OSCE photographs mass-graves discovered in Ukraine last week.
The grim discovery of mass graves in southeastern Ukraine this week implicates the Kiev regime in further war crimes. At least three such burial sites have been uncovered in recent days since the withdrawal of Kiev’s military forces from the areas under its control, as part of a belated ceasefire deal.
Meanwhile, Kiev President Petro Poroshenko declared that “the worst of the violence is over” in Ukraine, with the latest ceasefire, he says, holding and Kiev’s forces withdrawing as latterly agreed. In the same speech, Poroshenko claimed that his country is on schedule to gain full membership of the European Union by the year 2020. Perhaps, Kiev’s EU ambitions are concentrating its efforts to end the violence – violence, it has to be said, that Kiev largely instigated in April this year.
But as peace makes a tentative return in eastern Ukraine, the restored calm is giving rise to some eerie discoveries of possible war crimes – the latest being the unearthing of mass graves in territory that was, up to a few days ago, under the control of Kiev’s military forces for the past several months.
Kiev’s military spokesmen have denied accusations from local people in the Donbass regions that its forces are responsible for the alleged atrocities. If that’s the case, then the Western-backed regime must heed Russian government demands to facilitate an immediate international crime investigation.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has confirmed the location of several graves and the retrieval of human remains. However, the OSCE said it could not give a forensic assessment at this stage about the cause or the perpetrators.
Two of the mass graves were found in a coal mine in Kommunar, near the village of Nzyhnia Krynka, some 35 kilometres northeast of Donetsk city. Another burial place was located in the village itself.
Officials of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and local residents who returned to the village have accused the Ukrainian National Guard and associated pro-Kiev militia of involvement in the crimes.
Disturbingly, the DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko said that more graves are being discovered by self-defence militia with each passing day as local people move back into areas which up until recently had been occupied by Kiev’s military units.
Russia’s foreign ministry has called for an international probe into what appears to be gross human rights violations committed by Kiev’s military units against civilians. Moscow wants the United Nations and the European Council to send human rights representatives to assess the findings.
At least four corpses recovered so far have been identified as those belonging to women. One of the victims was reportedly decapitated, while others were shot in the head after their hands had been bound. There are also emerging reports of bodily remains belonging to several DPR self-defence militia members having been identified in other graves.
The OSCE reported a macabre makeshift plaque implanted near the corpses at one site, presumably left by the killers, which read: ‘Died for Putin’s lies’.
The Western-backed Kiev regime’s denials on this matter have little credibility. Blunt denial has become a routine response from Kiev to all accusations even when irrefutable evidence shows that Kiev’s forces have engaged in violations, such as indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas, sabotage of water and power utilities, or the deliberate lethal targeting of journalists working in the conflict zone. At least three Russian journalists have been killed in recent months.
Local residents have also reported abductions and killings of civilians by regime forces since Kiev launched its so-called “anti-terror operation” six months ago to suppress popular dissent in Donetsk and Luhansk against the Western-backed coup in Kiev. The regime dispatched not only regular army units, but also volunteer National Guard battalions, comprised of the neo-Nazi Pravy Sektor paramilitaries operating out of western Ukraine.
Another component of Kiev’s military are battalions such as Dneipr, Aidar and Azov, sponsored by Igor Kolomoisky and other oligarchs who are working hand-in-glove with the far-right Kiev regime. These battalions are motivated by a ruthless Nazi ideology, traced back to the Ukrainian collaborators of the Third Reich, which views the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine’s southeast as “sub-humans” to be exterminated.
These battalions have been filmed previously by international television crews openly wearing Nazi insignia on their uniforms. But Western governments and media have studiously ignored this Nazi component of their favoured regime in Kiev, headed up by President Poroshenko and his Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The latter has casually referred to the Russian people of eastern Ukraine as “sub-humans”, yet just this week he was given a platform to address the 69th United Nations General Assembly.
In the latest incident of apparent civilian killings and mass burials the telling fact is that the graves have been located in the immediate aftermath of Kiev’s forces withdrawing from the reported vicinities. Until a few days ago, the areas were fully under the control of the National Guard and the so-called volunteer battalions.
Adding further suspicion was the stiff reluctance of the Kiev forces to pull back from the conflict lines when the ceasefire was first brokered on September 5. That deal was brought about under the aegis of Moscow and the personal intervention of President Vladimir Putin who proposed a seven-point peace plan, including withdrawal of Kiev’s forces from civilian centres.
However, since that truce was signed initially on September 5 in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, it has been hampered by continual breaches, and in particular the recalcitrance of Kiev’s forces to vacate the conflict zones around Donetsk and Luhansk.
Last weekend saw a possible breakthrough when negotiators from Kiev and the self-declared People’s Republics agreed on the implementation of a 30-kilometre buffer zone, which would remove artillery well back from the fighting lines.
The OSCE’s cursory report this week on the mass graves near Nyzhnia Krynka – located at the outer limit of the buffer zone – found from markings at the site that the bodies were buried at the end of August. The corpses were also said to be in an advanced state of decay. That date corresponds with the fact that the area was under the control of Kiev’s forces at that time.
Moreover, the OSCE also notes that its Special Monitoring Mission observed a destroyed bridge over the water reservoir at Nyzhnia Krynka, which connects the locality with Donetsk. “According to local residents the bridge was blown up by Ukrainian soldiers leaving the area around 18 September,” said the OSCE.
It would seem that whoever carried out these atrocities they did not want the evidence uncovered any time soon, or least until after the remains had decomposed sufficiently to obscure the exact circumstances of the killings.
That would explain the blowing up of the bridge access from Donetsk and also why Kiev commanders had shown such obduracy about vacating the areas of their operations under the terms of the September 5 ceasefire.
With more reports emerging of further mass-grave discoveries, the expectation is that there will be more evidence of systematic crimes having been carried out by the forces under the command of the Kiev regime in the Donbass over the past several months.
Vladimir Markin, Russia’s Investigative Committee spokesman, said of the latest findings: “Reports about killings of civilians whose bodies were found in a mass grave on the outskirts of Donetsk will be thoroughly investigated within the criminal case on use of banned methods and tactics of warfare against civilians in Ukraine’s southeast.”
This is but the latest episode in a litany of violations and crimes against humanity that the Kiev regime has been implicated in since it embarked on its scorched-earth campaign against the civilians of eastern Ukraine in April. That offensive campaign was fully endorsed by the regime’s sponsors in Washington and Brussels, who indulged the regime’s legal right to carry out such punitive operations, even though they were being conducted in mainly civilian areas.
Just last week, US President Barack Obama announced another $53 million in military aid to Kiev – in addition to the $200 million already disbursed since the Western-backed coup took place on February 22, when the elected President Victor Yanukovych was ousted. Yanukovych was not willing to sign up to an EU trade pact last November, which would have paved the way for full EU membership and eventually joining the US-led NATO military alliance. All those items are now squarely on the agenda since the Western-backed regime seized power in Kiev.
Recall, too, that CIA director John Brennan made a secret trip to Kiev on April 17 to meet Yatsenyuk and senior members of the regime only days before the regime’s crackdown in the east of Ukraine went into action.
Russian government reports have also identified American private military contractors being deployed with Kiev’s forces over recent months, and there are credible reports of US Special Forces engaged in training of the notorious volunteer battalions that have ravaged Donetsk and Luhansk.
No wonder then that Kiev appears keen to bury the evidence of atrocities in eastern Ukraine. Not only is its hallowed EU membership at stake. A real deal-breaker would be evidence pointing all the way back to Washington and Brussels and their complicity in what amounts to be gross crimes against humanity in eastern Ukraine.
Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.