by Kennedy Applebaum
June 6, 2015
Last edit June 8, 2015
US Representative to the UN Samantha Power gave a speech before the United Nations Security Council on June 5, in which she promoted the typical horrendous American propaganda that has proven so devastating to the people of Donbass. Her speech is presented below. Power’s words are enclosed in quotes. My response to each passage is preceded by QI.
Remarks at a UN Security Council Meeting on Ukraine
[With Commentary by Quemado Insitute]
by Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
New York, NY
June 5, 2015
“Thank you, Mr. President, for organizing today’s meeting to speak to the recent developments in eastern Ukraine. And I joinothers in thanking our briefers, Under Secretary-General Feltman and OSCE Deputy Chief Monitor Hug, for providing theSecurity Council and the international community with the facts underlying the escalation in violence, which are critical ina conflict where some continue to try to obscure the truth.”
QI: OSCE Deputy Chief Monitor Hug may not feel safe presenting the facts underlying the violence in Donbass. Repeated incidents of Ukrainian shelling of OSCE observers has given the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reason to fear for their lives. We believe this Ukrainian intimidation has biased the reports of the OSCE against the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR/LPR). The OSCE has repeatedly ignored Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) attacks on Donbass civilians, particularly near Donetsk and Gorlovka in recent days, as well as across the entire contact line for many months.
“On June 3rd, combined Russian-separatist forces launched multiple, coordinated attacks west of the Minsk line of contact in Donetsk. The attacks were concentrated on the towns of Marinka and Krasnohorivka.”
QI: There are no regular Russian forces in Donbass, although a small percentage of the DPR/LPR militias are Russian citizen volunteers. Marinka and Krasnogorovka lie in DPR-controlled territory. The recent attacks on these outlying regions of Donetsk, according to first-hand evidence, were planned in advance and carried out by the Ukrainain Armed Forces (UAF), in violation of the Minsk agreements. Return fire by the Novorossiya Armed Forces (NAF), was necessary to defend civilians in these villages.
“The Russian Federation and its separatist allies have offered multiple – often conflicting – explanations for these attacks. In some instances, Russia and the separatists have blamed Ukraine for inciting the attacks.”
QI: They have blamed Ukraine for inciting the attacks because the Ukrainian army has done so.
“For example, a Russian presidential spokesman attributed the violations of the ceasefire to the “provocative actions by the Ukrainian armed forces,’ claiming, ‘the Ukrainian side has repeatedly taken similar efforts to escalate tensions against the backdrop of international operations.'”
QI: The Russian presidential spokesman was describing the real situation. The UAF have been launching unprovoked attacks against the population of Donbass for over a year now, while most of the world looks the other way, it being apparently against the financial and political interests of the powers that be to acknowledge the war crimes of the acting Ukraine government.
“Similarly, the so-called ‘Defense Minister’ of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic blamed Ukraine for ‘provocations’ and, what he called, ‘a breach in the Minsk agreements,’ which led to the fighting. Exactly what the so-called provocations are was never explained.”
QI: What the provocations are needs no explaining; it is self-evident from context. The provocations consist of UAF shelling of Donbass civilians, five killed in Gorlovka alone last week. The DPR is helpless against UAF Minsk violations, since the OSCE refuses to report them, perhaps due to Ukrainian intimidation, but also because the OSCE is funded by some 57 European member states, nearly all of which support Poroshenko’s regime unconditionally, without review.
“This argument, this set of arguments, have been undermined by some of the separatists themselves, who seem to have forgotten to run their tweets and their blog posts by Moscow.”
QI: Pro-Novorossiya Twitter and Blog sources comprise a variety of concerned people all over the world. Few if any have connections to Moscow, as Moscow does not support the existence of the DPR/LPR. These independent sources are free post anything they wish. They do not represent DPR/LPR government policy, and the DPR/LPR is not accountable for their posts.
“During the attacks, one tweeted, ‘Marinka is ours!’ – posting a photo of armed soldiers atop a tank flying the separatists’ flag. A post on a separatist website said, ‘As a result of a massive attack by [DPR] armed forces, Marinka has been liberated.'”
QI: Semantha Power has not revealed the source of the statement, so its reliability cannot be assessed. In any case, the statement bears no resemblance to the policies of the DPR government, and the DPR is probably not responsible. Many independent Twitter and Blog sources, including ourselves, would like to see the NAF prevail, and rejoice at any progress the NAF makes toward protecting Donbass civilians from Ukrainian fire. The exclamation she cites was no doubt inspired by the relief we feel when civilians are protected.
