sunnuntai 21. kesäkuuta 2015

Russia's new strategy in Ukraine: no ceasefire before allowed to dictate constitution

Russia's president Putin and foreign minister Lavrov have outlined Russia's new aims in Ukraine in two clearly worded statements.

They explain why Russia has ordered its forces and its proxies in East Ukraine to continue and increase shelling and reconnaissance in force in East Ukraine.

Ukraine, EU countries and US must be aware of this new strategy.

It is of utmost importance France and Germany counter this new strategy in Paris 23rd June 2015 meeting of foreign ministers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.


1. Putin on 19th June 2015 in St Petersburg economical forum

2. Lavrov on 19th June 2015 in interview to RBK TV

The aims are best outlined by Putin in two answers to Charlie Rose, the 2nd and 3rd of these.

Firstly: Putin states there will be no ceasefire in East Ukraine in Russia - Ukraine war if Russia's conditions are not approved by Ukraine, France and Germany. In this quote Putin directly says that the Russian weapons and troops will be gone if and only if Russia's conditions are accepted.

"I would like to say that if this situation is resolved by political means, no weapons will be necessary, but it does require goodwill and a desire to enter into direct dialogue, and we will assist in this. What we cannot do and would never agree to is for someone somewhere, anywhere, to proceed from a position of force, first using the police (they call it militia there), then special services, and then the armed forces.
Before the army units and the so-called battalions – armed nationalist units – appeared on those territories, there were no weapons there; and there still would have been none had they tried to resolve the situation by peaceful means right from the start. Weapons appeared there only after they started killing people using tanks, artillery, multiple launch rocket systems and aviation. That gave rise to resistance. Once an attempt is made to resolve the issue by political means, the weapons will be gone."

Secondly, Putin outlines the conditions for the "political settlement".

 1. Ukraine must allow Russia via its proxies to dictate its constitution. 

"The first one is constitutional reform, and the Minsk agreements say clearly: to provide autonomy or, as they say decentralisation of power, let it be decentralisation. This is quite clear, our European partners, France and Germany have spelt it out and we are quite satisfied with it, just as the representatives of Donbass are. This is one component."

The proposals are listed here:

Summary in English

Full in Russian

Main points include:
a) Ukraine is to be outside any military alliances, in particularly NATO, proposed as new article 17 or 18
b) The regions with special status are to have an independent armed militia
c) The regions ave independent judiciary appointed by the regions
d) The regions are to control their natural resources
e) The regions will receive subsidies from Ukraine state budget
f) The Regions are allowed to conclude international treaties
g) The regions are allowed to conduct separate referendums

Analysis on proposals by James Socor[tt_news]=43927&cHash=8662cb5150445829740407118af00284#.VYbwP0YrpnQ

Parts of the amendment mentioning Crimea and Sevastopol have since been withdrawn but other proposals remain as is.

If implemented, the proposal would create effectively Russia - controlled sub-states within Ukraine and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and in practice also EU.

2. Ukraine must give DNR, DPR autonomy on conditions set by Russia via its proxies

"The second thing that has to be done – the law passed earlier on the special status of these territories – Lugansk and Donetsk, the unrecognised republics, should be enacted. It was passed, but still not acted upon. This requires a resolution of the Supreme Rada – the Ukrainian Parliament, which is also covered in the Minsk agreements.
Our friends in Kiev have formally complied with this decision, but simultaneously with the passing by the Rada of the resolution to enact the law they amended the law itself – article 10, I believe, which practically renders the action null and void. This is a mere manipulation, and they have to move from manipulations to real action.
And finally, they need to pass a law on municipal elections on these territories and to have the elections themselves. All this is spelled out in the Minsk agreements, this is something I would like to draw your attention to, and all this should be done with the agreement of Donetsk and Lugansk."

Ukraine has already passed the law. First version was passed already on 16th September 2014:

The problem with the law to Putin's Russian government and its proxies is that the law foresees a honest election, where the current proxy authorities cannot stand as candidates. For this reason, Russia's proxies have proposed an election procedure rigged to make their victory certain.

Analysis on local election procedure proposed by Russia proxies by James Socor:

3. Ukraine must grant amnesty to the Russia proxies, and effectively to Putin himself

"The third thing is a law on amnesty. It is impossible to have a political dialogue with people who are threatened with criminal persecution."

Note translation mistake, instead of correct "prosecution" the translation uses "persecution".

