Kuleba gives a firm answer to Russia’s demands regarding the Minsk agreements and Donbas

The Kremlin’s attempts to impose its scenario for interpreting the Minsk agreements on the integration of Donbas into Ukraine will not succeed. 

Such was the statement of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba while commenting on the recent announcement of Dmitri Kozak, the deputy chief of the Putin Administration. Thus, Kozak demanded that at the next round of talks in Minsk the Ukrainian delegation would submit amendments to the Ukrainian Constitution dealing with decentralization.

In response to this demand, the Ukrainian minister assured that “any attempts to distort the Minsk agreements, to interpret them in such a way that the integration will have to take place on Russian conditions will be in advance doomed to failure”. 

Kuleba also stressed that Ukraine was intended to stop the war and return Donbas exclusively on its conditions. According to the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Office, the official Kyiv expects that Moscow will fulfill the Minsk agreements beginning with its first clause that provides for a complete ceasefire in Donbas.

“We are not a service bureau to fulfill “wishes” of some other countries”, the minister summed up.

In early July, Dmitri Kozak, the deputy chief of the Russian President’s Administration, announced that Russia waits for Ukraine to present a draft law on changes to the Ukrainian Constitution that will regulate “the special status” of Donbas.

In response to his announcement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that no one has the right to demand anything from Ukraine.

The article written by Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov who is also the minister for the re-integration of temporarily occupied territories made Kozak even more nervous. Published on the site of The Atlantic Council, an American Atlanticist think tank in the field of international affairs, the article emphasizes the need “to revise the Minsk peace process and adapt the framework of the current dialog” to the present-day geopolitical realities. At the same time Reznikov stresses in his article that “Ukraine advocates for continuing the dialog within the framework of the Minsk process”.

“We maintain that Minsk has become obsolete and must be revised”, the Ukrainian Vice Premier argues. In his words, “the situation is different today as we begin to interpret the Minsk agreements openly and sincerely”. The minister went on to say in his article that “for the first time Zelenskyy has articulated the official position of Ukraine that no special status of Donbas will ever be written down in the Constitution. The other thing is the Ukrainian control over the border and only then the elections”.

In the words of the Russian official Dmitri Kozak, if Reznikov’s opinion will not be confirmed or refuted by the Ukrainian authorities, then “it will in fact mean that Ukraine withdraws from the Minsk agreements and consequently from the Minsk and Normandy formats of talks on the settlement of the conflict in Donbas”. 

The Kremlin was rather careful in stating its position. Last Sunday, Dmitri Peskov, the press secretary of Vladimir Putin, while commenting on the results of the operative meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation said that the absence of any dynamics of the Donbas issue called forth a lot of disappointment. “Kyiv has done nothing to implement the Minsk agreements and Paris decisions and continues to do nothing”, Peskov said.

Meanwhile, many political analysts say that demanding from Kyiv the implementation of the Minsk agreements, Russia itself has long since withdrawn from them as it has been ignoring them from 2015, the year they were signed, until today. “It is Moscow that is responsible for the disruption of the reached agreements. It is Russia that can be considered the side that has withdrawn from the Minsk agreements long ago. To begin with, this document called for ceasefire as far back as on February 15, 2015. What did Russia do on that day? It continued controlling the combat operation to capture the Ukrainian town of Debaltsevo. Russia is true to the Minsk agreements in words only. In fact, it ignores all provisions stipulated by them. According to Moscow’s understanding of the situation, only Ukraine must implement these agreements. In other words, everything boils down to one-side concessions”, said Serhiy Solodkiy, an analyst of the Ukrainian Center “New Europe”.

The killing of a Ukrainian medical worker on July 13 testifies to the truth of everything said by Solodkiy. According to an earlier reached agreement between the warring sides, the paramedic tried to evacuate the body of a soldier killed in the morning of that day. 

“After the regime ‘Silence’ was confirmed, the evacuation team in white helmets with identification marks set out to help the wounded. The team was a few meters from the body of a fallen soldier as the enemy opened fire from rifles. The team retreated but one paramedic hurried to help the injured soldier. At that moment, the enemy began firing from grenade launchers and large-caliber machine guns. The paramedic was killed, one soldier killed and another wounded”, a military report of the Ukrainian army said.

