Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 24.12.2017
Russia broke the “Christmas ceasefire” within hours of it supposedly taking effect. Russian forces invading Europe in Ukraine attacked three times early on December 23. They attacked in the “Svitlodarsk bulge” area of the battlefront, which is north of the occupied city of Debaltseve. The Russians fired 82mm mortars, grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms at Ukrainian defenders who are dug in in fortified positions near the village of Luhanske. Russia also attacked to the north of the occupied city of Donetsk, striking Ukrainian defenders near the town of Avdiivka. To the south, the Russians attacked across the battlefront at Ukrainian positions near the village of Lebedynske, which is east of Mariupol. One Ukrainian soldier has been shot dead.
The Russians were making a point, violating the ceasefire early and comprehensively, in the three most active areas of their invasion battlefront.
The “Christmas ceasefire” is the latest in a seemingly endless string of announced ceasefires from the Tripartite Contact Group (the TCG) for Donbas settlement, which meets in Minsk, Belarus. In the familiar language, the TCG announced on December 20 that there would be “a comprehensive, sustained and indefinite ceasefire, starting midnight December 23, 2017, Moscow time.” The immediately previous ceasefire was the “school-year ceasefire” which was supposed to be enforced starting on August 25. That one was violated by Russia within minutes. Every ceasefire is violated by Russia.
Russia violates every ceasefire in the certain knowledge that Germany and France will do nothing about it. In fact, making ceasefires and “calling upon all sides” to observe them is what effete German and French diplomacy considers to be doing something. Putin knows he only has to agree to a ceasefire – not actually adhere to it. The ceasefire then becomes a cover for French and German inaction, and impunity for Russia to kill and wound Ukrainians and destroy their property.
Russian invaders of Europe in Ukraine attacked the town of Novoluhanske with 40 Grad rockets and got away with it. The Russians withdrew from the ceasefire control group that was a pillar of the Minsk Agreements and got away with it. The Russians attacked Ukraine on December 23 immediately after the “Christmas ceasefire” was supposed to take effect and are getting away with it. Putin is ending the fourth calendar year of Russia’s invasion of Europe in Crimea and Donbas. Russian aggression is imposing a military solution on Europe. Chancellor Merkel and President Macron end 2017 not by defending the lives and liberty of Europeans, but by repeating empty words about ceasefires that don’t exist.