Ukraine has already passed an amnesty law, on 16th September 2014 but it gives amnesty only to those who have not engaged in serious crimes.

Thus it does not for instance give amnesty for starting the war in Sloviansk on 12th April 2014 to Igor "Strelkov" Girkin, no amnesty for those responsible for shooting down MH17 as Igor Girkin, Alexander Borodai and all their underlings and superiors, nor amnesty for Arseni "Motorola" Pavlov and Mikhail "Givi" Tolstykh and their superiors Alexander Zakharchenko and Eduard Basurin for murdering and mistreating Ukraine POW:s.

The main reason is that any trial in this issue would bring forth evidence that the atrocities have been conducted with permission, with equipment and troops or according to direct orders from Russia's supreme commander, who is according to normal "command responsibility" doctrine responsible for actions of those under him as long as he has not seen that they are prosecuted for their crimes.

It is clear that here Putin refers, first of all, to himself.

4. Ukraine must foot the bill for the occupied area

"Finally, they have to begin the economic recovery of these territories, of course.
I would like to repeat something I have already said many times: the excuse that ‘we do not have the money’ does not work here. If the current authorities in Kiev believe that this is Ukrainian territory inhabited by Ukrainian citizens who have the right to receive, say, disability benefits or the pensions that they earned under the existing Ukrainian law, the Kiev authorities cannot refuse to pay, they simply have no right to do so. They are violating their own constitution. All this has to be done, and not in words, but in practice."

Practically, here Putin says that Ukraine must take economical responsibility for a region which has been economically destroyed, and whose policies would also in future be directly subordinate to Russia. Roughly the same as if Georgia had to pay fo Abkhazia or South Ossetia or Moldova for Transnistria.

Putin's and Lavrov's proxies in East Ukraine have already reiterated their statements.

Denis Pushilin, "DPR" envoy to Contact Group
 "It is impossible to have peace without political decisions. Shelling will continue then."

I have previously already described how Putin directed the immediate breakdown of Minsk2 ceasefire in Battle of Debaltseve.

maanantai 23. maaliskuuta 2015

Putin commands Russian & proxy forces in East Ukraine – proof on Kremlin website

Russian president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov claimed on 23rd March 2015:  "Contrary to what NATO and European countries say, self-defense forces in Donbas are not our puppets. President Putin has some influence on them because they respect him, but he cannot order them to lay down arms," 

Peskov’s claim is fully untrue.  Proof is on the Kremlin official website, even translated to correct English.
There, Putin makes thinly veiled orders to the Russian and proxy forces in East Ukraine.
I analyze below following cases shortly:
1.      Putin definition of Novorossiya 17th April 2014
2.      Putin commands to ”Novorossiya militia” regarding Ilovaysk on 29th August 2014
3.      Putin justifications of breaking Minsk 1 ceasefire 24th Oct and 19th Dec 2014
4.      Putin permission to Russian  ”volunteers” fighting in Ukraine on 19th December 2014
5.      Putin orders to take Debaltseve, breaking Minsk 2 ceasefire on 12th and 17th February 2015

1. Putin definition of Novorossiya 17th April 2014

Five days after a group of 52 Russian, Crimean and East Ukrainian militants commanded by allegedly former FSB colonel Igor Girkin on 12th April 2014 occupied cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk and assisted another former Russian officer, Igor Bezler to take over city of Horlivka, Putin addressed in the ”Direct line” interview the subject of ”Novorossiya”: Link:

Putin defined the area of ”Novorossiya” as eight oblasts in southern and eastern Ukraine. Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia oblasts are not directly mentioned but they follow from the delineation given by Putin.

”Regarding the question of what should come first: a constitutional referendum followed by elections, or elections first to stabilise the situation and then a referendum. The essential issue is how to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the southeast of Ukraine. I would like to remind you that what was called Novorossiya (New Russia) back in the tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine back then. These territories were given to Ukraine in the 1920s by the Soviet government. Why? Who knows. They were won by Potyomkin and Catherine the Great in a series of well-known wars. The centre of that territory was Novorossiysk, so the region is called Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained.

Today, they live in Ukraine, and they should be full citizens of their country. That’s what this is all about. The issue is not whether the referendum on decentralisation or federalisation is followed by elections or the elections come before the architecture of the state is changed. The key issue is providing guarantees to these people. Our role is to facilitate a solution in Ukraine, to ensure that there are guarantees. People from southeast Ukraine will ask you, will ask us and the current authorities in Kiev: “Fine, the elections will be held on May 25, but do you want us to recognise their outcome? You’ll forget your promises the very next day and send new oligarchs to Donetsk, Kharkov, Lugansk, and so on. What about guarantees? We need answers.” I hope that an answer will be found.”

