In Digest, Ukraine

U.S. Army Command delegation ‘to arrive in Kiev this week’, Jan. 19, 2015

Representatives of the U.S. Army Command will arrive in Ukraine in the coming days, Ukrainian military has announced. The visit comes as the Kiev forces have launched a large-scale offensive on the militia positions in the south-east of the country.

Shelling of a shop in Donetsk, Jan 15, 2015, photo by Alexander Ermochenko, Reuters

Shelling of a shop in Donetsk, Jan 15, 2015, photo by Alexander Ermochenko, Reuters

“This week, a delegation from the U.S. Army Command, headed by Commander of U.S. Army Europe, Lt. Gen [Frederick Ben] Hodges, will arrive in Ukraine,” Vladislav Seleznyov, spokesman for Ukraine’s General Staff of Armed Forces, said at a media briefing in Kiev on Monday.

The spokesman also said that Ukraine will take part in the NATO Military Committee conference on January 20-22. The get-together will be dedicated to the issues of military cooperation between Ukraine and NATO as well as plans to reform the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the evaluation of the situation in south-eastern Ukraine, he said.

Previously, the Society of Assistance to Defense of Ukraine announced that it has already began training military specialists in line with NATO programs. “At our military centers, about 100 people per week are being prepared in line with the accelerated NATO weekly program in military professions such as gunner, machine gunner and others,” Yury Chizhmar, the Society’s head, said, as cited by TASS news agency.

The fighting intensified in south-eastern Ukraine on Sunday as Kiev forces launched large-scale offensive, reportedly involving Grad multiple rocket launchers and aviation, against the militia in the Donetsk region.

According to the onetsk People’s Republic count, at least nine civilians were killed and 44 injured in as the city endured some 50 artillery strikes from the Ukrainian military on Sunday.

There were also human casualties and destruction in the nearby towns of Makeevka and Gorlovka.

Earlier, in a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry urged Kiev to take steps to pull its heavy weapons out of Eastern Ukraine, saying that their militia opponents had already signed a roadmap for it. An arms pullout is a key point in the so-called Minsk agreement, a roadmap to deescalating the situation. However it was never fully implemented after the Russia and OSCE-brokered deal between the government in Kiev and their opponents was penned in September 2014.

“If Kiev truly prepared to pull back heavy weapons as would the militia do… this should lead to practical steps on the ground, especially considering that the leaders of [the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics] have already signed a roadmap for it,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.

The Ukrainian military launched the operation in the country’s southeast last April, after the Donetsk and Lugansk regions became the site of a rebel movement refusing to recognize the new, coup-imposed authorities in Kiev.

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Feeling of ‘solid Western support’ behind Kiev’s renewed assault on Donbass

Interview with Daniel McAdams of Ron Paul Institute, on, Jan. 19, 2015

Kiev’s renewed military offensive in the east comes from strong US support, in particular neo-conservative Congress, which is pushing Kiev to reclaim the Donbass region from militia, Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute, told RT. Ukrainian troops launched a massive assault on militia-held areas Sunday morning after an order from Kiev, a presidential aide said. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has just released a statement calling for steps to reach a ceasefire – and to implement the Minsk agreements – starting from Monday.

RT: Can we take these diplomatic statements seriously, when the military’s actions seem to contradict them?

Daniel McAdams: I think this is a frozen conflict. It probably can’t go on very much longer the way it is. We saw just this last week President Poroshenko talked about achieving a military victory in the east. He said, “we will retake Donbass region”. He has probably calculated that he has U.S. government’s support in this move.

If you remember back at the end of last year, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act – which was passed by Congress and signed by the president – section 3 of that act states that it is U.S. policy to assist the government of Ukraine in restoring its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

So they are maybe calculating that they do have U.S. backing. Remember there is $350 million in that bill that can be used to provide weapons to Ukraine. So they may be hoping that some sort of a provocation or some sort of an escalation may trigger the release of that money to Ukraine. It’s a speculation, but reading from past history, I think it can be something worth considering.

RT: The Ukrainian army is stepping up its offensive with anti-government forces, saying they have come under artillery fire at least 50 times on Sunday alone. Do you think the army can regain control over the territory?

DM: I think they have claimed that they have retaken the airport or part of the airport. That I don’t know how true that is or how much truth there is to it.

I think the army from Kiev has been very careful in portraying this as a response to the militias taking the airport, which has been held by Kiev. And I think this is certainly how the U.S. and its allies are portraying it – that they have not crossed any lines; they’ve not violated Minsk – so therefore, they are in the right.

However this is an escalation and I think any of us who is watching understands that there has been no real ceasefire. There have been over a thousand people killed, the majority of them being civilians in that independence-seeking region, since the ceasefire was announced just a couple of months ago. So for these people, there is really no ceasefire. These skirmishes are escalating and I think it is leading to something much bigger.

RT: What do you think about the timing of the assault. Why now?

DM: I think the Ukrainian army has had a chance to regroup. I think they feel much more confident that they have solid Western support. I think you have new a Congress in Washington that is dominated by very, very neo-conservative, very aggressive republicans, who have been very, very strongly one-sided in their view of this conflict. And they also feel that they have some authority to continue U.S. intervention in the region rather than to back off and let Ukraine solve its own problems. So I think there is a really renewed interest in the U.S., in solving this problem to what the neocons perceive as US advantage.

Daniel McAdams is Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He served as foreign affairs advisor to US Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) for 12 years.


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