Category: Military Maneuvers


 

 

 

1987 photo of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm depleted uranium ammunition for the Phalanx CIWS aboard USS Missouri (BB-63).

1987 photo of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm depleted uranium ammunition for the Phalanx CIWS aboard USS Missouri (BB-63).

Gunner’s mates inspect linked belts of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm ammunition before loading it into the magazine of a Mark 16 Phalanx close-in weapons system aboard the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63). (Uploader’s note, those are probably Firecontrolman, the maintainers of Phalanx, not Gunners mates.)

ID:DNST9400420

Service Depicted: Navy
Camera Operator: PHAN BRAD DILLON

Wkimedia.org

Depleted Environment, Depleted Lives

Uranium Weapons Still Making Money, Wreaking Havoc

by JOHN LAFORGE

The US Army has awarded General Dynamics a $12 million contract to deconstruct and dispose of 78,000 depleted uranium anti-tank shells. The Pentagon’s May 6 announcement calls for “demilitarization” of the aging shells, as newer depleted uranium rounds are added to the US arsenal.

In the perpetually profitable business of war production, General Dynamics originally produced and sold some of the 120-millimeter anti-tank rounds to the Army. One of the richest weapons builders on earth, General Dynamics has 95,000 employees and sells its wares in 40 countries on six continents.

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons in Manchester, England, reports the armor-piercing shells to be disassembled are thought to be the large 105-millimeter and 120-millimeter anti-tank rounds.

Depleted uranium, or DU, weapons are made of extremely dense uranium-238. More than 700,000 tons of DU has been left as waste in the US alone from the production of nuclear weapons and nuclear reactor fuel rods. The urankum-238 is left when fissionable uranium-235 is separated for H-bombs and reactor fuel. DU is only ‘depleted’ of this U-235. It is still a radioactive and toxic heavy metal. A tax and ecological liability, DU is given away free to weapons builders.

 

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NYU EDU

Sources

Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the enriching of natural uranium for use in nuclear reactors. When most of the fissile radioactive isotopes of uranium are removed from natural uranium, the residue is called depleted uranium. A less common source of the material is reprocessed spent reactor fuel. The origin can be distinguished by the content of uranium-236,[1] produced by neutron capture from uranium-235 in nuclear reactors.

As a toxic and radioactive waste product that requires long term storage as low level nuclear waste, depleted uranium is costly to keep but relatively inexpensive to obtain. Generally the only real costs are those associated with conversion of UF6 to metal. It is extremely dense, 67% denser than lead, only slightly less than tungsten and gold, and just 16% less dense than osmium or iridium, the densest naturally occurring substances known. Its low cost makes it attractive for a variety of uses. However, the material is prone to corrosion and small particles are pyrophoric. [2]

History

Depleted uranium was first stored in stockpiles in the 1940s when the U.S. and USSR began their nuclear weapons and nuclear power programs. While it is possible to design civilian power reactors with unenriched fuel, only about 10% of reactors ever built utilize that technology, and both nuclear weapons production and naval reactors require the concentrated isotope. Originally, DU was conserved in the hope that more efficient enrichment techniques would allow further extraction of the fissile isotope; however, those hopes have not materialized.

In the 1970s, The Pentagon reported that the Soviet military had developed armor plating for Warsaw Pact tanks that NATO ammunition couldn’t penetrate. The Pentagon began searching for material to make denser bullets. After testing various metals, ordnance researchers settled on depleted uranium. DU was useful in ammunition not only because of its unique physical properties and effectiveness, but also because it was cheap and readily available. Tungsten, the only other candidate, had to be sourced from China. With DU stockpiles estimated to be more than 500,000 tons, the financial burden of housing this amount of low-level radioactive waste was very apparent. It was therefore more economical to use depleted uranium rather than storing it. Thus, from the late 1970s, the U.S., the Soviet Union, Britain and France, began converting their stockpiles of depleted uranium into kinetic energy penetrators.

Photographic evidence of destroyed equipment suggests that DU was first used during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Various written reports cite information that was obtained as a consequence of that use.[1]

However, while clearing the decades-old Hawaii Stryker firing range, workers have found chemical weapons from World War I era and depleted uranium ammunition from the 1960s [3].

The U.S. military used DU shells in the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War (Associated Press, August 12, 2006, free archived copy at: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0812-06.htm most recently visited November 1, 2006).

Production and availability

Natural uranium metal contains about 0.71% U-235, 99.28% U-238, and about 0.0054% U-234. In order to produce enriched uranium, the process of isotope separation removes a substantial portion of the U-235 for use in nuclear power, weapons, or other uses. The remainder, depleted uranium, contains only 0.2% to 0.4% U-235. Because natural uranium begins with such a low percentage of U-235, the enrichment process produces large quantities of depleted uranium. For example, producing 1 kg of 5% enriched uranium requires 11.8 kg of natural uranium, and leaves about 10.8 kg of depleted uranium with only 0.3% U-235 remaining.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) defines depleted uranium as uranium with a percentage of the 235U isotope that is less than 0.711% by weight (See 10 CFR 40.4.) The military specifications designate that the DU used by DoD contain less than 0.3% 235U (AEPI, 1995). In actuality, DoD uses only DU that contains approximately 0.2% 235U (AEPI, 1995).

 


Depleted Uranium Stocks as of end of 1999
Holder Country Approximate DU Stocks [t U]
as UF6 as U3O8 as metal TOTAL
DOE external link, USEC external link USA a) 470,000 10,000 480,000
Russia b) 450,000 10,000 460,000
COGEMA external link, EURODIF France 50,000 140,000 190,000
BNFL external link United Kingdom 30,000 30,000
Urenco external link Germany, Netherlands, UK 16,000 16,000
JNC external link, JNFL external link Japan c) 10,000 10,000
CNNC external link China d) 2,000 2,000
KAERI external link Rep. of Korea 200 200
South Africa 4 69 73
TOTAL 1,028,204 160,069 1,188,273

t = metric tonne
a) As of mid-2000. See also: Compostion of the U.S. DOE Depleted Uranium Inventory (70k PDF).
For more recent and detailed data, download Inventory of depleted uranium tails, Oct. 2, 2007 external link (PDF – U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce)
b) Estimate based on: Depleted Uranium from Enrichment, Uranium Institute, London 1996
c) As of February 2001
d) As of end of 2000
Source: OECD NEA 2001

Source: WISE Uranium Project

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 P R O G R E S S I V E  R E V I E W

Depleted uranium
Recycling death
 

URANIUM MEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER

 

NEW YORK TOWN PROVIDES EVIDENCE OF TRUE DANGER OF DEPLETED URANIUM 

Parrish’s team has found that DU contamination, which remains radioactive for millions of years, is in effect impossible to eradicate, not only from the environment but also from the bodies of humans. Twenty-three years after production ceased they tested the urine of five former workers. All are still contaminated with DU. So were 20 per cent of people tested who had spent at least 10 years living near the factory when it was still working. . .