“In other instances, Russia has argued that the attacks were justified because the areas that are actually part of the separatist-controlled territory under the Minsk agreements are these areas. They are not. This was the case Russia made about Marinka and Krasnohorivka yesterday, at a meeting of the OSCE. We’ve seen this tactic before; when combined Russian-separatist forces encircled and attacked Debaltseve immediately after signing the package of measures at Minsk on February 12th, 2015. As a separatist commander Eduard Basurin told Reuters on February 15th, ‘Of course we can open fire [on Debaltseve]…The territory is internal: ours. And internal is internal. But along the line of confrontation there is no shooting.’ The problem with this line of argument is, quite simply, that it is false. At no point did the Minsk Agreements recognize Marinka and Krasnohorivka as separatist-controlled territory. Nor did they grant the separatists control over Debaltseve or other areas combined Russian-separatist forces have seized, or tried to seize. Yet for Russia and the separatists, it seems the contact line can shift to include the territories that they feel they deserve.”
QI: These areas under attack are part of the ceasefire zone (see maps left and below). When the UAF shells these civilian towns, the OSCE does not report it. Hence the burden of enforcement falls upon the DPR/LPR governments. This puts them in an untenable position. If they do nothing, the UAF continues indiscriminate shelling of civilians. If they ask that the OSCE accurately report Ukrainian aggression, as the DPR government did last week with an official letter of appeal, the OSCE ignores the request. If the DPR/LPR send in troops to stop UAF attacks on civilians, the DPR/LPR are blamed for violating Minsk. As caring human beings, they place protecting civilians ahead of protecting their reputations among foreign enemies. This is to their credit. They have asked that OSCE mission be expanded. What more can they do?
About the ambiguity of contact line, there is dearth of available maps from reliable unbiased sources. The first map shown above originates from the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, which is far from unbiased. The map to the right, which was posted on the Slavyangrad website, appears to be more accurate, although apparently originating from the same source. Some expert observers say the contact line was never officially established. About “shifting the contact line”, the UAF has relentlessly attacked the Azov Sea town of Shirokino, even though Kiev maps themselves show Shirokino on the DPR side of the contact line.
“The Kyiv-born surrealist master Mikhail Bulgakov put this problem a different way: ‘The tongue can conceal the truth, but the eyes, never!’ In this case, the objective eyes in eastern Ukraine belong to the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission, the SMM. And what they tell us is that, on the evening of June 2nd and early morning of June 3rd, ‘SMM observed the movement of a large amount of heavy weapons in DPR-controlled areas – generally in a westerly direction toward the contact line – close to Marinka, preceding and during the fighting.’ So, to repeat: according to the SMM, heavy weapons from the Russian-backed separatist side moved westward ‘preceding as well as during the fighting.'”
QI: The NAF are not backed by Russia. Russia has sent no regular troops, and has not offered even diplomatic support to the DPR/LPR. If the DPR militia moved weapons toward the contact line, again, the DPR is in the impossible dilemma of having to enforce Minsk by itself. The OSCE cannot, or will not, report Ukraine violations truthfully. It is to the DPR’s credit that they so value the lives of civilians, they will do what they must to protect them, in spite of the world’s misunderstanding of their predicament.
“The SMM tried to contact high-ranking DPR personnel over an hour-and-a-half period on the morning of June 3rd, but reported ‘Either they were unavailable or did not wish to speak to the SMM.’ The eyes do not conceal the truth. And the truth here is that the recent violence was rooted in a combined Russian-separatist assault.”
QI: One and half hours is not much time to attempt contact. Does the OSCE respond that quickly? Nor have we heard the DPR side of the story. Powers is certainly not an authority on the truth. There has been no Russian involvement, and if the DPR was involved, they were acting in defense of civilians. The Ukrainian rogue forces think nothing of shelling civilians. They have been doing so freely since the beginning of the war.
“These and other joint attacks by Russian-separatist forces have deadly consequences. At least 5 Ukrainian soldiers were killed, and 38 wounded, in the assault on the towns. The number of casualties is surely higher, but we do not, unfortunately, have reliable reports from the separatists’ side. That is because, as the UN’s Human Rights Monitoring Unit noted in its May 15th report, independent media have been prosecuted, threatened, and otherwise muzzled in separatist-controlled territory.”
QI: When the Ukrainian Army attacks, it has deadly consequences, but in their case mainly for civilians. That is a war crime. And media suppression, including assassinations and imprisonment, is rampant in Kiev-held territory.
“We also do not know how many Russian soldiers were killed in recent attacks – or in any of their operations in eastern Ukraine, for that matter. Russia continues – despite incidents such as the recent capture of two special operations Russian soldiers in Schastya last month – to deny any military involvement in eastern Ukraine.”
QI: Russia denies military involvement because they have none. The two Russian soldiers were former military personnel, as the Russian defense ministry has clarified. The burden of proof is on the accuser: Semantha Power.
“And just last week, President Putin signed a decree classifying any death of Russian soldiers in ‘special operations’ in peacetime a state secret, a policy which previously was limited to wartime only. Not content with denying their military service in life, Russia now denies their loved ones the respect and closure – not to mention social services – for their service in death. And it denies the Russian people knowledge to which they are entitled – of a conflict their government has been fueling with weapons, training, and soldiers. No matter what your opinion of the open secret that is Russia’s military involvement in eastern Ukraine and occupied Crimea, the dignified recognition of one’s dead should have primacy.”
