Observers: NATO Complicit in Ukraine Crisis, Referendums Will Shield Donbass, Kherson & Zaporozhye
16:17 GMT 22.09.2022 (Updated: 20:58 GMT 19.10.2022)
Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to start partial mobilization and support the initiative of the Donbass, Kherson, and Zaporozhye regions to hold referendums on joining Russia stems from NATO's growing involvement in the Ukraine conflict, international observers say.
"[Putin] has clearly identified Washington, London and Brussels [EU headquarters] as the main actors in the conflict, instead of Ukraine, which he sees as a stage," says Argentine analyst Martin Rodriguez Osses.
While delivering his address to the nation on September 21, the Russian president noted that Washington, London, and Brussels are openly encouraging Kiev to move the hostilities to Russia's territory. "They openly say that Russia must be defeated on the battlefield by any means, and subsequently deprived of political, economic, cultural and any other sovereignty and ransacked," the president noted, adding that "NATO is conducting reconnaissance through Russia’s southern regions in real time and with the use of modern systems, aircraft, vessels, satellites and strategic drones."
Moreover, Russian forces have recently faced "a Ukrainian counteroffensive that was conducted by what in essence was a NATO military" in the Kharkov region, as Scott Ritter, a military analyst and former US Marine Corps intelligence officer assessed in his September 18 interview with Sputnik. To complicate matters further, the US provided Kiev with intelligence to assist in shelling the Zaporozhye NPP – the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe – according to Russia's Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev. Moscow has repeatedly warned that the strikes on the NPP could lead to nothing short of a nuclear disaster.
18 September 2022, 05:09 GMT
NATO bore a huge responsibility for the conflict in Ukraine even before the start of the special operation on February 24, according to Argentine analyst Marcelo Montes.
“Today, the responsibility again lies with the West, because the European Union could pressure Kiev into joining the negotiating table, and if this did not happen, then Washington should have done this. However, the West is doing quite the opposite by trying to disrupt negotiating efforts," the analyst says.
During his speech, Vladimir Putin recalled that Moscow and Kiev reached mutually-beneficial agreements during the Istanbul talks last spring. Following the talks, Russian forces voluntarily withdrew from the Kiev region. However, "a peaceful settlement obviously did not suit the West, which is why, after certain compromises were coordinated, Kiev was actually ordered to wreck all these agreements," the president pointed out.
What's more, the Kiev government and Ukrainian nationalist battalions doubled down on persecuting Russia-sympathizers in Ukraine by detaining them, subjecting them to torture, or killing their own people. "The policy of intimidation, terror and violence is taking on increasingly mass-scale, horrific and barbaric forms," Putin stressed in his Wednesday's address. Meanwhile, the indiscriminate shelling of Donbass by the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been ongoing.
"The Kiev regime has chosen the path of deliberate terrorism," says Amedeo Avondet, leader of the Italian United Italy movement. "[They are] attacking ordinary citizens and officials in the liberated territories. Therefore, new efforts and sacrifices will be required. The people of Donbass win freedom with blood. What we are witnessing will remain an important page in the history of Europe. I am sure that, although at different times and in different ways, all goals will be achieved. It will be extremely important for the Russians to maintain the calm, composure and courage that have always distinguished them."
Since 2014, successive governments in Kiev have repeatedly sabotaged the Minsk Agreements, a roadmap for peaceful reconciliation with the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, which envisaged ceasefire, federalization, and autonomy for the mostly Russian-speaking regions.
Nationalism and Neo-Nazism in Ukraine
"Problems of the Lugansk and Donetsk regions have not been resolved for a long time," says Andrej Danko, chairman of the Slovak National Party and former head of the National Council of Slovakia. "The glorification of people like [Stepan] Bandera is unprecedented in history. We in Slovakia know who Bandera is, how our people were afraid of him in the post-war period. Returning to the past is always a great misfortune. Ukraine also failed to [develop an approach] to its national minorities and suppressed any rights of [other] nations."
Stepan Bandera was a leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), infamous for collaborating with Nazi Germany
and conducting the ethnic cleansing of Jews, Russians, Roma, and Poles in the Nazi-occupied territories of Ukraine during WWII. After the Western-backed Orange Revolution in Ukraine, President Viktor Yushchenko altered the Ukrainian school curriculum to glorify the OUN and granted the title of Hero of Ukraine to Bandera in 2010.
Even though the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine reversed Yushchenko's order in May 2011, Bandera and the OUN received the status of fighters for independence after the February 2014 coup.
In May 2014, the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion* was founded. The same year, it formally joined the Ukrainian National Guard and cracked down on pro-Russian Ukrainian civilians in the east of the country. In June 2014, the "Library" secret torture prison appeared at Mariupol Airport operated by the Azov Battalion and "supervised" by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), as Vasily Prozorov, a former SBU officer, revealed in 2019. According to the testimonies of former detainees, Ukrainian nationalists used different torture techniques
, including waterboarding, asphyxiation, breaking fingers, etc.
On December 16, 2021, the UN General Assembly discussed a resolution that called for combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism, and other practices that fuel racism and xenophobia. The only two countries that voted against it were the US and Ukraine. During the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, a vast amount of neo-Nazi literature, images, and paraphernalia were found in Azov's strongholds by the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) military.
21 September 2022, 15:39 GMT
Referendums to Solve Security Dilemma of Donbass, Kherson & Zaporozhye
The news about the scheduled referendums was perceived as a guarantee of greater security in the future, according to Donetsk-based freelance journalist Eliseo Bertolasi.
"An attack on Donetsk would now mean an attack on Russia, with predictable consequences," Bertolasi says. "Donetsk has been living under bombardment for many months; there is no place where the inhabitants feel completely safe, because NATO's powerful weapons and Ukrainian troops hold the entire city at gunpoint. Every day brings death, the latest tragedy happened on September 19, when 13 people were killed. Living in such conditions is simply impossible! Joining Russia is the embodiment of the desires of the population, which has sought this since 2014."
According to Danko, it is still unclear what the West will do in response to the referendums in the Donbass, Kherson, and Zaporozhye regions, because the US and its NATO allies do not think rationally today. European leaders have adhered to policies which directly contradict their people's interests, including sweeping sanctions on Russia and the suspension of Nord Stream 2, which have ultimately backfired on the West, according to the Slovak politician. "The wave of dissatisfaction with the energy catastrophe threatening Europe is huge," he concludes.
*The Azov Battalion is a terrorist organization banned in Russia.