KyivPost, May 31, 2015 — DONETSK, Ukraine - As soon as the sun goes down, the streets empty out.
Restaurants shut down and families go home, such as 61-year-old Vadim Konstanova with his two grandsons. He waits for the trolleybus that will bring him and the two boys safely back to their home in the western Petrovskiy district. "This land is ruled by guns at night. No one speaks about it, but everyone knows it. Crime has risen since the founding of the Donetsk People's Republic," Konstanova said. The trolleybus arrived and his parting advice was: "Be safe and don't be fooled." The Kremlin-backed separatists keep building their own unrecognized government institutions. MORE
KyivPost, May 31, 2015 — The longer it drags on, the more Russia’s 14-month-old war against Ukraine is taking both nations down with it. Neither seems to want the contested areas of the Donbas any longer. The military victor gets a dispirited and dwindling population, ruined property and a multibillion-dollar reconstruction project that neither nation, especially Ukraine, can afford. Ukraine’s military strategy is purely defensive now, one of containment and isolation of the Russian-controlled areas of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. Its soldiers return fire when fired upon, although some soldiers have complained to the Kyiv Post that delays in battlefield orders to return fire have cost lives. Russia, meanwhile, continues its strategy of bleeding Ukraine slowly without triggering a harsher international response. MORE
Politico, Magazine. May 31, 2015 — It was encouraging to see Russian President Vladimir Putin and Secretary of State John Kerry meet several weeks ago in Sochi, Russia. The last thing the world needs now is another Cold War — much less a possible hot one — involving the world’s two nuclear superpowers. But the positive diplomatic signs should not lull us into a belief that the crisis over Ukraine is near resolution. Sporadic fighting continues even now in eastern Ukraine, and the possibility of escalation is real. In a speech on May 27 at The Brookings Institution, Vice President Joe Biden warned that Putin may be hoping he can outlast the West, perhaps persuading the European Union not to renew the sanctions on Russia that are currently set to expire this summer, or otherwise play for time. MORE
NYTimes, WARSAW — Volodymyr Zelenyuk knew it was time to bolt when the pro-Russian separatists came to the carwash he owned in the eastern Ukrainian coal town of Antratsyt and demanded his help making and repairing weapons. “Either you help them, or you die,” Mr. Zelenyuk, 28, said. So he grabbed his wife, their passports, two backpacks and a credit card and fled across the nearby border into Russia, beginning a long trek to Crimea, Kiev and, finally, four months ago, to the Polish border where they begged for asylum. “I don’t know what I am going to do if I am refused,” he said. “But I can’t be too optimistic.” MORE
NYTimes, MOSCOW, May 30, 2015— MOSCOW — International monitors tracking cease-fire violations in eastern Ukraine reported Friday that they had encountered four people wearing military uniforms with Russian insignia in a town about 25 miles southeast of the regional capital of Donetsk, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists. In its daily report, the special monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said a young man had reported that “an unknown armed group” had occupied the grounds of a former children’s campground in the town, Petrivske. According to the report, monitors “spoke to two women, both wearing military uniforms, with caps with Russian Federation Armed Forces insignia.” MORE
NYTimes, WASHINGTON — An unusual investigation using publicly available videos, smartphone photographs and satellite images shows that Russia is continuing to defy the West by conducting protracted military operations inside Ukraine, according to an independent report. Russia has long dismissed Western allegations that its military has intervened in Ukraine as little more than computer-generated propaganda. In an attempt to puncture the Russian denials, independent experts have operated like digital Sherlock Holmeses, using Google’s Street View, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, satellite photographs and Russia’s version of Facebook, including social media updates by Russian soldiers. That research was then supplemented by more traditional sources like court documents and local media reports.“ MORE
KyivPost, 28 May, 2015. Russia is massing troops and hundreds of pieces of heavy military equipment, such as tanks and artillery, along Ukraine's border. That's according to Reuters reporter Maria Tsvetkova, who saw and took photos of the deployments on May 27. The same day, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a think tank audience in Washington that Russia had deployed 250 aircraft and 700 pieces of heavy military equipment to the Ukrainian border as part of a military exercise. MORE
BloombergNews, May 26, 2015. Russia is so desperate to hide its military involvement in Ukraine that it has brought in mobile crematoriums to destroy the bodies of its war dead, say U.S. lawmakers who traveled to the war-torn country this spring.
The U.S. and NATO have long maintained that thousands of Russian troops are fighting alongside separatists inside eastern Ukraine, and that the Russian government is obscuring not only the presence but also the deaths of its soldiers there. In March, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow told a conference, "Russian leaders are less and less able to conceal the fact that Russian soldiers are fighting -- and dying -- in large numbers in eastern Ukraine." MORE
WashingtonPost, May 21, 2015. IT HAS been a week since Secretary of State John F. Kerry emerged from eight hours of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister to say that the two sides had agreed to make a new effort to cooperate in resolving conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and completing a nuclear accord with Iran. The trip represented yet another bet by the Obama administration that it can cut deals with Mr. Putin without betraying U.S. interests or allies or capitulating to the Russian ruler and his imperialist agenda.
