Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova briefing, February 15 — Obama, U.S. use of depleted uranium in Syria, ‘Russian hackers’, Ukraine’s information campaign

From Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
February 15, 2017

Excerpts:

The situation in Syria

 

The ceasefire regime in Syria introduced December 30, 2016, is being observed. Its zone continues to expand with units of the Southern Front armed opposition joining the ceasefire. The ceasefire is guaranteed by Russia, Turkey and Iran, with Jordan making a substantial contribution to it.

The fight continues against ISIS and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, terrorists. The Syrian Army and militia units, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, are methodically pushing terrorist elements out of the country. About 1,400 square kilometres of territory have been liberated since January 1, 2017. It became possible to force ISIS terrorists out of a fortified outpost in the village of Tadef near the city of al-Bab, to establish a bridgehead near the city and to gain control of the Raqqa−al-Bab motorway. Over 650 terrorists were eliminated in Tadef, and a route for supplying ISIS with reinforcements, equipment and financial assistance was cut off.

Government forces continue to advance on Palmyra. The Russian Defence Ministry has published drone footage showing the barbaric destruction of UNESCO World Heritage Sites by ISIS militants in this city. Unfortunately, it is already clear that little remains of these ancient architectural and cultural landmarks. The terrorists have razed the façade of an ancient Roman amphitheatre, as well as Tetrapylon columns, to the ground. They are also highly likely to blow up the remnants of the historical architectural complex and nearby residential areas. The jihadists have shelled the Homs refinery with mortars, and they also set fire to natural gas fields while retreating.

As you know, Astana will host the second international meeting on Syria over the next few days. The Russian delegation that has already arrived in the capital of Kazakhstan will hold working consultations today. We hope that the upcoming meeting in the capital of Kazakhstan will provide an additional boost to the inclusive intra-Syrian dialogue under UN auspices in Geneva. Hopefully, it will become possible to resume this dialogue on February 20.

Against this backdrop, we note the attempts to aggravate the intra-Syrian conflict still further and to exacerbate contradictions between the warring parties. This is the only way to interpret the media leaks by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Atlantic Council of the United States, via CNN, about the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces in Aleppo, mass executions at Sednaya military prison near Damascus, and the methodical destruction of Syrian socioeconomic infrastructure by the Russian Aerospace Forces. The evidence backing up these so-called “sensations” leaves a lot to be desired, but, as we can see, their authors don’t seem to care. Their purpose is to torpedo any chance for launching a political peace settlement that has appeared largely through Russian efforts and to thwart emerging prospects for broad, equitable and mutually respectful international cooperation in the interests of eradicating a terrorist hotbed in the Middle East and stabilising the region.

 

Media response to the United States using depleted uranium in Syria
Given how many sensationalistic stories are planted in the media, as I mentioned earlier, it’s fun to watch world media juggernauts and institutions dealing with freedom of speech get busy with creating websites to oppose the spread of “fake news,” which has become a widespread practice. On the one hand, they say it’s imperative to not just counter it, but to do all it takes to prevent the spread of “fake news,” while they themselves engage in spreading precisely such news.

Against the background of this data, the information provided by the United States Central Command, whose operational responsibility includes, primarily, the Middle East, to the effect that the US Air Force used munitions with depleted uranium in air strikes on ISIS positions in Syria, came as a shock to many who did not believe us when we said so. As you may be aware, such a statement was made by an official representative on Tuesday when he spoke about the US air operations with the use of toxic substances which cause cancer and birth defects.

