The current situation in Donbas is very disturbing. Infiltration from Russia to Ukraine by armed personnel and heavy military equipment, including various artillery systems, has reached the point where it should be called an invasion.
Previously, the reports about movement of military convoys through the Russia
/Ukraine border had come from the Ukrainian side. For example, the Ukrainian Council for National Security and Defence (CNSD) on Sunday reported that a military convoy of around 100 vehicles had crossed the border at the Izvaryne station in the Luhansk region. But later on Sunday, the report came from a somewhat unexpected source, a Russian border guard named Artem Karat (www.pravda.com.ua). In his Instagram account, he posted pictures of a Russian armoured personnel carrier crossing the border at Izvaryne (on the right). He deleted the post and pictures later but it was too late and the obvious truth became abundantly clear.
For several days, the Ukrainian side has been reporting that artillery fire directed against the Ukrainian troops was, in some cases, coming from Russian territory or from highly trained military specialists who may have briefly penetrated the Ukrainian territory from Russia and then went back. This kind of fire reportedly resulted in the massacre of at least 19 Ukrainian soldiers at Zelenopillia in the Luhansk region on July 11.
Some may say that Russian involvement in these kinds of incidents is just Ukrainian allegations. But when a Ukrainian Antonov-26 plane was shot down on July 14 at the altitude of 6,500 metres, which would have protected it from any kind of weaponry held by the terrorists, it did not require any additional comments. The Ukrainian CNSD is considering two possibilities: the An-26 was downed by a modern Russian ground-to-air missile or by a Russian warplane. Ukrainian President Poroshenko on Monday confirmed that the Ukrainian troops are being shot at from modern Russian multiple launch rocket systems and that Russian military officers are participating in the conflict.
The latest human toll of the war is shocking. According to the Donetsk Region State Administration (www.ostro.org), nine people, including a 10-year old child, were killed in the Petrovsky district of Donetsk on June 12 (on the right, bottom). The Ukrainian CNSD has informed that the nine were killed by terrorists using a high-caliber mine-thrower.
For an ordinary person, the reaction from Western officials to this situation is hard to come by. Let alone the reaction which would use the words “war” and “invasion”, words which seem obvious to anyone who reads the news. Even if the An-26 flew at a lower altitude, as some analysts suggest (for unclear reasons), and was shot down by the local terrorists, Ukraine has produced numerous modern Russian weapons and artifacts, captured in Donbas, which prove that country’s involvement in the conflict which has killed hundreds of civilians.
Many across the globe have seen the picture of German Chancellor Angela Merkel chatting with joyful Russian President Putin at the FIFA World Cup final on Sunday (on top right). The two leaders watched the match hours after nine people were killed in Donetsk and hours before the An-26 was downed. Whether these talks produced any positive results remains to be seen. So far, the German Foriegn Ministry has called on Ukraine to maintain “proportionality” in its measures against the separatists and is trying to organize a video conference call for the sides of the conflict. As a comment, the last time Ukraine maintained a unilateral ceasefire, terrorists killed 27 government soldiers in one week.
By Thursday, it should become clear what the West’s response to this war will be. At its meeting on Wednesday, July 16, the European Council may discuss a third stage of sanctions against Russia which would hit the country’s economy. The first two stages (or the prospect of the third one), aimed at individuals, have probably kept Russia from a direct invasion. The concept of the third stage, which has been discussed for many weeks now, must be ready by now. Whether it will be implemented will depend on political will. In a recent article, the Financial Times provided analysis showing that Italy may be in the French and German camp – where caution is favored over broad sanctions, something that Baltic states are in favor of. Let’s hope Russia does not invade Ukraine on the full scale before the EU takes action.