Putin = War Criminal
- Apr 18, 2013
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- Political Leaning
After the horrors of Bucha, Ukrainians have changed the way we look at this war | Nataliya Gumenyuk
The Russian military are now circling the Donbas. I’m terrified for people there who were loyal to Ukraine for the past eight years, says Ukrainian journalist Nataliya Gumenyuk
Russia’s intentions are clear: the Kremlin calls its war against Ukraine the “special operation to free Donbas”. It wants some real gains to present at home before the anniversary of Russia’s victory in the second world war, on 9 May. After Russian troops failed to beat the Ukrainian military and occupy Kyiv and major towns such as Kharkiv, Moscow is concentrating on taking the parts of the Donbas that remain in Ukrainian hands. Up to 2.5 million people live in the unoccupied Donbas, Moscow claims. The territory has suffered drastically since the start of this war, particularly in the south. “Ninety per cent of Mariupol cannot be rebuilt. Up to 5,000 civilians might [have been] killed during the siege that started on 1 March. "The town of Volnovakha, north of Mariupol, is basically swept away,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region. In the Luhansk region, the Ukrainian military now controls just three major industrial towns. The most populous, the administrative capital Severodonetsk, continues to be heavily bombed. After the Bucha massacre, it feels like we have to change the way we treat this war. Before, we tried to figure out Russia’s military strategy, to be better prepared.
But a case of rape in a village near Kharkiv, the mines in a botanic garden in Trostyanets, and shooting men with tied hands in peaceful suburbs of Kyiv – these actions do not make any sense, aside from a desire to punish Ukrainians. Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk, used to be a professional crisis manager. When I asked him about Severodonetsk, where he was born, he cried. “I feel pain because these bastards are shelling everything: hospitals, kindergartens. It’s the concentration of pain.” Numerous mayors and civil servants in the Ukrainian Donbas and their families have also received threats. The concern is that the west, and those who want to broker any deal with Russia, will be tempted to let Vladimir Putin take the Donbas. This could be an exit strategy that would allow him to save face. After the horrors in Bucha, I am terrified for what could happen to the people in the Donbas who have demonstrated loyalty to the Ukrainian state for the past eight years. After Bucha, there is no other choice for Ukraine but to fight for the Donbas. The battle may be brutal and long.
The Kremlin has stated that it is re-orienting its military forces with the intention to sieze all of Donbas (at a minimum). The pro-Russia rebels control a generous portion of Donbas, but not all of it. The regions of Donbas they do not control have been loyal to the Ukraine government for the past 8 years. If these government areas are overrun, the retribution exacted on this population will very much mirror the atrocities committed in Bucha. I truly hope they are evacuating the women and children to Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro.