Shelling, and Battle, Escalate in the DPR

I arrived back in Donbass before Victory Day, and for a few days things were relatively quiet. However, there’s been an escalation in recent days. The day before yesterday, I was near Ukraine-held Mariupol, the DPR village of Kominternovo, and here was the scene –

As you can hear, active shelling, and battle going on – 

Shelling had hit, and destroyed a home, and a 26-year-old woman had sustained this injury – 

Meanwhile, perhaps the most active zone of conflict has become around the industrial area, (known as Promzone, from the Russian), just a few kilometres to the north of Donetsk, near Yasinovate, held by DPR, and Avdeevka, held by Ukraine.

Here’s a new video of ongoing battle there, spoken in Russian, but shelling is in universal language –

And that is the current situation in Donbass, as is.

Alexander Khodakovsky on Donbass – No Offence, But Do Not Believe a Word of It

As I went to write this, some on Twitter starting sending me the latest video from Khodakovsky, in which he, represented as a ‘Donbass commander’ claims that Ukraine would have long taken over were it not for ‘100,000 Russian soldiers’.  Add a ‘sigh’ emoji to that, and let’s get on…. 

There’s few things that the western, and Ukrainian of course, media love more than someone on the DPR / LPR side ‘speaking out of turn’. The war’s been 3 years now, and enough former leaders, and prominent figures have left the DLPR for various reasons, gone to Moscow with their various grievances, and been more than happy to sit in studios there and launch missives against the DLPR, notably former DPR commander Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Vostok Battalion speaks during an interview with Reuters in Donetsk, eastern UkraineIgor Strelkov. Of course, what they’re actually doing is looking to stick the knife into those who wronged them, the reason they’re not there any longer.

But actually you’d really be hard pressed to find a figure who has given more headlines to western media than Alexander Khodakovsky, (pictured), founder of the Vostok Battalion, and actually still in Donbass himself – have a look –

Ukraine’s Eastern Separatist Leaders Turn on Each Other

Moscow is bankrolling Ukraine rebels: ex-separatist official

Exclusive: Ukraine rebel commander acknowledges fighters had BUK missile

And actually, this is just the tip of the iceberg, in as much as what makes it into maintstream western media. On his VKontake account, Khodakovsky keeps up a stream Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the so-called Vostok battalion - or eastern battalion - speaks during an interview in Donetskof posts detailing ‘heavy losses’ among DPR fighters, in his words, how ‘everything is terrible’ in the DPR command’, Moscow is controlling everything, and more – much of which makes it into Ukrainian, and Russian opposition media. However, here are 5 simple reasons why, as per the above, you shouldn’t believe any of it – 

1. Khodakovsky, in contrast to how he is conveniently described in the media, does not have any position in the DPR, he is not a ‘commander’ of anything at all, and hasn’t been since his Vostok Battalion were incorporated into the regular DPR army, in the latter stages of 2015.

2. Khodakovsky feuded with Strelkov for control of the DPR in 2014, and wanted to be succeed Borodai as leader of the DPR in October 2014, however Alexander Zakharchenko got the position, and since then Khodakovsky has pursued a campaign against KhodokovskyZakharchenko, and de facto, the DPR he heads.

3. Who is Khodakovsky actually working for? He has close ties with Donetsk billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, from Donetsk and known to be angry at the recent nationalisation of his businesses there, by the DPR.

4. Add to that, that Khodakovsky was once a senior member of Ukraine’s SBU Security Service, and talk lingers of ongoing connections.

Yet, this isn’t a personal attack against Khodakovsky, who I believe I even met some time in 2014, and who was perfectly civil with me. I have no personal issue with him, and I know a lot of men in Donbass who are still loyal to Vostok, and to him. And perhaps 3, and 4 can be explained, perhaps the Donetsk-native really does want the best for the DPR, as he claims, writes what he writes because of the ‘greater good’ etc. Yet, to reason 5, as to why what he writes, and says cannot be taken as anything more than comment, hearsay, or speculation.

5. Khodakovsky never provides any evidence of his claims. It’s all bare words. And they, particularly recently, are all from the same agenda – against the DPR authorities, Khodakovsky 1claiming ‘everything is terrible‘, etc. Khodakovsky makes no effort to correct the common misconception that he’s a ‘commander’ etc, rather he plays up to it. Where he’s writing this from? Seemingly, his home, apprently in Donetsk. And if he can’t, within his own sphere, find enough negative information, he’ll just assume the worst and write it anyway, as even he admits –

“I do not have the information about the losses in the other units, but I can guess that they are considerable too…

So, that’s that. Khodakovsky is a lot of things to a lot of people. But, with due respect to the man, and sad to say even about a man who made so many noises at the start about wanting to do the right thing etc, just do not believe a word he says about Donbass. 

