Friday, October 24, 2014

Ukrainian forces in good shape in Mariupol, says Shuster run an interview with one of Ukraine's most well known television journalists - political show host Savik Shuster.

Shuster, who has had a most interesting and colourful career in many countries, had spent a day in Mariupol.

Here is a portion of his observations from the piece which was entitled:

"Shuster: It will be a surprise for Putin that the 'Russian World' in south-eastern Ukraine is braced to fight against Russia"

- What are your impressions from your visit to the Anti Terrorist Operation area?

- I came back last night, and have not yet fully comprehended and thought over everything, but was absolutely impressed by three things.

Firstly, I saw the real Armed Forces of Ukraine - a powerful, organized and cohesive force. It is  constantly being alleged that the Ukrainian army is weak and demoralized. In Mariupol I did not experience this, rather I felt the opposite: Ukrainian forces are of an incomparably higher standar than those I have seen in other military conflicts in the former Soviet Union - and I was in Chechnya, Ossetia, Abkhazia and Karabakh. In Mariupol the armed powers of Ukraine are really organized. That's impressive.

- What else impressed you at the front line?

- Morale. The guys are driven by patriotism. In Kyiv they do not understand this and  they do not understand the circumstances in which Ukrainian ATO fighters now live and fight.

But most importantly, I felt Putin now has great problem. The Russian president does not understand that the "Russian World", which he expects to rise up in Mariupol, will fight against Putin. In the city most people speak in Russian, but they have a maximum pro-Ukrainian outlook. I think for Putin this will be a great surprise, because he is still convinced that the south-east of Ukraine is for Russia. Its nothing of the kind. The Ukrainian Russophone world is against Putin, against his fighters and against Russian aggression.

Although Shuster does not provide an answer how this war against Ukraine will end, he does conclude: "Intuition tells me Russia will never conquer Mariupol."

p.s . Check out this short RFE/RL video [in English] on the kitsch palaces of two Yanukovych-era 'Naftohaz Ukrainy' executives who cannot explain the origin of their families' spectacular wealth but are now running for parliament - and immunity from prosecution.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Colder weather adds to despair in Donbas

Citizens, e.g. in the village of Spartak, near Donetsk, are in despair, as can be seen in this sad video.  Out of 5000 residents, less than 400 remain. There has been no electricity, gas or running water for five months as shelling continues...

Until now the weather in Ukraine this autumn has been warm, but a check on the weather forecast shows that by the weekend daytime temperature in Donetsk will drop to low single digit figures centigrade, whilst -4 and -5 centigrade is expected at night.

The coming of frosts will probably attenuate the intensity of armed conflict as fighters expend more effort to survive the cold...a small blessing

Sunday, October 19, 2014

German Intelligence Claims Pro-Russian Separatists Downed MH17 [Updated]

Der Spiegel claims German Intelligence Claims Pro-Russian Separatists Downed MH17

This story will run and run...

p.s. Watched President Poroshenko's being interviewed last night by several Ukrainian journalists. Compared with the stilted, artificial and sycophantic televised press conferences held by Yushchenko and Yanukovych, this was  a proper question and answer session of the sort citizens of any normal western democracy would be familiar with. So, a step in the right direction.

Poroshenko explained one dilemma which was complicating agreement on gas deliveries from Russia. Consumers in the territories held by separatists/terrorists were consuming gas as normal, but Naftohaz Ukrainy [who are responsible for collection of revenue and liable for payment to Gazprom] was not receiving any payment for it, so this was an additional burden for Ukraine to bear. Poroshenko claimed industrial output in these occupied regions was down 70%, and their future as independent but unrecognised entities is not realistic or possible for economic reasons.

Interesting broadcast today on the new English language 'Hromadske International today'. Check it out on YouTube

Professor Timothy Snyder states an "impending, huge humanitarian disaster" [40 minutes into the video] is likely this winter in parts of Eastern Ukraine.

Top journalists Noah Sneider and Christopher Miller who both have spent many days in the region agree with this assessment and add that only brave and determined volunteers are working hard to try and prevent this happening. Should an international humanitarian effort not have been priority #1 in Milan?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Insightful analysis from inside 'Novorosisa'

Great analysis from Ollie Carroll, who has been in separatist-held territory for quite a few days now, posted on his facebook page

His conclusions?

"...if "Novorossia" [will] be unable to provide for its people [i.e. to get through the winter], opinion will move very radically against them."

"..the Russian strategy for me? Keep the DNR / LNR soup simmering, while you get back to the main deal: pressure-cooking Kyiv."
Kyiv has made it clear it will not provide serious funds to sustain and repair the separatist-held territory 'except where there is a Ukrainian flag flying'. The country is all but broke in any case so the possibility of Kyiv paying for any major welfare or regeneration programmes is remote.

And, as Vitaliy Portnikov says, if Putin wants to maintain its influence on this territory which is now being run by his loyalist thugs, or even if he replaces them with saner politicians picked from the local traitors, it will cost Russia a deal of money - we are talking about a war-ravaged infrastructure and millions of people.

But even if does Putin pump the money in, a big if, this being Russia, most of it will be misappropriated in any case.

As I mentioned in my previous blog...a serious humanitarian crisis in Donbas is likely. Those who will suffer most will be the elderly, the infirm, women with young children whose husbands/boy friends have dumped them.... i.e. those least able to fend for themselves.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

A terrible warning for Donbas from 2006

This is from the current Wikipedia entry on Alchevsk, a heavily industrialised city in the Luhansk Oblast of eastern Ukraine which has been under the control of separatists since April.

"Winter disaster of 2006

On January 22, 2006, the district heating system of the city almost entirely collapsed after an underground heat pipe line cracked in unusually cold weather (nearly −30 °C). As a result, heating equipment in the majority of Alchevsk's buildings was frozen and ruptured, leaving about 60,000 residents with only the protection of individual electric heaters. A few days later the sewage system also froze due to a lack of warm tap water.
An investigation revealed the massive, long-time negligence of the city authorities. The whole heating system was designed in a hyper-centralized way, depending on only two boilers and few main pipelines. Moreover, the housing company failed to react to the pipe incident properly: the water from the system wasn't immediately dumped to prevent further freezing.
The Ukrainian government took massive emergency actions to protect Alchevsk residents from freezing. Engineering teams sent by cities and industrial companies from other regions of the country were gradually restoring heating appliances in every apartment affected. Hundreds of children together with their schoolteachers were evacuated to the resorts and hotels in the warmer regions of Ukraine. According to the governor of Luhansk Oblast G. Moskal, it has been the worst human-made disaster in the history of independent Ukraine."
The Ostrov website reports that Donetsk regional council deputy Vitaly Kropachev is now strongly advising those who remain on the territory controlled by terrorist/separatist organizations to urgently leave, otherwise they will die in winter from cold and hunger. 
He provides a detailed analysis of the dire situation that exists in the public services sector which he stressed has now reached the point of collapse. Kropachev believes when the cities of Donbas begin to freeze the leaders of the separatists will 'do a runner' and abandon the citizens of these cities to their fate. He says malnutrition amongst some residents is already a problem. 
Ostrov also mentions the 2006 disaster, but on that occasion the Ukrainian government saved the day.