While everyone is focused on all the President’s, his political appointees’, his personal attorney’s, and the variety of post-Soviet state oligarchs’/post-Soviet state mobsters’, and various other riffraffs’ ongoing attempts to screw around with and screw over Ukraine until President Zelensky announces an investigation into the Bidens, which he’s not going to do, and Guiliani and the various post-Soviet state oligarchs/post-Soviet state mobsters he’s working with to shake down the Ukrainian natural gas industry, life actually goes on in Ukraine. And that life is one where part of Ukraine has been scarfed up by Vladimir Putin and another part has been invaded by Putin. And, as a result, Ukraine is at war with Russia in order to preserve its territorial integrity.
As a result of all of this, President Zelensky has learned some hard lessons in his short time in office. His views below are just one of those lessons.
I don’t trust anyone at all. I’ll tell you honestly. Politics is not an exact science. That’s why in school I loved mathematics. Everything in mathematics was clear to me. You can solve an equation with a variable, with one variable. But here it’s only variables, including the politicians in our country. I don’t know these people. I can’t understand what dough they’re made of. That’s why I think nobody can have any trust. Everybody just has their interests.
He also knows that at least for right now, he’s largely on his own despite the US’s international agreement obligation to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
“If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us,” he said. “I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo.”
Since the beginning of the fighting in the Donbass, human casualties from explosive objects amount to more than a thousand people. Mine killed 300 civilians, including 27 children. About it reports ArmyInform with reference to management of ecological safety and mine action of the Ministry of Defense.
According to preliminary estimates, the area of areas contaminated with mines and explosive objects is about 7 thousand square meters. km controlled areas and approximately 9 thousand square meters. km of occupied territories.
Infrastructures are in a critical condition because sometimes they cannot be accessed through shells and improvised explosives.
This is a humanitarian nightmare and is going to take decades to fix even if a ceasefire was put in place immediately and was quickly followed by the withdrawal of Russian and Russian proxy forces and the reestablishment of Ukrainian sovereignty over the occupied territories in Donbass.
This is the actual effects on the Ukrainian citizenry not only of the occupation and the war, but the mine fields:
Baba Masha’s neighbors say that because of the danger of entering the village of Opytne at night (it sits on Ukraine’s front line and is accessible only by a dirt road through a mined field) fire trucks were unable to respond. Her house is still smoldering as I type this.
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) December 1, 2019
Here’s more from Christopher Miller at Buzzfeed (emphasis mine):
When he’s not engaged in gun battles with Russian-led forces on Ukraine’s eastern front line, Stas, a scruffy 26-year-old soldier, likes to cozy up in his bunker and brush up on his English skills by watching Stephen Colbert and Saturday Night Live. He cracks up at Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of President Donald Trump.
Watching political satire on American TV — when he’s able to get a strong enough signal on the battlefield to access YouTube — is also how Stas learned that Trump had frozen $391 million in US security aid meant for the Ukrainian armed forces over the summer. The news made him angry. The fighting was hot at the time, and he and his fellow soldiers were stuck with mostly crappy, old gear.
“Look at this. It’s old and falling apart,” he complained of his Ukrainian government–issued bulletproof vest in accented English. It was barely stitched together and slouching on one side. “It’s a piece of shit.”
There’s one thing Stas and the soldiers in Ukraine’s 72nd Mechanized Brigade positioned in the village of Novooleksandrivka do have, which they say has helped them spot enemy soldiers who creep within grenade-throwing range of their trenches at night: a pair of US-made night vision sights.
The only problem? They don’t fit on the Ukrainian rifles.
He explained that “they would definitely be more effective if we had them on our rifles,” which is impossible without a special adapter. He demonstrated how he has to hold the sight in one hand, pick a target, lower the device from his eye, and try to remember where he was looking as he aims and fires his weapon. Despite all this, an extra pair or two would be good, he said.
He wondered: Would his brigade have gotten at least another sight if the security aid hadn’t been held up? If only Americans knew how much the equipment would help…
“Nobody in your country knows what’s happening here,” Stas continued, waving his arms in frustration. “They don’t know how we are fighting for our lives with almost nothing.”Fought for more than five years in trenches cut through some of Europe’s most fertile farmland, Russia’s war in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas has killed around 14,000 people and brought under its control a chunk of a territory larger than the state of New Jersey. Yet — despite it being fought with $1.6 billion of US help in the form of military aid and training since 2014 — the war had largely been forgotten before it was catapulted into the headlines amid the House impeachment inquiry against Trump.“While they were playing with our aid, I wonder, did they know we were dying out here?” asked Oleksandr, a sergeant in the 14th Mechanized Brigade who goes by the call sign “kuvyrok,” or “somersault.” As we crept through trenches outside the village of Krymske, 40 miles northwest of Stas’s position, careful to keep our heads down and out of Russian snipers’ sights, Oleksandr said at least two soldiers were killed at the position over the summer.
According to statistics from the Ukrainian military, at least 46 soldiers have been killed since July 18, when word spread throughout the Trump administration that the president had secretly frozen aid for Ukraine. Around 19 of those deaths came during the window of time in which the aid was delayed. While there’s no way of tying those deaths directly to the lack of new US aid at the front line, more than two dozen Ukrainian soldiers — located at four fighting positions, a tank base, and a military hospital — told me they were disappointed by the news. Their morale suffered, and they felt vulnerable and abandoned by their biggest supporter.
The soldiers, whom I met over the course of a week this month while traveling along the snaking 250-mile front line in eastern Ukraine, painted a clear picture of just how important US military assistance is for Ukraine in its war against Russia. The soldiers spoke on the condition that their surnames not be used for security reasons. In what many described as a David-and-Goliath-like fight, they shared several stories about how the US aid has helped level the battlefield and stop the larger and more powerful Russia from grabbing more of their land.They also said that any aid freeze — even a temporary one — jeopardizes not only themselves but perhaps the very future of Ukraine.
There is much more at the link.
14,000 Ukrainians – Soldier and civilian alike – have been killed in Ukraine’s attempt to resist Russia’s incursion into Donbass. And to establish enough of a position of strength so that Ukrainian officials can negotiate a ceasefire and peace agreement that maintains Ukraine’s territorial integrity and gets Crimea back as well. That isn’t going to happen without the US backing it up. Which means it isn’t going to happen until, at least, January 2021 and despite the US’s international obligations to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity. What the US would need to do today is much harder than it would have been in 2014 and in 2021 any response will be that much harder than it would be today. And throughout it all Ukrainians are dying – Soldiers and civilians – because Putin has decided that he gets to draw the borders of eastern Europe wherever he likes. And that cannot be allowed to stand. However, because Ukraine has now been turned into another partisan issue, just as trade, Israel, healthcare, education, climate change, and so many other issues, as long as there is a Republican president and/or at least one chamber of Congress in Republican hands, stepping up and doing the right thing for Ukraine, as well as for the rest of our European and NATO partners is going to be a very heavy lift. Because it is going to be a partisan lift.
When you see the domestic news reporting on Ukraine, where Ukraine is simply a sort of funny sounding part of the horserace coverage of domestic American politics, keep in mind that the real focus here should be Ukraine; should be on the fact that Ukraine has been invaded and been occupied for going on five years; should be on the fact that the US has an actual international obligation to safeguard Ukraine’s territorial integrity; and that it isn’t just another partisan football so the talking heads on the news shows have something to stroke their chins about.