So far, the results are not encouraging. The starting point for any practical progress would be the actual implementation of a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine. Though the accord was signed three months ago, Russia’s forces in the region continue to violate it “on a daily basis,” as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland put it this week. That hasn’t changed: On Wednesday, the Ukrainian military reported that “Russian-backed forces have continued to press their attacks on key points of the front . . . using heavy artillery and tanks,” according to the Web site the Interpreter. MORE
Opposition activists in Moscow say they have discovered fresh graves of several Russian Special Forces officers. The accusation comes as Russia's Defense Ministry continues to deny that Russian soldiers are fighting in Ukraine -- despite the recent capture in Luhansk of a pair who identified themselves as Russian officers.
Activists Ruslan Leviev and Vadim Korovin say they decided to launch their own investigation into the deaths of Russian servicemen in Ukraine. To back their accusations, they released photographs and video from a graveyard in Tambov Oblast, where a soldier identified as Anton Savelyev was recently buried.
“This is our response to Russian propaganda that says there are no troops in Ukraine,” Leviev told the Kyiv Post by phone. “We want to show society that our Defense Ministry is literally abandoning its own troops by disavowing them like this. … We are showing society the consequences of this war.” MORE
High-level supporters of Ukraine gathered in Warren recently to discuss the humanitarian crises unfolding in that nation. TV Warren's Louis Kerman attended the event at the Ukrainian Cultural Center and has more. MORE
TheDailyBeast May 8, 2015 — MARIUPOL, Ukraine — It was the worst five-day shift for the Donbas Battalion of Ukrainian volunteers in a long time: one soldier was killed, three were wounded. And on Wednesday, the last day of their shift, the troops were saying goodbye to their late friend Vania.
The front between Ukrainian and Russian-backed rebel positions was less than a kilometer wide and lay across a ghost village of shattered buildings called Shyrokyne, currently one of the hottest spots of Ukraine war.
Driving to inspect front line artillery positions on Wednesday morning, the battalion's chief commander, nicknamed Gal, looked gloomy. To avoid more losses his units were in bad need of weapons and transport, he said, and those weren’t coming. They needed “much more than American or Canadian training,” he said. MORE
KyivPost, May 6, 2015 — Five Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the last day while combined Russian-separatist forces have a “powerful strike force” of 3,000 soldiers andseveral dozen armored vehicles facing the Azov Sea coastal city of Mariupol in Donetsk Oblast, military analyst Dmytro Tymchuk said.
Kremlin-backed forces have also reinforced their formations in the Svitlodarsk-Artemivsk area of the region by moving two convoys of infantry and armor consisting of 18 armored personnel carriers, seven tanks and several trucks closer to the front line, he said on Facebook on May 6.
A combined Russian-separatist reconnaissance group struck a transport vehicle with a rocket-propelled grenade in a village near Artemivsk in Donetsk Oblast on May 5, killing at least five serviceman and wounding 12, according to Ukraine's military spokesman Andriy Lysenko. MORE
Russia Direct, May 5, 2015 — Dmitry Polikanov
As the flow of refugees from Eastern Ukraine increases to the southern regions of Russia, the indignation of locals who are becoming more and more reluctant to host Ukrainians is also growing. Can it lead to social tensions and give another impetus to end the Ukrainian crisis?
Ten years after the Chechen war, which produced many internally displaced persons and required significant efforts to organize the regular flow of humanitarian aid and raise living standards in tent camps, Russia has to face this challenge again, with tens of thousands of refugees coming from southeastern Ukraine as a result of the Ukraine conflict.
OVER 660,000 PEOPLE FLED THE DONBAS TO SEEK SHELTER IN RUSSIA AND OFFICIALLY REGISTERED AS REFUGEES
According to a recent report by the United Nations, over 660,000 people fled the Donbas to seek shelter in Russia and officially registered as refugees. Many of them stay in the southern and central regions of Russia, benefiting from government support and traditional Russian hospitality. They get accommodation in hotels and sanatoria and receive substantial financial help. The problem is that they have nothing to do as they wait out the Ukrainian crisis. MORE
Notredame, May 5, 2015 — Notre Dame Prep juniors Zenon Lewyckyj and Stefan Jurkiw put in a great deal of time and effort in a Detroit suburb recently to help with raising money and awareness for the efforts of the “Save Ukraine Now” campaign. Save Ukraine Now was organized by the Ukrainian American Civic Committee of Metropolitan Detroit to help Ukrainians currently embroiled in a conflict with Russian-backed separatists that has created 1.9 million refugees within and outside the county, as well as many casualties. The April 28 and 29 event was held at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren, Michigan, where well over 200 individuals of various ethnicities and faiths gthered to learn about the current situation in Ukraine and how they can help the refugees and displaced persons. MORE
Save Ukraine Now Tax Exemption Letter
Preventing humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine