Ukraine Easter truce collapses, three dead at pro-Russian separatist checkpoint

posted at 8:41 am on April 21, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Last week, Russia reached an accord with Ukraine and the West to de-escalate tensions in the eastern part of the former Soviet republic that agreed to disarm the militias and end the occupation of government buildings. Ukraine followed up by suspending its “anti-terror” operations and declaring an Easter truce. Both ended up collapsing late yesterday, as a shootout at a “pro-Russian” checkpoint left three dead, and Russia declaring that Ukraine cannot keep order:

Just hours after Ukraine’s government declared an Easter truce, a gunfight erupted early Sunday, leaving three people dead at a checkpoint manned by a pro-Russia militia outside this restive city in eastern Ukraine.

It was the worst violence since diplomats from the United States, the European Union, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement last week in Genevathat sought to de-escalate tension in the region.

The Russian Foreign Ministry quickly seized on the Easter Sunday clash as evidence that the new Ukrainian government could not keep order.

The new mayor of Slovyansk, meanwhile, begged Russian President Vladimir Putin to send “peacekeepers” to protect the people.

Ukraine’s leaders fear that Putin is looking for any excuse to take more direct action in the nation’s east, where many residents speak Russian and distrust the central authorities in Kiev. The Security Service of Ukraine called Sunday’s attack a “cynical provocation” staged by pro-Russia elements.

If so, it’s one in a series of such provocations, and all to the same end. It’s no accident that Russia accused Ukraine of being unable to keep order. That will be the context of their eventual intervention in that region — to protect the Russian-speaking populations in the Donetsk and other eastern regions, and potentially all the way across to the Transnistria region of Moldova. Just as in Crimea, they need the pretext to mature, while attempting to maintain deniability until it becomes more politically advantageous to take credit for it.

Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, tried to offer the same kind of double-talk to Fox News Sunday‘s Chris Wallace. The interview was a little tense already, but when Kislyak accused the US of reviving Cold War tactics, Wallace couldn’t believe what he was hearing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a24tZbUxx34

Kislyak also denounced western-imposed sanctions that are beginning to leaden the Russian economy. “We do not believe that the language of sanctions is a good one to talk in the twentieth century,” he said. “You cannot work with Russia and try to achieve anything with us through the language of sanctions. Third, the sanctions that have been introduced certainly a significant gesture of the revival of the Cold War mentality. But, it’s Russia. It’s a very solid state, well-to-do country. We can withstand pressure.”

Wallace was flabbergasted that Kislyak accused the U.S. of reviving Cold War tactics, and asked if the entirety of Russian action in Crimea was evidence of the same.

“Oh no,” Kislyak said. “You are talking about Crimea like it is a piece of real estate that we annexed. It’s not. There are 2.2 million people living there. The future of Crimea was decided by Crimeans themselves.”

“Under the thumb of pro-Russian separatists and Russian troops!” Wallace objected. “How far is President Putin prepared to go?”

“We are not going anywhere,” Kislyak said. “We just want Ukrainians to find a way of dialogue, a new constitution, that would help them live in a country that is democratic, that supports the rights of all the ethnic groups, including certain Russians. And we want to have a friendly neighbor. Because for us all, irrespective of what is happening, Ukrainians are just our brothers.”

Kislyak’s contention that Russia could withstand more sanctions will likely get tested. The call to increase US sanctions on Russia took a bipartisan turn yesterday:

As the violence continues, the U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is facing growing pressure to impose broader economic sanctions on Russia. Two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged the imposition of sanctions on Russia’s banking and energy sectors yesterday.

“I think the time is now to rapidly ratchet up our sanctions, whether it’s on Russian petrochemical companies or on Russian banks,” said Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, on “Meet the Press.”

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top-ranking Republican on the committee, said on the same program yesterday the administration should impose sanctions on Russia’s energy and banking industries unless there’s an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukraine border.

“Our foreign policy is always a day late and a dollar short because we’re reacting,” Corker said.

The fact that Putin hasn’t ordered the troops across the border yet suggests that the sanctions have his attention — and perhaps the move to station NATO troops in Poland and Estonia, too. But Corker is correct about the need to start shaping events rather than react to them. A big push on sanctions could force Putin to back down and give Ukraine some breathing space for its elections next month. If the West starts hitting the Russian economy broadly, then Putin’s support will narrow quickly — and perhaps a few more lives will be saved in the process.


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When do we get to the part where Kerry is walking away from Munich declaring peace in our times?

NotCoach on April 21, 2014 at 8:46 AM

…there may have been FOOLS involved…in that truce!

KOOLAID2 on April 21, 2014 at 8:47 AM

Ukrainian Updates ‏@Ukroblogger 27h

1 dead,3 injured in #Sloviansk shootout/overnight checkpoint raid http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2014/04/20/7023081/ … #Ukraine #UkraineInvasion pic.twitter.com/tFwpnpaIxt

https://twitter.com/Ukroblogger/status/457813131905888256/photo/1/large

https://twitter.com/BBCDanielS/status/457800386712449024/photo/1/large

canopfor on April 21, 2014 at 8:51 AM

The fact that Putin hasn’t ordered the troops across the border yet suggests that the sanctions have his attention — and perhaps the move to station NATO troops in Poland and Estonia, too.

I don’t think Putin cares. I think when we Obama cancelled the missile shield, Putin knew exactly what kind of fools are in charge of US foreign policy. It sickens me that to make up for their incompetence we now have to send our kids to stand with the eunuch UN to be human shields.

ImmigrantsWife on April 21, 2014 at 8:52 AM

NotCoach on April 21, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Or the part where the entire upper echelon of Ukraine government dies in a crash landing.

platypus on April 21, 2014 at 8:54 AM

AF/2 Wheels Down:

Ukraine, Russia political crisis
1m
US Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Ukraine’s capital Kiev – @NBCNews
end of alert

canopfor on April 21, 2014 at 8:57 AM

UNTIL Pincher Martin shows up & explains how all this is nothing & we shouldn’t be worried about a great power gobbling up its neighbors I will not be made peaceful in my mind.

JFKY on April 21, 2014 at 8:57 AM


Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. …..:

NATOSource ‏@NATOSource Apr 18

.@janinedavidson:: Would Putin’s use of Ukraine-type of infiltration in NATO territory trigger an Article 5 response? http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/natosource/putin-s-way-of-war-and-nato-s-article-five
==============================================================

April 18, 2014
Putin’s Way of War and NATO’s Article Five
By Janine Davidson, Council on Foreign Relations
*************************************************

Full Text: Council on Foreign Relations
http://blogs.cfr.org/davidson/2014/04/16/putins-way-of-war-and-natos-article-five/#cid=soc-twitter-at-blogs-putins_way_of_war_and_natos_ar-041614

NATO countries have been reluctant to provide support to Ukraine’s military, who is not a member of the transatlantic alliance and therefore not entitled to a collective defensive response under NATO’s Article Five. This is quickly teaching an uncomfortable lesson to the nations of Eastern Europe: unless you are a member of NATO and officially protected by its Article Five guarantee, in which an attack on one member is considered an attack on all, you are on your own against Russia’s new mode of unconventional warfare.

As NATO reinforces defenses on its own eastern border, NATO leaders and military planners must not only consider the possibility of Putin losing his mind and militarily assaulting a NATO country. NATO must also consider what happens if and when these well-armed, unmarked, SOF-like, suspiciously disciplined masked men turn up in a NATO nation, such as Estonia or Latvia (respectively 24 and 27 percent ethnic Russian) and commence another creeping invasion.

Will this be a proper trigger for an Article Five response?

http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/natosource/putin-s-way-of-war-and-nato-s-article-five

canopfor on April 21, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Speaking of da Rooskie’s”

Retweeted by TDF
Robbie Gramer ‏@RobbieGramer 11m

Russian fighters are also scrambling in the East near Japan’s borders, abnormal even during Cold War. Whats going on? http://www.afp.com/en/node/2306271/#.U1SErNDnJ50.twitter
================================

Japan defence chief puzzled by Russian warplanes
Apr 20 2014
************

Japan’s defence minister said Sunday there have been an “abnormal” number of flights by Russian military aircraft close to Japanese islands in recent days.

http://www.afp.com/en/node/2306271/#.U1SErNDnJ50.twitter

canopfor on April 21, 2014 at 9:05 AM

And the hits just keep on coming!! Another strongly worded Obama memo in 1..2..3..4…

Deano1952 on April 21, 2014 at 9:05 AM

TDF ‏@TheDailyFreedom 4m

@RobbieGramer Russian provocation on all borders

that are US-friendly,

that’s what Baltics, Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, Japan, on land/air/sea

canopfor on April 21, 2014 at 9:08 AM

Ukrainian Updates ‏@Ukroblogger 5m

Joe #Biden lands in #Kyiv, #Ukraine. What will he bring to the table as #RussiaInvadesUkraine? #UkraineInvasion pic.twitter.com/CYXal0uT9J

https://twitter.com/Ukroblogger/status/458229617929641984/photo/1/large

canopfor on April 21, 2014 at 9:11 AM

end start of alert

canopfor on April 21, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Fixed it for accuracy. Slow Joe is a constant alert.

platypus on April 21, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Oh yeah — is this a Canadian thread now? Just asking. :)

platypus on April 21, 2014 at 9:14 AM

The fact that Putin hasn’t ordered the troops across the border yet suggests that the sanctions have his attention

Right. The sanctions that Iran and North Korea have been thumbing their noses at for decades have the energy-exporting vise grip on Europe’s you-know-whats Russians quaking in their furry little boots.

How about the ground in Ukraine has two traditional muddy periods called the rasputitsa that make off-road and unpaved road travel nearly impossible? I know thinking about such 19th century notions as terrain is primitive, but sometimes old school is the best school.

dreadnought62 on April 21, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Oh yeah — is this a Canadian thread now? Just asking. :)

platypus on April 21, 2014 at 9:14 AM

platypus: Rabble Rouser Eh!!

Ugh,….the USS Hot Air fly’s the Canadian Flag,..below the American
one of course!!

canopfor on April 21, 2014 at 9:19 AM

So Russia stops the US from helping Al Qaeda in Syria, so we agitate to go to war in Ukraine.

Guess that is TPTB payback, huh?

antisense on April 21, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Ugh,….the USS Hot Air fly’s the Canadian Flag,..below the American
one of course!!

canopfor on April 21, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Even I can’t reach the level of that shameless suckup. :)

platypus on April 21, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Send Kerry and Biden on an automobile tour of the contested area!

claudius on April 21, 2014 at 9:38 AM

America backed the coup that created this junta and thus it created this crisis.

Time for America to start taking responsibility for the actions of its puppet government, and also start paying its bills, as Russia has naturally kicked Ukraine off welfare. (The criminal oligarchs who now run Ukraine have no intention of paying for anything, of course – they are exploiters who prefer others to pay their bills.)

Alternately, how about saying that even being Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs doesn’t give you the right to make your own foreign policy and serially knock over governments on your own say-so? Hang the trouble-maker out to dry, cut some deals, and de-escalate.

So far this demolition job hasn’t cost America much compared to the Libyan disaster. (Which Victoria Nuland was also in on, initiating a cover up of the 2012 Benghazi attack.)

If America gets more deeply involved in promoting Cold War II, or in the affairs of a state that Victoria Nuland spent five billion dollars turning into an ethnically split, bankrupt basket case, costs can go up.

In the 21st Century, America’s ruling class has regularly under-estimated the long term costs, material and moral, of its interventions. More color revolutions, let’s have an Arab spring etc… it all seems so easy in prospect, but the bills come due.

David Blue on April 21, 2014 at 9:41 AM

How does one spell Gleiwitz in the Cyrillic alphabet?

Steve Eggleston on April 21, 2014 at 9:42 AM

So Russia stops the US from helping Al Qaeda in Syria, so we agitate to go to war in Ukraine.

Guess that is TPTB payback, huh?

antisense on April 21, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Basically, yes.

David Blue on April 21, 2014 at 9:43 AM

[quote]The call to increase US sanctions on Russia took a bipartisan turn yesterday.[/quote]Statists in either party didn’t meet a fascist group they wouldn’t like to send some support to. Offering military aid to Al Qaeda in Syria was just a warmup.

Rix on April 21, 2014 at 9:52 AM

The fact that Putin hasn’t ordered the troops across the border yet suggests that the sanctions have his attention — and perhaps the move to station NATO troops in Poland and Estonia, too.

I don’t think Putin cares.

ImmigrantsWife on April 21, 2014 at 8:52 AM

I don’t think he cares either. I think his restraint has a simple cause. The junta is going to go broke, because:
(a) It’s turned its country into a paralyzed failed state which can’t easily earn income.
(b) It’s alienated Russia, which naturally is no longer willing to pay Ukraine’s bills.
(c) It’s not going to get anything like the money it’s dreaming of getting from the wealthy West.

In particular, German taxpayers are fed up with footing the bill for Europeans who believe in “spend today, get a bailout tomorrow”.

That means there is a crisis coming up. If Putin acts militarily, he lets the junta off the hook. If he waits, more bills will fall due, and the junta will have to pay its bills or default again.

Not through Putin’s doing (because he didn’t support a coup and start this), America and the EU are about to put on another big display of not following through. Because, simply, they don’t want to pay.

And American taxpayers and German taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay.

In terms of punishing the Russians for stopping America from bombing Syria, all this makes sense, but in terms of serving the interests of ordinary American and European tax-payers, this makes no sense.

David Blue on April 21, 2014 at 9:57 AM

So, is Biden going to the Ukraine to offer himself up as a hostage until the Russkies give in? If so, it seems a real motivator for invasion. I hope he sees this as a ‘Big f…… deal’ and wears his Swiss cheese ‘bullet proof’ vest.

vnvet on April 21, 2014 at 9:59 AM

this makes no sense.

David Blue on April 21, 2014 at 9:57 AM

True enough but if it whacks more body parts off our freely elected lunatic regime, I’ll not shed tears. Let the fools be shown for what they are. Or as my momma used to say, you wanted those fleas or else you wouldn’t have hung out with fleabags.

platypus on April 21, 2014 at 10:03 AM

David Blue on April 21, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Well said. Vicktoria’s fingerprints are all over this one. I imagine they’ve wiped Hillary’s away by now. We just can’t resist meddling.

butch on April 21, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Germany and the EU don’t even want sanctions or actions against Russia.

This whole thing has nothing to do with that, and much more to do with the US still proving it has what it takes to dictate world affairs, no?

antisense on April 21, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Germany and the EU don’t even want sanctions or actions against Russia.

antisense on April 21, 2014 at 10:15 AM

And they shouldn’t.

Of course Putin could change their minds on that by launching an invasion to take over all Ukraine, but he’s not going to.

It suits him to have Germany and the EU conspicuously not backing America. (And why should they want to help “F*** the EU!” Victoria Nuland?)

Even Israel isn’t backing America on this one.

And more bills are going to come due. Ukraine serially defaulting on its bills is going to get old. Raising the question: “who pays?”

“Smart diplomacy…”

David Blue on April 21, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Reuters Top News ‏@Reuters 1m

#Ukraine peace deal falters as rebels show no sign of surrender. @JoeBiden in Kiev today: http://reut.rs/1h1KHAe pic.twitter.com/J9Cp00htdO
==================================================================

Ukraine peace deal falters as rebels show no sign of surrender

By Richard Balmforth and Aleksandar Vasovic

KIEV/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:02am EDT
*****************************************************

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/21/us-ukraine-crisis-idUSBREA3A1B520140421

canopfor on April 21, 2014 at 10:31 AM

This is a disaster in the making. In the world today if you mess with one country it will have a ripple effect. Who’s connected to Russia? China and North Korea, for starters. It’s a tinderbox and America is playing with matches.

And Syria? Don’t get me started on the idiocy of “arming the rebels.” As I said before in multiple threads, we are arming the fundamentalists who hate our guts. If I, a stay-at-home mom, know that, then how in the world does McCain, Kerry and Obama not know it? We look so stupid to the rest of the world!

ImmigrantsWife on April 21, 2014 at 10:41 AM

If Russia invades your country, you defend yourself. In 1939 the Russians invaded Finland and lost thousands. In 2014 the Russians invaded Ukraine and lost -0-. Inquiring minds want to know– Is this an invasion or a homecoming?

MaiDee on April 21, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Ukraine’s leaders fear that Putin is looking for any excuse to take more direct action in the nation’s east, where many residents speak Russian and distrust the central authorities in Kiev. The Security Service of Ukraine called Sunday’s attack a “cynical provocation” staged by pro-Russia elements.

How dare you be making posting Hot Gas criticize glorious of Mother Russia! President Putin is most greatest leader of Russia and will crush Western imperialist dogs!!

Kremlin Propagandist on April 20, 2014 at 1:53 PM

slickwillie2001 on April 21, 2014 at 1:04 PM