As you may recall, Russia has stated this more than once. Back in October 2016, citing independent experts, we presented such information and called on the public to pay attention to it. At that time, our American partners denied all the accusations against them. A couple of months later, these accusations were not merely confirmed, but confirmed by the United States itself. The only difference is that we provided this information a few months ago, when the previous team led by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was at the helm. Clearly, he was the one to give the go-ahead to using these weapons − any other scenario is unlikely, since such things must be approved at the highest level. I would like to say that the goal pursued by US officials was noble, that is to fight terrorists. But the point is that the traces of these weapons will remain in Syria forever. You can find out more about it if you read some professional literature. The number of missiles that were used is simply devastating. I would like to quote the same US official, who said that out of 1,790 missiles fired on November 16, 2016, 1,490 contained toxic materials, and 3,775 missiles of 4,530 fired on November 22, 2016 contained toxic materials. Thus, there were five rounds with depleted uranium for every conventional missile. Each operation involved four A-10 jet aircraft. You can look up these numbers.

I would like to remind you that earlier the United States, particularly the Pentagon, claimed that the United States has never used ammo with depleted uranium during the international anti-terrorist operation in Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, in 2003, these munitions were used during the US invasion of Iraq. I reiterate, it is better to read up on this subject in specialised literature, make inquiries, perhaps, even with independent expert institutes, and ask the experts specialising in this area to provide their opinion. They will tell you what the use of weapons with depleted uranium is all about, and what its implications are for the lives and livelihoods of the local people.

I mentioned this with regard to fake news and the role of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s team in resolving international conflicts. Incidentally, people live in Syria. The scary thing is that the focus was on isolated cases which were clearly propaganda shams where individual Syrian citizens, unfortunately, were propelled to the status of international stars, and the information campaign regarding these people was used as a front to cover up what was really happening in that country.

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DPR commemorating the Volyn massacre of Poles at the hands of Ukrainian nationalists [Video – ENG voiceover]

From Fort Russ

Original video from the day of remembrance – link. Translated by Tatzhit.

VIDEO (English voiceover).
(for those that prefer to read – transcript below):

TRANSCRIPT:

Spokesman: Good evening, our citizens and guests. We have gathered here today to commemorate the victims of Volyn. <72 years ago>, on July 11th, 1943, the genocide there was started. 150 Polish towns and villages were attacked by Ukrainian nationalists, which led to a huge number of Poles, Ukrainians, and people of other nationalities being cruelly exterminated by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army . They were killing women, children, the elderly. This crime cannot be forgotten or forgiven. Unfortunately, in the past year, the people of Donetsk People’s Republic have first-hand experienced ethnic cleansing, the pain of losing their loved ones, suffering of the blockade. This genocide therefore has special meaning for us, as we understand the feelings of the Polish people on this anniversary, and feel great compassion for them. Now we ask people to lay flowers at the Memorial to the victims of fascism. I give the floor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Igorevich Kofman.

Aleksandr Kofman: In 1945, a special operation was successfully carried out by a man born in Donetsk – Alexander Demidenko has eliminated one of the leaders of the Ukrainian insurgent Army, one of the organizers of the Volyn massacre, Dmitry Klitchkovskiy. 70 years ago, we took part in destroying fascism for the first time, and now, 70 years later we have to fight it again. In Volyn, people that died were Polish, Ukrainian, Jewish, Armenian, Russian. Fascism is not divided by ethnicity – it is an ideology of bastards. And now, 70 years later, it needs to be destroyed again. I am glad that Europe is waking up to this fact – maybe not openly yet, but many Europeans come here and join our Army and fight fascism in our ranks. The common people there remember what fascism is – hopefully we can remind the leaders of Europe of this as well. Today we honor the memory of those that died – this is a monument to the victims of fascism; not just for Volyn  massacre but to everybody who died at the hands of fascist invaders back then. It’s hard for me to talk . Thank you for coming here today. Let’s show the world that Donbass remembers what fascism is, and won’t let it take over our homes.

Spokesman: Now we will give the floor to Member of Parliament, the head of the Communist Party of the Donetsk People’s Republic Boris Alekseevich Litvinov.