MORE DAMAGE FROM DEPLETED URANIUM FOUND

GUARDIAN, UK – Depleted uranium, which is used in armor-piercing ammunition, causes widespread damage to DNA which could lead to lung cancer, according to a study of the metal’s effects on human lung cells. The study adds to growing evidence that DU causes health problems on battlefields long after hostilities have ceased.0508 05 1DU is a byproduct of uranium refinement for nuclear power. It is much less radioactive than other uranium isotopes, and its high density – twice that of lead – makes it useful for armor and armor piercing shells. It has been used in conflicts including Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq and there have been increasing concerns about the health effects of DU dust left on the battlefield. In November, the Ministry of Defense was forced to counteract claims that apparent increases in cancers and birth defects among Iraqis in southern Iraq were due to DU in weapons.

Now researchers at the University of Southern Maine have shown that DU damages DNA in human lung cells. The team, led by John Pierce Wise, exposed cultures of the cells to uranium compounds at different concentrations. The compounds caused breaks in the chromosomes within cells and stopped them from growing and dividing healthily. “These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant [DNA damage] risk and could possibly result in lung cancer,” the team wrote in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology. . . Prof Wise said it is too early to say whether DU causes lung cancer in people exposed on the battlefield because the disease takes several decades to develop.
“Our data suggest that it should be monitored as the potential risk is there,” he said.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/08/1059/

DEPLETED URANIUM BACK IN THE NEWS

AUDREY PARENTE, DAYTONA BEACH HERALD, FL – Lori Brim cradled her son in her arms for three months before he died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Dustin Brim, a 22-year-old Army specialist had collapsed three years ago in Iraq from a very aggressive cancer that attacked his kidney, caused a mass to grow over his esophagus and collapsed a lung. The problems she saw during her time at Walter Reed, including her son screaming in pain while doctors argued over medications, had nothing to do with mold and shabby conditions documented in recent news reports. What this mother saw was an unexplainable illness consuming her son.

And what she has learned since her son’s death is that his was not an isolated case. Lori Brim has joined other parents, hundreds of other sick soldiers, legislators, research scientists and environmental activists who say the cause of their problems results from exposure to depleted uranium, a radioactive metal used in the manufacture of U.S. tank armor and weapon casings.

Health and environmental effects of depleted uranium are at the heart of scientific studies, a lawsuit in the New York courts and legislative bills in more than a dozen states (although not in Florida). . .

Despite a 1996 U.N. resolution opposing its use because of discovery of health problems after the first Gulf War, the military studies have concluded there was no evidence that exposure to the metal caused illnesses. . .

To the military, the effectiveness of weapons and armor made with depleted uranium outweighs any residual effects. Their bottom line: Depleted uranium saves soldiers’ lives in combat. . .

But Brim and others think there will not be enough known until soldiers are tested for exposure. They compare the debate over depleted uranium to the controversy surrounding Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide used to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam. Speculation over its effects continued for more than two decades before the Defense Department agreed to compensate veterans who suffered from ailments linked to its use. . .

http://www.news-journalonline.com/special/uranium/DUFOLO041507.htm

CANADIAN REPORT: U.S. USE OF DEPLETED URANIUM RAISED RADIOACTIVITY 300 TIMES

MNA – Canadian research centers have reported that during the war against Iraq the U.S. military used depleted uranium weapons which caused the radiation level to rise at least 300 times above normal, and the weapons caused similar effects in Afghanistan.

U.S. troops have recently begun removing contaminated topsoil in Iraq, taking it to an unknown location. Scientists believe the next generation of children of citizens of both countries exposed to DU will suffer from higher rates of birth defects and cancer.

The Uranium Medical Research Center issued a report based on a 13-day survey throughout the primary conflict zones in urban and rural areas of central and southern Iraq on October 2003, according to Risq News. . .

The most disturbing circumstance was observed in the U.S. occupied base in southwestern Baghdad in the Auweirj district. It is close to the international airport and hosts one of the largest coalition bases around Baghdad, occupying the operational headquarters of the Iraqi Special Republican Guard. . . Departing the coalition-occupied base was a long, a steady stream of tandem-axle dump trucks carrying full loads of sand, heading south away from the city. Returning from the south was a second stream of fully loaded dump trucks waiting to enter the base. As the team passed the base’s main entrance, the gates were opened to reveal bulldozers spreading soil while front-end loaders were filling the trucks that had just emptied their loads of soil (silt and sand). The arriving trucks were delivering loads of sand into the base while the departing trucks were hauling away the base’s topsoil.

DEPLETED URANIUM FOUND IN TROOPS

JUAN GONZALEZ, NY DAILY NEWS – Four soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving in Iraq are contaminated with radiation likely caused by dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops, a Daily News investigation has found. They are among several members of the same company, the 442nd Military Police, who say they have been battling persistent physical ailments that began last summer in the Iraqi town of Samawah. . . A nuclear medicine expert who examined and tested nine soldiers from the company says that four “almost certainly” inhaled radioactive dust from exploded American shells manufactured with depleted uranium. Laboratory tests conducted at the request of The News revealed traces of two manmade forms of uranium in urine samples from four of the soldiers.

