The above image is a rare example of ‘real news’ getting out of the Donetsk region: the man being assaulted is a Ukrainian news reporter going about his lawful business and being intimidated and threatened by the pro-Russian thugs.
Yesterday, President Putin denied that there were any covert Russian military personnel managing the conflict in Ukraine, supporting this by saying that the Russian ethnic protesters on the streets were not wearing masks now, though now the pro-Russian thugs have control and it is likely that the ensigna-free, uniformed Russians are no longer needed on the streets and thus thugs could remove their masks, but they haven’t, as the above image testifies.
In a broadcast on BBC news yesterday, the involvement of covert Russian military engagement was looked at by one reporter. Of course, by its very nature, proving covert operations in a region where people are excluding and banning journalists from anything other than the most contrived situations is extremely difficult. Ask yourself: why are people who want to state their case internationally, preventing the media from anything but obvious ‘stage managed’ access? It reminds me of the Libyan conflict, where the same tactic was frequently used.
The broadcast did show protesters who were seemingly non-military, i.e. not disciplined but in charge. However, one or two of the clips showed what were clearly military personnel going in first to storm government buildings, using Kalashnikov rifles and small explosive charges that would make more noise than damage, working as a disciplined military squad to subdue and bring about the surrender of the legitimate Ukrainian police or other personnel within.
There is no doubt that ethnic-Russian Ukrainians are manning these police stations now, but it is impossible to now know who is directing operations from within. Moreover, the concerted effort to attack similar buildings, with similar, disciplined methods, what seems to be an initial military advance to bring about the surrender of legitimate staff within government buildings, is a very persuasive argument that Russia is directly managing the conflict.
The US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union met for peace talks in Geneva concerning the conflict. The result was better than expected, a unified policy aimed at ending the tensions. The deal includes the disarmament of all illegal groups in Ukraine. After the talks the various negotiators said that they had agreed on steps to de-escalate the crisis but are now waiting to see if words will be met with actions.
However, pro-Russian militia in Donetsk have announced that they will not leave the government buildings, openly challenging the Kyev authorities and threatening the deal to de-escalate the tensions. The pro-Russian spokesman said that the Kyev government would have to step down for them to give up the conflict. You may remember that two days ago, former pro-Moscow President, Viktor Yanukovych said that there cannot be elections now because of the extent of the conflict. It is therefore remarkably coincidental that the one thing that could wreck the legitimacy of the election is the pro-Russian militia refusing to step down and deal with matters through dialogue and democracy.
Incidentally, you may remember from my last article that I mentioned how fabulously wealthy Putin is – some $40bn by all accounts – and it was therefore extremely enlightening when I found this observation in an article on the BBC:
“Wealth has shifted under President Viktor Yanukovych [who] is widely seen as living in symbiosis with Ukraine’s tycoons.” www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25323964 Dec 11, 2013