The Joint Forces Operation headquarters referred to this incident “as the strong evidence that the Russian Federation and pro-Russian separatists are not going to keep any international legal norms”.

The murder of the Ukrainian paramedic in Donbas is a military crime. That’s what Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba said about the incident.

He said, “We will call the attention of our partners. The incident will be made public as wide as possible. The killing of a medical worker who tried to give help to a wounded soldier is more than a tragedy”.

The newspaper Holos Ukrainy

70-та річниця Української Громади в м.Сідней

В цей день, 29 жовтня, 70 років тому Українська Громада Сіднею провела свої перші загальні збори.

Сьогодні, 29 жовтня виповнилося 70 років з дня перших загальних зборів нашої громади в 1949р. Багато це чи мало? Для історії України це небагато, але для українців в Австралії це ціла епоха. Наша Громада була першою українською громадою в Сіднеї, а можливо, і в Австралії.

Наша Громада має довгу і яскраву історію, присвячену збереженню українських традицій в Австралії.

У 1951 році Громада зареєструвалася як кооператив. З тих пір, кожного року правління Громади звітує про свою діяльність як своїм членам так і австралійському урядові. У 1959 році Громада змогла купити та обладнати Народний Дім у Лідкомбі, який до нині залишається центром Української діаспори в Сіднеї. Усі ці роки Громада підтримувала соціальний та економічний розвиток суверенної та демократичної України.

Згодом, завдяки зусиллям українців (як членів Громади, так і інших небайдужих), була придбана суміжна земельна ділянка на якій була побудована перша українська школа у Сіднеї – школа імені Княгині Ольги.

Сьогодні, українська школа імені Княгині Ольги в Лідкомбі виховує друге чи навіть третє покоління тих, хто її будував чи навчався в ній.

Хочеться подякувати та привітати усіх людей які будували та підтримували українську Громаду усі ці роки, які створили осередок української культури незважаючи на те, що відрізані від України тисячами кілометрів. Нехай і надалі українська Громада Сіднею процвітає та сприяє збереженню та просуванню української мови та культури.

Голос Громади (Випуск 36, Листопад 2017) – Голодомор / Voice of the Community (#36) – Genocide by Famine

On November 26, 1998 the president of Ukraine issued a decree that designated a National Day in Memory of the Victims of the Famine of 1932-33, that is to be marked annually on the fourth Saturday of November. On October 31, 2000 this Presidential decree was amended to a National Day of Memory of the Victims of the Famine of 1932-33 and Political Repressions, to be marked annually on the fourth Saturday of November.

In Ukraine was the year when famine reigned in village after village throughout the countryside of the then soviet Ukraine and into the neighboring regions of the Kuban and the Don that were populated mostly by Ukrainians. The famine was imposed upon the population in the eastern, central and southern areas of Ukraine. The harvested fields had yielded abundant crops, however, the government in Moscow had it confiscated, stored under guard and even exported it internationally while millions upon millions of people, women children and men slowly starved to death – this was mass murder by famine enforced by Moscow that took the lives, by some estimates, of more than 7 million Ukrainians (about 20% of the population).

The manner was brutal as it was effective. The Moscow Communist leadership imposed grain delivery targets on Ukrainian rural areas that were impossible to meet, and then systematically expropriated every handful of food, grain, the livestock as well as home and land.

By a series of key commands the campaign and process of expropriation was put into action: in August of 1932 the death penalty was announced ‘for violating the sanctity of socialist property’; more than a 110,000 zealous, politically reliable cadres were sent from Russia into the Ukrainian countryside to extract and expropriate, targeted rural areas were blockaded to prevent food from neighboring areas and across borders from reaching the population. As the results were still insufficient then beginning in November 1932 these actions were intensified. By 24 January 1933 Stalin took direct control of Ukraine by appointing his personal commissar Pavel Postyshev to control Ukraine and enforce his dictates. Additionally, L. Kaganovich was put in charge of the agricultural sector and worked closely with V. Molotov in organising the forced collectivisation of Ukraine. Immediately all measures and actions were reinforced and intensified to the extreme – by famine and terror. In the following months before the next harvest the Ukrainian countryside was stripped bare, the social structure devastated, the population decimated.