 

CARD GIVEN BRITISH TROOPS IN IRAQ 

 


NOTE: THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE WEB PAGE HAS BEEN TAKEN DOWN 

 

BRITISH ISSUE DEPLETED URANIUM WARNING CARDS TO ITS TROOPS IN IRAQ 

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SUPPRESSED STUDY ON DEPLETED URANIUM

ROB EDWARDS, SUNDAY HERALD, UK – An expert report warning that the long-term health of Iraq’s civilian population would be endangered by British and US depleted uranium weapons has been kept secret. The study by three leading radiation scientists cautioned that children and adults could contract cancer after breathing in dust containing DU, which is radioactive and chemically toxic. But it was blocked from publication by the World Health Organisation, which employed the main author, Dr Keith Baverstock, as a senior radiation advisor. He alleges that it was deliberately suppressed, though this is denied by WHO.

Baverstock also believes that if the study had been published when it was completed in 2001, there would have been more pressure on the US and UK to limit their use of DU weapons in last year’s war, and to clean up afterwards. Hundreds of thousands of DU shells were fired by coalition tanks and planes during the conflict, and there has been no comprehensive decontamination. Experts from the United Nations Environment Program have so far not been allowed into Iraq to assess the pollution.

U.S. LEFT 75 TONS OF DEPLETED URANIUM TO POLLUTE IRAQ

U.S. FORCES UNLEASHED at least 75 tons of toxic depleted uranium on Iraq during the war, reports the Christian Science Monitor. An unnamed U.S. Central Command spokesman disclosed to the Monitor last week that coalition forces fired 300,000 bullets coated with armored-piercing depleted uranium during the war. “The normal combat mix for these 30-mm rounds is five DU bullets to 1 — a mix that would have left about 75 tons of DU in Iraq,” wrote correspondent Scott Peterson. Peterson measured four sites around Baghdad struck with depleted uranium munitions and found high levels of radioactive contamination, but few warnings to this effect issued among the populace at large. While the Pentagon maintains that spent weapons coated with the low-level, radioactive nuclear-waste are relatively harmless, Peterson notes that U.S. soldiers have taken it among themselves to print leaflets or post signs warning of DU contamination. “After we shoot something with DU, we’re not supposed to go around it, due to the fact that it could cause cancer,” said one sergeant requesting anonymity.

DEPLETED URANIUM

PAUL KRASSNER, NY METRO – The officer came around a row of missiles, and Ethan asked him the question he had for him about his TAD request, and then asked him, “What the hell kind of missiles are these?”

“Those aren’t missiles; they’re cobalt jackets.”

“What are they for?”

“Well, this is ‘need to know,’ so keep your mouth shut, but they are designed to slide on over most of our conventional ordinance. They’re made out of radioactive cobalt, and when the bomb they’re wrapped around detonates, they contaminate everything in the blast zone and quite a bit beyond.”

“So they turn regular ordinance into nukes?”

“No, not exactly. The cobalt doesn’t detonate itself. It just scatters everywhere.”

“Well, what? Does the radiation kill people?”

“Not immediately. Cobalt jackets will not likely ever be used. They’re for a situation where the U.S. government is crumbling during a time of war, and foreign takeover is imminent. We won’t capitulate. We basically have a scorched earth policy. If we are going to lose, we arm everything with cobalt ­ and I mean everything; we have jackets at nearly every missile magazine in the world, on land or at sea ­ and contaminate the world. If we can’t have it, nobody can. . .

I emailed the anecdote to no-nukes activist Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War and co-author of The Superpower of Peace. I asked him to comment in a couple of hundred words:

“This nightmare has now essentially come true with the use of depleted uranium on anti-tank and other shells in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The military rationale is that the super-hard depleted uranium helps shells penetrate tanks and other hard structures. But the long-term effect is that the uranium vaporizes upon explosion and contaminates everything for hundreds of yards, if not miles.”

STUDY FINDS DEPLETED URANIUM USED IN AFGHANISTAN

IRAQI CITIES HOT WITH DEPLETED URANIUM

SARA FLOUNDERS, COASTAL POST, CA – In hot spots in downtown Baghdad, reporters have measured radiation levels that are 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal background radiation levels. It has also opened a debate in the Netherlands parliament and media as 1,100 Dutch troops in Kuwait prepare to enter Iraq as part of the U.S./British-led occupation forces. The Dutch are concerned about the danger of radioactive poisoning and radiation sickness in Iraq. Washington has assured the Dutch government that it used no DU weapons near Al-Samawah, the town where Dutch troops will be stationed. But Dutch journalists and anti-war forces have already found holes in the U.S. stories, according to an article on the Radio Free Europe website. . .

In this year’s war on Iraq, the Pentagon used its radioactive arsenal mainly in the urban centers, rather than in desert battlefields as in 1991. Many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people and U.S. soldiers, along with British, Polish, Japanese and Dutch soldiers sent to join the occupation, will suffer the consequences. The real extent of injuries, chronic illness, long-term disabilities and genetic birth defects won’t be apparent for five to 10 years.

By now, half of all the 697,000 U.S. soldiers involved in the 1991 war have reported serious illnesses. According to the American Gulf War Veterans Association, more than 30 percent of these soldiers are chronically ill and are receiving disability benefits from the Veterans Administration. Such a high occurrence of various symptoms has led to the illnesses being named Gulf War Syndrome.

DEPLETED URANIUM: DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL

JAY SHAFT, COALITION FOR FREE THOUGHT IN MEDIA – In three separate interviews a U.S. Special Operations Command Colonel admitted that the U.S. and Great Britain fired 500 tons of DU munitions into Iraq. He has also informed me that the GBU-28 BLU 113 Penetrator Bunker Buster 5000 pound bomb contains DU in the warhead. Until now, as far as I know, the materials used to make the warhead of the GBU-28 have remained shrouded in mystery. He admitted that privately the Pentagon has acknowledged the health hazards of DU for years. . .

J.S.: What about the cities? Did you deliberately use DU on them?

U.S.C.: Let’s just say that we didn’t do anything to avoid using DU in cities or heavily populated areas. I know that I selected some DU bunker busters because of the fact that they have a high penetration factor. I used DU weapons exclusively on some targets so as to ensure maximum damage on those targets. You don’t want to just halfway destroy some targets, you want maximum damage. . .

J.S.: What about the health risks that are associated with DU? Or do you deny there are any?

