good-neighbourliness and mutual benefits underlie our relations with Europe as well. We are part of the same continent, we wrote our history together, and we were successful when we worked hand-in-hand to achieve prosperity for our peoples.

Many millions of Soviet people gave up their lives for the freedom of Europe. We want to see Europe strong, independent in international affairs and taking good care of our common past and future, while staying open to the world around it. We are appalled by the fact that the EU is unable to muster enough strength and give up its Russian policy based on the least denominator principle where fundamental and pragmatic interests of its member states are being sacrificed to Russophobic speculations out of sheer “solidarity.” We look forward to seeing common sense take the upper hand.

What kind of relationship do we want to establish with the United States? We want relations based on pragmatism, mutual respect, and understanding of our special responsibility for global stability. Our two countries have never been in direct confrontation with each other. Our history is steeped in friendliness more than confrontation. Russia did a lot to support the independence of the United States as it proceeded to become a united powerful state. Constructive Russia-US relations are in our common interest. Moreover, America is our close neighbour, just like the European Union. We are divided by just 4 km of the Bering Strait. The potential of our cooperation in politics, the economy, and the humanitarian sphere is enormous. But, of course, it has to be tapped. We are willing to go ahead and do so inasmuch as the United States is prepared to do so on its part.

Today there is no shortage in evaluations of the genesis of global challenges such as terrorism, drug trafficking, or the crises that engulfed territories from Libya to Afghanistan, leaving countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen bleeding. Certainly, the Munich debate will provide an opportunity to review in detail all these issues, as well as the continuing conflicts in Europe. Most importantly, a settlement cannot be achieved by military means.

This fully applies to the internal Ukrainian conflict. There’s no alternative to complying with the Minsk Package of Measures through a direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. This is a firm position adopted by Russia, the West and the UN Security Council. Importantly, the Kiev authorities should embark on that path and honour their obligations.

Today, more than ever, we need a dialogue on all complex issues in order to find mutually acceptable compromises. Actions based on confrontation and the zero-sum-game approach will not cut any ice. Russia is not looking for conflicts with anyone, but it will always be in a position to uphold its interests.

Our absolute priority is to use dialogue to achieve our goals and mutually beneficial consensus. It is appropriate to quote a directive which Chancellor Gorchakov, back in the times of imperial Russia, sent to Russian Envoy in the United States Eduard von Stoeckle in July 1861: “there are no such divergent interests that cannot be reconciled through zealous and hard work … in the spirit of fairness and moderation.”

If everyone could subscribe to such an approach, we’d be able to quickly overcome the post-truth period, to reject hysterical information wars imposed on the international community and to proceed to keep up the honest work without being distracted by lies and falsehoods. Let this be a post-fake era.

Thank you.

Question: I have a concrete question about military exercises. Why are Russian military exercises held without prior announcement, and why are they so non-transparent? This year you will hold the largest Zapad (West) exercises in 20 years, which have alarmed your neighbours. What should be done to build up confidence regarding this issue?

Sergey Lavrov: As you know, Russia-NATO relations and the Russia-NATO Council have been suspended at the bloc’s initiative, although after the 2008 Caucasus crisis our American colleagues, including then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, admitted that the suspension of the Russia-NATO Council was a mistake and that it should be more active especially in times of trouble. However, they continue to step on the same rake. NATO has decided to suspend all practical contacts with Russia, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told me yesterday. He said they would maintain contact at the level of ambassadors at the Russia-NATO Council and between himself and me, but that they had curtailed all practical contacts.

At some stage, Sauli Niinisto, the President of Finland which is not a NATO member, expressed concern that not just Russian aircraft but also the planes of NATO states fly over the Baltic with their transponders switched off. He mentioned his concern at a meeting with President Putin during his visit to Russia. Following that, President Putin instructed the Russian military to prepare proposals to settle the issues of transponders and aviation security over the Baltic. Our military experts brought detailed proposals to Brussels in July 2016, when the Russia-NATO Council held a meeting there. We believed that these concrete proposals would prompt a response, and that experts would get together to coordinate security enhancement methods. This did not happen. We still cannot start working on this issue. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told me yesterday that an expert meeting might hopefully convene in March. It is taking too long, of course, but we are not to blame for the delay.

He also mentioned the issue of military exercises yesterday and expressed satisfaction that the Russian military held a briefing on the exercises held last autumn. He also expressed hope that special briefings would be held on the exercises we plan for this year.