Boris Alekseevich Litvinov: Dear friends. 72 years ago, a horrible thing happened -civilians were targets of genocide and ethnic cleansing. And the reason for this was that historically, hatred between nationalities was created. And today’s ideologues of fascism also take root from the traditions of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army that committed these atrocities 72 years ago. Their atrocities were already condemned in Nuremberg trials, and today they come back – I think it’s repeating history. Today, these people have been funded by American money and supported by some European leaders – the very same followers of those fascist ideologies have come to our land and are doing the same thing they did before! What happened to Europe? What happened to everybody? If they had been condemned by the entire world  back then – what happened now? But we here today and I trust that our Polish friends here with those will tell the truth to the international community and today all of us can tell the world – you can’t support reborn National-Socialist dictatorship that illegally seized power in Kiev! They’re doing the same thing that they been doing 72 years ago!
I trust that fascism in the world will be defeated. I call on you, I call on the international community, to let our fledgling republics to live freely as they want –  the population has voted for it <at the referendum>. We want to live in friendship and peace with all nationalities in the world. I grieve for the victims of Volyn massacre and the I’m sure fascism will be beaten despite everything. Thank you very much.

Spokesman: We voice our gratitude to you for participating in our evening of remembrance. Please accept our sincerest condolences. Today, everybody feels compassion for the victims of Volyn. Let us commemorate them within a minute of silence.

Over the past year, the people of the Donbass have experienced firsthand all the suffering inflicted by fascists. The shelling of civilian areas and blockade has claimed thousands of lives. Today we’re standing up for our peaceful future – we believe that all the heroes that fought fascism in the past, and are fighting it now, will not be forgotten, and will always be remembered in history and in the hearts of each one of us. We grieve together with the families of those who perished in this struggle.
White color is a symbol of purity, and children are our hope for the future. In remembrance of everybody that died, we the release balloons into the sky – they are a symbol of our hope for a bright and peaceful future.

We are grateful to everybody who has joined us today. We wish peace, love and kindness to you and your families.

http://www.fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/07/dpr-commemorating-volyn-massacre-of.html

 

Jewish leader slams Ukrainian security chief over UPA glorification

From Times of Israel, April 15, 2015

Ukraine security chief slammed for praising anti-Semitic militia; Jewish leader accuses Valentyn Nalyvaichenko of legitimizing Nazi-collaborating group that murdered Jews in the 1940s

By JTA April 15, 2015, 8:39 pm

A leader of Ukrainian Jews accused the head of the country’s security service of targeting Jews and legitimizing a militia that killed Jews in the 1940s.

Eduard Dolinsky, the director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, made the accusation on Facebook against Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, head of the Security Service of Ukraine, the news website evreiskiy.kiev.ua reported, after Nalyvaichenko said his organization needed to base its work on the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA, which murdered thousands of Jews in the ’40s.

“Instead of creating a modern, high-tech security service, Nalyvaichenko proposes the revival of highly questionable methods from 80 years ago,” Dolinsky wrote, noting this seems to include the “attitudes and actions of UPA against the Jews and the Poles.”

According to Yad Vashem, UPA under Stephan Bandera “considered the Soviets and the Jews their main enemies.”

Dolinsky also said that several years ago, the security service under Nalyvaichenko published a list “that consisted entirely of Jewish surnames” of people allegedly responsible for the famine that killed millions in Ukraine in the 1930s.

In an interview with the local media earlier this month, Nalyvaichenko said the Security Service “does not need to invent anything new, it is important to build on the traditions of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and UPA in the 1930-1950 years.”

The popularity of UPA, which for a time collaborated with the Nazi occupation to further UPA’s ambitions of sovereignty from Russia, has soared in Ukraine since a 2013 revolution that led to armed conflict with pro-Russian militias in Ukraine’s east.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian Parliament passed a bill that opened the door to state recognition of UPA, previously a taboo because of the widespread war crimes committed by its troops.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned that bill and another measure that banned both Communist and Nazi symbols — a move that the center interpreted as equating the two regimes.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/ ukraine-security-chief-slammed-for-praising-anti-semitic-militia/

Reprinted under Fair Use Rules.

