‘Ukrainian government used banned cluster bombs’


This Human Rights Watch video says about itself:

Ukraine: Widespread Use of Cluster Munitions

20 October 2014

Ukrainian government forces used cluster munitions in populated areas in Donetsk city in early October 2014. The use of cluster munitions in populated areas violates the laws of war due to the indiscriminate nature of the weapon and may amount to war crimes.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Ukraine Used Cluster Bombs, Evidence Indicates

By ANDREW ROTH

OCTOBER 20, 2014

DONETSK, Ukraine — The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims.

Sites where rockets fell in the city on Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 showed clear signs that cluster munitions had been fired from the direction of army-held territory, where misfired artillery rockets still containing cluster bomblets were found by villagers in farm fields.

The two attacks wounded at least six people and killed a Swiss employee of the International Red Cross based in Donetsk.

If confirmed, the use of cluster bombs by the pro-Western government could complicate efforts to reunite the country, as residents of the east have grown increasingly bitter over the Ukrainian Army’s tactics to oust pro-Russian rebels.

Further, in a report released late Monday, Human Rights Watch says the rebels have most likely used cluster weapons in the conflict as well, a detail that The New York Times could not independently verify.

The army’s use of cluster munitions, which shower small bomblets around a large area, could also add credibility to Moscow’s version of the conflict, which is that the Ukrainian national government is engaged in a punitive war against its own citizens. The two October strikes occurred nearly a month after President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine signed a cease-fire agreement with rebel representatives.

“It’s pretty clear that cluster munitions are being used indiscriminately in populated areas, particularly in attacks in early October in Donetsk city,” said Mark Hiznay, senior arms researcher at Human Rights Watch, in emailed comments after the report was completed. “The military logic behind these attacks is not apparent, and these attacks should stop, because they put too many civilians at risk.”

Press officers for the Ukrainian military denied that their troops had used cluster weapons during the conflict and said that the rocket strikes against Donetsk in early October should be investigated once it was safe to do so. They also said that rebels in the area had access to powerful rocket systems from Russia that could fire cluster munitions.

However, munition fragments found in and around Donetsk and interviews with witnesses indicate that the cluster munitions that struck Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 were most likely fired by Ukrainian troops stationed southwest of the city, according to Human Rights Watch and a review by The Times. Witnesses there reported seeing rocket launches from those troops’ positions toward the city at times that coincide with the strikes.

Human Rights Watch says in its report that cluster weapons have been used against population centers in eastern Ukraine at least 12 times, including the strikes on Donetsk, during the conflict, and possibly many more. The report said that both sides were probably culpable, in attacks that “may amount to war crimes” in a grinding conflict that has claimed at least 3,700 lives, including those of many civilians.

The report, which included incidents uncovered by The Times, says there is “particularly strong evidence” that Ukrainian government troops carried out the two October attacks against Donetsk.

An August cluster-munitions attack on the village of Starobesheve, which was in Ukrainian Army hands, was probably carried out either by pro-Russian rebels or by Russian troops, the report says.

Beginning in October, a series of strikes against Donetsk using certain cluster weapons fired from Uragan rockets came from the southwest of the city. The timing of at least two rocket launches from the same location corresponded to cluster munition strikes that hit Donetsk from a southwesterly trajectory, according to Human Rights Watch and The Times.

Shelling of cities has been common in the conflict, and the cease-fire agreement has not ended the violence. A chemical plant on the outskirts of Donetsk was struck Monday, and the resulting shock wave shattered windows for miles around.

On the morning of Oct. 5, Boris V. Melikhov, 37, was chopping wood outside his house in the Gladkovka neighborhood of Donetsk when he heard the loud clap of an explosion from the street.

His first sensation was “a strong push in the back,” and he sprawled onto the grass. More explosions followed, showering Mr. Melikhov with dust and dirt. Unable to stand, he crawled toward a spigot in the garden, bleeding profusely and desperate for water.

“I felt the blood running down my back, down my leg,” he recalled in an interview last week from his bed in a hospital, where his uncle took him after the attack. Doctors there found several identical metal fragments in his leg, chest, shoulder and hand.

Hundreds of such fragments, each about the size of a thumbtack, were sprayed out by at least 11 cluster bomblets that exploded on Mr. Melikhov’s street that morning. The 9N210 bomblets are carried in surface-to-surface Uragan (Hurricane) rockets that are fired from the backs of trucks and have a range of roughly 22 miles.

Part of one of the rockets smashed into a street a few blocks away, and the impact crater indicated it had come from the southwest.

The same morning, sunflower farmers near Novomikhailovka, a small village about 20 miles southwest of Mr. Melikhov’s house, saw rockets sailing almost directly overhead toward Donetsk. Local people said in interviews that the army had been launching Uragan rockets from there for more than a week.