There were different attempts in whole area defined by Putin to occupy city administrations by pro-Russian and Russian crowds, which were, however, successful only in Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts. Most serious clashes outside them took part in Kharkiv and Odessa during March, April and May 2014, which however remained in control of Ukrainian authorities. The ”referendum”  mentioned by Putin was held in occupied parts of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts on 11th May 2014 and was used to legitimize creation of so-called Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics.

2.  Putin commands to ”Novorossiya militia” regarding Ilovaysk on 29th August 2014

With the title of ”President of Russia Vladimir Putin addressed Novorossiya militia” Putin issued on 29th August 2014 to Russian and proxy forces surrounding Ilovaysk the following command:
”As a result of the militia’s actions, a large number of Ukrainian service members who did not participate in the military operation of their own volition but while following orders have been surrounded.

I call on the militia groups to open a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian service members who have been surrounded, so as to avoid any needless loss of life, giving them the opportunity to leave the combat area unimpeded and reunite with their families, to return them to their mothers, wives and children, and to quickly provide medical assistance to those who were injured in the course of the military operation.”

Obeying the command, Russian and proxy forces did agree on a corridor for Ukraine forces to retreat. However, as the Ukrainian forces retreated with vehicles and weapons and included volunteer battalions, the Russian and proxy forces shelled the column , killing a large part of the force and took most of the rest prisoner.

3.  Putin justifications of breaking Minsk 1 ceasefire 24th Oct and 19th Dec 2014

Putin justified several times the failure of the Donetsk and Lugansk ”people’s republics” to fulfill the Minsk agreements, referring to unsigned  agreement on demarcation line, justifying the continued fighting in particular at the Donetsk airport with that.

In Valdai discussion club on 24th October 2014
”For instance, Ukrainian army units were supposed to leave certain locations where they were stationed prior to the Minsk agreements, while the militia army was supposed to leave certain settlements they were holding prior to these agreements. However, neither is the Ukrainian army withdrawing from the locations they should leave, nor is the militia army withdrawing from the settlements they have to move out of, referring, and I will be frank now – to the fact that their families remain there (I mean the militia) and they fear for their safety. Their families, their wives and children live there. This is a serious humanitarian factor.”

In press conference on 19th December 2014:

”Should the Minsk agreements be implemented or shouldn’t they? Yes they should! Let me repeat: I was one of those who initiated them and we… I’ll say an important thing. Look, I’d like everyone to hear this. Our representatives in Minsk signed a memorandum in September and there were protocols to it that defined the disengagement line. The representatives of Donetsk didn’t sign those protocols. That’s the problem. They said at the very start: We can’t.

When we tried to insist – I’ll be frank with you about this, since the public needs to know these things ­– they told us that they can’t leave these villages (there were three or four disputed villages), because their families live there, and they can’t risk their children, wives and sisters being killed or raped. This is the most important thing. However, the Ukrainian officials did not withdraw their troops from the areas that they were supposed to leave, such as the Donetsk Airport, either. They're staying there.”

The planned withdrawals never took place, but Russian and proxy forces continued their assaults on Donetsk airport, finally taking the ruins of the new terminal on 21st January 2015. The fighting in the area around the airport has continued after that.

4.  Putin permission to Russian  ”volunteers” fighting in Ukraine on 18th Dec 2014

In news conference on 18th December 2014, Putin gave official permission to military personnel to ”volunteer” to fight in Ukraine:  Link:

”Now to the first question, about responsibility. In Russia, like in any other presidential republic, it is the president who is responsible for everything. And responsibility for military personnel rests with the Commander-in-Chief. Let me remind you that in Russia this is one and the same person.

All those who are following their heart and are fulfilling their duty by voluntarily taking part in hostilities, including in southeast Ukraine, are not mercenaries, since they are not paid for what they do.”

The official permission by Putin is significant, because after this official permission, he is responsible for the Russian military personnel, both active and reserve, fighting as volunteers in Ukraine.

This definitely is war of aggression according to Uniter Nations General Assembly resolution 3314, 14 December 1974, article 3 case g).

”(g) The sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to the acts listed above, or its substantial involvement therein.”

