maanantai 23. maaliskuuta 2015

Putin commands Russian & proxy forces in East Ukraine – proof on Kremlin website

Russian president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov claimed on 23rd March 2015:  "Contrary to what NATO and European countries say, self-defense forces in Donbas are not our puppets. President Putin has some influence on them because they respect him, but he cannot order them to lay down arms," 

Peskov’s claim is fully untrue.  Proof is on the Kremlin official website, even translated to correct English.
There, Putin makes thinly veiled orders to the Russian and proxy forces in East Ukraine.
I analyze below following cases shortly:
1.      Putin definition of Novorossiya 17th April 2014
2.      Putin commands to ”Novorossiya militia” regarding Ilovaysk on 29th August 2014
3.      Putin justifications of breaking Minsk 1 ceasefire 24th Oct and 19th Dec 2014
4.      Putin permission to Russian  ”volunteers” fighting in Ukraine on 19th December 2014
5.      Putin orders to take Debaltseve, breaking Minsk 2 ceasefire on 12th and 17th February 2015

1. Putin definition of Novorossiya 17th April 2014

Five days after a group of 52 Russian, Crimean and East Ukrainian militants commanded by allegedly former FSB colonel Igor Girkin on 12th April 2014 occupied cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk and assisted another former Russian officer, Igor Bezler to take over city of Horlivka, Putin addressed in the ”Direct line” interview the subject of ”Novorossiya”: Link:

Putin defined the area of ”Novorossiya” as eight oblasts in southern and eastern Ukraine. Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia oblasts are not directly mentioned but they follow from the delineation given by Putin.

”Regarding the question of what should come first: a constitutional referendum followed by elections, or elections first to stabilise the situation and then a referendum. The essential issue is how to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the southeast of Ukraine. I would like to remind you that what was called Novorossiya (New Russia) back in the tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine back then. These territories were given to Ukraine in the 1920s by the Soviet government. Why? Who knows. They were won by Potyomkin and Catherine the Great in a series of well-known wars. The centre of that territory was Novorossiysk, so the region is called Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained.

Today, they live in Ukraine, and they should be full citizens of their country. That’s what this is all about. The issue is not whether the referendum on decentralisation or federalisation is followed by elections or the elections come before the architecture of the state is changed. The key issue is providing guarantees to these people. Our role is to facilitate a solution in Ukraine, to ensure that there are guarantees. People from southeast Ukraine will ask you, will ask us and the current authorities in Kiev: “Fine, the elections will be held on May 25, but do you want us to recognise their outcome? You’ll forget your promises the very next day and send new oligarchs to Donetsk, Kharkov, Lugansk, and so on. What about guarantees? We need answers.” I hope that an answer will be found.”

There were different attempts in whole area defined by Putin to occupy city administrations by pro-Russian and Russian crowds, which were, however, successful only in Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts. Most serious clashes outside them took part in Kharkiv and Odessa during March, April and May 2014, which however remained in control of Ukrainian authorities. The ”referendum”  mentioned by Putin was held in occupied parts of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts on 11th May 2014 and was used to legitimize creation of so-called Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics.

2.  Putin commands to ”Novorossiya militia” regarding Ilovaysk on 29th August 2014

With the title of ”President of Russia Vladimir Putin addressed Novorossiya militia” Putin issued on 29th August 2014 to Russian and proxy forces surrounding Ilovaysk the following command:
”As a result of the militia’s actions, a large number of Ukrainian service members who did not participate in the military operation of their own volition but while following orders have been surrounded.

I call on the militia groups to open a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian service members who have been surrounded, so as to avoid any needless loss of life, giving them the opportunity to leave the combat area unimpeded and reunite with their families, to return them to their mothers, wives and children, and to quickly provide medical assistance to those who were injured in the course of the military operation.”

Obeying the command, Russian and proxy forces did agree on a corridor for Ukraine forces to retreat. However, as the Ukrainian forces retreated with vehicles and weapons and included volunteer battalions, the Russian and proxy forces shelled the column , killing a large part of the force and took most of the rest prisoner.

3.  Putin justifications of breaking Minsk 1 ceasefire 24th Oct and 19th Dec 2014

Putin justified several times the failure of the Donetsk and Lugansk ”people’s republics” to fulfill the Minsk agreements, referring to unsigned  agreement on demarcation line, justifying the continued fighting in particular at the Donetsk airport with that.

In Valdai discussion club on 24th October 2014
”For instance, Ukrainian army units were supposed to leave certain locations where they were stationed prior to the Minsk agreements, while the militia army was supposed to leave certain settlements they were holding prior to these agreements. However, neither is the Ukrainian army withdrawing from the locations they should leave, nor is the militia army withdrawing from the settlements they have to move out of, referring, and I will be frank now – to the fact that their families remain there (I mean the militia) and they fear for their safety. Their families, their wives and children live there. This is a serious humanitarian factor.”

In press conference on 19th December 2014:

”Should the Minsk agreements be implemented or shouldn’t they? Yes they should! Let me repeat: I was one of those who initiated them and we… I’ll say an important thing. Look, I’d like everyone to hear this. Our representatives in Minsk signed a memorandum in September and there were protocols to it that defined the disengagement line. The representatives of Donetsk didn’t sign those protocols. That’s the problem. They said at the very start: We can’t.

When we tried to insist – I’ll be frank with you about this, since the public needs to know these things ­– they told us that they can’t leave these villages (there were three or four disputed villages), because their families live there, and they can’t risk their children, wives and sisters being killed or raped. This is the most important thing. However, the Ukrainian officials did not withdraw their troops from the areas that they were supposed to leave, such as the Donetsk Airport, either. They're staying there.”

The planned withdrawals never took place, but Russian and proxy forces continued their assaults on Donetsk airport, finally taking the ruins of the new terminal on 21st January 2015. The fighting in the area around the airport has continued after that.

4.  Putin permission to Russian  ”volunteers” fighting in Ukraine on 18th Dec 2014

In news conference on 18th December 2014, Putin gave official permission to military personnel to ”volunteer” to fight in Ukraine:  Link:

”Now to the first question, about responsibility. In Russia, like in any other presidential republic, it is the president who is responsible for everything. And responsibility for military personnel rests with the Commander-in-Chief. Let me remind you that in Russia this is one and the same person.

All those who are following their heart and are fulfilling their duty by voluntarily taking part in hostilities, including in southeast Ukraine, are not mercenaries, since they are not paid for what they do.”

The official permission by Putin is significant, because after this official permission, he is responsible for the Russian military personnel, both active and reserve, fighting as volunteers in Ukraine.

This definitely is war of aggression according to Uniter Nations General Assembly resolution 3314, 14 December 1974, article 3 case g).

”(g) The sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to the acts listed above, or its substantial involvement therein.”

5.   Putin orders to take Debaltseve, breaking Minsk 2 ceasefire on 12th and 17th February 2015

After Minsk 2 ceasefire was concluded, Putin made two statements regarding town of Debaltseve.

First, in Minsk on 12th February 2015:

Putin made a statement emphasizing that the Ukrainian forces in Debaltseve were surrounded. According to other participants of the negotiations, Debaltseve was the main stumbling block in ceasefire negotiations, as Russian negotiators demanded Debaltseve should be surrendered. Putin commented as follows:

”We proceed from the notion that all the parties will show restraint until the complete ceasefire. The problem here was that representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics claimed that in response to the aggressive actions of the Kiev authorities they not only held back the Kiev forces but also managed to mount an offensive and surrounded a group of 6,000 to 8,000 servicemen. They, of course, proceed from the idea that this group will lay down arms and stop its resistance.

We nevertheless call on both sides to show restraint and in order to avoid unnecessary excessive bloodshed and casualties they should do everything possible to ensure that the separation of forces, mainly the heavy equipment, is conducted without unnecessary bloodshed.

Representatives of the Ukrainian authorities believe their troops have not been surrounded and therefore think this process will go sufficiently smoothly. I had some initial doubts that I can share with you. If the troops really had been surrounded, then, logically, they will try to break free, while those who are on the outside will try to arrange for a corridor for their trapped servicemen.

Eventually, we agreed with President Poroshenko that we will instruct our experts – I am ready to do so – to establish what is actually going on there. In addition, I will repeat, we will try to develop a set of measures to verify the implementation of our decisions by both sides.”

After this statement, the attacks of the Russian and proxy forces increased in intensity.

In Budapest on 17th February 2015 Putin made an appeal that the Ukrainian forces surrounded by Russian and proxy forces in Debaltseve should surrender as an answer to a journalis’s question:

”Yes, clashes are still taking place around Debaltsevo. But there too the scale and intensity of operations is less than it was before. What is happening there was not unexpected. According to our information, a group of Ukrainian troops were already surrounded there before the meeting in Minsk last week. I spoke about this at the meeting in Minsk. I said that the surrounded troops would try to break out of the encirclement and there would be attempts from the outside too to break through, and the militia, who had got the Ukrainian troops surrounded, would resist these attempts and try to keep the encirclement in place, and this would inevitably lead to further clashes. Another attempt to break through was made this morning, I don’t know what the media have been saying, I have not managed to follow all of the news, but I know that at ten o’clock this morning the Ukrainian armed forces made another attempt to break open the encirclement. It was unsuccessful in the end. 

I hope very much that the people responsible in the Ukrainian government will not prevent Ukrainian servicemen from laying down their arms. If they cannot or will not take this important decision and give this order, they should at least not prosecute those who are ready to lay down their arms in order to save their own and others’ lives. At the same time, I hope that militia representatives and the authorities in the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic will not detain these people and will not prevent them from freely leaving the conflict zone and encirclement and returning to their families.”

After this statement, the Ukrainian forces managed mostly to break out of the encirclement in Debaltseve, foiling Putin’s order.

A Russian contract soldier from Buryatia, Dorzhi Batomkunuev was interviewed by Novaya Gazeta in Donetski hospital. He had participated in combat around Debaltseve since 8th February and was wounded on 19th February  in a T-72B tank. According to him, 90% of the forces that took Debaltseve were russian forces:
Novaya Gazeta 2nd March 2015
Whole article in English:

We can conclude:
-          Russian and proxy forces in East Ukraine are under president Putin’s command
-          Even in case of irregular troops, Putin has full responsibility for Russian citizens and arms which have been allowed over the border by Russian authorities.