WW2 vets in Kiev demand repeal of law calling fascists freedom fighters

Posted on Voice of Sevastopol, April 14, 2015

About a hundred people gathered in central Kiev on Tuesday, among them Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet Army, to protest the Ukrainian parliament's decision to recognize the wartime Nazi collaborationist Ukrainian Insurgent Army as freedom fighters, and to defend a local war monument, LifeNews has reported.

Veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) at the monument to Stepan Bandera during the Heroes Festival in Lviv.

Veterans called the parliamentarians’ decision a betrayal to the memory of the country’s ancestors, and a crime of historical magnitude.The protesters gathered at the monument General Nikolai Vatutin, the Soviet commander who organized the liberation of Kiev from Nazi forces in 1943, before being killed by Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) insurgents in 1944.

The protesters demanded that city authorities halt plans to take down the monument in central Kiev, located just a few hundred meters from the parliament building. Ukrainian media had earlier reported that city authorities planned to take down the monument, located near the country’s parliament building, as “a relic of the Soviet legacy.”

Protesters gathered at the monument to General Nikolai Vatutin, considered by both Soviet and Western military historians as one of the greatest commanders of the Second World War.
Protesters gathered at the monument to General Nikolai Vatutin, considered by both Soviet and Western military historians as one of the greatest commanders of the Second World War.

The demonstrators placed flowers before Vatutin’s grave, observing a minute of silence, and spoke to reporters. Two people unveiled a banner reading “Vatutin died for our Ukraine. Hands off his holy grave.” A woman held up a sign reading “To the enemies of N. Vatutin: You can destroy monuments, burn books, lie about the great generation of the victors, but you will never extinguish the people’s memory about the heroism and exploits of our Soviet fathers and mothers.”

Soviet Army WW2 veteran Ivan Zubov, delivered an emotional appeal, speaking to a reporter: “We, the defenders of Ukraine and Kiev, became the witnesses of the crimes before history and before us. Ukraine today is being governed by Nazis, fascists, Banderovites. We could never have imagined that we would be governed by those against whom we fought and spilled our blood. I hope that in time each of these criminals will bear legal responsibility for their actions.”

Anatonina Pashinina, chairwoman of a local veterans’ association, noted thatUPA had killed GeneralVatutin, shooting him in the back. “How now can they be considered heroes? I simply can’t understand this. In our association’s chapter, there are 1,200 veterans on the registry. 50 are still alive, and they are very upset. They know how theUON-UPA behaved during the war. They saw the crimes they committed with their own eyes…They see, when they listen to the news now, that those who had shot them in the back are now on equal terms. Tears well up in my eyes over this injustice, and for them it is doubly insulting.”Lyudmila Bodrova, Kiev resident and war child, told reporters “this is not only blasphemy; the word that comes to the tip of the tongue is ‘crime’. Recall that on the eve of May 9th, May 8th has been designated the Day of Reconciliation –that is, those who shot our soldiers in the backs are supposed to reconcile with one another? Where else would this be considered possible? Such a thing cannot be.”

More photographs from the gathering can be found here.

“We have built an independent state” – Interview with Deputy PM, Donetsk People’s Republic

By Mikhail Mnukhin
Posted on Global Research, March 7, 2015

We have the honor of interviewing First Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Mikhail Mhukhin. He speaks to us about the ongoing crisis in the DPR, the history of Donbass and its relationship to Ukraine, and initiatives currently being implemented to end the conflict. For further correspondence, you can visit the official MOFA DPR website at mid-dnr.ru/en/.

HANEUL: One year after the US-backed Euromaidan coup, Ukraine is still engaged in a long and bloody civil war. What progress have you made in the fight against the fascist Ukranian military, Svoboda, and Right Sector?

