Russia’s War Against Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- In case anyone forgot there’s a war going on in Ukraine, this week’s news was a stark reminder. On Saturday, April 23, an American paramedic who was part of the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, was killed in the occupied Luhansk region when the vehicle he was riding in hit a landmine.

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Kate Byrnes

Joseph Stone died and two other OSCE monitors, a German woman and a Czech man, were injured in territory controlled by Russian-led “separatist” forces.

RFE/RL reported that OSCE Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier said there will be both an internal investigation and a criminal investigation “to understand who is responsible for this outcome.”

He added, “A mine was left on a road which is also used by civilians, and there could have been other victims as well.”

On Wednesday, April 26, Ukraine reported three of its troops were killed and five wounded in yet another flare-up of fighting in eastern Ukraine.

According to the Associated Press, the press office for the Ukrainian government’s ATO said Ukrainian positions had come under fire 65 times in the previous 24 hours.

It appeared to be the worst loss of lives reported in weeks, the AP noted.

Then on Thursday, April 27, there was news of yet another death on the frontlines.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that one Ukrainian soldier was killed and six wounded in action.

Russian forces were firing upon Ukrainian positions near Avdiyivka, Horlivka, Pisky and Maryinka (Donetsk sector), Vodiane and Shyrokyne (Mariupol sector), and near Popasna and Triotske and at Stanytsia Luhanska (towards Luhansk sector).

As the U.S. Mission to the OSCE noted that day, “After a drop in fighting over the Easter holiday, combined Russian-separatist forces appear to be back to business as usual, driving up ceasefire violations to over 1,000 per day.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities reported that the 64th so-called “humanitarian convoy” from Russia had proceeded into Ukraine.

At the same time, there was news this week of a new exhibit of photographs at NATO headquarters in Brussels of children who have suffered as a result of what President Petro Poroshenko has called Russia’s “undeclared war” against Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze comments in a short video report on the exhibit posted by RFE/RL:

“When you see a photo of a real child who has gone through pain, through horror that people in Europe can’t even begin to imagine, this photo tells a lot to everyone who sees it.”

Parents and teachers in Ukraine have reported increases among these young victims of war of bed-wetting, anxiety, aggression and withdrawal.

UNICEF says more than 200,000 children need psycho-social support due to the trauma they have experienced. More than 10,000 lives have been lost in eastern Ukraine since 2014.

Some 2 million have been displaced since Russia occupied Crimea and invaded the Donbass.

And the aggression continues.

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Kate Byrnes told the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on Thursday, April 27:

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has shaken the very foundations of security and stability in Europe, and is antithetical to achieving a Europe that is whole, free and at peace. The United States affirms its staunch support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We do not, and will not, accept Russia’s efforts to change the borders of Ukraine.”

Back in Washington, expressing condolences to the deceased OSCE monitor’s family, State Department spokesperson Mark C. Toner underscored “the increasingly dangerous conditions under which these courageous monitors work, including access restrictions, threats and harassment.”

He also stated that the U.S. “urges Russia to use its influence with the separatists to allow the OSCE to conduct a full, transparent and timely investigation” and “again calls upon Russia to use its influence with the separatists to take the first step toward peace to eastern Ukraine and ensure a visible, verifiable and irreversible improvement in the security situation.”

Although those words may be fine and good, it’s high time for the United States and others to speak not of Russia’s “influence with the separatists,” but of Russia’s direct role in waging this war.

The truth of the matter is that the war will not end until Russia decides to withdraw its troops and weapons from Ukrainian territory.

Source: The Ukrainian Weekly