Savchenko Comes Under Fire For Crimea Comments

January 18, 2017

Ukraine Day 1066: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.


An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine


2 Ukrainian Soldiers Wounded in 30 Attacks on the Front Line

Russia-backed militants fired 30 times in the previous day, reported, citiing the Facebook page of the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation]. Two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded.
On the Mariupol line, mortars were launched against Talakovka and grenade-launchers and small arms were used on Slavnoye, Pavlopol, Gnutovo, Talakovka, Novotroitskoye, Shirokino and Vodyanoye. A sniper was also active near Novotroitskoye.
On the Lugansk line, 120-mm artillery was fired on Novaleksandrovka and Troitskoye and 82-mm mortars were used on Novozvanovka. Grenade-launchers and small arms were used on Stanitsa Luganskaya and Novozvanovka and anti-tank missile systems were also used on Novozvanovka.
On the Donetsk line, grenade-launchers and small arts were used to attack the areas near Zaytsevo and Avdyevka.
In his briefing today Col. Oleksandr Motuzyanik, spokesman for the Defense Ministry said there were no soldiers killed and wounded despite fighting near Stanitsa Luganskaya and Popasnyaya as well as Troitskoye.
That means there is a discrepancy between the two reports, but it is not certain that they were speaking of the same time period, as the ATO report came later at 18:00.
Motuzyanik also said there was a sniper in Valuyskoye; some exchanges of fire in Zolotye, Novoaleksandrovka and Novozvanovka and three exchanges of fire in the Avdeyevka promzona [industrial zone]. Russia-backed fighters also fired on Ukrainian positions from Zaytsevo, Troitskoye and the Donetsk Airport. 
He also noted that Krasnogorovka, Maryinka, Vodyanoye and Shirokino were also attacked on the Mariupol line.

Col. Motuzyanik also described an incident from the previous day (January 17) in which Russia-backed militants fired on an investigation operations group from the Popasnyaya Police Department which had been summoned by a woman resident in Mikhaylovka (Zolotoye-5) after a man was shot dead, Liga reported.

The Ukrainian Lugansk Region Administration recounted the incident on its Facebook page.

Yury Klimenko, deputy head of the Lugansk Region State Administration was quoted as saying (translation by The Interpreter):

“The cynicism of the terrorists goes beyond the bounds of common sense. Hindrance of the conducting of the investigation bears witness to their attempt to hide their own crimes against the civilian population. After all, according to the preliminary version, the man was killed from the bullet of an enemy sniper. In order to guarantee the policemen’s safety, we were forced to appeal to representatives of the OSCE Mission.”
Col. Motyuzyanik also reported that Ukrainian police detained a resident of Starobeshevo District in Donetsk Region who had joined the separatists in 2014 and helped them haul freight and repair vehicles. He told police that the separatists then accused him of stealing weapons and held him in prison, to avoid paying his wages. He was then released and went into hiding in Russia. Eventually he made his way back to the village of Sumshchina where his relatives — internally-displaced persons — were now living.
A Ukrainian soldier, age 34, who was brought in serious condition on January 8 from Severodonetsk a hospital in Kharkiv died of his wounds on January 17, reported.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Savchenko Comes Under Fire For Crimea Comments — But What Did She Really Say?

Nadiya Savchenko, the MP and former military officer who was released from Russian captivity last year after being abducted and convicted by a show trial, has been the subject of another round of controversy in Ukraine, after it was reported that she had said Ukraine should give up hope of returning Crimea from Russian occupation in exchange for a Russian withdrawal from the Donbass.

This is not quite what happened, however. 

Speaking on the 112 news channel last night, Savchenko said:

“With regards to this being done by peaceful means, bearing in mind that Russia will not withstand sanctions, that this will surely mean the surrender of Crimea. For a certain period of time, as always, this will have to be placed on the back burner.

“No matter how certain MPs scream and tear at their vyshyvankas, as long as they scream that we will not surrender, they must give up on Crimea. It remains for now unrecognized, occupied territory. Crimea is another Transnistria. And to avoid making another Transnistria in the Donbass, they will leave Crimea occupied and take back the Donbass. I still don’t see any other peaceful route.”

Here Savchenko seemed to be describing what she saw as inevitable on the part of Ukrainian politicians, rather than a call to give up claims to the occupied peninsula.

But 112 ran with the headline: “The only way to return the Donbass is to give up Crimea for the time being – Savchenko.”

Savchenko’s remarks received condemnation, as Leviy Bereg reports:

Vice-Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s representative in the humanitarian subgroup at the Minsk talks, Iryna Herashchenko, said that Ukraine would not trade the occupied Crimea for Donbas.

Herashchenko’s comment on Facebook was in response to an earlier statement of MP Nadiya Savchenko, who has said in televised appearance that “the only way to return Donbas is to give up on the occupied Crimea.”

“We will not trade the occupied Crimea for Donbas. Neither will we give up on Donbas. We will fight tooth and nail for every inch of the Ukrainian soil. We will fight for every Ukrainian. Ukraine is Lviv, and Kyiv, Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukraine cannot be treated as an own constituency, where one can vie for supporters and give up on the rest,” Herashchenko said.

She stated the belief that “no political force, any deputy who is trying to impose the discussion of the surrender of territories, can lead us astray from the path of recovering the united Ukraine.”

The chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, MP Refat Chubarov speaking in parliament later in the day, described the statement of Savchenko as “treacherous attitude to Ukraine and the Crimean Tatars” and urged President Petro Poroshenko to urgently convene a Constitutional Commission on Crimea’s status and future.

Later today, MP Ivan Vynnyk, a member of President Petro Poroshenko’s political party, accused Savchenko of state treason.

During a meeting of the Verhovna Rada committee on national security, Vynnyk asked the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) to open criminal proceedings against Savchenko, who was pushed out of the Batkivshchyna party last month after she confirmed she had held meetings with Russia-backed separatist leaders.

Vynnyk said that Savchenko’s comments on 112 constituted “deliberate acts to undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and national security of Ukraine.”

Savchenko, who is also a member of the Rada national security committee, replied that she was “prepared to defend [herself] before a court,” claiming that she had not violated any laws.

However members then voted to recommend to the Rada that Savchenko be removed from the committee.

This afternoon Savchenko said that she had “never said that Crimea should be surrendered.”

“It has been surrendered. I want people not to be deceived. Those who cry to you from high podiums that we will not give up Crimea, gave up on it in 2014.”

— Pierre Vaux