“Trust me, when it is day after day after day, you get to know your Grad launches from your Uragan launches,” said one farmer, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution for discussing Ukrainian military positions. Grads are another kind of rocket used by both sides.

Villagers said they had also seen rockets with cluster bomblets up close. They said several of the rockets misfired on Oct. 3 and landed in the sunflower fields south of the village with their payloads intact.

A reporter photographed three malfunctioned rockets there, and two of them contained submunitions like those that injured Mr. Melikhov. The same type of weapon struck the Donetsk headquarters of the Red Cross on Oct. 2 in an attack that killed an administrator, Laurent DuPasquier, 38.

Uragan rockets can carry 30 of the submunitions, which look like metal cans with fins. Those bomblets in turn hold small pieces of chopped steel rod. The rocket releases the bomblets over a wide area, and the bomblets either explode on impact, flinging out lethal steel fragments, or land unexploded and effectively become land mines. Children often mistake them for toys.

At the Red Cross headquarters in Donetsk, Human Rights Watch researchers accompanied by a Times reporter documented 19 distinct impacts of cluster submunitions from the Oct. 2 attack. Judging by impact craters from rockets fired in the same salvo, the researchers said, the strike came from the southwest.

A witness to the Oct. 2 launch in Novomikhailovka told the reporter about the malfunctioning rockets in the fields. Other witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch on the evening of Oct. 2 confirmed that rockets had been fired from just south of the village toward Donetsk.

An advocacy group called the Cluster Munitions Coalition has been pressing Ukraine to join the international convention banning the stockpiling or use of the weapons. (Russia and the United States have not joined it, either.) The group’s director, Sarah Blakemore, wrote to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in July after images were published appearing to show the use of cluster munitions against rebel positions in the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

She said in a telephone interview that she had received no reply. “When I say they neither confirmed or denied, I mean they really just did not do anything,” Ms. Blakemore said.

More than a month after heavy fighting in the village of Ilovaysk, rebel soldiers continued going door to door last week, searching for unexploded shells and bomblets. At Tatyana Lashunova’s house, they found a Smerch (Tornado) rocket lodged in the shed where she keeps her preserves and gardening tools. It was not clear which side had fired the rocket, which can carry conventional warheads or cluster munitions.

Valery, one of the rebels, said his men would fan out and search a nearby field of tall, yellow grass where bomblets from the rocket probably landed.

“We haven’t got a mine detector or any other equipment,” he said. “They’ve promised something soon, but I don’t know whether to expect it.”

In Donetsk, doctors in a city hospital and morgue said they had found cluster-munitions fragments in several patients, including Mr. Melikhov, whose spine was nicked by one on Oct. 5. He was lucky not to have been paralyzed, but the injury made it very painful to sit, stand or lie flat, he said.

“I see it as the senseless destruction of the southeast,” he said of the attack. “There’s something wrong in their head.”

See also here.

Human Rights Watch documents Ukrainian military’s use of cluster rockets: here.

Ukrainian soldier wears Hitler’s SS symbols


Ukrainian soldier with SS symbols

The Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine blog in Britain comments in October 2014 on these photos:

Ukrainian National Guard soldier wearing nazi SS insignia

Two pictures distributed by Associated Press show a Ukrainian National Guard soldier wearing insignia of the nazi military organisation Waffen SS on his hat and arm while being reviewed by Prime Minister Yatseniuk.

Ukrainian soldier's SS symbols

The AP description of the pictures says:

A Ukrainian volunteer soldier with emblems of WWII SS Galician division that had fought against the Soviet Army, waits to be sent to the country’s east in a military base in the village of Novi Petrivtsi near Kiev Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukasky)

The blog post continues:

The picture was taken on September 30 at the National Guard training camp in Novi Petrivtsi. The reason the photographer was there was that the National Guard soldiers were being reviewed by the Prime Minister Yatseniuk before being sent to the front, as can be seen in the AP pictures following these two ones:

Yatseniuk reviews Ukrainian soldiers

The SS Galician division of Nazi troops (14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS) was set up in 1943 and was composed of Ukrainian volunteers.

On April 27 this year, a march was organised in Lviv, Western Ukraine, to commemorate the founding of this Nazi military organisation. The march was organised by organisations of veterans and the regional branch of the far right party Svoboda, which at the time was part of the ruling coalition in Kyiv:

Commemoration of the founding of the SS Galicia Division in Lviv, April 27, 2014

This comes after the scandal of Ukrainian soldiers of the Azov Battalion with nazi symbols on their helmets being shown on German TV news.