U.S.C.: You are determined to get me to make a statement about the health risks aren’t you?

J.S.: If you will, I want to see what the behind the scenes view of DU is in the Pentagon.

U.S.C.: Well. . . (long pause, followed by heavy profanity). . . Okay, I’ll give you some dirt if that’s what you’re looking for. The Pentagon knows there are huge health risks associated with DU They know from years of monitoring our own test ranges and manufacturing facilities.

There were parts of Iraq designated as high contamination areas before we ever placed any troops on the ground. The areas around Basra, Jalibah, Talil, most of the southern desert, and various other hot spots were all identified as contaminated before the war. Some of the areas in the southern desert region along the Kuwaiti border are especially radioactive on scans and tests.
One of our test ranges in Saudi Arabia shows over 1000 times the normal background level for radiation. We have test ranges in the U.S. that are extremely contaminated; hell, they have been since the 80’s and nothing is ever said publicly. Don’t ask don’t tell is not only applied to gays, it is applied to this matter very heavily.

I know at one time the theory was developed that any soldier exposed to DU shells should have to wear full MOP gear (the chemical protective suit). But they realized that just wouldn’t be practical and it was never openly discussed again.

J.S.: So the stories that they know DU is harmful are true?

U.S.C.: Yes, there is no doubt that most high level commanders who were around during the 80’s know about it.

J.S.: So how do you feel about the fact that you exposed your own men to DU?

U.S.C.: F…k you!! What do you know about my job? I did what I had to do to take out the targets I was given. If it was necessary to use DU, than I put it in my target analysis reports. I didn’t actually fire the rounds myself; I work in a remote office.

J.S.: So you’ll never have to worry about being exposed to DU huh? Very brave.

U.S.C.: (lot’s of profanity) this interview is over with (more profanity, followed by the phone slamming down)

U.S. TO USE DEPLETED URANIUM AGAIN

BBC – A United States defense official has said moves to ban depleted uranium ammunition are just an attempt by America’s enemies to blunt its military might. Colonel James Naughton of US Army Materiel Command said Iraqi complaints about depleted uranium shells had no medical basis. “They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of them,” he told a Pentagon briefing.

If war starts, tons of depleted uranium weapons are likely to be used by British and American tanks and by ground attack aircraft. Some believe people are still suffering ill health from ammunition used in the Gulf War 12 years ago, and other conflicts. In the House of Commons in London on Monday, Labor MP Joan Ruddock said a test of the UK Government’s pledge to keep civilian casualties to a minimum in an attack on Iraq would include not using depleted uranium weapons.

Apparently anticipating complaints, the US defense department briefed journalists about DU – making it plain it would continue to be used. . .

Cancer surgeons in the southern Iraqi port of Basra report a marked increase in cancers which they suspect were caused by DU contamination from tank battles on the farmland to the west of the city. . . Depleted uranium is mildly radioactive but the main health concern is that it is a heavy metal, potentially poisonous. The likelihood of absorbing it is increased significantly if a weapon has struck a target and exploded because the DU vaporizes into a fine dust and can be inhaled. . .

A 1995 report from the US Army Environmental Policy Institute, for example, said: “If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences.”

 

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Kiev protégé allegedly behind Mariupol and Odessa massacres – leaked tapes

Published time: May 15, 2014 14:25

Ihor Kolomoisky, Oleh Tsarev.(RIA Novosti / Natalia Seliverstova / Mikhail Markiv)

Ihor Kolomoisky, Oleh Tsarev.(RIA Novosti / Natalia Seliverstova / Mikhail Markiv)

Two leaked tapes have emerged on the internet where Kiev-appointed governor allegedly threatens an ex-presidential candidate who called for a referendum. The official may also be behind the Odessa massacre and Mariupol shootings, the leak adds.

On the first tape, which appeared on May 14, an oligarch and governor of the city of Dnepropetrovsk in southeastern Ukraine, Igor Kolomoisky, allegedly called ex-presidential candidate Oleg Tsarev and started threatening him. He told Tsarev to leave Ukraine immediately, saying it was in connection with the killing of Bogdan Shlemkevich, a soldier from Ukraine’s National Guard on May 9 in Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine. He was shot in clashes between anti-government protesters and soldiers sent by Kiev in an ‘antiterrorist’ operation in eastern Ukraine.

Tsarev, a Dnepropetrovsk businessman and People’s Deputy of Ukraine, submitted his candidacy as self-nominee for the presidential election scheduled for May 25. He is standing for federalization of the country as well as for referenda in all parts of Ukraine. He withdrew his presidential candidacy on 29 April in a protest against Kiev.

“We prayed for [Bogdan] Shlemkevich who was killed in Mariupol and they say that Tsarev is guilty,” Kolomoisky told the ex-candidate.

The Dnepropetrovsk governor says that now Tsarev and his family will be hunted down and killed.

“They put $1 million for your head, they will go after you everywhere,” Kolomoisky told him. “Tomorrow they will look for your people and relatives,” said the Ukrainian oligarch.

 

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Ukraine crisis leaves stain on West: Analyst

A cyclist rides past a burned Ukrainian army vehicle in the eastern Ukrainian village of Oktyabrskoe, near Kramatorsk, on May 14, 2014.

A cyclist rides past a burned Ukrainian army vehicle in the eastern Ukrainian village of Oktyabrskoe, near Kramatorsk, on May 14, 2014.
Wed May 14, 2014 12:22PM

The prevailing crisis in Ukraine following a US-backed coup will remain a stain on the reputation of Western governments, an analyst writes in a column for the Press TV website.

“The killings in East Ukraine by sending in the Right Sector thugs to do the dirty work will be remembered as an example of Western moral bankruptcy,” Jim W. Dean wrote.

He stated that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the coup government in Kiev organized a “stupid anti-terror operation” which led to dozens of deaths in the southern city of Odessa on May 2.

Dean described the status quo in Ukraine as “a disgraceful episode” for the Western governments, adding, “Some political careers deserve to be destroyed for their ill-planned and motivated failure. It was a criminal plan.”

The analyst said the Western governments “have made fools of themselves” in the eyes of people.

