By Roger Annis, July 23, 2014 (also published on Rabble.ca)
The following is a 12-minute video recording of the aftermath of the shelling of the city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine by Ukraine armed forces on July 18, 2014. There are many videos being broadcast describing the destruction and killings of the Kyiv government in its now months-long military offensive against southeast Ukraine. This video is unique because it is comprehensive and because it is subtitled in English. WARNING: the images of the citizen victims of shelling, including children, are very disturbing.
The reason for the intensity of the shelling by the Ukraine army is that its ground forces cannot easily conquer the cities in eastern Ukraine. These are defended by determined and motivated self-defense forces of the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics. Ukraine’s army is poorly trained and equipped. It is a conscript army whose foot soldiers have proven reluctant to follow orders to shoot their fellow citizens. The fighting capacities of the extreme right and fascist militias (including the so-called ‘National Guard’) that are allied with the army, meanwhile, are significant, but so far not decisive.
Ukraine is also using fighter aircraft to bomb towns and cities. Today, CBC news reports that two of those aircraft have been shot down by self-defense forces. This is being used by mainstream media as more grist for their mill in urging foreign intervention that would assist Kyiv in putting down the rebellious population in the east. There is concern about two aircraft–and none at all about the people they were bombing. So goes the news cycle about Ukraine.
To gain an idea of the scale of the rampaging of the Ukraine army and militias in the past three months (focused, initially, on the city of Slavyansk), more than three times as many people have died in from its attacks than have died during Israel’s current war against the people of Gaza. We have learned from doctors in Luhansk, via the OSCE special mission in southeast Ukraine, that 250 people have been killed in Luhansk region in June and July from shelling and other attacks. 850 have been injured.
The OSCE also reports that on July 18 and 19 alone, that is, during the two days following the crash of Flight MH 17, dozens of civilians were killed and more than one hundred injured in a “massive shelling” of Luhansk city.
Several hundred thousand people have been displaced by the attacks. The majority have taken refuge in Russia, where they are receiving aid. Many have moved to other regions in Russia and been offered jobs. (Eastern Ukraine is a highly industrial area and many of the victims of Kyiv’s war are skilled workers.) For the tens of thousands of displaced that have taken refuge in Ukraine proper, there are few formal programs of assistance available to them. They are dependent on the generosity of friends, families and other ordinary citizens.
In Ukraine, a sharp clampdown on democratic rights has escalated since the overthrow of the elected President Victor Yanukovych in February. Several thousand political prisoners are in jail. The government is moving to ban one of the remaining opposition parties, the Communist Party. And vigilante attacks on leftists of all description are common. Yesterday, for example, the secretary of the Communist Party committee in the village of Glinki (Donetsk region), was tortured and murdered at a checkpoint of the National Guard (news report in Russian language here). The National Guard is the militia institution that was revived in Ukraine following the overthrow of Yanukovych by neo-conservative and fascist forces. The Guard is largely staffed by the cadre of the fascist and other extreme-right parties and movements in Ukraine.
An intense and near-hysterical campaign has been waged by western governments and much of western media to ‘blame Russia’ for the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17. Today, July 23, we read the following in an Associated Press news dispatch:
Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the crash, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement…
The intelligence officials were cautious in their assessment, noting that while the Russians have been arming separatists in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.
The same AP report cites the same, anonymous U.S. government source as saying Flight MH17 was “likely” shot down by a missile and it is “likely” that it was fired by “Russian-backed separatists”.
A skeptical world is recalling how it was “likely” that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in 2003, except it didn’t. Older generations are recalling that it was “likely” that the armed forces of the Peoples Republic of Vietnam (‘North Vietnam’) attacked a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam in 1964, except that event was later proven to be a fiction. It nonetheless served as a convenient pretext for the U.S. government to massively escalate its war against the people of Vietnam.
Back in 1898, the United States was looking for a pretext to invade and seize Cuba, which was then a colony of Spain. The warship USS Maine exploded mysteriously in Havana Harbour on Feb. 15, 1898. The cause of the explosion was never determined, but it was “likely” that it was perpetrated by Spain, and so the U.S. invaded and seized Cuba later that year. The invasion was waged under the phrase trumpeted by the yellow press in the United States, “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!”
Breaking news on July 23:
Russia Today contributor and UK journalist Graham Phillips is among four people taken hostage by Ukrainian troops early on July 23, ANNA news agency reports. Phillips has been missing since he went to Donetsk airport on his own while a firefight was taking place.
The other three people in the group are reportedly ANNA news agency’s cameraman, an employee of the press service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, and possibly an acquaintance of Phillips, who accompanied the journalist to the airport.
Seven journalists have been killed by the Ukraine army offensive in eastern Ukraine since it began more than three months ago. A Guardian blog on press freedom in Ukraine in late July makes a very fleet reference to killed journalists but provides no hint that Ukraine government forces are responsible. Instead, the blog focuses almost exclusively on alleged harassment of journalists by “pro-Russia separatists”.