Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ukraine Updates May 22 , 2014 -- As Ukraine lurches toward the May 25 , 2014 Presidential Election , note the Pre-Election spinning even as punitive " anti-terror actions continue in the restive Eastern Regions of Ukraine.....Articles from Anti War , Russia Today and Itar Tass and RIA Novosti to consider !

Mercenaries at work ?

Deadliest Ukraine Fighting In Weeks Caught On Tape

Tyler Durden's picture

At least 13 Ukrainian soldiers (and reportedly at least 20 pro-Russian supporters) were killed today as WSJ reports fighting flared across breakaway regions in the east just days before a presidential election the rebels have vowed to block. Markets have forgotten that the US-Europe-Russia-China-Ukraine tensions continue and the major event risk this weekend but the last 24 hours have seen several attacks with the highest number of casualties since the conflict began 2 months ago. Separatists near Luhansk blew up a bridge over the Siverskiy Donets river near Novodruzhesk in several hours of fighting, Interfax reported, citing witnesses. The worst fighting appeared to take place near Volnovakha, on the road from the regional capital, Donetsk, to Mariupol, where there hadn't been heavy separatist fighting before.. and the dismal episode was caught on tape.

At least eleven Ukrainian troops were killed and about 30 others were wounded on Thursday when pro-Russian insurgents attacked a military checkpoint, the deadliest raid in weeks of fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Journalists saw 11 bodies scattered around the checkpoint on the edge of the village of Blahodatne, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of the city of Donetsk.

Witnesses said that more than 30 Ukrainian troops were wounded when the insurgents attacked the checkpoint, and some of them were in grave condition.

The attack came three days before the country's presidential vote.

Three charred Ukrainian armored infantry vehicles, their turrets blown away by powerful explosions, and several burned trucks stood at the site of the combat area. A military helicopter landed on the site, carrying officials who inspected the scene.

The Ukrainian Defence Ministry confirmed the attack, but wouldn't comment on casualties. There was no report of casualties on the insurgent side.

The Volnovakha hospital was closed to the media, as Ukrainian soldiers rushed in and out, and guarded the entrances.

In the town of Horlivka, a rebel commander claimed responsibility for the raid and produced an array of weapons they said they had seized.

Scores have been killed in fighting between pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government buildings and engaged in clashes with government troops in eastern Ukraine.

Thursday's carnage cast a shadow over Ukraine's presidential vote on Sunday, which insurgents in the east have pledged to derail.
"Under heavy fire from mortars, grenade-launchers and heavy machine-guns, our boys died for Ukraine," Mr. Turchynov told a group of religious leaders in the capital Kiev.
"Today a major operation was prepared on all fronts and it was repulsed," Mr. Parubiy told a briefing in Kiev, according to the Interfax news agency.
In Moscow, officials said the instability in the region cast further doubt on the elections.

"We will follow how the preparations for these elections go and make our conclusions based on their results," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said. "We can't express anything other than indignation about the atmosphere in which the preparations for these elections are being conducted."
The US
The Pentagon also announced that a U.S. guided missile cruiser will enter the Black Sea on Friday for training with U.S. allies.
"It's too early to know where they're moving to or how many of them are moving,"Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO's top military commander said after a meeting in Brussels of military officers from NATO's 28 members. "But what we do know is that the force that remains on the border is very large, and it's very capable, and it remains in a very coercive posture."

16 Ukraine soldiers killed in deadly Donetsk region checkpoint attack

Published time: May 22, 2014 17:03
An ambulance carrying dead Ukrainian soldiers travels off the site (seen in background) where pro-Russian rebels killed thirteen Ukrainian servicemen on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakha, south of Donetsk, May 22, 2014.(Reuters / Yannis Behrakis )
An ambulance carrying dead Ukrainian soldiers travels off the site (seen in background) where pro-Russian rebels killed thirteen Ukrainian servicemen on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakha, south of Donetsk, May 22, 2014.(Reuters / Yannis Behrakis )
16 Ukrainian troops were killed and over 30 injured in an attack on a military checkpoint in Donetsk Region. The deadliest assault on the army since Kiev launched its military operation in the south-east of the country comes a few days ahead of election.
The checkpoint on the edge of Blagodatnoe village, near the town of Volnovakha, was assaulted on Thursday night.