MIKHAIL: First and most importantly, we have built an independent state. Even though some parts of our territory are still controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the state system of the DPR is fully functional and controls all vital operations. We can pay salaries and social dowries, form state budgets, and arrange foreign trade.

At present, the DPR has legitimately elected authorities: the Head of the Republic, [Prime Minister] Alexander Zakharchenko, and the supreme legislative body, the People`s Council. The elections for local Councils will take place soon.

It should be stressed that we have achieved all these goals during unceasing hostilities and blockades made by the Ukrainian authorities, in addition to the critical humanitarian situation in the region. In our opinion, all of these problems are the main arguments in the fight against our enemy. We managed not only to survive, but also to develop a full-fledged state.

Militarily, the DPR Army has demonstrated to the whole world its ability to act effectively, and the number of magnificent victories over Ukrainian troops vindicates this. One should note that the number of UAF soldiers exceeds ours, as does their military equipment.

Nevertheless, we will always insist on and continue to desire a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We have never sought to annihilate Ukraine and the Ukrainians; however, our key issue is to provide the security of our people and to create the conditions for a normal, peaceful life. We are always ready for dialogue, even with Kiev.

HANEUL: After the May 11th referendum, the DPR declared itself independent from Ukraine, yet the international community has denounced your right to do so. Can you tell me what this signifies about democracy building?

MIKHAIL: The issue of DPR recognition remains urgent, indeed. This is the main priority for our Ministry`s work today, and we make progress gradually in this direction. The Republic of South Ossetia has officially recognized the DPR, and we are establishing diplomatic contacts now. The Republic of Abkhazia also announced its readiness to recognize the DPR.

Furthermore, we work in other areas of cooperation and with all countries on any continent. Some of them are officially recognized and some are not. Additionally, we are now actively promoting cooperation with other social and political movements to support the self-determination of their territories. This process is rather long and complex.

As for the position of a number of Western countries towards us, we understand extremely well the reasons of it. One should decide whether or not to recognize our Republic; it does not depend on us. From our side, we can ensure this process by proving our consistency as a full-fledged member of the international community. It is paradoxical that, even though the citizens of our state are similar to those in the USA, Britain, or Japan, we still have to prove our right to exist. In this regard, we have huge expectations of the public’s opinion, especially in western countries, as it starts to change. People from all over the world are getting to learn more truths about us, and we hope that your authorities will take an objective stance towards the DPR.

HANEUL: Can you give us a history of the Donetsk Oblast and its history in relation to Russia? Why did the DPR decide to remain autonomous instead of integrating into the Russian Federation like Crimea?

MIKHAIL: Donbass was always a place of enormous accumulated human resources’—the place where people of all nationalities united in order to labor together and use Russian as their common language. As a result, a unique political platform has arisen in Donbass; the consequences of which we can observe today. All this explains why Donbas has always strived for autonomy and independence.

Crimea has made its own long journey and has finally returned to Russia. However, we are two distinct regions and have formed differently. We do not have the goal to join Russia as a priority now, but instead follow our path to forming an independent state. We have resolved the social and economic problems brought about by Ukraine’s military aggression and complete transport and economic blockade of our land.

HANEUL: Historically, Ukrainians experienced the 1941 pogroms in Lyiv in which the Ukrainian Insurgent Army worked with the Nazis to murder thousands of Polish and Ukrainian citizens. Do you believe that you are reliving this nightmare? Who should be held accountable for this?

MIKHAIL: We stress that the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA or UPA) did not act alone during World War II. With the support of foreign states, the UIA successfully existed in some regions from 1946 until 1948 as a local instrument of the Cold War. However, the ideologies of Ukrainian nationalists have not changed; just their owners.

Repetition is a peculiar feature of history. The tragedy in Odessa—the repression of dissidents and multiple war crimes—proves this fact. The above-mentioned organizations and people unfortunately follow the examples of their historical leaders and idols. However, they should remember the fate of the UIA and its leaders, which will partially help them to predict their own.

