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Monday, February 20, 2017

In Ukraine each side accuses the other of cease-fire violations

(February  5) Both the pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian authorities accuse each other of carrying out frontline artillery attacks in eastern Ukraine resulting in civilian casualties on both sides.

The Russian Foreign Ministry accused Ukrainian forces of violating the Geneva Convention by shelling civilian areas and also of violating the Minsk peace deal by using banned heavy weapons. An Independent article comments: "Civilians are among more than a dozen people killed in Ukraine in a “dangerous deterioration” in the continuing war amid fears rebels have been emboldened by Donald Trump’s silence on alleged violations."
If Trump is pro-Russia as he purports to be he should be supporting the Russians. Even the Independent also notes that it is not clear what sparked the escalation and that the Ukrainian army had gained some ground in an advance around Avdivka. This means that the Ukrainians at least in one sector have actually advanced. These clashes have followed on a short relative lull in fighting.
John McCain and Lindsey Graham US hawks on the Ukraine spent the end of the year holidays touring Georgia, the Baltic countries and Ukraine. In the Ukraine both visited Ukrainian front line troops and spent the night with Ukrainian president Poroshenko in their barracks. According to this article Senator Graham said: "Your fight is our fight, 2017 will be the year of offense. All of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against Russia. Enough of a Russian aggression. It is time for them to pay a heavier price." John McCain is quoted as saying: "I believe you will win. I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win. We have succeeded not because of equipment but because of your courage." These are certainly words that would encourage the Ukrainians to keep fighting. The Ukrainians did so around the end of January.
Trump is reported to have told former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at a private meeting on the sidelines of the National Prayer Breakfast that he will not lift sanctions against Russia until it pulls out of the Ukraine. Trump has already generated a firestorm of criticism by stating the obvious that the US and some Americans have been killers. No doubt it is a mortal sin to somehow compare in this way, Putin the ruler of the Evil Empire with the morally superior leader of the Free World, the US. It appears unlikely that Trump will defend the pro-Russian rebels or the Russian position on the Ukrainian issue.
Trump has already said much to anger China, has further sanctioned and threatened Iran, and suggested there be safe zones for Syria. Russia may decide in the near future that perhaps they have misjudged Trump. So far there is very little that Russia has gained from his presidency. For now, Russia has not joined in the chorus of criticism against Trump.


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