Kosovo – Western-Approved Separatism, DPR and LPR – Non-Approved…

It was a week in which the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics both pulled off huge victory days, huge concerts on their republic days, mass crowds, and all without a hitch. Here, the concert in Donetsk for DPR Republic Day –

So, you might have thought that these republics managing that despite both still being on a war footing, with the Donetsk area in particular still under regular Ukrainian shelling, may have managed a word of two of appreciation of their achievements?

Well, of course, not a bit of it. All the western press did was either ignore the celebrations – the largest yet in the republics, formed after Ukraine’s Euromaidan placed an unelected, far-right government in power in 2014 – or go negative, focusing on the military vehicles on display and how that supposedly represented a breach of the Minsk agreement.

It may almost give one the idea that the west, and western media don’t like ‘separatism’. Yet, that’s clearly not the case. In 1999, western governments, here the UK’s Tony Blair, used a civil war in the Kosovo region of Serbia, as an excuse to launch a NATO attack on all Serbia, and create Kosovo as an independent state, for Kosovo Albanians.

The history of Kosovo is long, complicated, bloody, and interpretations differ vastly, However, as a part of Serbia, it has both a deep-rooted and symbolic significance to the country, with Serbian Orthodox monasteries there dating back to the 12th century. As for the civil war, which NATO used as cause to intervene there in 1999, to brutal effect, there were wrongs being committed there by both sides.

Yet, NATO stepped in against the military of a sovereign state, Yugoslavia, at that time, and on the side of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army, an organisation the USA themselves declared a terrorist organisation, after a series of terrorist attacks, in 1998, noting further “We would be remiss to dismiss allegations that between 30 and 50 percent of the KLA’s money comes from drugs.”

What happened after, is widely known, NATO launched an attack against Serbia which, while it may have started by targeting military objects, soon started targeting civilian areas, to deadly result – over 2000 civilians killed, including 88 children. And Kosovo was created as a state separate from Serbia.

Now, although Kosovo is only a partially-recognised state, 111 of 193 UN members, it’s one the western media actively, enthusiastically endorses. Just have a look at some of the headlines –

Kosovo: what to see in Europe’s newest country – Telegraph

How Kosovo is producing the best female pop stars

Rita Ora’s new music to pay tribute to her native Kosovo – Mirror Online

The Guardian writes promo-articles about Kosovo.

And Rita Ora, UK pop star who was born there, but left when she was one so clearly doesn’t remember it for herself, releases an epic, pumped-up, dream-espousing song in Kosovo’s honour, given mass PR across the western media

So, it’s clear, the west can, and does, support separatism, but only its own separatism. Sadly for the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, still under attack by Ukraine’s west-backed forces, their separatism wasn’t west-endorsed, so no sexy videos, fairytale headlines, just constant shelling by Ukrainian forces, and attacks by western media.

Western Media Reaction to Victory Days in Donbass

Recent Victory Days in Donbass saw mass turnouts, I filmed in Lugansk where there were around 100,000 people celebrating, amazing entertainment, a concert, and more. 

What was the western media’s reaction to this, mass display of patriotism? Well, beginning with the Atlantic Council funded site Medium, the Atlantic Council itself, funded by western governments – and even Ukraine itself – to promote western, in this case pro-Ukrainian propaganda, it was universally negative.

All they could find to do was pore over the military equipment on display, attemping to connect it all to Russia, in various ways. 

That pumped on into other western media, with Yahoo News, reporting from AFP, declaring Ukraine rebels roll out banned tanks on WWII Victory Day in an article which put great weight on that supposed feature, and only grudgingly, casting the shadow of the Kremlin, mentioned the support shown by locals for the day.

It’s indeed ironic that the western media has absolutely ignored the constant violations of the Minsk agreement by Ukrainain forces ongoing shelling of Donbass, but when a few military vehicles peacefully roll through streets in a traditional parade, it’s all uproar and ‘bad separatists’, ‘Kremlin’ all over…

Victory Day in Lugansk – Videos, and Details!

I recently filmed Victory Day in Lugansk, capital of the Lugansk People’s Republic, Donbass. Here are the videos, on a day in which around 100,000 people turned out to mark the historic celebration of victory over fascism in WWII.