5.   Putin orders to take Debaltseve, breaking Minsk 2 ceasefire on 12th and 17th February 2015

After Minsk 2 ceasefire was concluded, Putin made two statements regarding town of Debaltseve.

First, in Minsk on 12th February 2015:

Putin made a statement emphasizing that the Ukrainian forces in Debaltseve were surrounded. According to other participants of the negotiations, Debaltseve was the main stumbling block in ceasefire negotiations, as Russian negotiators demanded Debaltseve should be surrendered. Putin commented as follows:

”We proceed from the notion that all the parties will show restraint until the complete ceasefire. The problem here was that representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics claimed that in response to the aggressive actions of the Kiev authorities they not only held back the Kiev forces but also managed to mount an offensive and surrounded a group of 6,000 to 8,000 servicemen. They, of course, proceed from the idea that this group will lay down arms and stop its resistance.

We nevertheless call on both sides to show restraint and in order to avoid unnecessary excessive bloodshed and casualties they should do everything possible to ensure that the separation of forces, mainly the heavy equipment, is conducted without unnecessary bloodshed.

Representatives of the Ukrainian authorities believe their troops have not been surrounded and therefore think this process will go sufficiently smoothly. I had some initial doubts that I can share with you. If the troops really had been surrounded, then, logically, they will try to break free, while those who are on the outside will try to arrange for a corridor for their trapped servicemen.

Eventually, we agreed with President Poroshenko that we will instruct our experts – I am ready to do so – to establish what is actually going on there. In addition, I will repeat, we will try to develop a set of measures to verify the implementation of our decisions by both sides.”

After this statement, the attacks of the Russian and proxy forces increased in intensity.

In Budapest on 17th February 2015 Putin made an appeal that the Ukrainian forces surrounded by Russian and proxy forces in Debaltseve should surrender as an answer to a journalis’s question:

”Yes, clashes are still taking place around Debaltsevo. But there too the scale and intensity of operations is less than it was before. What is happening there was not unexpected. According to our information, a group of Ukrainian troops were already surrounded there before the meeting in Minsk last week. I spoke about this at the meeting in Minsk. I said that the surrounded troops would try to break out of the encirclement and there would be attempts from the outside too to break through, and the militia, who had got the Ukrainian troops surrounded, would resist these attempts and try to keep the encirclement in place, and this would inevitably lead to further clashes. Another attempt to break through was made this morning, I don’t know what the media have been saying, I have not managed to follow all of the news, but I know that at ten o’clock this morning the Ukrainian armed forces made another attempt to break open the encirclement. It was unsuccessful in the end. 

I hope very much that the people responsible in the Ukrainian government will not prevent Ukrainian servicemen from laying down their arms. If they cannot or will not take this important decision and give this order, they should at least not prosecute those who are ready to lay down their arms in order to save their own and others’ lives. At the same time, I hope that militia representatives and the authorities in the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic will not detain these people and will not prevent them from freely leaving the conflict zone and encirclement and returning to their families.”

After this statement, the Ukrainian forces managed mostly to break out of the encirclement in Debaltseve, foiling Putin’s order.

A Russian contract soldier from Buryatia, Dorzhi Batomkunuev was interviewed by Novaya Gazeta in Donetski hospital. He had participated in combat around Debaltseve since 8th February and was wounded on 19th February  in a T-72B tank. According to him, 90% of the forces that took Debaltseve were russian forces:
Novaya Gazeta 2nd March 2015
Whole article in English:

We can conclude:
-          Russian and proxy forces in East Ukraine are under president Putin’s command
-          Even in case of irregular troops, Putin has full responsibility for Russian citizens and arms which have been allowed over the border by Russian authorities.

torstai 5. maaliskuuta 2015

Ukraine – borderland: background and journalism on Ukrainian revolution and the Russia – Ukraine crisis (book review)