QI: Since Russia is not involved in the Ukraine-Novorossiya war, Russia’s internal legislation is entirely incidental. It has no bearing on any judgement against the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. If the UN wants to challenge Putin on that piece of legislation, they will open a can of worms, given the many unethical classified designations in a host of UN countries, including the US and China.
“Of course, suffering is hardly limited to those involved in the fighting. Civilians living near and along the front lines continue to endure profound hardship. Approximately 1.3 million Ukrainians have been displaced by the fighting. Small children on the front lines have gotten used to going to school and sleeping in basements. Families live underground for months at a time. The elderly and disabled are trapped with little access to vital medicine and other forms of assistance. A health professional working in Debaltseve said, ‘I’ve met elderly people who say that they would just like to die. They don’t have depression; they just don’t want to be 80 years old and living in a basement.”
QI: This suffering is largely real, and even worse suffering has occurred that remains unknown to Samantha Power. The suffering stems almost entirely from the Ukrainian shelling of civilians, shelling that began in Slavyansk in May, 2014 and has continued to this day across Donbass. No one denies the tragedy resulting from Petro Poroshenko’s single-minded campaign of unification at the cost of civilian slaughter.
“By now, the international community is quite familiar with Russia’s playbook when it comes to efforts to occupy the territory of its sovereign neighbors – as it did in Crimea, and before that in Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. The consensus here, and in the international community, remains that Minsk’s implementation is the only viable way out of this deadly conflict.”
QI: Russia has done more to promote Minsk than any other country or organization except Germany and the OSCE. Power’s statement self-contradictory.
“The Ukrainian government has made good faith efforts to honor that consensus – notwithstanding the seemingly endless violations by Russia and the separatists – and deliver on the commitments made at Minsk. Ukraine is holding direct dialogue with the separatists, a bitter pill to swallow, but one they have swallowed for the sake of peace and for the sake of the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. At the same time, Ukraine has undertaken critical efforts, with the participation of Ukrainian civil society, to address pervasive problems it inherited from its predecessors, like widespread corruption, as well as to pursue crucial reforms such as decentralization. Ukraine cooperates with the international monitors and bodies, and has committed to address identified areas of concern. The United States will continue to raise tough issues and these areas of concern, including some raised here today by the briefers, with the Government of Ukraine, and we will support the government and Ukrainian people as they continue their efforts toward meaningful reform.”
QI: The acting Kiev government has refused again and again to hold dialogue with the DPR/LPR. Ukraine does not cooperate with international monitors, having shelled and shot at OSCE observers often enough to intimidate them. The corruption in Ukraine appears worse today than it was under President-in-exile Viktor Yanukovich. The corrupt cannot root out corruption without destroying themselves, so I doubt Ukraine’s “critical efforts” will succeed. It is unjust to force the people of Donbass to live under such corruption, when their own preferred president, Viktor Yanukovich, was illegally ousted due largely to the foreign intervention on the part of the United States.
“Yet Russia – and the separatists it trains, arms, fights alongside, and with whom it shares command and control systems in eastern Ukraine – continues to ignore this consensus, flouting the commitments it made at Minsk. It goes right on applying its playbook in new territories – as though this Council and the world are too blind, or too easily deceived to notice.”
QI: Powers repeats this falsehood to give it an aura of truth. Russia does not train, arm or fight alongside troops in Donbass. Russia has essentially deserted the cause of freedom for Donbass, to the woe of many observers. Accusing Russia of something it isn’t doing is absurd. What would help is for UN to grant independence to the DPR and LPR. This, I believe, is a viable diplomatic option.
“We must not let ourselves be deceived. The consequences of Russia’s contempt for Minsk and the rules undergirding our international peace and security are too great – both for the integrity of the international system, and for the rights and welfare of the Ukrainian people. We cannot fail to see and fail to act. We must not stop applying pressure until Ukrainians get the stable democracy, the territorial integrity, and sovereignty they yearn for and deserve. Thank you.”
QI: Powers fears “deception” because Russia’s arguments are powerful. And they are powerful because they are true. Semantha Power is fighting hard to cling to her belief in America. It hurts to admit your country is wrong. But how right can the United States be, backing a regime as corrupt, barbaric and murderous as that in Kiev?
In a related story, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin told the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine Friday that there is frustration among Western leaders with Kiev’s failure to make peace efforts and implement the Minsk agreements. “We call on the SMM OSCE to not only discreetly establish the ceasefire violations, but in addition to that to precisely report on the targets of the shelling and its victims – civilians or military divisions carrying out artillery attacks on residential areas,” said Churkin. See RT report at West frustrated over Kiev’s breaches of Minsk deals – Russian UN envoy (June 5).
For Today’s Donbass news see
NOVOROSSIYA DAILY SUN
A Quemado Institute Publication