In the face of stark reality the communist leadership in Moscow resolutely claimed that there was no famine. Offers and efforts of aid from neighboring western Ukraine and some European countries were rejected. However, the privileged communist officials and their supporters in the towns did not suffer from hunger or famine, for they were served by a special distribution system. At the same time the Russian communist government was exporting the expropriated grain to the west.

These actions were reinforced by a wide-ranging purge by execution and exile into gulags of the leading Ukrainian intelligentsia, and the destruction of Ukrainian churches and their organisational structure.

This was an unprecedented policy of genocide conceived at the very top, the scale and inhumanity of which had not been seen before – and it was mercilessly imposed on the Ukrainian population – a population of ordinary mostly farming people. They were all subjects of the one State – there was no war with other countries, no armed uprising, no natural calamity, no drought, no flood, no pestilence – there was only an indescribable imposed evil stalking defenseless people – whole families – in their very homes on their native land.

The communist secret security forces (the political police) continued with their activities of persecution and terror, increasing scope and vigour through the 1930’s by arresting, exiling to gulags and eliminating anyone they chose to be an ’enemy of the people’. Any survivors and eyewitnesses were silenced by terror – torture, exile and death.

The start of WWII by Hitler in partnership with Stalin in Sept 1939 unleashed even more carnage and chaos across Europe and the territory of Ukraine in particular. The constantly shifting fortunes of war, subjected entire regions to repeatedly changing armed regimes, each bringing upon the local population their own measure of arrests, deportations and violence as the battle line(s) on the eastern front moved back and forth. It is estimated that by the end of the war in 1945 Ukraine lost approx. 33% of its population (14% all military losses; 19% civilian losses).

The genocidal Famine in Ukraine (1932- 33) became the hidden abomination of the XXth century. Stalin’s communist totalitarian regime, centered in Moscow, believed that it would be able to deny and conceal its crimes against humanity from the world by silencing people within the USSR. from the judgment of history.

However, some courageous western journalists like Malcolm Muggeridge , Gareth Jones in Britain, and William H. Chamberlin and Eugene Lyons in the USA reported the magnitude and horror of the devastation. Ukrainians in western countries on learning of the atrocities from eye-witness sources immediately spoke out and appealed for aid – to be told that there was no famine.

Influential others like Walter Duranty, knowing the truth, sided with Moscow’s cover-up with fake news generated and promoted by the communist leadership. Moscow’s orders of silence applied to all, even to the party – the Holodomor was officially denied, not discussed nor mentioned publicly.

In the aftermath of the carnage and chaos of war some Ukrainians found themselves in refugee camps of western Europe unable and unwilling to return to their homeland which was under Stalin’s tyrannical rule. Through the organisational structures of the United Nations they were able to migrate to various western countries, including Australia. As the Ukrainian diaspora that was completely cut-off from their families and people, they were committed to revealing their experiences and the plight of their countrymen under communist rule. Knowing that their families and fellow countrymen were terrorised into silence every opportunity was taken to speak out about the Holodomor (genocidal famine) and the past and ongoing persecutions.

Those that came to Australia were relatively young, being mostly below 35 in age. They were brought as displaced persons (Stateless) from the refugee camps of post-war Europe from approx. 1948 to 1954. They were the first Ukrainian diaspora. Even though they faced the challenges of working and trying to settle in a strange land, with a very different language and way of life they did not forget [did not forget] … their identity, nor the plight of their families.

In 1953, only some 20 years since the genocidal famine of 1932-33, Ukrainians in the main cities of Australia (Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney) organised activities to commemorate and bring attention of the wider public to the Holodomor. In Australia and elsewhere, Ukrainian refugees wrote and published articles in English in the Ukrainian press, printed and widely distributed information leaflets, and organised public demonstrations and commemorative religious Services.

In Sydney they gathered in the centre and attended a Memorial Service at the St Andrews Cathedral (Anglican) to pray for the souls of the more than 6 million victims of the HOLODOMOR. After the Service, the more than 3,500 attendees proceeded as a large demonstration marching through the streets of city streets from the Cathedral to the Domain holding placards that drew attention to the genocidal famine and Moscow’s responsibility for it.