As for the surprise factor, I am not a military man, but I know that military attachés working in Moscow, including from NATO countries, are invited to such military exercises. But the best answer to this question, as I told Mr Stoltenberg yesterday, is that we should resume military cooperation to remove all these concerns and suspicions. The NATO Secretary General, who was accompanied by his deputies, could not say that NATO is ready to do this, which is a pity, because without military cooperation our diplomats’ meetings will be of little importance for security issues.

As for our relations with NATO, we proposed resuming them long ago. Instead of accusing each other and discussing and implementing plans to deploy NATO combat capabilities on the border with Russia for the first time in a decade, we should sit down to discuss the situation. We proposed looking at the maps to see how many weapons and military personnel NATO and Russia have, and where. After we collect this data, we will be able to gauge the real measures of military security in Europe. And then we will be able to use this information to consider arms control agreements and additional security measures.

Once again, it was not Russia who suspended practical cooperation in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council.

Question: Russia has submitted the first three provisions of Minsk-2 for discussion by the UN Security Council: the cease-fire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and admission of the OSCE observers to all the Ukrainian regions. Why doesn’t Russia find it possible to meet these obligations and thereby send a message about an increased level of confidence and improved overall situation?

Closer to the end of your remarks, you mentioned the post-fake era. Russia’s interference in the US election campaign was mentioned while it was underway. An election campaign is underway in France, and one of the candidates complained of Russia’s interference as well. French President Hollande even convened an extraordinary meeting of the Security Council to discuss this.

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding your first question, I’m pleased that you are familiar with the Minsk agreements, though it’s a pity you didn’t read them to the end, apparently. Indeed, the first item is the withdrawal of heavy weapons, but then it says that on the 30th day after the start of such withdrawal, which began in April 2014, the Kiev authorities will prepare a draft law on elections and begin consultations thereon with Donetsk and Lugansk. You can ask all kinds of questions about the timeframe of a particular item in the Minsk arrangements – they don’t always offer fixed dates. However, this date is specified and it’s 30 days. The withdrawal has begun. The beginning of consultations with Donetsk and Lugansk did not hinge on the completion of this process. As you may be aware, a lot has changed since then: the weapons were first withdrawn and then disappeared from the warehouses. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, which worked in very difficult conditions – and whose work we highly appreciate and hope that the mission will represent more OSCE members, not just  NATO and EU member countries – repeatedly noted violations on both sides with regard to the ceasefire, and the presence of heavy weapons in the security zone. However, the Ukrainian armed forces have always been the champion when it came to heavy weapons missing from warehouses. Again, other kinds of violations happen on both sides.

There have been repeated accusations (interviews with several Ukrainian political pundits have been published recently) that President Putin uses women and children in Donbass as human shields and tries to convince the Ukrainians living to the left of the contact line that people in Donbass hate them, while people in Donbass are being told that the Ukrainian government wants to destroy them. These arguments are false and hold no water. They also wrote that Donbass self-defence forces and unnamed Russian troops shell Donetsk in order to blame everything on Ukraine.

Getting back to your question, I have many times mentioned  how to make a ceasefire stick. No matter what you think about the Russian media, we can see our reporters doing their jobs along the  contact line in Donetsk and Lugansk on a daily basis. They run their stories live showing us destroyed residential areas and social infrastructure buildings, including children’s homes, schools, outpatient clinics, and civilian casualties. I became interested in what’s happening to the west of the contact line and started watching CNN, Fox News, Euronews, and BBC. I haven’t seen anything like that done by Western reporters on the western side of the contact line. They don’t run live reports, which our reporters do, risking their lives and getting wounded and even killed in the process. I asked my Western colleagues whether Western reporters are instructed to stay away from the other side of the contact line for security reasons. There’s no answer. Then we asked the OSCE SMM to focus, in their reports, on the destruction of civilian infrastructure to the left and to the right of the contact line. So far, we haven’t received exhaustive information. This may give an idea of why Western reporters, who are so bent on bringing the truth about the events in Ukraine to the world, do not show what’s happening in the areas to the west of the contact line, which are controlled by the armed forces of Ukraine. Are they discouraged from going there for safety reasons or are they doing some self-censorship? I would like to figure that out.

Our stats show that there are many times more destroyed social infrastructure buildings on the side controlled by Donbass as compared with the situation on the left side of the contact line. In most cases, fire is aimed at the positions controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces. Nonetheless, some members of the media make it into the war zone.

