From May 1 to May 12, I traveled to both Russia and the Lugansk People’s Republic, an independent republic in the Donbass region, formerly part of eastern Ukraine. The purpose of this fact-finding mission initiated by the Socialist Unity Party and Struggle-La-Lucha.org was to report the suppressed information challenging the narrative of NATO and its member states, led by the U.S., in this proxy war in Ukraine against Russia. My visit to Lugansk was made possible with the assistance of Borotba (Struggle), a socialist political organization in Ukraine and Donbass that we have worked with for many years. Alexey Albu, one of the leaders of Borotba, also provided translation for me during interviews.
What do the New York Times, Kiev Independent, Euromaidan Press, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, TikTok here in the U.S. have in common? They are all funded by or staffed by Western and U.S. intelligence members pushing the U.S. narrative about the war in Ukraine. This is why Struggle-La-Lucha.org organized a fact-finding mission to Ukraine and Russia to report on the suppressed information that challenges the narrative of NATO and its member states, led by the U.S. This is the second part of my report. (Part 1: Fact-finding trip to Donbass) The social media outlets are an open door to organizations like NATO, military suppliers, and the Atlantic Council, with executives making decisions about what content is allowed to circulate widely on social media and what content is encouraged to support U.S. foreign policy goals.
Russia’s “Special Military Operation”, which began on Feb. 24, is entering its fourth month. Despite stiffer than expected Ukrainian resistance (bolstered by billions of dollars of western military assistance and accurate, real-time battlefield intelligence by the U.S. and other NATO members) Russia is winning the war on the ground, and in a big way. After more than ninety days of incessant Ukrainian propaganda, echoed mindlessly by a complicit western mainstream media that extolls the battlefield successes of the Ukrainian armed forces and the alleged incompetence of the Russian military, the Russians are on the cusp of achieving the stated goal of its operation, namely the liberation of the newly independent Donbass Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, which Russia recognized two days before its invasion.
Sonja van den Ende, an independent journalist from Rotterdam, Netherlands, returned to Donbass last week to chronicle the situation on the ground. She has been to Volnovakha, Mariupol and other cities and villages of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. “My assessment of Volnovakha is that the city has come to life again, I was there two weeks ago and everywhere in the city, I saw the results of heavy fighting, ammunition and rubble on the streets, even mines, no people on the streets, a ghost town. The hospital was hit severely,” Sonja van den Ende says. “The second time I came, last week, I was really amazed. Most of the rubble, at least in the city’s center was gone, the park was cleaned up, people on benches in the sun, children were playing and amazingly the school started again!
Censored reports from the Donbass in Eastern Ukraine, however, make clear that the war was started eight years ago by Ukraine–after its legitimate government was overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup (known as the Maidan revolution), and the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces voted to secede. Patrick Lancaster is an American video-journalist and U.S. Navy veteran fluent in Russian who has reported from the Donbass since 2014. His latest video posted on March 10 shows how people living on the edge of Donetsk, one kilometer from the Ukrainian position in Peski, have been subjected to constant shelling by the Ukrainian military over the last eight years and have had to survive living underground in bomb shelters.
“Minsk, Minsk, Minsk,” they cried after Russia recognized Donetsk and Luhansk. But those Western diplomats and pundits did not hear those of us in the anti-war, pro-peace and anti-imperialist movements who insisted that Minsk II was the only conceivable way out of the crisis! There will be reams of words attempting to provide a coherent analysis of the manufactured crisis dramatically unfolding in Ukraine, which took another unanticipated turn when Russia extended recognition to the Peoples’ Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in the territory referred to as the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine. I will not add to that mountain of ink because, for me, the story is relatively simple.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognized the independence from Ukraine of two breakaway provinces in Donbass as violence in the region continues to escalate. In Monday evening televised remarks after signing decrees recognizing the independence of Lugansk and Donetsk, Putin denounced the government of Ukraine as “puppets” of the United States. He said: “As for those who captured and are holding on to power in Kiev, we demand that they immediately cease military action. If not, the complete responsibility for the possibility of a continuation of bloodshed will be fully and wholly on the conscience of the regime ruling the territory of Ukraine.” After Putin had spoken by phone earlier on Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday, the Kremlin issued this statement: “The president of Russia said that he intended to sign the relevant decree in the near future."
On Monday, February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in a press conference that the country will recognize the independence of the Donetsk and the Luhansk people’s republics. Refuting arguments that the move will harm possibilities for peace and violate provisions of the Minsk agreement, the Russian leader claimed that the decision was aimed at maintaining peace in the region. According to Valentina Matviyenko, chairperson of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament, the situation in Donbass is of a “humanitarian disaster and genocide” and Russia’s move will help in easing the situation there. She claimed that Russia was left with no other option to prevent the bloodbath in the region as no one was listening to its calls for diplomatic and political solutions in the last eight years.
(February 21) - The Russian National Security Council met to discuss the recognition of the Donetzk People's Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) as independent states. The whole meeting was shown on public TV. RT-English provided a live translation. The purpose of the show was to present Russia's arguments to an international public. Last week the Russian parliament submitted a resolution which asked the president of Russia to recognize the DNR and LNR. Earlier today the leaders of the DNR and LNR made a formal official request to recognize their republics. The security council heard the opinions of the prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister. The leaders of parliament and of the security services also spoke.
A US official on Monday signaled that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deployment of troops into the Donbas as “peacekeepers” might not trigger the “massive” sanctions the US has been threatening to hit Russia with if it “invades” Ukraine. The US has long accused Russia of having troops deployed in the Donbas, which Moscow has denied. A senior administration official told reporters on Monday that Putin’s peacekeeping deployment would “not be a new step” and would only make the Russian presence in the region “more overt.” In response to Putin’s recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, the Biden administration imposed minor sanctions that prohibit US citizens from doing business in the two republics.
High caliber artillery fire, though prohibited in the contact zone, is intensifying against the Donbass. Six 120mm shells hit the village of Zhelobok, seven of 122mm hit the village of Rayevka, then ten against Vesyola Gorka. Shelling was also carried out from the Kyiv-controlled city of Novotoshkivske, against Lugoanskoe, Krimsoe and Sokolniki, with more than 20 bombs dropped. On February 17, 17 bombing operations had been committed against the Donbass. In Donetsk, on the evening of February 18, 2022, the car of the head of a DPR militia department Denis Sinenkov was targeted by a bomb attack. In front of the DPR government building. A unit of saboteurs from Kiev attempted to blow up an ammonia tank at the Stirol power station in the town of Gorlovka, an operation claimed to have been foiled by the Donetsk authorities.
While much of the world is focused on Covid-related issues, Ukraine's seven-year war on the people of Donbass continues. In recent weeks, Kiev's shelling of civilians has intensified, met by the predictable Western media silence. Ostensibly, following the Minsk agreements, there was a ceasefire. In reality, Donbass residents in villages bordering peace lines are incessantly subject to Ukrainian shelling. Ukraine uses heavy weapons in violation of the agreement, including 82mm and 120mm mortar shells, routinely shelling at night when Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers are not patrolling the area. But Ukrainian forces also shell during the day, and have done so a lot more of late, including allegedly with phosphorus, and shelling further behind the front lines.