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Proletarian issue 64 (February 2015)
Kiev spurns ceasefire bid, intensifies attacks on civilians
As we go to press, developments in Ukraine are rapidly escalating.
On 15 January, faced with a pattern of ever-more brazen violations by the Kiev junta of the ceasefire arrangements agreed upon in the Belarus capital Minsk last September, Russian president Vladimir Putin sent an urgent letter to Ukrainian ‘president’ Poroshenko proposing a plan whereby both sides in the conflict should withdraw their heavy artillery. The letter proposed that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Russian Federation should jointly monitor the process.

On 18 January came Poroshenko’s response: the intensification of shelling of populated areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, supplemented by aerial bombardment of the town of Gorlovka by warplanes using 500kg bombs.

This bombardment was not targeted, noted Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) prime minister Alexander Zakharchenko, but “came from over the clouds ... the aim was simply to hit the town”, with no quarter given to hospitals, schools or residential areas. It was observed that the artillery fire laying waste to residential areas was no longer coming mostly from uncontrolled National Guard headbangers, but also from regular units of the Ukrainian army, with Poroshenko’s personal blessing. (‘Ukraine army targeted Gorlovka with 500kg air bombs – Donetsk militia leader’, rt.com, 18 January 2015)

Since the September ceasefire was signed, somewhere between 300 and 350 civilians have been killed in the Donbass. More than 30 people, including children, were killed or maimed in the Donetsk region over a single weekend. One Ukrainian shell struck a trolley bus, leaving between nine and 13 people dead and some 20 more injured in what Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov correctly identified as “a crime against humanity, a rude provocation aimed at undermining the efforts for a peace settlement”. (‘At least nine killed in eastern Ukraine rush hour shelling amid conflicting arrest reports’, rt.com, 22 January 2015)

Donetsk airport: the militia strikes back

Observing the contempt with which the junta treated the Russian peace initiative, and drawing their own conclusions from the Ukrainian army’s announced mobilisation of the next 50,000 conscripts, the DPR militia moved to give a fitting rebuff, succeeding finally on 22 January in taking Donetsk airport back into full control, thereby removing the junta’s last toe-hold in the city.

This startling offensive blow came as a complete shock to the imperialist media, which could not bring themselves to admit that such a resounding victory for the partisan forces sprang from their own courage, skill and motivation. Instead, the liberation of the airport was ubiquitously ascribed to the miraculous appearance of spectral Russian armies (of which, as usual, no photos exist).

On the other hand, according to the TASS news agency, the DPR militia in the ruins of the airport that they had taken over said they had found the bodies of soldiers wearing Nato uniforms. Personal belongings indicated that the people they had been fighting there were foreign citizens contracted by private military companies.

The militiamen also found a large quantity of US-made weaponry and communication equipment, as well as literature in foreign languages, leading to the conclusion that US imperialism may well be supplying the illegitimate and unpopular Ukrainian junta with mercenaries to help keep it in power. (‘Dead bodies in Nato uniforms, US weapons recovered from under debris of Donetsk airport’, itar-tass.com, 22 January 2015)

The truth is that the battle for the airport was not won by artillery alone, but by the most gruelling and deadly hand-to-hand combat from building to building and even floor to floor, as admitted by the New York Times.

The Ukrainian army and volunteer soldiers had held the airport through months of close combat. At times, Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian soldiers occupied different floors in the same building. Holes in the floor and stairwells became front lines. The turning point came when rebels exploded one of the floors, raining concrete and debris onto the heads of Ukrainian forces on the level below.” (‘Chaotic retreat follows Ukrainians’ withdrawal from Donetsk airport’ by Andrew Kramer and Rick Lyman, 22 January 2014)

How the junta will fare in its efforts to mobilise and motivate an army tasked with imposing fascist rule upon the south and east of Ukraine remains to be seen. Previous mobilisations have aroused much anger, with mothers of conscripts physically trying to block the posting of their sons to the east. And throughout Kiev’s summer offensive, there were many cases of conscripts surrendering or defecting to the other side, frequently along with their weapons and vehicles.

The news that the current mobilisation is to include young men from the Donbass must be regarded either as a bad joke or as proof of mental instability. Perhaps the general staff had in mind the hazards attendant upon the successful execution of this order (“I’m sorry, he’s out”) when it announced that “If a man does not live at the place of his permanent residence, we will not look for him. Nevertheless, he shall answer in law. Afterwards ...

The war criminal Poroshenko may find that it is rather he who must ‘answer in law afterwards’ for his crimes against humanity.

Whether the new draft of recruits will prove any more disciplined and motivated than previous drafts, as winter deepens and the Peoples’ Republics stand firm, is a question which will be giving Poroshenko well-deserved nightmares.

Victory to the Peoples’ Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk!
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