 

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Ukraine Crisis Leaves Stain on West: Analyst

873604_original

Ukraine crisis leaves stain on West: Analyst

… by  Jim W. Dean, VT Editor,   … with Press TV,  Tehran

 

This poor woman must be avenged

[Update:  Our VT crisis team analysis concluded that the photographic evidence showed  the inconsistent burn injuries to be indicative of obscuring how and what was used to kill many of these people.

The only options really on the table was lethal gas, and we surmized Vx...something that lung tissue analysis would confirm or not.

We now have partial confirmation that we were right from RT today. "Victims of the Odessa fire massacre died within seconds, but not from smoke or carbon monoxide suffocation, the head of Odessa's emergency service department, Vladimir Bodelan, said on his Facebook page."

Witnesses reported bodies and people being herded into the basement, and then this dissapeared from the news. Not a word about "missing" people was mentioned by the Odessa authorities. And of course it is easy to have confusion here with witnesses hiding out who would like to stay alive.

Despite all the witnesses to building escapees being beaten to death by the Right Sector mob, Kiev preferred to give tag them as "jumpers". Of course on a frame of video of a jumped has emerged. I wonder why?

Smoke inhalation deaths can be confirmed by visual autopsies simply from the visible soot residue in the lungs. The good news is that foreign experts are supposed to be involved, but after all of thise time the chain of command of the evidence will be in question.]

 

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Ukrainian military simulate gunfight near Kramatorsk — self-defense militia

May 15, 21:35 UTC+4
The man who witnessed the events said “they were shooting at nowhere, in the sky and into the open field as there aren’t any woods nearby”

© EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

KRAMATORSK, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian military “simulated armed clashes” against a self-defense group on the outskirts of the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, a representative of voluntary guard of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic told ITAR-TASS on Thursday.

 

“A ten-vehicle-strong armored column under the cover of six helicopters entered the township of Solntsevo” and the entry was followed by brisk fire involving large-caliber automatic weapons,” he said. 

The man who witnessed the events said “they were shooting at nowhere, in the sky and into the open field as there aren’t any woods nearby.” Upon hearing the shooting, locals “took shelter in cellars.”

“There were no self-defense fighters in this area, to say nothing of bases,” he said.

 

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Ukrainian military storm Kramatorsk, 1 dead, 9 injured

 

Published time: May 02, 2014 20:05
Edited time: May 03, 2014 03:58

The Ukrainian army’s assault on Kramatorsk has finished, witnesses say, adding that the military did not enter the town. Preliminary reports say that one self-defense activist was killed and nine were injured.

It is unclear whether there are any casualties on the army’s side.

Meanwhile coup-appointed interior minister Arsen Avakov has said on his Facebook page that Kiev is not planning to stop the special military operation in Kramatorsk, adding that the military assault will continue at sunrise. He added that the military took control of a TV tower in Kramatorsk overnight.

“The military attacked the barricade on the road to Yasnogorka (town adjacent to Kramatorsk),” an eye-witness in Kramatorsk told RT when the assault started late on Friday. “The lights have been turned off on the nearby street. Shots are being heard across the city, signal rockets light up the sky from time to time. People are saying the Ukrainian army is shooting at everything that moves right now.”

Medics told RIA Novosti that 10 people sustained wounds, one of whom died in hospital. At least one of the injured is a woman. It was earlier reported that dozens had been killed or injured.

Meanwhile, the army has resumed its special operation in Slavyansk on Friday evening. The headquarters of the people’s self-defense is under snipers’ fire, according to Itar-Tass. There are reports of injuries among protesters.

 

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Three injured as Ukrainian military take control of Kramatorsk military airfield in Donetsk Oblast

The poster reads “Don’t shoot the citizens of Kramatorsk.”
© Anastasia Vlasova

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — For 30-year old Oleksiy, April 15 wasn’t a good day. He was one of 300 or so Russian-backed militants from Kramatorsk who attempted to take over the Ukrainian military airfield in Donetsk Oblast’s Kramatorsk.

But Ukraine’s army repelled them, in one of the first — and Ukrainians hope not the last — battlefield victories since April 6, when Kremlin-supported and heavily armed insurgents started taking over key government buildings and installations throughout Ukraine’s most populous oblast.

But contrary to Russian media reports that 11 people were killed, the Ukrainian military operation left only three wounded — including Oleksiy, who refused to give his full name. He was lucky to get away with a grazed hip when Ukrainian officers shot him. Two others weren’t so lucky and were hospitalized with more serious gunshot wounds. They are expected to live, however.

“Our guys only had three machine guns with them, and they weren’t the first to shoot. The soldiers started shooting at us when we just tried to enter the base,” said Oleksiy, who sounded surprised that he couldn’t enter a Ukrainian military base with a machine gun. His side got off some gunshots, but all missed their targets.

However, the crowd was ready for more violent attacks: They prepared dozens of Molotov cocktails, but never used them — just left them there, near the airfield gates.

The military airfield near Kramatorsk, a city of some 250,000 people, has been out of use for years.

However, when pro-Russian separatist protests escalated in Donetsk Oblast over the weekend, the old airfield sparkled suspicion among the local protesters. They expected the Ukrainian army to put it to use to bring troops to suppress the uprising, so they kept watch over it since April 12 and tried to gain entry on April 15 — which turned out to be a poor decision.

 

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Response to Ukraine’s use of UN symbols near Ukraine’s Kramatorsk matter of UN secretariat

May 15, 14:09 UTC+4

“This (use of UN symbols) is inadmissible according to UN rules,” Russian deputy minister of foreign affairs said
A helicopter seen in the background of a UN flag (archive)

A helicopter seen in the background of a UN flag (archive)

© EPA/MAZEN MAHDI

 

 

ST. PETERSBURG, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. A response to Ukraine’s use of UN symbols on helicopter gunships which Ukrainian military forces use in a punitive operation near the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk is a matter of the international organization’s secretariat, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told reporters on Thursday.

 

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US military should rescue schoolgirls, even without Nigeria’s permission – McCain

Published time: May 13, 2014 22:58

From a video released by Boko Haram reportedly showing the missing schoolgirls abducted by the group .(AFP Photo / Boko Haram)

From a video released by Boko Haram reportedly showing the missing schoolgirls abducted by the group .(AFP Photo / Boko Haram)

The US military should rescue the 200 schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, even if the Nigerian government disapproves, Sen. John McCain says. Meanwhile, negotiations on a prisoner-hostage exchange appear to be advancing.

