News of the border attack on Crimea by Ukraine last weekend has finally made mainstream media.
What woke up mainstream media was not the attack per se.
Rather, it was hard for mainstream media to not report on a result of the attack: Russia pulled out of Ukraine peace talks.
First let’s consider Colonel Cassad’s report on Details of Detained Ukrainians and Their Weapons. Ukraine denies anyone was detained.
Sabotage and reconnaissance groups tried to break through in the Crimea over the weekend. Three people were arrested out of it, the rest retreated to the territory of Ukraine. This was told by a source in Russian law enforcement. According to him, two attempts to break through Ukrainian territory in the Armenian district of the city were taken. One of them – on the night of 6 August 7th. That’s when broke through sabotage and reconnaissance group of 15 people. The second group tried to break through August 8, the saboteurs used the ICV. During attempts to break into the territory of the Crimea have been detained at least three saboteurs. This happened at a time when they were laying different types of explosives including anti-tank mines and other types with a total capacity of 40 kilograms of TNT Group of detainees, according to a source, led the citizen of Ukraine Evgeny Panov was born in 1977. He is a career employee GUR Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. The source said that all the detainees are on the territory of Crimea.
Evgeny Panov Detained
It’s pretty hard to claim no one was detained when videos prove otherwise (see footage towards end of this video).
Here’s a readable report in broken English: Ukrainian media have learned in the delayed in the Crimea, the saboteur scout APU
Here’s a Russian version of the August 6-7 Attack on Crimea.
With a tip of the hat to Colonel Cassad and Jacob Dreizin, I had this story correct a couple days ago: Russia Masses Troops on Crimea Border; Ukraine Warns Russian Invasion Possible “At Any Minute”
Financial Times Synopsis
The Financial Times has a reasonably close synopsis of Russian claims in Putin Accuses Kiev of Armed Crimea Incursion.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Wednesday that it had foiled “terrorist acts” prepared by Ukrainian military intelligence against infrastructure in the territory, with the aim of disrupting Russia’s parliamentary elections due on 18 September. Kiev has denied the allegations.
In response to the alleged operation, Mr Putin said he was pulling out of international peace talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He said he was no longer ready to meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, and German and French leaders in the so-called Normandy format, which has been used for negotiations. Mr Putin hinted at a possible meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China early next month.
“Under these conditions, meeting in the Normandy format, especially in China, is meaningless,” Mr Putin said at a press conference. “Apparently, the people who seized power in Kiev and continue to hold on to it, instead of seeking compromise, instead of searching ways of a peaceful settlement, have moved on to the practice of terror.”
The FSB, the successor organisation to the KGB, claimed that one of its officers and a Russian soldier had been killed while taking down the Ukrainian plot last weekend. The FSB said the soldier died in an exchange of fire with the Ukrainian army across the border that now separates Crimea from the rest of Ukraine — a level of fighting between the two militaries not seen even during the annexation. Moscow said it had arrested several people, including an Ukrainian military intelligence officer.
Ukrainian intelligence denied an officer was detained, and officials said Russian claims of a plot were unfounded. The Ukrainian defence ministry described the Russian claims, which could not be independently verified, as “an attempt to justify redeployment and aggressive actions by military units of the Russian Federation on territory of the temporarily occupied peninsula.”
In Moscow’s account of the alleged Ukrainian incursion, the FSB said it had confronted a group of “saboteurs” in the town of Armyansk, just south of the border with Ukraine, overnight on Saturday. It alleged that 20 home-made explosive devices, as well as a collection of weapons normally used by Ukraine’s special forces, had been found.
The FSB said a second operation followed on Sunday night when Ukrainian troops had tried to ram their way into Crimea supported by armoured vehicles.
The Minsk accords, brokered by France and Germany in early 2015, sharply reduced the intensity of the conflict from its peak in 2014. However, as fighting in the Donbas region continues, the opposing sides have failed to implement political aspects of the Minsk deal that envision Donbas reintegrating with Ukraine.
Russian officials have been criticising Ukraine for failing to implement certain components of the agreement, such as legislation enshrining special status for majority Russian-speaking regions in eastern Ukraine. Observers say Russia and the fighters whom it backs have equally failed to deliver, but that the structure of the Minsk deal has made it easy for Moscow to focus on Kiev’s lack of progress.
Minsk II Violations
“Minsk II is set up in a way that Russia can blame Ukraine for not meeting the political targets, and then you lose the perspective that Russia is still fueling this conflict,” said a European diplomat in Moscow.
The preceding paragraph is precisely what one would expect from mainstream media. Here’s a short translation: “It’s all Russia’s fault”
In reality, it’s clear both sides have violated aspects of the Minsk II agreement.
However, Ukraine has taken none of the key steps on constitutional reforms and local autonomy laws for Donetsk and Luhansk as promised.
Tomorrow’s Ukraine discusses the reasons for a “deadlock” in Minsk II: A Trap, or an Escape?
“France is calling for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements by all parties.”
—French President Francois Hollande.
“We are confident that only through full and faithful implementation of the Minsk agreements of February 12, 2015 can we put an end to the bloodshed and find a way out of the deadlock.”
—Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We are here to implement the Minsk deal, not to call it into question.”
—German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Many leaders in the East and West find the Minsk II Agreement indispensable. But is this truly the case?
Why Isn’t Minsk II a Slam-Dunk?
Point 9 says that control of the border between Russia and Ukraine should be restored to Ukrainian control IF Ukraine successfully implements Point 11; which, in turn, requires Ukraine to enact constitutional amendments permanently decentralizing power and to pass laws permanently granting special status to separatist territory, which would entail local self-government, the right to form “people’s militias,” and more. And then there’s Point 10, which mandates the “pullout of all foreign armed formations” and the “disarmament of all illegal groups.”
But here’s the rub: popular opinion in Ukraine makes it impossible to discuss a special status for the breakaway territories until free and fair local elections are held there, and “free and fair” effectively means that illegal armed groups and foreign armies need to pull out. But Minsk II says that border control doesn’t need to be restored to Ukraine until after it decentralizes, while also requiring that local elections be held in accordance with Ukrainian law.
This is the definition of “deadlock.” Elections that prop up what Kyiv calls “terrorist regimes” would be difficult for Ukraine’s elite to sell to the people, regardless of the merits of such a plan. The general fear on Ukraine’s side is that if Kyiv approves of the elections in rebel-held territory, the separatist leaders—who would likely win any election held at their guns’ points—would claim some degree of legitimacy. Public opposition to granting even the slightest concessions to the separatists, much less elections that could possibly lead to “special status,” is driven by populists like Oleh Lyashko and his Radical Party, as well as by Yulia Tymoshenko and the Fatherland Party, both of whom stand to gain many seats in Parliament if MPs are unable to form a government and new elections are held.
The “Prisoners’ Dilemma” from game theory describes this situation exactly. The game illustrates why two rational actors might not cooperate, even though cooperation is in both their best interests.
The second main reason why Minsk II is seen as controversial is that it requires Ukraine to enact constitutional amendments that devolve some powers to local and regional governments. In the fall of 2015, it became clear that Ukraine was not going to be able to enact the constitutional amendments required. The German, French, Ukrainian, and Russian heads of state, meeting in Paris on October 2, 2015, informally decided to postpone the deadline into 2016.
Minsk II Designed to Fail
With so many obvious complications, Minsk II was setup to fail right from the start.
By accident or design, the setup is precisely what warmongers like.