The UN has not given in to Russia’s manipulation on Donbas matter
A serious escalation of the confrontation in Donbas last week has become an issue for discussions not only within Ukraine but also beyond. The delicate balance which had begun to stabilize was again disrupted on February 18 by a powerful attack of Russian occupying troops on the Ukrainian positions.
Kyiv officially reported that a large assault group of illegally armed militants under cover of massive artillery fire had crossed the line and seized one of the front-lines of Ukrainian positions, and the scale of the shelling had been unprecedented for past years.
It was specified in the Operational tactical group «North», the positions of the Ukrainian military personnel in Donbas came under fire near Novotoshkivske, Orikhove, Krymske, Popasna and Khutir Vilnyi, with active usage of weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements.
The enemy used tube artillery of 152 mm calibre (6 shells), 122 mm (18 shells), 120 mm mortars (over 160 mines!), 82 mm mortars (about 50 shells). The shelling was carried out with the armaments of APCs, RPGs of various systems, large-calibre machine guns and other light weapons. Tanks, which fired 58 shells, were applied against the Ukrainian soldiers near Novotoshkivskyi. Ukrainian serviceman was killed in the attack, another 6 were injured. However, the attack of the Russian mercenaries failed, the targets were not reached, the Joint Forces Operation command responded promptly, the Ukrainian soldiers repelled and stopped the aggression, and Ukraine has declared of a deliberate breakdown of the peace process in Donbas.
Here is what experts say:
«This is a long-lasting provocation: at first Lavrovstates that any European integration processes in Ukraine are considered as an acceleration of Minsk agreements, then Peskov declares that Kyiv should come to an agreement with Luhansk and Donetsk, and in the end, military pressure in the form of an escalation of armed conflict… The territory near the Bahmut highway is a place where further armed escalations will take place in order to disrupt the Minsk processes and the Normandy agreements».
Dmytro Sniegirov, a military expert
«The escalation near Zolote is 100% impossible without control from Moscow. And the timing is not a coincidence: right after the Munich Conference, before the UN events, on the anniversary of the tragic Maidanevents and on the anniversary of the troops’ withdrawal from Debaltseve. The symbols of Russian actions are obvious. The goal is also obvious – to continue to undermine the emotions of Ukrainian society and to cause the internal arguments and destabilization»
Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs
It is clear that someone had to be held responsible for the blatant violation of the Minsk agreements reached by the leaders of Normandy format in Paris last December. Since the puppet governments of the LNR and the DNR do not make any decisions, curators from Moscow smoothed out over the consequences. And, as ever, the Russian Federation has attracted its resources in several directions.
On the evening of February 18, Russia initiated a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York in connection with the anniversary of the Minsk Agreements. It is clear that the main issue discussed was the intensification of confrontation on the contact line and the attack on the Ukrainian positions.
In his speech, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation Vasiliy Nebenznia, trying to focus the discussion into on a favourable direction, immediately stated that Ukraine sabotaged the Minsk agreements, and he accused the Ukrainian side of a new escalation in Donbas. However, Russia’s attempts to evade its responsibilities and blame the Ukrainian authorities for escalating the conflict have failed.
The permanent representative of Ukrainian to the UN Serhii Kyslytsia in response accused Russia of violating the Minsk agreements and reminded that since the beginning of the current year 13 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in Donbas, and 60 militants had been injured. «There is an ongoing war. The only ongoing war in Europe. A full-blown war, waged by the Russian army and its mercenaries using weapons and ammunition supplied by Russia,» –summarized the diplomat.
The US Representative Cherith Norman Chalet, the UK representative Karen Pierce and German representative Christoph Heusgen in their speeches shared the view that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was fulfilling the Normandy agreements, but at the same time the Russian Federation «did not demonstrate the same spirit». And this inactivity violates Russia’s obligations under the Minsk Agreements, in particular in respect to establishing an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.
After the UN Security Council meeting, representatives of Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany and Poland made a joint statement in support of Ukraine. They condemned the Russian annexation of the Crimea, and its actions on destabilization in Donbas and noted that Russia provided financial and military support to the so-called «DNR» and «LPR» violating the fundamental principles of international law. Thus, the international community once again pointed out Russia’s lie which is spread by the Kremlin not only in the information space but also at key international platforms.
It is indicative that the attack on the Ukrainian soldiers’ positions took place on the very day when the dismissal of the Russian Federation President Assistant VladyslavSurkov, who was considered to be the curator of the unrecognized «DNR» and «LPR», was reported. Some informed sources claim that illegal armed groups in Donbas have arranged sendoff ceremony for Surkov. It is also symbolic that the intensive shootings were conducted on the eve of the anniversary of the tragic events on the Maidan in Kyiv and the anniversary of the retreat of Ukrainian troops from Debaltseve.
The fact that the attacks of the illegal armed groups were planned in advance is evidenced by the militants’ posts in social networks. They expressed dissatisfaction with the results of the fight and were indignant that they were once again used by the leadership, which at first announced the attack but then stated that it was the Ukrainian side to initiate the provocation.
It should be mentioned that on the eve of the shelling, the Kremlin applied focus dissipation tactics, launching a new leak of information on the subject of the downed M17 flight. The Russian propaganda media widely spread the fake from the Dutch pseudo-journalist Max van der Werff. He published some «documents» of unknown origin, which state that according to, allegedly, the Dutch intelligence, any BUK missile system was not detected in the area of the Boeing crash in Donbas in July 2014.
The Russian media absolutely unjustifiably presented these records as the official conclusion of Netherlands intelligence, and later the fake was picked up by Russian President’s spokesman Dmitrii Peskov. This is despite the fact that the official investigation of the case of MH17 flight has indisputable facts that the aircraft was shot down by a rocket of the BUK missile system. In addition, it was identified that former journalist of the Russia Today channel Yana Yerlashova was involved in creating and distributing misinformation. Together with Max van der Werff, they founded the organization that published the fake data.
In the meantime, on February 20, the United Nations General Assembly held a plenary session on the issue of the uncontrolled Ukrainian territories.
In his speech, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Vadym Prystayko has reminded that about 44 thousand square km of the Ukrainian territory is currently occupied. More than 14,000 people have been killed and 27,000 injured. About two million inhabitants of the Crimea and Donbas have left their homes and have been granted the status of internally displaced persons or refugees. «Occupied territories have become an area of fear and terror, and the occupying authorities in the Crimea and in Donbas apply repression through systematic and large-scale violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms,» – said the chief of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.
He also pointed out that the humanitarian situation in the conflict-affected areas of Donetsk and Luhansk has been further deteriorating.
The joint statement of Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden was also released at the meeting. It was outlined by Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Lembit Uibo, who said: «By commemorating the sixth anniversary of the tragic events on the Maidan and the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine, the North Baltic countries reaffirm their strong support of Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders including territorial waters».
The Russian Federation dismissed all allegations and made it clear that peace in Donbas is possible only under Russian conditions.
However, the fact that Russia’s manipulation on Donbas issue and efforts to shift responsibility for the conflict escalation to Ukraine have completely failed can be considered a success. At the same time, Russia’s attempts to use international platforms for its propaganda rather than to resolve key issues of the world community are becoming more evident.
Furthermore, it is indicative the Russian Federation being a permanent member of the UN Security Council continues to misuse its status, defies international law, provokes tension in Donbas and creates sources of turbulence in different parts of the planet. Thus the world community has to take measures to prevent such UN members from having the «veto right» in the organization.