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Tags: Kiev | Ukraine | famine | Russia

Poroshenko Evokes Ghosts of Soviet Famine as Fight Intensifies

Saturday, 22 November 2014 05:49 PM EST

President Petro Poroshenko evoked memories of the 1930s famine that killed as many as 10 million Ukrainians under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to rally citizens as pro-Russian separatists intensified fighting in the east.

Poroshenko, flanked by his wife and administration officials, laid a jar filled with grains in front of a candle-shaped obelisk beside the Dnieper River in Kiev yesterday to commemorate the famine, which was declared a genocide on Nov. 28, 2006, by Ukrainian lawmakers. Russia has long rejected the claim of genocide, calling it a “one-sided falsification of history.”

“Ukrainian peasants were the keepers of the national spirit of Ukraine, and it was against them that the most dreadful weapon of killing by starvation was used,” said Poroshenko, who voted for the 2006 declaration as a legislator. “The spiritual descendants of Stalin haven’t dissolved into the sea of history. They are celebrating their bloody ball in the temporarily occupied territories.”

The conflict in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine along the Russian border has claimed more than 4,000 lives and laid much of the regions’ infrastructure to waste. The Donetsk Airport, the scene of a pitched battle two days ago, is a ruin and amid warnings of a looming humanitarian crisis as winter sets.

Weekend Deaths

The step-up in violence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions left four government soldiers and five civilians dead and 10 wounded from exploding mines and shelling over the weekend so far, military defense spokesman Andriy Lysenko said yesterday at his daily briefing from Kiev.

The rebels also suffered “heavy losses” during a failed assault at the Donetsk Airport, he said, without elaborating on casualties among the attackers.

“Terrorists continue to ignore the principles of humanitarian law and international conventions by placing antipersonnel land mines near civilian areas,” Lysenko said. “Casualties from such explosives are comparable with casualties caused by shelling.”

MH-17 Debris

Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic said it will ship debris from the downed Malaysia Air jetliner today at 10 a.m. local time to Kharkiv, Ukraine.

The debris is packed into 11 rail cars, while the train will pull another passenger coach for officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Netherlands.

Leaders from the European Union and the U.S., including Vice President Joe Biden, accuse Russia of not abiding by a September truce signed in Minsk, while Ukraine says Russian troops and vehicles continue to cross the border in the east.

Russia denies it’s fomenting the war, saying the U.S. and EU are responsible because of their support of the Kiev government, which came to power after former President Viktor Yanukovych, a Kremlin ally, was ousted early in the year.

U.S. Strategy

Lysenko yesterday said Russia continues to shell Ukraine from across the border and is launching drones to monitor Ukraine government troop positions. He also told reporters that 20 Russian military vehicles crossed into the country earlier over the weekend.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S.’s role in the conflict is part of a global plan to hem in Russia and implement regime changes where possible.

U.S. strategy is “directed, not at the military defeat of the enemy, but more at changing regimes in countries carrying out politics that Washington doesn’t like,” Lavrov said yesterday at a Council on Foreign and Defense Policy assembly in Moscow. “It uses financial pressure, economic pressure” and “surely uses informational and ideological influence, supported by financed non-government organizations.”

New Convoy

Russia is readying another convoy of humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine, which will leave “when ready,” TASS reported yesterday, citing Vladimir Stepanov, the deputy head of the Russian Emergencies Ministry.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters yesterday that the U.S. military has delivered the first three of 20 light-weight radar systems that would detect and warn of incoming mortar fire. U.S. personnel will begin training Ukrainian counterparts in mid-December to operate the systems, Warren said, according to the U.S. Defense Department’s website.

The conflict has intensified since rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk held elections earlier this month, which Biden condemned during his Nov. 21 Kiev visit with Poroshenko. He also said the U.S. wouldn’t accept Russia’s March annexation of the Crimea peninsula.

“They were not democratic elections,” Biden said. “They were a Kremlin-orchestrated farce. Let me say as clearly as I can: America does not and will not recognize the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea.”

© Copyright 2023 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

President Petro Poroshenko evoked memories of the 1930s famine that killed as many as 10 million Ukrainians under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to rally citizens as pro-Russian separatists intensified fighting in the east.Poroshenko, flanked by his wife and administration...
Kiev, Ukraine, famine, Russia
Saturday, 22 November 2014 05:49 PM
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