Eyewitnesses told Russian Chanel One that the attackers arrived in transit vans, with armored vehicles and combat helicopters providing cover for them.

The gunmen set fire to the military’s armored vehicles and began shooting at the rookie soldiers, who had their encampment near the checkpoint.

One of the shells hit an ammunition depot, which resulted in a massive explosion that saw dozens injured, Channel One reports.

The video, which allegedly captures the events in Blagodatnoe, emerged on the internet on Thursday.

Two combat helicopters heavily, shelling an area covered by trees, and a huge explosion are seen in the footage.

Another clip from the scene shows the aftermath of the battle, with two burning armored vehicles and dead bodies on the ground.
The Donetsk Regional Administration said that 16 soldiers died and 32 received injuries in the attack on the checkpoint.

The self-defense forces of the People Republic of Donetsk said that the attack on the army’s checkpoint was a reprisal raid by the radicals.

“The Blagodatnoe residents came out to defend their homes. The soldiers were ordered to crush the resistance. But they refused to shoot at people, and were, eventually, punished for that,” the source in the self-defense forces told LifeNews.

The witnesses told the channel that the transit vans, which the attackers used for transportation, belonged to the Privat-Bank, which is owned by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.

Kolomoisky bankrolled the Ukrainian coup in February and largely contributed to the creation of the National Guard, which helped legitimize the far-right militants among the Maidan protestors.

The newly-appointed Dnepropetrovsk Region governor is also blamed for masterminding theOdessa tragedy on May 2 when 48 anti-Kiev protestors died after radicals set fire to the local Trade Unions House.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has confirmed that there was a battle at Blagodatnoe village, but spoke only of eight casualties among its troops.
Ukrainian soldiers survey an area where pro-Russian rebels killed thirteen Ukrainian servicemen on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakha, south of Donetsk May 22, 2014.(Reuters / Yannis Behrakis )
Ukrainian soldiers survey an area where pro-Russian rebels killed thirteen Ukrainian servicemen on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakha, south of Donetsk May 22, 2014.(Reuters / Yannis Behrakis )

AP journalists, who visited the checkpoint, said they saw 11 bodies scattered around the site of the battle, with a witness speaking of around 30 injured, some of them in grave condition.

A surviving Ukrainian soldier told the agency that the attack was “horrible” and he has lost three of his friends in it.

“My daughter told me that war has begun there and I came to help,”
 one of the locals told AP. “I was providing all possible assistance since 5-00 AM. I was transporting the injured. I did all I could.”

However, the agency reports that it was the self-defense forces of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, behind the assault.

The agency reports that a group of anti-Kiev rebels in the town of Horlovka later claimed responsibility for the raid and displayed weapons, which were seized during the operation.

"We destroyed a checkpoint of the fascist Ukrainian army deployed on the land of the Donetsk Republic,''
 the unit’s commander, who wore a balaclava, said.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian army major, who spoke to the survivors of the attack, told the BBC on condition of anonymity that he was sure that the attackers weren’t from the Donetsk self-defense forces, but were “mercenaries.”
Ukrainian soldiers block traffic near the site (seen in background) where pro-Russian rebels killed thirteen Ukrainian servicemen on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakha, south of Donetsk May 22, 2014.(Reuters / Yannis Behrakis )
Ukrainian soldiers block traffic near the site (seen in background) where pro-Russian rebels killed thirteen Ukrainian servicemen on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakha, south of Donetsk May 22, 2014.(Reuters / Yannis Behrakis )

Also on Thursday night, Kiev forces continued shelling the outskirts of the besieged town of Slavyansk in the Donetsk region.

The artillery fire injured three people and destroyed several houses, the local self-defense forces said.

A bridge was blown up near the town of Lisichyansk in the neighboring Lugansk Region as the military engaged the anti-Kiev activists.

A soldier was killed and two others injured in the battle, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said, with the self-defense forces also speaking of several wounded on their side.

