Ukraine in the Eye of the Storm
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article called peace in Ukraine a convenient illusion. September Minsk protocol agreed on terms didn't end fighting.
On October 29, the Washington Post headlined "Donetsk airport: From a shiny testament of hope to a burned-out hulk," saying:
"(I)ntense fighting continues despite a nearly eight-week-old cease-fire." Its ongoing after both sides agreed to lay down arms.
Reflecting unresolved conflict between Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters and Kiev fascist putschists.
"For now, (fighting) rages as the tenuous cease-fire persists, in name if not in actuality."
Moscow's NATO ambassador Alexander Grusko accused Alliance members of suppressing Kiev violations of Minsk protocol ceasefire terms.
"Instead of advising their 'special partners' in Kiev on scrupulous compliance with the Minsk accords and the opening of a full-scale political dialogue with representatives of the country's eastern regions, NATO prefers to hush up encroachments on the obligations the Ukrainian authorities undersigned," he said.
"Along with it, NATO officials feel unrestrained as they conjure up ever more new arguments about the allegedly continuing Russian efforts to destabilize the situation in Ukraine."
"That's a sign of the same distorted logic and it testifies to a firmly formed habit of laying fault at others' doors," he stressed.
On Sunday, Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics vote. Holding real democratic elections.
In full compliance with Minsk protocol ceasefire terms. Polar opposite Kiev's farcical electoral process. Illegitimate by any standard.
Moscow hopes results will facilitate constructive dialogue between both sides. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement said:
"All the references to the law on a special administrative regime for the aforesaid territories, which President Poroshenko signed October 16 and which set the date of elections at December 7, run counter to the Minsk accords."
"Prior to the start of the Minsk process, the Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics' leaders publicly outlined their negotiating positions, which in particular stress that the holding on those territories of free elections on the principles of people's self-governance will open the way for joint work to preserve the common economic, cultural and political space of Ukraine."
"Russia will contribute to confirmation of this policy by the leaders of the southeast who win the elections."
"We expect specific actions on bona fide fulfillment of the Minsk agreements both from the Ukrainian authorities and their Western partners, as well as the OSCE."
"Today there is a chance to use the November 2 elections not for a thoughtless and unjustified escalation of confrontation but for transfer of the situation to the constructive channel of dialogue based on mutual respect and search for compromises on the basis of balance of legitimate interests of all Ukrainian sides, just like the documents signed within the framework of the Minsk process require."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov affirmed Sunday's electoral legitimacy, saying:
"In accordance with the Minsk agreements reached in September this year by representatives of the President of Ukraine and the self-defence forces of southeastern Ukraine with the mediation of Russia and the OSCE, these elections can be held between 19 October and 3 November of this year."
"The argument that the law on a special self-government procedure for these regions, which Petro Poroshenko signed on 16 October, has set 7 December as the election date contradicts the Minsk agreements." This date, 7 December, was added to the law arbitrarily and unilaterally, without consulting the self-defence forces."
"Moreover, this law cannot be applied in practice because it does not identify the area it applies to."
"The issue of identification has been suspended pending an additional decision by the Verkhovna Rada, which cannot be taken because Kiev has withdrawn its signature from the document that set out the disengagement line between the Ukrainian and the self-defence forces."
"The situation has been further complicated by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's refusal to implement the 16 October law signed by Petr Poroshenko."
"Kiev has also violated other provisions of the Minsk agreements. It continues to bomb the regions controlled by the self-defence forces contrary to the ceasefire terms."
"It has not adopted, contrary to its pledge, acts on amnesty and security guarantees for the representatives of the self-defence forces that attended the Minsk talks."
"It has not honoured the provisions on the decentralisation of authority and continuation of a nationwide dialogue."
"The Kiev government is not fulfilling its commitment to improve the humanitarian situation in Donbass and is creating artificial obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid from Russia."
"The Minsk agreements also stipulate the adoption of an economic revival programme for Donbass."
"But politicians in Kiev said after the parliamentary election (on 26 October) that this assistance would be provided only to those regions in southeastern Ukraine that accept Kiev's authority, which directly contradicts the letter and spirit of the Minsk Protocol."
"Overall, it appears that our partners' arguments against the 2 November elections are designed to delay them as long as possible, probably in the hope that the problems in the region would grow with the coming winter and hence influence voter mood and the turnout."
"In this situation, the self-defence forces' intention to hold the elections on 2 November is completely legitimate and fully in keeping with the temporal parameters coordinated in Minsk."
