The war in Donbas is in full swing. Militants still hold numerous cities and towns in eastern Ukraine. Some of them are in a critical state. For example, there is no electricity, water supply, landline and cellphone communication, Internet, and garbage disposal in Luhansk; there is a great problem with supply of food and necessities in general for residents. The city is on the verge of humanitarian and environmental disaster. Unlike Donetsk oblast, the situation in Luhansk oblast is more complicated, since a great lengths of state border is still uncontrolled by Ukraine, which allows Russia to supply the terrorists with hirelings and ammo, thus asserting its reputation of a terrorism sponsor state.
Recently this thesis received a confirmation on the global level. Moscow supplied Hamas militants with missiles that were made in Russia, TSN website informs. Israeli military found anti-tank missiles produced by Russia during an anti-terrorist operation in the Gaza Strip. Ammunition was hidden in one of the mosques. As it turned out, Palestinians had Russian Kornet missiles, which are produced at a military plant in Tula. Such missiles can hit tanks and other armored targets. It remains unknown how Hamas received this ammo. Russian authorities never gave official statements on supply of the terrorist movement with weapons, even though they opposed Israeli anti-terrorist operation in the Gaza Strip numerous times.
Despite Russia’s support of militants in Donbas, Ukrainian troops gradually tighten the noose on Donetsk and Luhansk terrorist groups. This costs us hundreds of lives and destroyed infrastructure, but this very scenario was imposed by the Kremlin. When can this artificial tragedy be over? Ukraine’s Chief of Staff Viktor Muzhenko said that the active phase of the anti-terrorist operation can be over in less than a month. A similar opinion was voiced by Ukraine’s Defense Minister Valerii Heletei. In an interview to BBC he assured that “Ukrainian army is close to victory over the separatists and terrorists.”
“The Chief of Staff and I share an opinion that the active phase of the anti-terrorist operation can be over in less than a month,” says military expert of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Ihor KOZII in his commentary to The Day. “But it is possible if Russia does not resort to serious resistance. By it I mean Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with considerable military forces. As of today, our anti-terrorist operation has been a success. One more belt road is left, through which ammo is supplied into Donetsk oblast, this road passes Snizhne, Torez, and goes towards Donetsk. As soon as this road is taken under control, a moment will come when Donetsk terrorists will not be able to receive help from outside.”
“From the very beginning we hear about Donetsk oblast, but the worst situation is in Luhansk oblast which has a longer border with Russia,” the expert continues. “But there is a positive moment here, because militant groups are limited by the Siversky Donets and Mius rivers, the oblast is also being surrounded by Ukrainian troops. The only way out for the militants is to go back to the Russian Federation. It is likely that after complete encirclement of terrorists and unblocking of our brigades along the border the freed forces will be redirected at further splitting of Luhansk terrorist groups. I think that after Donetsk group is encircled, the Ukrainian military will try to break up the Luhansk one. Then a clean-up of the territory will be carried out.”
However, freeing Donbas is the beginning of hard work. How can the region be resuscitated and transformed not only in infrastructure, but in people’s minds? Who has to do it?
“The war will be over. It is inevitable. But all the deaths caused by it will be in vain if we, the ones who live, do not change the country, will let it come back to that fat cats’ crap cycle, which first led it to the bloodshed on Maidan, and then in the east,” writes editor-in-chief of a Donetsk online newspaper OstroV (“Island”) Serhii Harmash on his Facebook page. “Last week I visited the liberated Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. People are happy there is peace now. But... the police, the government, the paternalistic sentiments, the fears – they all remain the same. And no one does a thing to change this. Perhaps, because someone benefits from this? In general, I had a clear impression that we can win the war, but lose the country.”
“While we are fighting the external enemy one-on-one, the internal one already makes the right staff appointments, passes advantageous laws, loots what can be looted,” Harmash writes. “And what comes next? What happens after a man with a gun frees the cities and goes back to peaceful life? We see politicking instead of state politics. That is why the command can ‘forget’ about paratroopers placed in the enemy’s rear; that is why the aggressor’s TV channels are still broadcast here in the conditions of an information war; that is why public activists are more engaged in evacuation of civilians from the anti-terrorist operation zone than the state. The most basic things are not done. The simplest questions remain unanswered.”
What is the way out? “The only way for the military to participate is to liberate the territory and hand it over to civilian authorities, and then the MIA and territorial counter-intelligence subdivisions can work on revealing saboteurs,” Kozii answers. “But revealing them is not enough, they must be neutralized. I mentioned SMERSH earlier; it had special units for fighting criminal groups, and also authority to involve army subdivisions in this process. Is it being done now? Is this experience studied and applied? Will aerial intelligence be carried out? The territory should be inspected for hideouts and dugouts, which can be used by saboteurs to hide during daytime. What do we know about caves in Donetsk oblast? What do we know about natural obstacles? All this must be studied. To what extent will the government be able to reveal all this? The question remains to be answered.”
“It must be understood: Donbas is a shattered, but not amputated leg of our country, which requires careful splinting and cure,” writes our permanent contributor from Luhansk Valentyn Torba [Den, No. 123, July 8, 2014]. “Treating Donbas only is not enough to heal it. Complex treatment of the whole organism is required. Now we are destined to grow up, think, draw conclusions, take the responsibility instead of apathetic evasions, because those on top could settle everything alright without us. Now the nation is satisfying its desire to decide its fate. In this very impulse I see the rise of the new era: the formation of a political nation.”
True, during Euromaidan and now, in war conditions, the society has been demonstrating maturity. We hope Donbas and the south and east of Ukraine in general will catch up with the national level after such trials and tragedy. But the politicians are significantly lagging behind. Of course, this is better than the previous government’s level, but old games are still going on. For example, now, when the mechanism on early parliamentary election has been set in motion, the rules according to which it will be held remain unclear. The latest signals show that the politicians are rather looking for options that would be beneficial for them, but not for the country. The president talks about a proportional system with open lists, and at the same time, if MPs do not come to an agreement, he admits that existing rules will be used. This is unacceptable.
Or another example. After the head of the State Border Service Mykola Lytvyn (brother of the parliamentary committee on national security and defense chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn) was extensively criticized by the society and expert, he still remains in office for some reason.
Let alone the fact that volunteers today are much more efficient in supplying our army than the state.
The list can be continued. Indeed, dealing with Donbas is not enough, even though this work is far from sufficient. A comprehensive treatment of the entire system is required.