Shortly before returning to a Ukraine and trying to force out Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk – he didn’t manage that, and the ensuing fall-out from the failed no-confidence vote had even Euromaidan flag-wavers like Chris Miller admitting the country was in chaos – Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko was in Munich last week, between 12th and 14th at the 52nd Security Conference, once again attempting to convince the world there had been a ‘Russian invasion’ in Ukraine.
‘Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s President: “This is not a civil war in Ukraine, this is your soldiers, who occupied my country. And this is not a civil war in Syria, this is your planes bombing civil population. And this is just a demonstration, that we are living in a completely different universe with Russia!”‘
The extreme, increasingly bizarre nature of his rhetoric has seen speculation that the persistent talk of his over-fondness for alcohol, as satirised in an anti-NATO play which took place outside the Munich conference, may well be more than just speculation.
Poroshenko didn’t bring the Russian passports he famously waved around at Munich last year, to supposedly back his claim then of a Russian invasion (on the basis that he had a handful of passports, reportedly of Russian nationals), but the ‘different universe’ language is ratcheted up rhetoric from last year – extract here –
‘Mounds of lies and propaganda have been heaped into a wall of hatred, erected between two once friendly nations.
The border routes, once used for transporting goods and exchange of visitors and friends, are now swarming with Russian tanks, armed personnel carriers, artillery, multiple-rocket-launchers and ammunition.
How many evidences does the world still need to recognize an obvious fact – there is a foreign military equipment, mercenaries, Russian military coaches and regular troops.’
This all feeds into the ever-perpetuated Ukrainian line of a ‘Russian invasion‘ which sees their media, and the litany of ‘sub-media’ sites, blogs etc, whose purpose seems to be to publish brazen propaganda, which Ukrainian, and western media, higher up the chain can, and do, cite. And this point invariably zones in on the supposed ‘Russian involvement‘ in the Debaltsevo operation, with various ‘pro-Ukraine’ outlets last week going so far as to say Putin himself was responsible.
Let’s address this matter definitely. There’s no question that people have come from Russia to take part in the conflict in Donbass – mostly on the side of the DPR and LPR, although also some on the Ukrainian side. There’s no question that, morally, Russia has supported the ethnic Russians of the newly-formed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
As for Russian material support, hardware coming to Donbass in time of war. That’s of course possible, yet to date there has been no concrete evidence of that, simply supposition, hearsay, speculation. There can be no question that whatever the exact nature of Russia’s involvement in Donbass, it has stopped far short of actual military intervention. It has stopped far short of what even the US has sent to the Ukrainian side – here US Humvees, and US aid for Ukraine now in the hundreds of millions of dollars –
Of course you’ll have seen the pro-Ukrainian, western, media make a lot of this video of myself and 3 supposedly ‘Russian tanks‘.
There’s of course no evidence this is the case, though unquestionably they are newer tanks. Yet this is the exception, most of the tanks were Ukrainian army Soviet relics, most of the weapons 30, sometimes 50-or more, year old automatic rifles. This video here, from February 13th, 2015, by Debaltsevo –
And we can focus in on Debaltsevo in that point, of ‘Russian intervention‘. I arrived to base myself in the nearby town of Stakhanov on February 4th, 2015, and spent the next 2 weeks covering the push to Debaltsevo. There was battle going on all around Debaltsevo, of every kind – artillery, contact combat. Here, on February 6th, going to frontline positions by Sanzharivko, to the north –
Trench warfare goes on, by Sanzharivko, February 6th –
Here’, Vergulovka, just north east, on February 13th, as momentum gained, battled intensified, and the push to Debaltsevo was entering its final stages –
Here, Chornukino, on February 16th, a village right by Debaltsevo, as Ukraine forces put up one of their final, fierce, fights before retreating –
There was every sort of drama, this, February 18th, as Ukrainian POWs are taken out of a building pinned down by fire from the Ukrainian side, as house-to-house battled waged –
And here, February 19th, as the city was liberated – and be sure that that was the word the populace of Debaltsevo were using, be sure, that was what they wanted. *
*I’ll put some English-language video reportage together of the people of Debaltsevo, at the time, and one year on.
From my extensive, comprehensive time reporting around Debaltsevo, I can categorically say this – it was a victory for the People’s Militia, for the forces of DPR and LPR (Debaltsevo is situated right on the border). Whatever else you read on the subject, Russian involvement, operation etc – it’s nonsense, lies, propaganda – have a look at some of the fighters involved, my photos of the time –
Why the Ukrainians, pro-Ukrainians need to pretend otherwise? They want more military assistance from the US, from NATO. More, it’s actually embarrassing for them that their much-vaunted army, of which Poroshenko is ever expounding the capacities, was actually defeated by a militia of mostly local miners, and that’s the truth. The rest is just propaganda, and take it from someone who was actually there.