Artillery kills at Ukraine school playground


Injured man arrives in hospital after shelling in Donetsk, photo AFP: John MacDougall

From Reuters news agency:

At least 10 people killed in shelling on and near school in Ukraine’s Donetsk – city authorities

DONETSK Ukraine, Wed Oct 1, 2014 11:51am BST

At least 10 people were killed on Wednesday when shells hit a school playground and a mini-van in a nearby street in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, city authorities and Reuters witnesses said.

There were no children among those killed in the shelling at School No. 57 on the first day of the new school year, though witnesses said the dead included a biology teacher and the parent of a child at the school.

Reuters correspondents saw the bodies of three adults at the school and an additional six bodies in a burnt-out mini-van and on streets nearby. The regional administration said a total of 10 people had been killed in the shelling of the city, a stronghold of rebels waging a separatist rebellion.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Richard Balmforth, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

From the BBC:

Well over 200 people were at school number 57 in the Kievsky district when the playground was shelled, including 70 children. Although the school’s windows shattered, none of the children was reported hurt.

UKRAINIAN army shelling killed at least 10 residents in Donetsk yesterday despite a supposed ceasefire: here.

The Ukrainian government’s war against separatists in eastern Ukraine has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee. Most have sought refuge in neighbouring Russia, where according to figures from Russia’s federal migration agency 875,000 refugees from Ukraine are residing: here.

Exiled Ukraine trade union organizer: ‘Never forget who your class enemy is’: here.

Ukrainian civilians against war


Debaltsevo in Ukraine

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“Ukrainian soldiers booze too much”

Monday Sep 29 2014, 16:53 (Update: 29-09-14, 17:03)

“As long as we do not need to fight, we are free. Then we can drink,” said a Ukrainian military man. Together with a colleague, he is in a pub in the town Debaltsevo in eastern Ukraine, where recently there has been heavy fighting against the separatists again.

Even if there is no fighting, the military make their mark on everyday life in the city, says the owner of the pub to reporter Gert-Jan Dennekamp. He points to a hole in the bar. “That happens when a drunken soldier has a gun in his hands. If someone would have been standing there, then that person would have been dead now.”

Shelters

Two months, the Ukrainian military positioned themselves in Debaltsevo. They shoot over the town at the positions of the pro-Russian rebels. Many civilians have fled the city because of the violence. Of the more than 50,000 people, about half are left. They live mainly in shelters beneath the city.

“They came to liberate us, but from what?” cries a woman about Ukrainian soldiers in the city. “We love Ukraine, but why this? The army kills us, and they die themselves as well.” Her house is shot to pieces, but whether that was done by the Ukrainian military or pro-Russian rebels she does not know.

“They call themselves protectors, but I do not know against what they protect us,” a man agrees with her. He also has had more than enough of the Ukrainian military in the city. “It’s a bunch of alcoholics and thieves.”

German viewers criticise warmongering TV coverage on Ukraine


This video says about itself:

Ukrainians are burning their military draft cards [English subtitles]

27 July 2014

Ukrainians are burning their military writs, refusing to leave their sons to the Ministry of Defense.

By Sybille Fuchs in Germany:

German committee criticises television news coverage of Ukraine

26 September 2014

The supervisory committee of Germany’s ARD public television station has criticised the station’s coverage of developments in Ukraine. The station’s coverage had “given the impression of bias” and appeared to be directed against “Russia and Russian standpoints”, the committee declares in the minutes of its meeting of June 24, which has been published in the online magazine Telepolis.

The purpose of the nine-member committee is to represent the interests of viewers, and it has an advisory function. It is elected by the broadcasting councils of German states and consists of representatives from various associations, political parties, churches and other groups. Its current chairman is the lawyer and banker Dr. Paul Siebertz from Bavarian Radio. Also on the committee are the Catholic priest and journalist Stefan Wahl, a teacher, a natural health practitioner, a pastoral consultant and a representative of the federation of public officials.

Prior to meeting, the committee had analyzed several ARD reports on the crisis in Ukraine—a step that is regarded as unusual. The measure was taken following complaints from viewers about biased reporting. The members of the panel unanimously agreed that such criticisms were entirely justified.

The Advisory Council lists 10 points in which the reporting of the ARD was inadequate.

It criticises the absence of any fundamental analysis of the negotiations between the European Union (EU) and Ukraine on the Association Agreement. It criticises the fact that “NATO’s political and strategic intentions” with regard to its policy of eastern enlargement were not raised. Nor was any critical analysis made of the legitimacy of the “so-called Maidan council”. The same applies to the “role of the radical nationalist forces, particularly Svoboda” and their activities during the failure “of the agreement to resolve the crisis in Ukraine of 21 February”.

The “constitutional and democratic issues” involved in the removal of President Yanukovych and the role of right-wing forces in his overthrow were also not adequately investigated by the ARD. In addition, there was no critical analysis of the role of politicians such as Julia Tymoshenko and Vitali Klitschko.