The Border Guard said that five of its troops were injured and one suffered a concussion in a gunfight at the service’s Stanchino-Luganskoe department, RIA-Novosti reports.

Kiev is pulling in more troops on into south-east of the country in anticipation of the presidential election on Sunday.

“According to our data, there’s currently around 6,000 [Kiev troops in the Lugansk Region], and their number has increased in recent days,” Valery Bolotov, the head of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Lugansk, said.

Lugansk and Donetsk regions have refused to recognize Kiev’s coup-imposed authorities, and staged referendums on May 11, which garnered landslide support for independence from Kiev.

Anti War.....

US Starts Spinning Credibility of Upcoming Ukraine Vote

Downplays Lack of Voting in Eastern Ukraine

by Jason Ditz, May 21, 2014
On Sunday, most of Ukraine will be able to go to the polls to vote for a new president to replace the “interim” President Oleksandr Turchinov. Only 23 of 34 districts in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts are expected to open at all, meaning large numbers of voters in the east won’t be going anywhere at all.
The Obama Administration doesn’t need to wait to see the results to know what they think, however, and are already going to bat for the election, defending its credibility despite the election not covering major protester-held cities in the east.
The State Department treated 23 out of 34 as good “despite the difficult environment,” insisting that the vote is nationwide anyhow, and covers more than just that region.
Rather than expressing any misgivings about that, they insisted that the interim government had done everything to allow people to vote, and blamed Russia for any potential inability to vote that takes place in the east.
That’s in keeping with the position Secretary of State John Kerry staked out earlier this month, threatening to sanction Russia in retaliation for any problems with the Ukrainian vote.

Russia Today......

Kiev ready for ‘final stage’ of military op in E. Ukraine

Published time: May 21, 2014 19:16
Ukrainian troops outside the town of Andreyevskoe near Slaviyansk, Donetsk Region, where local residents blocked a column of Ukrainian Army armored personnel carriers (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
Ukrainian troops outside the town of Andreyevskoe near Slaviyansk, Donetsk Region, where local residents blocked a column of Ukrainian Army armored personnel carriers (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
Acting President Aleksandr Turchinov says Kiev is ready to “clear eastern Ukraine of terrorists” in a final stage of their military operation, dubbed punitive by Moscow. This comes just after the parliament’s call for immediate troop withdrawal.
"We have just held a meeting with [national] security forces, we are ready for a final stage of the anti-terrorist operation. In the coming time we are ready to mop up Donetsk and Lugansk regions from terrorists,” Ukraine’s coup-imposed president, Aleksandr Turchinov, declared on Wednesday.
Turchinov also ordered security forces to "restore peace and calmness in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions,” an official statement posted on Ukraine’s parliament website said. According to Turchinov, people there are “changing attitude” and “have begun to realize that terrorists and separatists are leading the region into the abyss."
On Wednesday, Turchinov visited the city of Slavyansk in Donetsk region, which has seen instances of the fiercest resistance to troops deployed by Kiev.
The acting president came with his Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and acting Defense Minister Mikhail Koval.
As a military operation was launched in south-eastern Ukraine in April, Slavyansk came under fire from APCs, tanks and helicopters, managing to shoot down at least two of the latter.
Residents of the city and nearby villages were pictured building human chains to prevent the military hardware roll into the region.
Residents gather to speak to Ukrainian soldiers at a checkpoint in the village of Andreevka, 7 kms from the centre of Slavyansk, on May 2, 2014 (AFP Photo)
Residents gather to speak to Ukrainian soldiers at a checkpoint in the village of Andreevka, 7 kms from the centre of Slavyansk, on May 2, 2014 (AFP Photo)

Turchinov came to Slavyansk as a part of negotiations ahead of presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday.
It follows from the statement that Kiev has re-equipped and reinforced its National Guard ahead of the planned clean-up in southeastern Ukraine.
"The material and technical base of our military is improving daily," Turchinov said on Wednesday.
Ukraine's acting president Oleksander Turchinov (Reuters / Mykhailo Markiv)
Ukraine's acting president Oleksander Turchinov (Reuters / Mykhailo Markiv)

News of the final stage of Kiev’s punitive operation, however, seems to be contrary to the course supported by the majority of the country’s MPs.
Less than 24 hours ago Ukraine's parliament, Verkhovnaya Rada, voted in favor of the so-called‘Memorandum of Peace and Consent’.
In the document, praised by the EU, the parliament called “to stop the anti-terrorist operation in Ukraine’s southeast and return the soldiers involved in anti-terrorist operations to their places of permanent deployment.”
But soon after Turchinov left Slavyansk, RIA Novosti reported the Ukrainian troops resumed artillery fire in the city center.
Kiev first launched a military crackdown in the country’s southeastern regions in April following mass protests against the coup-appointed government and demanding broader independence from the capital. On May, 11, the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic voted for the two regions’ independence and proclaimed themselves sovereign states.

Martial law introduced in self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic

 May 22, 12:41 UTC+4
Mobilization of men aged from 18 to 45 has been declared in connection with the introduction of the martial law in the region
© ITAR-TASS/Valery Matytsin
LUHANSK, May 22. /ITAR-TASS/. Martial law has been intriduced in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), the republic's press service told ITAR-TASS.
Mobilization of men aged from 18 to 45 has been declared in connection with the introduction of the martial law in the region.
The latest reports, which have not been confirmed yet, said that armed clashes between representatives of people's self-defense forces and Ukrainian law enforcers continued in the north of the self-proclaimed republic, the press center said.
A source in the regional Interior Ministry said earlier in an interview with Itar-Tass that armed clashes were reported near the region’s cities of Rubezhnoye and Lisichansk. He also said that a bridge over the Seversky Donets River had been blown up.
“The battles are underway,” he said adding that there were wounded among the regional law enforcers but did not specify the number.
A source in the LPR military headquarters said late on Wednesday night that the pro-Kiev forces were set for the large-scale offensive on the region as a significant convoy of military hardware and troops was on its way to the city of Luhansk.
“The convoy consists of some 2,000 troops and 200 military hardware units, which include ‘Grad’ multiple launch rocket systems, APCs, infantry combat vehicles, tanks, as well as Ural and GAZ trucks,” the source said.

Luhansk asks Kiev to stop punitive operation
The government of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic is ready to sit down to the negotiating table with Kiev if the Ukrainian authorities terminate a punitive operation in Ukraine’s southeast, Valery Bolotov, the people’s governor of the eastern Ukrainian Luhansk Region, said.
“We demand that all armed formations be immediately withdrawn from the territory of the LPR,” Bolotov said in a statement on Wednesday. “We are ready for talks but only after Ukraine stops an aggression against our state.”
He called the special operation conducted by Kiev-controlled army units and armed formations in Ukraine's southeast occupation and “terror against the local population”.
Earlier Wednesday, Bolotov asked the LPR public to take an active part in forming supreme state power bodies in the republic - the Supreme Council and government, as well as in organizing people’s self-government bodies.

Luhansk asks UN to recognize its independence
On May 19, the Republican Council of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic asked the UN to recognize its independence.
"Republican Assembly of People's Republic of Luhansk appeal to you to recognize the sovereignty and independence of our country," statement to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says.
"People's Republic of Luhansk intends to build its relations with other states on the basis of equality, peace, good neighborliness and other universally recognized principles of political, economic and cultural cooperation," the authors of the appeal note, stressing that "in accordance with generally accepted international human rights of the people's right to self-determination should be the basis of political decisions and every state has the duty to respect this right".
It also stated that "the inhabitants of the former Luhansk region have tried to preserve the unity and peace in the country " and "staged regularly rallies where voicing their demands.” “But the government did not hear us," the authors emphasized.

