Ukrainian Soldiers: Fighting against a Fantasy Army. And the Yankee Warmonger

There can be few wars in history where one side really didn’t know who they were fighting against. You would almost, ironically, have to go 1854, the Crimean war, and the Charge of the Light brigade who charged …. against the wrong target.

But, Kiev has reported that 77% of Ukrainian soldiers believe they are fighting against the actual Russian army. The actual Russian army. For almost 4 years. A figure which suggests a quite staggering level of brainwashing amongst those fighting for Ukraine – incidentally it was revealed by Kiev last week that over 500 of their number have committed suicide since Kiev declared the ‘ATO’ in 2014, and that just the official figure.

For lest we look at recent examples of actual Russian military involvement: Crimea, 2014. Russian army went in, on the clear will of the Crimean people it must be added (I was there), swiftly took control of the peninsula, without any casualties. Ukraine, despite being positioned right at the border, didn’t even dare to take them on. It was a no war. It was all over in days, in March of 2014.

Going back further. 2008. Then Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, with the backing of the US, used global attention on the Olympics in Beijing to launch all-out war on the breakaway region of South Ossetia (Georgian tanks advancing, here), on the night of August 7th, 8th. By mid-afternoon on August 8th, then Russian president Dmitiy Medvedev had sent the Russian army in. The war ended on August 12th, with comprehensive Georgian defeat, and retreat.

On August 13th, a peace plan was agreed between Georgia and South Ossetia, which has held since. Yet in Donbass, there’s no peace. And the Ukrainian soldiers think they’re fighting a Russian army, much stronger than it was in 2008, yet for some reason for four years, unable to effect the victory they achieved in five days of fighting in South Ossetia 2008, and without any fighting in Crimea 2014…

Actually the Ukrainian army are clearly far ‘braver’ than in 2014, when they didn’t even fire a shot in anger against the Russian army, as they’ve been shelling Donbass almost every day, for months now. And of course, they ‘can’ do this, because whatever happens, the US envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, will only report that ‘Russia is violating Minsk’.

This is the same Kurt Volker, ostensibly tasked with achieving peace in Donbass, who recently called for the ‘elimination’ of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics.  Fighting talk. Warmongering talk, to be precise. Interesting what those Ukrainian troops believing they are fighting against Russia must think, to hear Volker speaking this way. That the Russian army which just last week announced a host of super-weapons fit to protect the largest country in the world against any country in the world, could be defeated in territory of just 17,000 sq km2 (DNR and LNR) against Ukrainian forces, albeit US-backed, but still comprised for the large part in Donbass of battalions of radicals, ultra-nationals, and the far-right… (pictured, Azov battalion)

Of course, Volker knows full well there’s no Russian army there, allowing him to pull off a double-act of ‘US diplomacy’, provocative statements designed to fuel the continuation of war, in the knowledge there is no ‘Russian army’ there, so Kiev is safe. But the idea of ‘Russia’ there, oft-repeated enough, and entrenched enough, that they can still be blamed at will.

Interestingly, while smiling at a recent conference, Volker referred to the war in Donbass as still ‘hot’. And in his capacity, he’ll be sure to keep it that way, fanning the flames, adding the fuel of fantasy of Russian involvement, on Twitter, in the trenches, to make sure that war in Donbass continues without any current end in sight.

As for the Ukrainian forces, they clearly can’t see who’s in front of them, but the question is what percent can see who’s behind them, pulling the strings, running the show, using them for their own ends…

The current war that suits the US in Donbass is low-intensity war. But, if that changes, if the US creates a situation, as in Georgia, where Russia has to send the army in, to prevent a genocide, those 77% of Ukrainian soldiers may only find out the real difference when it’s too late.

My Recent Return to Donetsk, How is it There, Really?

I recently returned to Donetsk, Donbass, after spending an intense 2-month period working in Crimea.  I was primarliy in the DPR to do a distribution of humanitarian aid to children’s homes, which was done, to huge success.

I’ll soon be returning to Crimea for another period of reportage, but it was a real pleasure to spend some time in Donetsk, walk around the city I’ve spent so much time in, covered so many events from.
What to say about life in Donetsk, honestly? Well, there can’t be any fairytales about a ‘booming’ DPR, apart from that shelling still goes on on the perimeters, with almost daily damage, regular casualties, and sometimes fatalities. However, the city lives, most shops are now open, people are on the streets. There’s no real confusing it with normal life, there’s a certain tension, which could hardly be any other given an ongoing war situation. But, as I say, life goes on – 

Despite the circumstances, the people of Donetsk are as friendly as ever. I ran into these bright young things on the city’s main Artema St, with them just back from the World Festival of Youth and Students, in Sochi. 