Not long ago, I saw a report by the Washington office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and Washington Post articles by journalists who have been on the line of contact. They wrote that volunteer battalions are the ones provoking violence in Donbass. These forces do not obey anyone, they do not take orders from Ukraine’s Armed Forces and act solely at their own discretion. The journalists wrote that thousands of ultra-nationalists from the Right Sector are fighting there and are not controlled by Kiev in any way whatsoever. The reporters concluded that Kiev may be interested in armed and angry radicals staying on the line of contact in Donbass instead of staging another Maidan uprising in the capital. These articles also mentioned neo-Nazi foreigners who are fighting in Donbass, while others tend to turn a blind eye to their presence there.

We discuss these issues in the Normandy format. Today, a meeting of French, German, Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers will take place. The question remains: why is there so little information about what is going on to the west of the line of contact? It is key to answering your question about why so little progress has been achieved in terms of security. However, making progress on security issues is not a goal in itself. Our common aim is to ensure full implementation of the Minsk agreements that provide for security on the line of contact (and I mentioned why it has not been achieved so far), constitutional reform to introduce a constitutional provision on the special status, amnesty for all who took part in hostilities in Donbass (just as all those who took part in what happened during Maidan uprisings benefited from amnesty), and the holding of elections. Under the Minsk agreements, the Ukrainian government can restore full control of the border with the Russian Federation only when these provisions are implemented. As I have already said, we are not there yet.

As for what our European partners are saying regarding sanctions, I have already commented on the illogical and artificial nature of the formula whereby the EU lifts sanctions once Russia implements the Minsk agreements. Russia also wants the Minsk agreements to be implemented, and will not lift its sanctions against the European Union until the Minsk agreements are implemented. There has to be clarity on this issue. Paris, Berlin and hopefully Washington and other capitals, including NATO headquarters, know all too well what is really happening in Ukraine and why the Minsk agreements are not working properly. But they are unable to recognise it in public due to a distorted sense of solidarity with those who decided to bring freedom and European values to Ukraine. When our good friend, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Federica Mogherini says that sanctions are a tool for ensuring implementation of the second Minsk agreements, I see this as a way to use sanctions for regulating the crisis in Ukraine, since sanctions unambiguously shift the blame on Russia. As Federica Mogherini said, maybe it was a Freudian slip, ‘We will wait until Russia concedes and departs from Minsk-2 by undertaking something unilaterally and forcing Donbass fighters to take unilateral action.’ The hidden message behind this position is that there is no need to work with Kiev, Kiev is doing everything right. That said, I strongly believe that the key capitals know the truth. I do hope that they send signals to this effect to the Ukrainian government during their contacts, if not publicly. Not only do I hope but I know that this is the case. It is hard to tell whether these signals come across.

Regarding the second question, on Russia’s alleged interference in election campaigns and other events in countries abroad, if you recall, when Donald Trump said that the election was not very honest and that the Democrats got votes from ‘dead souls’, the Democratic Party demanded to see the facts, but for some reason, when it comes to us, no one demands to see the facts. I have not seen any evidence regarding our alleged hacking of Democratic Party sites, or of whatever we are alleged to have done in France, Germany or Italy. We know that there were facts several years ago in Germany, when the eavesdropping on the entire German senior leadership was revealed. Leaks emerged a few days ago, suggesting that the CIA engaged in cyber-espionage throughout the entirety of France’s 2012 presidential race.  A CIA representative told a journalist today that he had no comment on this subject. No comment. But my good friend, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, speaking in  parliament after the information came out about suspicions that the CIA had meddled in the 2012 election (though, as I understand it, there are not just suspicions but also concrete facts), said that they oppose all cyber-espionage, no matter whether it comes from Russia or any other country. Modesty is always a fine thing, of course, but in this case, once again, I ask to see the evidence.

Let me remind you that Russia was the first country to initiate work in the UN many years ago on coordinating our positions on international information and cyber-security. Our Western partners evaded tackling these issues for a very long time. Finally, a couple of years ago, we adopted a resolution by consensus and a group of government experts was established, which produced a good report, which formed the foundation for a new resolution. Another expert group has been set up and will continue working on this matter now. We proposed long ago that our colleagues work more actively on the professional, technical and technology aspects of cyber-security issues. When the USA, during Barack Obama’s presidency, started hunting down our citizens in violation of the agreement our countries have, and did not inform us that they were catching these people on suspicion that they were involved in cybercrime, we proposed that both sides sit down together and settle all these issues. We have absolutely no desire to see our citizens involved in these illegal cyber activities. In November 2015, we proposed to the Obama administration that we meet and begin bilateral work on cyber-espionage, cyber-security and other cyber-related areas. A year went by without a response, even though I mentioned the matter to John Kerry every time we met. In the end, they proposed meeting in December 2016, but then said that everything would have to be postponed because of the new administration coming in.