You can see throughout history the actions of the UIA and other nationalist groups, which were directed not only against Poles but also Russians, Jews and representatives of other ethnicities. Those who support neo-Nazism in Ukraine should think about where the Nazis would turn their weapons tomorrow.

HANEUL: Which international organizations are working with your government to provide humanitarian aid to your citizens, and how long do you estimate this crisis to last? How can people around the world become involved in reporting, assisting, or donating to your cause?

MIKHAIL: We are open to dialogue and are always ready to accept help from all organizations and private persons. There are a number of organizations operating in the DPR, such as the International Red Cross, Medicines Sans Frontiers, and dozens of other charity funds and communities.

Our experiences have shown that we are not alone—that many people from numerous countries are ready to help us sincerely and freely. For example, we have received a few trucks with medicaments from all over Germany, collected with the assistance of some Bundestag MPs.

Remember that Donetsk currently has a full economic blockade. The direct deliveries of financial assets, food products, and other goods to the DPR are impossible now, but we are trying to solve this problem everyday. We are very pleased and appreciate the desire of people from the entire world to help us.

HANEUL: Do you believe that PM Alexander Zakharchenko should have taken part in the second Minsk agreement in Belarus? Why didn’t the Normandy Four (Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France) include Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea into the peace talks? How have the peace talks helped ease tensions in Donbass, and do you believe that there should be separate talks between the DPR and other groups?

MIKHAIL: The situation surrounding the DPR, the LPR and Crimea cannot be combined in the negotiation process, as Crimea is already a part of Russia.

The Donetsk People`s Republic is one of several parties in the conflict, so without Alexander Zakharchenko`s participation, a negotiated resolution is impossible. However, we can explain Kiev’s harsh stance and attempts to ignore the DPR and LPR in the Normandy Four negotiations. Ukraine considers the truce as a period to accumulate military forces and prepare for further hostilities, and Kiev has never shown its full readiness for a lasting peace.

The real conflict is between the people of the southeast and Ukrainian government, whom should actually negotiate. Apart from that, the DPR’s entrance into the negotiation process means that it will achieve its new status, which Ukraine is trying to prevent. Alongside this, Ukraine is trying to expand the number of participants involved in the conflict, such as Germany and France, in order to supply them weapons. We hope this will not happen.

We are satisfied with Germany and France’s viewpoint; they have started to change their positions on events happening in Donbass. We expect that, instead of more sanctions, they will initiate humanitarian missions here in order to stop the catastrophe, not deteriorate it.

We are sure that peace will finally come, but we cannot achieve it with regular concessions from one side and continuous breaches from the other. Peace is always a compromise and we are ready for it, but only after ensuring the safety of our citizens.

HANEUL: The UAE has already committed weapons to the Ukrainian military, and the United States has considered arming the junta directly. If this occurs, how will this affect the current situation? Will this escalate to a large conflict between superpowers?

MIKHAIL: According to present information, the weapons contracts made between Ukraine and the UAE are not a significant concern, and we personally believe those contracts were made just for PR. We doubt Kiev managed to convince its partners to supply weapons on credit, and it does not have enough money to buy them. Another issue is the USA’s weaponry. According to confirmed information, they never stopped supplying weapons to Ukraine. Along the whole frontline, after each Ukrainian force’s retreat, one can easily find weapons made in America, including heavy artillery. Besides, the large amount of American personnel training Ukrainian soldiers invokes serious concern. In what way should we estimate [the outcome]? Exposing Washington`s participation in the Donbass conflict is difficult, but direct interventions take place and grow with every passing month, so it is very difficult to predict such consequences.

For more information, please visit The Last Defense at thelastdefense2012.tumblr.com or following us on Twitter at @thelastdefense

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http://www.globalresearch.ca/southeast-ukraine-we-have-built-an-independent-state-interview-with-deputy-pm-donetsk-peoples-republic-mikhail-mnukhin/5435211