The longtime US senator and two-time presidential candidate told The Daily Beast that the US should feel no compunction to withhold sending special operations forces to find the kidnapped girls – especially in a country led by “some guy named Goodluck Jonathan.”

“If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in US troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without permission of the host country,” McCain said on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan,” he declared, in reference to Nigeria’s president.

As he suggested last week in a CNN interview, McCain insisted that if he were US president, his administration would have prepared special forces ready to enter Nigeria if a rescue opportunity was apparent. His rationale for military intervention rests with the United Nations charter, he said, since the mass abduction was akin to “crimes against humanity.”

“The United Nations Charter recognized crimes against humanity, this fits into the category of crimes against humanity, and that gives any nation the license if they can to stop a crime against humanity, the same reason we should have if we could have freed the people at Dachau or Auschwitz,” McCain said.

Yet, as The Daily Beast points out, the UN Charter “does not explicitly mention crimes against humanity.” But the news website found that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum does, indicating that crimes against humanity “are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of human beings.”

 

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Fighting in Slavyansk on Monday, chaos in Odessa, and entrenchment on all elevates talk of open war

- Jon Queally, staff writer

Pro-Russia gunmen on armored personal carriers passing by barricades on a road leading into Slavyansk. (Photograph: Darko Vojinovic/AP)

 

Interim president Oleksandr Turchynov on Monday was the latest to indicate that the spiraling violence in an increasingly divided Ukraine looks more and more like civil war as efforts to contain uprisings in the east against Kiev’s authority have only elevated the violence in recent days.

“War is in effect being waged against us, and we must be ready to repel this aggression,” said Turchynov in a televised address from Kiev and referring to violence in the cities of Odessa, Slavyansk, and elsewhere over the weekend.

According to Agence France-Presse, the latest high-level warning from Kiev comes as Ukraine spirals “further into a chaos that many fear could result in open civil war.”

Turchynov has called up additional forces and reintroduced conscription for military-aged Ukrainians citing fear of a Russian invasion on the eastern border.

This AFP video report shows how some regular Ukrainians are preparing for “civil war”:

Report: civilians in Ukraine ready for civil war


Meanwhile, in and around the city of Slavyansk on Monday, journalists reported that opposing factions were exchanging heavy gunfire and that loud explosions could be heard throughout the area.

And in Donetsk, militias opposed to Kiev’s rule and calling for a referendum vote on their autonomy have now taken full control of the city despite continued threats from the Ukraine army.

“What is happening in the east is not a short-term action,” said Vasyl Krutov, who heads the Kiev government’s military operations in the east. “This is essentially a war.”

As the following map by AFP shows, the number of cities in open revolt against the Kiev government is growing:

The Associated Press reports:

Ukraine is facing its worst crisis in decades as the polarised nation of 46 million tries to decide whether to look towards Europe, as its western regions want to do, or improve ties with Russia, which is favoured by the many Russian-speakers in the east.

In the last few weeks, anti-government forces have stormed and seized government buildings and police stations in a dozen eastern Ukrainian cities. Authorities in Kiev – who blame Russia for backing the insurgents – have up to now been largely powerless to react.

And since Russia has kept tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s eastern border – and annexed its key Black Sea peninsula of Crimea last month – Ukraine’s central government fears Russia could try to invade and grab more territory.

Since the government began trying to take back the buildings late last week, Slavyansk has been under a tight security cordon. Movement in and out of the city has ground almost to a halt, causing shortages in basic supplies. Lines have been seen at grocery stores.

The goals of the insurgency are ostensibly geared towards pushing for broader powers of autonomy for the region, but some insurgents favour separatism, and the annexation of Crimea looms over the entire political and military discussion.

Following Friday’s violence in Odessa and the growing number of revolts in the east, former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, spoke with Time magazine and made this warning: “The last 24 hours was a major escalation,” told TIME. “This is real. This is war.”

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President calls Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti ‘critical’

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

In a deal penned Monday, President Obama cemented the U.S. military’s foothold in the drone war by signing a new long-term lease for Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. (Photo: U.S. Dept. of Defense/ Creative Commons /Flickr))

The United States has agreed to sign a long-term lease agreement with the government of Djibouti, President Obama announced Monday, cementing the U.S. military’s presence at Camp Lemonnier, home to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and key foothold for the killer drone program.

In a statement announcing the agreement with Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, Obama hailed Camp Lemonnier’s “critical role as an operational headquarters for regional security,” emphasizing “the importance the base plays in protecting Americans and Djiboutians alike from violent extremist individuals and organizations.”

The only “official” U.S. base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier is known as the “busiest Predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone,” according to The Washington Post, and is central to drone operations in Somalia and Yemen. The base primarily serves the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and currently houses more than 2,000 U.S. personnel.

Human rights groups have accused Djibouti of being a “knowing participant” in the CIA’s rendition program and of housing CIA “black sites,” where prisoners of the U.S. military have been held and tortured.

According to an administration official, the $63 million per year lease permits to U.S. to keep personnel and equipment at the camp for an additional 10 years with options to renew, the Associated Press reports.

According to recent reporting by Nick Turse, investigative journalist with TomDispatch, the U.S. military has been working towards establishing a “permanent footprint” in Djibouti, awarding over $320 million in construction projects in 2013, including a $220 million Special Operations compound at the base.

During the meeting, Guelleh thanked Obama for U.S.’s development assistance to the poverty-stricken nation and said the base agreement would “reinforce our partnership and our relationship.”

Though largely undisclosed, the U.S. military’s presence in Africa extends far beyond the “official” base Lemonnier. As TomDispatch investigations have revealed, U.S. forces “average far more than a mission a day on the continent, conducting operations with almost every African military force, in almost every African country, while building or building up camps, compounds, and ‘contingency security locations.'”

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Ukraine: Many insurgents killed in Slovyansk

Associated Press

.

