At least 16 Ukrainian troops were reportedly killed and over 30 injured in an attack on a military checkpoint in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning in the worst loss of life for Kiev forces to date. The question is, who did it?
Troops from Kiev are said to have arrived and established a check point outside the village of Blahodatne, near the town of Ol’hynka. The unofficial capital of the breakaway People’s Republic of Donetsk, Donetsk city, is just 40kms to the North. The check point was therefore probably a part of a wider effort by the US-coup-installed interim government in Kiev to use troops loyal to Kiev to control access to the major hubs of Eastern Ukraine in advance of the Presidential elections on Sunday.
As has been the case in many other Eastern Ukrainian towns and villages, the locals of Blagodatnoe confronted the Kiev troops as they arrived. At that point, things get murky.
According to Russia Today citing eyewitnesses that spoke to Russia’s Channel One news agency, at around 5am Thursday morning, the checkpoint came under sustained attack from an unknown number of individuals who arrived in civilian and military vehicles and who fired RPGs and heavy caliber weapons. Military helicopters were also reportedly involved in the attack.
The Kiev junta has since claimed that the attackers were “terrorists” which is the standard US-inspired name given to anyone who opposes the US and their client regimes, like the one in Kiev. In this case, the “terrorists” are the defence forces of the newly established People’s Republic of Donetsk. But, as I said, the details of who was actually behind the attack are difficult to establish, especially when someone uploaded a video that allegedly shows some of the Ukrainian soldiers in the aftermath of the attack cowering behind a truck and desperately trying to stop a Ukrainian military helicopter from firing on their position!
The idea that the Ukrainian military would shoot at their own soldiers is not as far-fetched as it sounds however. Apart from the fact that the Ukrainian military is not exactly first rate due to years of neglect by the Ukrainian oligarchs who preferred to stuff their pockets with taxpayer’s cash rather than invest it in things like the military or the social welfare system, there have been recent reports from the Eastern Lugansk region that military commanders have fired at deserting conscripts.
As with almost every ‘civil war’ in the modern era, there is usually a ‘third force’ involved that is often tasked with igniting the ‘war’ in the first place and then covertly fighting for one side against the other, and when the need arises, staging attacks in the name of the ‘enemy’.
Russian language news outlet LifeNews allegedly spoke to a member of the Donetsk People’s Defence Force who claimed that the real story is that the local Blahodatne residents came out to defend their homes against the Kiev troops, but when the Kiev troops refused to follow orders to “crush the resistance” they were punished by a third element, namely, the mercenaries and Neo-Nazi ‘Right Sector’ militias that are allegedly in the employ of the Kiev junta and, more specifically, controlled by Ukrainian-Israeli business oligarch and multi-billionaire, Ihor Kolomoyskyi. Corroborating this claim are reports by eyewitnesses who told LifeNews that the civilian vans used by the attackers bore the insignia of Kolomoyskyi’s Privat-Bank.
But before anyone claims ‘smoking gun’; yesterday, in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the checkpoint, Interfax Ukraine News agency reported that, over the last two weeks, almost all of Privat bank’s cash-in-transit vehicles had been “hijacked by militants of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics”. Interfax Ukraine is a subsidiary of Interfax which is a Russian owned news agency, so we can’t reasonably claim ‘propaganda’ on this one.
Just to complicate matters, a group of anti-Kiev rebels in the town of Gorlovka have since claimed responsibility for the attack and displayed weapons, which they claim were seized during the operation.
“We destroyed a checkpoint of the fascist Ukrainian army deployed on the land of the Donetsk Republic,” the unit’s commander, who wore a balaclava, said.
The story wouldn’t be complete however, without the input of some official speaking on condition of anonymity to that paragon of biased news reporting, the BBC:
A Ukrainian army major, who spoke to the survivors of the attack, told the BBC on condition of anonymity that he was sure that the attackers weren’t from the Donetsk self-defense forces, but were “mercenaries.”
So who did it? Before we figure that out, we need to take a quick look at Mr. Kolomoyskyi;
Kolomoisky is an interesting person (in a lose your lunch sort of way). On March 2nd this year, just after the coup had been completed in Kiev, acting ‘President’ Turchynov (who I like to refer to as ‘turkeynose’), appointed Kolomoyskyi as govenor of Dnipropetrovsk province, which is directly West of Donetsk province. Kolomoyskyi is the co-founder of the largest commercial bank in Ukraine, and through it he controls three major Ukrainian commercial airlines, one of which is headquartered at Donetsk regional airport. But Kolomoyskyi is no honest businessman, instead, he appears to have achieved his success largely through the use of blatant thuggery (and likely murder) and reneging on deals after he has received his cut of the cash. Even Forbes Magazine recognised that Kolomoyskyi:
“fostered a strong reputation as a corporate raider in the mid-2000s, becoming notorious for a series of hostile takeovers which often included the active involvement of Privat’s quasi-military teams. These schemes included, among others, a literal raid on the Kremenchuk steel plant in 2006, in which hundreds of hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws forcibly took over the plant. More recently, Aerosvit Airlines, which according to the media was controlled by Mr. Kolomoyskyi, declared bankruptcy in 2012, stranding thousands of Ukrainians in Ukraine and abroad. The Financial Times, when reporting on Kolomoiskyi’s recent conflict with UK company JKX Oil & Gas, stated in no uncertain terms, that “in Ukraine they [Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov] are called ‘The Raiders'”.
Then again, that was back in July 2013, and the Western media’s generally poor memory for important details about important issues tends to abandon them completely when the political playing field undergoes a dramatic change, like after a US-sponsored coup in a foreign country, and thugs must now be portrayed as ‘people we can do business with’.
So yes, Kolomoisky has a vested interest in Eastern Ukraine (and its workforce) staying in within his sphere of influence (or should that be ‘exploitation’?), back in April he offered large cash rewards to anyone who would fight against ‘Pro-Russian separatists”, according to the very Pro-Kiev Kyiv post daily newspaper. And when we consider the plausible allegation (backed up by a taped telephone conversation) that he was at least partly behind the plot in Odessa that resulted in the murder of dozens of people in the Trade Unions building (that was a rather symbolic place for the murders to occur by the way), it is entirely plausible that he was the ’eminence grise’ (or one of them) behind the attack on the check point that killed 16 Ukrainian rookie soldiers 3 days before the Presidential election. The rationale being that the blame for attacking a detachment of inexperienced Ukrainian soldiers and killing 16 of them would naturally fall on the ‘Pro-Russians’ and give John Kerry enough anti-Putin material to keep his gums flapping for weeks.
Then again, the Russian government is undoubtedly supporting the defence forces in Eastern Ukraine in many ways, and it is entirely possible that a well trained and equipped group (from Ukraine or Russia) could have carried out this kind of attack. Whatever the case, this weekend’s Presidential election promises to be an interesting spectacle on many levels. Watch this space.