The beginning –

The military parade – 

The military vehicle parade – 

Just some of the entertainment, as local kids put on a show – 

A mass march of people through the city, representing organisations, companies, associations –

The march of the ‘Immortal Regiment’, where people bear placards, usually of their forefathers who fought in the wars – 

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Firework display after the evening concert – 

And this, just a sampling of the videos, of a truly remarkable day in Lugansk!

Avdeevka Shelling: Who Did It? The Real Story

Avdeevka is a town of around 35,000, pre-war population, held by Ukrainian forces, some 5km northwest of the city of Donetsk (city limits), held by DPR.

Yesterday, Ukrainian, and pro-Ukrainian media started making a massive storm about it having been shelled ‘by separatist forces’, with 4 civilians killed. Just some sources here –

http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/3850468-polytsyia-pokazala-foto-obstreliannoi-avdeevky

http://fakty.ictv.ua/ru/ukraine/20170513-avdiyivka-nakryta-vognem-bojovykiv-bagato-zagyblyh/

http://gordonua.com/news/war/v-avdeevke-v-rezultate-obstrela-boevikov-pogibli-chetyre-mestnyh-zhitelya-zhebrivskiy-188032.html

On the evening of Eurovision, it generated mass attention, with Ukraine’s president Poroshenko loudly then announcing that he was cancelling his visit to the song contest final in Kiev, due to the shelling – which made international news –

https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-politics/2227433-president-poroshenko-not-to-attend-esc-grand-final-due-to-shelling-of-avdiivka.html

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201705141053593390-poroshenko-skips-eurovision/

http://gordonua.com/news/politics/poroshenko-evrovidenie-omrachilo-uzhasnoe-ubiystvo-mirnyh-zhiteley-avdeevki-no-eto-cena-kotoruyu-platyat-ukraincy-za-rossiyskuyu-agressiyu-188091.html

https://www.rbc.ua/rus/news/poroshenko-otmenil-poseshchenie-finala-evrovideniya-1494702759.html

The Donetsk People’s Republic responded today:

“It is another provocation ordered by the commander of the Donetsk operations and tactical group with involvement of the 72nd separate mechanized brigade, the Right Sector (a far right group banned in Russia), Ukraine’s National Guard along with foreign media outlets in the run-up to the Minsk talks,” the Donetsk news agency quoted the spokesperson as saying.

The DPR explained how the provocation was staged.

“The 72nd brigade opens fire on the DPR position, whereas the Right Sector is shelling Avdeyevka and foreign media are recording,” he said.

Meanwhile, well-known blogger Colonel Cassad analysed the photos of the shelling, concluding that it had actually come from the Ukraine-held settlement of Vodyane, around 5km from Avdeevka –

Now of course, shelling damage can be analysed in different ways, to suit different needs. So, a wider context must also be assessed. Who did this shelling suit?

The DPR had just enjoyed perhaps one of the most successful, high-profile weeks of their 3-year existence, with both a mass Victory Day celebration, and a huge Republic Day festival.  So, to believe it’s the Donetsk People’s Republic, you have to believe that, off the back of this, they’ve decided to shell a civilian area of Avdeevka, full well knowing how much they would be hammered in the media for that.

There have been no recent DPR attempts to capture the town of Adveevka, nor any sign that that’s the case. So why would they, as Ukraine wants us to believe, arbitrarily decide to shell the settlement, with the predictable, and of course tragic, loss of life – 4 deaths reported?

Meanwhile, on the Ukraine side, it’s a different story. Poroshenko can take the moral high ground by not attending Eurovision, due to his loudly-announced ‘grief’. Not attending a Eurovision it was pretty clear something embarrassing was going to happen at, and it duly did, with Ukrainian prankster Vitaliy Sedyuk mounting the stage to bear his bottom. 

There’s also the bonus for Ukraine of, in a week when all events in the DPR had passed off successfully, without a hitch, another opportunity to attack the ‘evil separatists’, Putin, and so on. 

And, be sure, Ukraine’s PR-machine – which has seen Poroshenko turn up to UN Meetings, World Economic Forums, and more, bearing items of wreckage he claims were the result of ‘separatist, Russian-backed shelling‘, etc – will only just be starting on this.

So, if you ask the question, who gains from the shelling of Avdeevka, there’s only one answer, Ukraine. As to who did it, well, it’s not too much of a leap to come to that conclusion.