The book by Anna-Lena Laurén and Peter Lodenius is one of the first books on Ukraine´s Euromaidan revolution and the following Russia – Ukraine crisis and war. In the book, Laurén’s journalistic and Lodenius’s background parts are intertwined.
Laurén writes beautifully and sympathizes with the fates of Ukrainians. The texts deal with Maidan demonstrations and revolution, beginning of war in Dobass, occupation of Crimea and the fronts of information war. A central merit is the description of thoughts and opinions of ukrainians. Laurén deals both Russia’s role in the crisis and its Ukrainian features and analyzes the information warfare sharply.
The background texts by Lodenius deal with reasons, the longing for European reforms of many ukrainians, choice between EU and Eurasian union, the process of the Euromaidan revolultion and the beginning of ”separatism” and ”Russian world” in the conference in Kharkiv on 22nd February 2014 by Eastern area leaders, formerly loyal to Yanukovich. Lodenius presents the background of the crisis in depth and reasons for activities of different groupings and the geopolitical aims of EU and Russia in Ukraine.
In the end of the book there are letters by Lodenius and Laurén to each other, analyzing the book process and the work of each other. Niklas Meltio’s pictures are concentrated as an attachment, they don’t illustrate the texts themselves.
The book is a readable and skillful book on the current central question of European security. For myself, Lodenius’ backgrounds opened new views on the situation in Ukraine.  Laurén is one of the Western journalists with most knowledge on Ukraine, her skills deserve international recognition. The time for final analysis is later, and I hope Laurén and  Lodenius return to the issue.
Book is recommended reading for all who want in-depth picture of the Ukrainian situation. Hopefully it is soon translated in addition to original Swedish and soon published Finnish to Ukrainian, Russian and English.

Anna-Lena Laurén & Peter Lodenius, bilder Niklas Meltio
Ukraina – gränslandet
Schildts & Söderströms, Helsingfors 2015


Ukraina – rajamaa: taustoitus ja journalistiikkaa Ukrainan vallankumouksesta ja Venäjän-Ukrainan kriisistä

Anna-Lena Laurénin ja Peter Lodeniuksen kirja on ensimmäisiä suomalaisia esityksiä  Ukrainan Euromaidan – vallankumouksesta ja siitä seuranneesta Venäjän – Ukrainan kriisistä ja sodasta. Kirjassa vuorottelevat Laurénin journalistiset ja Lodeniuksen taustoittavat tekstit.
Lauren kirjoittaa kauniisti ja eläytyy ukrainalaisten kohtaloihin. Tekstit käsittelevät Maidanin mielenosoituksia ja vallankumousta, Donbassin sodan alkua, Krimin miehitystä sekä informaatiosodan rintamia. Keskeinen ansio on ukrainalaisten ajatusten ja mielipiteiden kuvaaminen. Laurén käsittelee sekä Venäjän osuutta kriisiin että sen ukrainalaisia ulottuvuuksia ja arvioi terävästi informaatiosodan luonnetta.
Lodeniuksen taustoittavat tekstit käsittelevät syitä monien ukrainalaisten eurooppalaisten uudistusten kaipuuta, valintaa EU:n ja Euraasian unionin välillä, Euromaidan – vallankumouksen kulkua ja ”separatismin” ja ”venäläisen maailman” alkua 22.2.2014 Harkovassa pidetyn itäisten alueiden, aiemmin Janukovitsille uskollisten johtajien kokouksessa. Lodenius syventää kriisin taustoja ja syitä eri ryhmittymien toimintaan sekä EU:n ja Venäjän geopoliittisia tavoitteita Ukrainassa.
Kirjan päättävät Lodeniuksen ja Laurénin kirjeet toisilleen, arvioiden kirjaprosessia ja toistensa työtä. Niklas Meltion kuvat on keskitetty liitteeksi, ne eivät kuvita suoraan tekstejä.
Kirja on luettava ja taidokas ajankohtaiskirja Euroopan turvallisuuden kannalta keskeisestä kysymyksestä. Minulle erityisesti Lodeniuksen taustoitukset avasivat uusia näkökulmia Ukrainan tilanteeseen. Laurén on yksi parhaiten Ukrainaa tuntevia länsimaisia journalisteja, jonka osaaminen ansaitsee kansainvälistä tunnustusta. Lopullisen analyysin aika on myöhemmin, ja toivottavasti Laurén ja Lodenius palaavat aiheeseen.
Kirja on suositeltavaa lukemista kaikille jotka haluavat syventyä Ukrainan tilanteeseen. Toivottavasti se pian käännetään suomen lisäksi ukrainaksi, venäjäksi ja englanniksi.

Luin kirjan itse ruotsinkielisestä alkuteoksesta.



Anna-Lena Laurén & Peter Lodenius, bilder Niklas Meltio
Ukraina – gränslandet
Schildts & Söderströms, Helsingfors 2015

Julkaistaan 17.3.2015:
Anna-Lena Laurén & Peter Lodenius, valokuvat Niklas Meltio
Ukraina – rajamaa
Suomennos Liisa Ryömä
Teos, Helsinki 2015