The council also challenged the station’s coverage of the secession of Crimea from Ukraine. There was no proper investigation made of the procedure and legality of the Crimean referendum, its international legal status, the significance of popular participation in the vote, and the role of historical issues and the ethnic groups in Crimea in the secession process.

The criticisms raised by the committee are devastating, and confirm the assessment of the World Socialist Web Site, which wrote that news reportage on German public television had “degenerated into nightly propaganda spots”. Rather than informing the public, the reports promoted the policy of the government, which has played a leading role in the conflict in Ukraine.

Whatever does not fit into the framework of official propaganda is eliminated: the content of the Association Agreement; the subordination of Ukraine to the dictates of the EU and the International Monetary Fund; the role of fascists in the Maidan protests; the toppling of Yanukovych in a right-wing coup; and the massive rejection of the new rulers in Kiev by the Russian-speaking population in the east of the country.

The council cautiously refers to a “more or less subliminal transfer of opinion by moderators and reporters” and the selective choice of reports, “which even in the synopsis of all ten Ukraine hotspots fail to give a fairly comprehensive picture of the crisis itself.” In plain English, this means manipulation and censorship.

Television director Tom Buhrow is reported to have reacted in an “extremely agitated and in part irreverent” manner to the criticism raised by the Advisory Board. From ARD sources Telepolis learned that both Buhrow and television director Jörg Schönborn aggressively insisted on an editorial line to “defend Western standpoints”. In other words, the one-sided reporting was ordered from the highest levels. From 2002 to 2006, Buhrow was head of the ARD studios in Washington.

Nothing is likely to change after the report. The station’s deputy programme director, Thomas Baumann, vigourously rejected the council’s charge of biased reporting and praised the work of the station’s “local correspondents”.

The reporting of the country’s second main public station, the ZDF, is no better than that of the ARD. Web sites have compiled the numerous complaints from viewers detailing inaccurate and false reporting, including deliberate omissions of important information, selective cuts to interviews and conflicting standpoints in the same programme. Viewers have also criticised the lack of any comment on pictures of pro-Ukrainian forces sporting Nazi symbols such as swastikas, as well as and the trivialisation of the fascist Azov battalion, which is fighting on behalf of the Kiev government.

These reports make clear Germany’s public broadcasters are being deliberately used to bombard the population with misinformation and deception about a war it overwhelmingly rejects.

A report issued in September by the Democratization Policy Council (DPC), a US-EU think tank with close links to the German Green Party, criticizes European policy as too “soft” towards Russia and calls for an intensified intervention by the US and EU in the Balkan states to isolate and weaken Moscow: here.

Following the withdrawal of the Ukrainian army from areas of eastern Ukraine, there have been a number of reports of mass graves in which right-wing Ukrainian militias buried the bodies of their opponents: here.

Both of Germany’s public television broadcasters, ARD and ZDF, have come under sharp criticism for their blatantly biased reporting on Ukraine. They have adopted one-sided, favourable coverage of the right-wing nationalists in government in Kiev, branded Russia as solely responsible for causing the ongoing conflict and downplayed the role of fascist groups acting with support from the government: here.

The revival of German militarism: One year on: here.

Ukrainian government threatens nuclear weapons proliferation


This video from the USA is called Noam Chomsky (2014) “How To Solve Nuclear Proliferation?”

As if the continuing Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, and the non-nuclear weapons are not already killing far too many people in Ukraine

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Tuesday 16th September 2014

Ukrainian Defence Minister Valeriy Heletey warned on Sunday night that his country could restart its own nuclear programme.

The minister said that the programme would be revived if Kiev does not receive satisfactory military support against what he alleged was a nuclear threat from Russia.

“If we fail to defend Ukraine today, if the world does not help us, we will have to get back to the creation of such weapons which will defend us from Russia,” he threatened.

Mr Heletey stressed that his country sought military support from Nato, the United States and Britain in particular.

And he claimed that his country was already receiving arms from Nato.

Those claims were repeated by another senior official but were later denied by four of the five Nato countries he mentioned.

Meanwhile, government troops resumed shelling rebel-held Donetsk.

Shelling killed six people and wounded 15 others in the city, its council reported yesterday — the worst violation yet of the ceasefire that took effect on September 5.

The city had been heavily shelled on Sunday, damaging both residential and administrative buildings, the council said.

Observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said that they had been only 650 feet away from where four shells burst in the embattled city.

Nevertheless, prisoner exchanges continued despite the hostilities and another 73 Ukrainian soldiers were freed late on Sunday night in an exchange with the rebels.

Donetsk rebel leader Andrei Purgin confirmed that 73 rebels had been released in return.

USA: ‘MAJOR RENEWAL IN NUCLEAR ARMS’ “It is part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars. This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for ‘a nuclear-free world’ and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy.” [NYT]