Raw: Pro-Russians in Ukraine Prepare Defenses

Pro-Russia insurgents shot down two Ukrainian helicopters Friday and Ukraine reported many militants killed or wounded as the interim government in Kiev launched its first major offensive against an insurgency that has seized government buildings across the east.

The Kremlin said Kiev’s military move against the insurgents “destroyed” the two-week-old Geneva agreement on cooling Ukraine’s crisis. President Barack Obama said it was obvious to everyone now that the pro-Russia militants were not peaceful protesters and the U.N. Security Council held an emergency session in Ukraine at Russia’s request.

Fighting broke out around dawn near Slovyansk, a city 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the Russian border that has become the focus of the armed insurgency. Two helicopter crew members were killed in the crashes, both sides said, and the insurgents reported one member killed.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov later said two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and seven wounded in Friday’s clashes and the insurgents suffered significant losses, including many killed or injured. It was not clear if the two referred to the helicopter crew.

“Our security forces are fighting mercenaries of foreign states, terrorists and criminals,” he said in a statement

By early evening, Turchynov said the army controlled all of the checkpoints around Slovyansk, a city of 125,000 people.

One of the helicopters was hit by a surface-to-air missile, the Ukrainian Security Service said, calling it a sophisticated weapon that undercut Russia’s claims the city was simply under the control of armed locals. The agency said its forces were fighting “highly skilled foreign military men” in Slovyansk.

The Russian state television channel Rossia 24 showed one man they said was a wounded helicopter pilot reportedly being helped by pro-Russia forces.

Central Slovyansk still remained in the hands of pro-Russia gunmen, according to AP journalists in the city. Several foreign news crews trying to cover the fighting were detained for several hours Friday before being released.

A clash also broke out late Friday between pro-Russians and government supporters in Odessa, a Black Sea coast port some 550 kilometers (330 miles) from the turmoil in the east. Police said one person died from gunshot fire and other was wounded. Until now, Odessa had remained largely untroubled since the February toppling of pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych, which ignited tensions in the east.

Turchynov admitted earlier this week that the central government had lost control of the east, and said some government troops and police there were “either helping or cooperating with terrorist organizations.” He said Ukrainian forces were working to prevent the unrest from spreading to central areas like Odessa.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the Ukrainian offensive “effectively destroyed the last hope for the implementation of the Geneva agreements” that aimed to defuse the crisis. But Dmitry Peskov said Russia “continues to undertake consistent efforts on de-escalation.”

Putin had warned Ukraine not to move against the insurgents and said it should withdraw its military from the volatile eastern and southern regions.

 

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Ukraine to restore conscription after admitting it has lost eastern front

Acting president announces move in response to occupation of power centres by pro-Russian gunmen Roland Oliphant in Donetsk

Police officers huddle for safety under their riot shields after pro-Russian activists overran the prosecutor’s office in Donetsk (GETTY IMAGES)

 

Oleksandr Turchynov, the acting president, reintroduced compulsory military service in a decree signed on Thursday, a day after he admitted that security forces have effectively lost control of two eastern regions to a pro-Russian rebellion.

The decree cited “the rising force of armed pro-Russian units and the taking of public administration buildings… which threaten territorial integrity”.

Former President Viktor Yanukovych abolished conscription in 2013, as part of a reform aimed at switching to a professional military.

The announcement came after pro-Russian demonstrators in Donetsk seized control of the city’s prosecutor’s office, in the latest of nearly daily occupations of government buildings in the country’s east.

Rioters fought battles with police after a traditional May Day march in the city turned violent.

The interim government in Kiev has accused Russia of using its intelligence services to ferment the armed uprising that has taken effective control of parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Earlier on Thursday Ukrainian authorities detained a Russian diplomat and ordered him to leave the country on suspicion of espionage.

 

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Russian troops amass on border as Kyiv authorities reformulate operation plans (LIVE UPDATES, VIDEO)

April 24, 2014, 11:47 p.m. | Ukraine — by Kyiv Post

UKRAINE, Slavyansk : A member of the Ukrainian special forces takes position at an abandoned roadblock in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 24, 2014. Ukraine’s military launched an assault on the flashpoint rebel-held town of Slavyansk, sending in armoured vehicles and a helicopter, AFP journalists in the town reported. Several armoured personnel carriers drove past an abandoned rebel roadblock in flames to take up position at the entry to the town. AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV
© AFP


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Editor’s Note: On April 22, interim President Oleksandr Turchynov announced that Ukraine would restart its anti-terror operation to quell Russian-backed separatist movements in Donetsk Oblast. The operation had been put on hold after quadrilateral talks between the U.S., EU, Russia, and Ukraine in Geneva led to an agreement whereby separatists in eastern Ukraine were requested vacate public spaces and buildings, and surrender their arms. The insurgents refused to comply with the stipulations of the Geneva Statement, and, over Easter weekend, seized several more buildings in Donetsk Oblast.

On the morning of April 24, Ukrainian troops repelled a separatist attack on a military base in the city of Artemivsk, Donetsk Oblast. Ukrainian forces also retook the city council building in the city of Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast, which had been controlled by insurgents since April 13.

On April 23, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russia Today that Russia will be forced to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine if they are attacked directly.

The Kyiv Post will be live blogging the anti-terrorist operation as it continues in eastern Ukraine.

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Russia’s rep to OSCE hopes OSCE monitoring mission to be sent to Sloviansk immediately

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Andrei Kelin said that he has raised the issue of sending an OSCE monitoring mission to Ukraine’s Slovyansk and that he hoped it has already arrived there.

“I raised the issue today in the morning during a meeting with a range of ambassadors to the OSCE that it is necessary to send monitors of the mission to Slovyansk immediately. I hope they are already there,” Kelin said on the Rossiya 24 (Russia 24) TV channel.

Monitors of the OSCE mission have visited Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the diplomat said.

“It should be said that for now I see quite an honest story regarding what they see and what is happening,” Kelin said.

Putin spokesman: Actions of Kyiv authorities cast doubt on coming presidential elections

21:15 – The Actions of the Kyiv authorities in eastern Ukraine cast doubt on the coming presidential elections in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“Such situational developments in Ukraine and such criminal actions of those, who are in Kyiv – even now they challenge a priori the legitimacy of the elections scheduled in May,” Peskov told reporters in St. Petersburg on Thursday, Interfax reported.