Ukraine’s presidential candidate insists on objective probe into May 2 riots in Odessa

 May 22, 15:06 UTC+4
KIEV, May 22. /ITAR-TASS/. Serhiy Tihipko, a member of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, and a candidate for Ukrainian presidency, has called on the official authorities to carry out an objective investigation into the death of people in the Odessa unrest on May 2, as well as in Kiev’s central Independence Square, known as Maidan, in February.
“If the tragedy in Odessa is not investigated, as well as the other one that occurred on Maidan in Kiev, when a hundred young people died on both sides, there will be no peace in the country,” he told the nationwide telethon “Peace Is Above All” on Thursday.
“I understand that it was a blatant provocation in Odessa and the authorities were behind it,” he said. “What kind of country are we living in? Sooner or later, society will know who was behind these tragedies. I am confident the truth will come out. The authorities come and go. If not under these authorities, then under other. These video records are here to stay. The truth must be revealed, I insist on it,” he added.
Kiev’s authorities, in his words, demonstrated double standards speaking about the Odessa tragedy. “I am enraged with the cynicism of the authorities. So, if we want to find the truth, if we want to find morality, we must give up the practice of double standards,” he stressed.

RIA Novosti.....

Thousands of Ukrainian Soldiers Stationed Near Luhansk – LNR Official

Ukrainian troops (Archive)
15:29 22/05/2014
Tags: military operationLuhansk
LUHANSK, May 22 (RIA Novosti) – Over 6,000 troops under the control of the Kiev authorities are stationed near the country’s eastern city of Luhansk, though they are demoralized and calling for negotiations, the Head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) Valery Bolotov said Thursday.
“According to our estimates, their number [number of Ukrainian forces] exceeds 6,000 and over the past few days the figure has been growing,” Bolotov said, adding that the Ukrainian army was deploying to Luhansk not only troops, but also heavy armament and special equipment for river crossing operations.
At the same time Bolotov said that “Ukrainian forces are demoralized and call for negotiations.”
The eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk has been the scene of violent clashes between government soldiers and protesters following the beginning of a large-scale military operation by the Ukrainian government in mid-April. Both sides have suffered numerous casualties.
Though the Ukrainian parliament approved a so-called memorandum of peace and consent on Tuesday, calling on the return of troops stationed in eastern Ukraine to their permanent bases, the special operation in the region is still underway.
On May 11, the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics held referendums on self-determination, with over 90 percent of voters supporting greater autonomy. Following the vote, the republics went ahead with the establishment of new local government agencies and announced they would not take part in the upcoming May 25 snap presidential election.

Ukrainian Army Still Gathering Forces Near Slaviansk, Assault Imminent – Self-Defense Forces

Ukrainian army checkpoints in Donetsk Region
15:13 22/05/2014
Tags: military operationUkraineSlaviansk
DONETSK, May 22 (RIA Novosti) – The Ukrainian army continues to gather forces near Slaviansk and is evidently planning to storm the city, leader of the Slaviansk self-defense forces Igor Strelkov told RIA Novosti Thursday.
"More than 100 armored personnel carriers, trucks and other vehicles arrived yesterday there [to the armed forces near Slaviansk]. About a hundred Right Sector militants arrived in Andreyevka as well, carrying banners and not even trying to hide. The assault is apparently inevitable. Perhaps, they would crush us, after all, might goes before right,” Strelkov said, citing a reconnaissance report.
The balance of forces is 20 times in favor of the Kiev-led militants, the leader of the self-defense forces noted. The Ukrainian armed forces have about 250 armored vehicles at their disposal, according to Strelkov. Yesterday, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov came in person to inspect the forces deployed near Slaviansk.
The Kiev authorities are using forces partly formed from Ukrainian military units and partly from the radical elements of the National Guard. The troops are carrying out a special operation in eastern Ukraine to suppress the protest movement that emerged in response to a February coup.
The cities of Slaviansk and Kramatorsk in the north of the Donetsk region have been faced with the most intense confrontation with the Ukrainian military. Several dozen private houses in Slaviansk, especially in the suburbs of Andreyevka and Sergeyevka, have already been destroyed by the artillery attacks. Locals are hiding in the basements of their homes and several dozen people have already been injured. Evacuation measures are currently hindered by a rail and road blockade of the city. Residents have resorted to leaving on foot.
People's Mayor of Slaviansk Vyacheslav Ponomarev has offered to begin evacuating all children remaining in the city to nearby medical centers.