"Adequate authorities must be created without delay in southeastern Ukraine, so that they can address the critically important issues of the regions' vital needs, including law and order."
"Efforts to bring about a settlement in southeastern Ukraine are being taken in an extremely difficult and even conflicting situation."
"The main task now is to do everything necessary to maintain the fragile truce and to begin the region's economic and humanitarian revival and sustained political dialogue."
"Attempts to select one of the interconnected provisions of the Minsk agreements - the election date - without good reason or even in the form of an ultimatum, and to use it to judge the sides' 'behaviour' could derail the peace process and make it a hostage to geopolitical ambitions."
"We cannot rule out that those who advance these ultimatums want to destroy the Minsk agreements, just as they destroyed the agreement of 21 February 2014, and to gain a pretext for resuming the hostilities in southeastern Ukraine."
"Russia strongly urges the sides to prevent this and instead to provide general assistance to turn the 2 November elections into another step towards normalisation and comprehensive settlement of the crisis in Ukraine."
"(B)efore the meeting in Minsk, the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics publicly put forth their negotiating stands, which stipulated, in part, that free elections held in these regions based on the principles of self-government would create conditions for a cooperative effort to keep Ukraine united economically, culturally and politically."
"Russia will encourage the election winners in southeastern Ukraine to act towards this proclaimed goal."
"We also expect the Kiev authorities and their Western partners, as well as the OSCE, to act faithfully to fullfil the Minsk agreements."
"The 2 November elections can be used not to recklessly foster tensions without good reason, but to nudge the situation towards a constructive path of dialogue based on mutual respect and the search for compromise on the basis of a balance of the sides' legitimate interests, as is stipulated in the documents signed within the framework of the Minsk process."
"(W)e are sure to recognize" electoral results in both people's republics, Lavrov stressed. Reflecting legitimate "expression of people's will" to live free. Deserving universal recognition of their inalienable rights.
Donetsk and Lugansk authorities believe Kiev intends sabotaging Sunday's elections. A joint statement said:
"The law enforcement authorities of the People's Republics have information about the sabotage, planned by Ukrainian military, and have undertaken preventive measures."
"We guarantee security at the elections. We control the situation."
"Annoying information from Ukraine's Security Service about possible provocations at the elections in Donetsk and Lugansk proves Kiev wants to frighten people."
DPR army political head Eduard Basurin said his ministry knows about Kiev's plans to deploy reconnaissance and sabotage groups.
"(W)e have improved our guards and also undertake certain measures against possible sabotage actions," he said.
Security procedures were instituted for November 1 and 2, he explained. DPR and LPR prepared for whatever Kiev may intend.
With full US support and encouragement. One fascist regime supports another.
White House national security council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Washington won't recognize Sunday's vote.
She "caution(ed) Russia against using any such 'illegitimate' vote as a pretext to insert additional troops and military equipment into Ukraine, particularly in light of (alleged) indications that the Russian military is moving forces back to the border along separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned truth on its head. Calling Sunday's vote illegitimate.
Saying she and other European leaders won't recognize it. Despite Minsk protocol terms stipulating its legitimacy.
Ukraine's oligarch president Petro Poroshenko spurned Minsk agreed on terms. Expressing a "clear, general position" against Sunday's elections.
Calling on Russia to withhold recognition. Despite indisputable legitimacy only despots would reject.
On Friday, Ukrainian putschist foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin denounced what he called "totally fake, unlawful elections with people trying to elect so-called presidents of Donetsk and Luhansk and a so-called parliament."
"Russia must discourage the terrorists from carrying out these elections," he added.
Holding them "will be yet another step towards a 'frozen conflict' which is what we have to prevent there." he claimed.
Kiev supports so-called local elections under terms it unilaterally stipulates. Ones denying Donetsk and Lugansk real democracy. Affording their residents no say.
Including candidates representing putschist power. What freedom fighters categorically reject for good reason.
They fought and died for freedom. They deserve universal support.
Expect protracted conflict continuing. Perhaps more intense than so far. Putting all Ukrainians at risk.
At issue is freedom v. fascism. Living free or ruthlessly ruled. A struggle vital to win. Nothing less is acceptable.
Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters didn't fight and die to quit. They continue struggling for precious rights vital to achieve.
Ones people everywhere deserve. Including Ukrainians nationwide.
What better way to defeat fascism's reemergence in Europe's heartland. Eliminating Washington's control of their country.
At the same time, subverting its Eurasian imperial grip. It can't happen a moment too soon.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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