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, when she spoke about cyber-security today, put forward the interesting idea that the Russia-NATO Council should address this issue. Let me return to my answer to the first question. We always wanted to see the Russia-NATO Council work on real substantive issues. We were not the ones who broke off practical cooperation. If the Federal Chancellor of Germany, one of the main NATO member countries, wants the Russia-NATO Council to work on cyber-security, we see this as a signal that Berlin, at least, wants the Russia-NATO Council to resume real work and not just limit itself to discussions.

http://www.mid.ru/en/vistupleniya_ministra/-/asset_publisher/MCZ7HQuMdqBY/content/id/2648249

The real meaning behind Putin’s “Ukrainian terrorism” speech

“…We also see the recent serious flare-up in southeast Ukraine. This escalation pursues the clear aim of preventing the Minsk Agreements from going ahead. The current Ukrainian authorities are obviously not seeking a peaceful solution to this very complex problem and have decided to opt for the use of force instead. What is more, they speak openly about organising sabotage and terrorism, particularly in Russia. Obviously, this is a matter of great concern…”

Vladimir Putin’s speech at meeting of Federal Security Service Board, February 16, 2017
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53883

From Fort Russ

February 18, 2017 – Fort Russ –
Rostislav Ishchenko, RIA Analytics – translated by J. Arnoldski –
February 16, 2017

On Thursday, February 16th, at the annual meeting of the Collegium of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Vladimir Putin drew particular attention to the situation in South-East Ukraine. According to the president, Ukrainian authorities are deliberately aggravating the situation in the conflict zone in Donbass in order to disrupt the Minsk Agreements and are betting on a military solution to the problem.
The head of state also emphasized that the Kiev authorities “are openly speaking of the organization of sabotage and terroristic, subversive work, including in Russia.”
A signal to the West
It is clear that anti-terrorist and counter-intelligence work lies at the heart of the FSB’s operations. But it is also clear that such statements by the president, by being made public, were aimed primarily at an external audience.
After all, the FSB leadership can be instructed in secret. Moreover, no one doubts that since the very beginning of the civil war in Ukraine, the FSB has followed attempts to spill the war over into Russian territory. Since 2014, the press has periodically been given information on the arrest of both Ukrainian and Russian citizens caught trying to conduct intelligence reconnaissance on the territory of Russia in the interests of Kiev, as well as prepare terrorist attacks.
Thus, the president’s statement was intended not for a Russian, but for a foreign audience. But this audience is not Ukrainian. If there was a desire to appeal to the Ukrainian government, then this would be done through diplomatic channels. And this statement is also not a threat of military response to Ukrainian provocations. Otherwise it would have been made at the collegium of the Ministry of Defense of Security Council.
The choice of place and format for this statement clearly indicates that it is a signal sent to our Western partners. 
 
The FSB has great capacity for conducting counter-terrorist operations. It should be noted that preventative actions against terrorists and their masterminds are one of the main work components of the FSB not necessarily limited to Russian territory.
Sure, their operations on the territory of another state are limited by stringent conditions. In order for preventative counter-terrorism measures on a foreign territory to be justified from the point of view of international law, the concerned state must either be in a state of war or have suffered an unprovoked attack. 
There is yet another scenario which is enshrined at the level of the UN Security Council: the loss by an acting government of control over territory from which terrorist activities are being conducted. This scenario is not relevant in this case, however, insofar as the international community does not consider the Kiev government to be incapable of controlling the situation on the territory of Ukraine.
Yet to this day Kiev has explained away all sorts of provocations against Russia, including bloody ones (in Crimea) as the independent initiatives of individuals and refused to recognize their belonging to Ukraine’s security agencies. Russia’s reaction, however, has been limited to diplomatic protests, documenting the facts of provocations, collecting evidence on the involvement of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR), SBU, and General Staff in them, and presenting these reports to relevant international organizations.
State Terrorism
Apparently, a critical mass of facts has been collected and a second aspect – international law – is now going to be activated.