And the city itself is not without brighter things in life, when I was there, a show ‘Fashion without Borders’, showcasing the work of local designers –

So, as I say, you couldn’t really say that it was ‘business as usual’, but in a lot of ways, Donetsk looks like any other – people are in cafes, cars are on the roads, people on the  streets, and so on. However, true to say, a fair amount of shops still shuttered, no working banks, apart from local, and curfew. But, there’s no real military presence, the days I was there, no audible shelling from the centre, and in general, people just trying to get on with their lives, hoping for something to resolve this already protracted, egregious, unnecessary situation…

Donbass, Referendums, and a Truly Horrible Situation

A few words about the complications of filming in Donbass, early 2014. I made hundreds, really hundreds of videos from there, which were seen all over the world, on the news, and more, of people saying they didn’t want Ukraine, wanted a referendum, wanted the Donetsk, Lugansk People’s Republic, and more.

Had a referendum, voted for the DPR, LPR. No one in the west listened, actually they supported Ukraine against them.
Then, in July of 2014, Ukrainian forces took a lot of these towns and cities – Mariupol, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, and set about a campaign of ‘cleansing’ of separatists. People were beaten, people disappeared.
I removed all the videos I’d made which may have put people still there in a position of danger. But, my videos had already been put everywhere, I wrote to people asking them to remove them. And of course, not only my videos – there were many, many videos made at this time, and most still online.

A video which one month tells the world the truth, the next month can put their life in danger. A really horrible situation.

Here, Slavyansk, April 2014: 

Nikishino – Special Reportage from a Donbass ‘forgotten village’

With battle waging there, and the town occupied half by Ukrainian forces, half by Novorossiya, in 2014, you could say that the ‘eyes of the world’ were on Nikishino, a village of under a thousand people, around 20 kilometres from Debaltsevo.

Here are a couple of my videos from there, November 2014 – 

But, what happens when war moves on, and attention moves away? That’s the theme of my new reportage, from Nikishino, coming up soon, with full English subtitles.

10 Key Pieces of Reportage Since my Return to Donbass

I’ve been back in Donbass for near 3 weeks now, here’s a look at 10 key pieces of reportage in that time.

1. A look at the difference in treatment of 2 British men who served for different sides in Donbass – 

2. A trip to the LPR frontlines to see what Victory Day means for the fighters there – full English

3. Full filming of Victory Day in Lugansk, here, the start of that event!

Here – a look at the ‘Immortal Regiment’ in Lugansk on Victory Day!

4. Republic Day in the Donetsk People’s Republic, which saw a turnout of some 60,000, but again, wasn’t covered by any western media! Here, a look at how it was –

5. Here on the Truth Speaker, I tackled the claims of Alexander Khodokovsky, a constant source of misinformation from Donbass.

6. And here, a debunking of more lies about Donbass from the Ukraine side – 

7. Here, covering the conflict, as civilians again came under fire from Ukrainian forces, with a woman wounded, here in Kominternovo – 

8. Here, a look at Lugansk, School 60, as the final bell of school sounded for sixth formers there – 

9. And, it was a return to Kominternovo, to spend a day there in that DPR frontier town, to see how exactly it is. See here, for full video reportage –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/05/30/video-reportage-from-frontier-village-of-kominternovo/

10. And here, a revealing interview about the OSCE, with a Kominternovo woman –

All of this, and much much more, and it’s all been possible thanks to your support! To be involved in my new crowdfunding campaign, click here –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/next-period-of-reportage-donbass-crimea-more-russia/x/12236308#/

To make an ongoing donation to my work, click here – 

https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

The Eventful History of the DPR Village of Kominternovo


The village of Kominternovo, where I went over the weekend, frontier of Donetsk People’s Republic, by Mariupol, has quite a history.
 
Until August 2014 – Ukraine held
August 2014 – February 2015 – DPR
February 2015 – Ukraine
March 2015 – December 2015 – Neutral zone
December 2015 – now – DPR
 
These, Ukrainian tanks still there. I’m there with colleagues, young journalists from Lugansk area, Anastasia Valdamirova, and Nikita Vozmitel. 

And this, my heading there, from Donetsk, a journey of over 100km.

Full reportage to come!