Putin spoke during a media forum of the All-Russia People’s Front on Thursday, Peskov said. “The main thing is namely the crime of using armed forces against the country’s ethnicities,” the spokesman said.

“What is happening in Slovyansk can be interpreted in two ways – on the one hand, as an attempt to disrupt the May elections, on the other, as an aspiration to hold them amid any conditions,” Peskov said. “Kyiv’s actions do not add legitimacy to the authorities in both cases,” he said. — Kyiv Post, Interfax

Chief editor of Russia Today tweets “Ukraine. R.I.P.”

8:57 p.m. — Margarita Simonyan, the chief editor of Russia Today, the Kremlin’s flagship English language news organization, tweeted “Ukraine. R.I.P.” early in the morning on April 24. — Isaac Webb

 

Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky has been freed

7:46 p.m. — Kevin Bishop, BBC’s acting bureau chief in Moscow, says that Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky has been freed after nearly two days of captivity in Sloviansk.

J-Francois Belanger, a foreign correspondent in Moscow for CBC television, says that Ostrovsky is currently in a CBC car traveling from Sloviansk to Donetsk.

Ostrovsky was taken hostage on April 22 by Russian-backed separatists in Sloviansk.

Vice News issued the following statement:

“VICE News is delighted to confirm that our colleague and friend Simon Ostrovsky has been safely released and is in good health. We would like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time. Out of respect for Simon and his family’s privacy, we have no further statement at this time.”

At 8:45 p.m., Ostrovsky tweeted: “I’m out and safe. Thank you all for your support. Had no idea I had so many good friends.”

– Isaac Webb

Deputy Foreign Minister Lubkivsky suggests Ukraine needs lethal aid to defend its borders

7:09 p.m. – Speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. on April 24, deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivsky said that Ukraine “would definitely be interested to gain all necessary means to protect our country.”

When asked whether Ukraine is asking the U.S. to provide it with weapons to defend its eastern border against a Russian invasion, Lubkivsky said, “We have to protect Ukraine against the aggression. All possible means that may help in this case should be used.”

BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray first reported Lubkivsky’s remarks. — Isaac Webb

 

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Uneasy standoff in Ukraine’s pro-Russian stronghold of Slavyansk

Opinion divided on Kiev’s actions, but army holds back from storming town, which is firmly in the hands of separatists
Ukraine troops Slavyansk

Ukraine armoured vehicles skirmished with separatists on the edge of Slavyansk, but stopped short of attacking the town. Photograph: Pierre Crom/Le Journal/Sipa/Rex

By late afternoon on Thursday it was a surprisingly tranquil scene. A few people stood and chatted at a militia checkpoint leading into Slavyansk over a bridge. A Russian tricolour flew above a wall of tyres. Next to it was the flag of the “Donetsk People’s Republic”. The armed pro-Russian separatists who hijacked the town in eastern Ukraine almost three weeks ago were still in business. Earlier they had fended off a demonstrative mini-attack by the Ukrainian army.

Six miles down the road, past several crumbling Soviet-era factories and a sliver of forest, was a crossroads. Here, the Ukrainian forces had set up a new checkpoint of their own. Soldiers dressed in black body armour and helmets inspected vehicles driving up and down in the afternoon sunshine. An armoured personnel carrier half-blocked the road; from the adjacent field came the clang of shovels, as troops dug in for the night.

“We arrived here this morning,” Dima, a 21-year-old Ukrainian soldier said. What were his orders? “We’ve been told to search all cars. The idea is to stop any weapons from reaching Slavyansk.” A giant blue and yellow Ukrainian flag flew from Dima’s armoured vehicle. “It’s a BMD-1. Good but old,” he said. Another soldier, 30-year-old Vyacheslav, said his battalion, the 25th, had arrived from the city of Dnipropetrovsk.

Earlier on Thursday, other Ukrainian armoured vehicles had skirmished with separatists on the outskirts of the city. The column destroyed several militia checkpoints, transforming ramshackle barricades into smouldering rubber pyres. The assault took place in several places. The troops cleared a militia blockade next to a disused animal feed factory, as well as another rustic roadblock to the city’s north-west.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov had announced the “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-Russian gunmen who control a patchwork of municipal buildings across the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. For a moment on Thursday it appeared Ukrainian troops were about to storm Slavyansk – a small, usually sleepy provincial town, which has become the de facto rebel capital.

After burning down a couple of barricades, however, the army pulled out, retreating towards the nearby town of Malynovka. According to the pro-Russian militia, one man waiting at a bus stop was killed in the morning shoot-out, and another injured. Vyacheslav Ponomarev – the self-appointed mayor of Slavyansk – said mines planted in a field had blocked the advance. He said that he would turn the town into a second Stalingrad. But Ukrainian forces seemed reluctant to play the role of aggressors.

Opinions among locals were divided as to who was to blame for this not-quite war. “Everything inside the city is peaceful now. There are no Ukrainian troops there,” said Alexander, a 43-year-old taxi driver. “But what government uses an army against its own people? It’s a crime. The army is supposed to defend us, not attack us. These people in power in Kiev don’t listen.” Alexander complained that gunfire was bad for business, adding that the price of water in Slavyansk was extortionate, even though the city sits on Donetsk’s northern canal.

Another local, Oleg, however, was scathing about the heavily-armed militia who had taken over Slavyansk’s executive committee building and police station. The government in Kiev says that among the militia are undercover Russian soldiers who first appeared in Crimea when Moscow launched its stealth invasion of the Black Sea peninsula. Ukrainians have nicknamed these masked Russian forces who carry automatic weapons but no insignia “little green men”.

“How would you like it if 400 little green men turned up and took over your town?” Oleg – who declined to give his second name – wanted to know. “Obviously it’s crap. We have guys roaming the streets with guns and masks.”

But didn’t the public support them? “No. We have a couple of million voters here. Five thousand people can’t decide for everyone.” He said Slavyansk’s existing legislative structures were still intact – a local council, and an elected mayor, now imprisoned by the militia. “People voted for her,” Oleg said bitterly.

 

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