Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 31.12.2017
Ukrainian detainees freed from the Russians are telling their stories. The stories they’re telling are of torture, abuse, torment, and harsh and degrading treatment of every kind. There are no depths of barbarity to which the Russian invader-occupiers of Ukraine will not stoop. Russia has been violating the rules of war and international human rights law from the beginning of its invasion of Europe in Ukraine on 20 February 2014. But the released detainees are telling other stories, corroborating what Ukrainians who are “internally displaced persons” have been saying for years: Donbas people living under Russian occupation yearn to be liberated. The authority of Putin’s proxies in Donetsk and in Luhansk is tenuous, sustained by only by fear, intimidation and violence.
Russia invented fake republics called “DPR” and “LPR” and found local crime figures to nominally lead them, and then engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to pretend that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Donbas had something to do with “pro-Russia rebels” or “separatists.” Incredibly, the mainstream press in the West swallowed Russia’s very weak effort at misdirection hook-line-and-sinker, and regularly repeats the Kremlin lie about “pro-Russia rebels.” Ukrainians know better. They hear the Moscow accents of the “little green men” when they speak Russian. They know that Donetsk and Luhansk are Ukrainian cities, and any talk of the “Russian World” applying to the Ukrainian homeland is Muscovy nonsense. Russian-speaking Ukrainian patriots have become the bulwark of the resistance against Putin’s evil plans to destroy Ukraine.
Some Donbas people believed Russian propaganda against EuroMaidan, the Revolution of Dignity, early in 2014. But three and a half years of open warfare have been more persuasive than the incessant Russian hate propaganda against Ukraine on television. Ukrainians under Russian occupation see the trucks full of Russian troops going to the battlefront; they hear the outgoing rounds of Russian artillery; they see the Russian Grads firing rockets from among their houses and apartment buildings. Most Donbas people are against the Russian occupation. Most wish for liberation by the Ukrainian armed forces and are very critical of the Ukrainian government for not giving them reasonable hope that this will happen soon.
Ukrainians under Russian occupation say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done in order to survive. But genuine support for the criminal-terrorist organizations “DPR” and “LPR” is absent.
All Ukrainians need to know that there is a practical plan for the liberation of Donbas and Crimea. The Ukrainian government must stop using the inaccurate language of an “Anti-Terrorist Operation” and use the accurate language of a war for the liberation of Ukrainian territory from a foreign invader. The released prisoners of war and civilian hostages confirm that the spirit of the nation still inspires Ukrainians under occupation. When the Russian invaders are thrown out, Luhansk and Donetsk and Crimea can and will be reintegrated into Ukraine. Russia’s invasion has united Ukrainians as never before, and that includes Ukrainians under occupation. The time for the liberation of Donbas and Crimea has come.