Donetsk: A Defiant and Besieged City

Donetsk: A Defiant and Besieged City

Monday, 18 May 2015 11:31By Joshua Tartakovsky, Truthout | Op-Ed   Downtown Donetsk. Despite the ongoing war the city has made an extra effort keeping the streets clean. Residents of Donetsk have been demonized and castigated by the Ukrainian government and media. President Poroshenko famously said “their children will be holed up in basements.” (Photo: Joshua Tartakovsky) A visit to Donetsk reveals that unlike Western media portrayals, the city stands behind the rebels and refuses to accept the authority or legitimacy of the Kiev government which openly stated its admiration for Ukrainian fascist leaders. Donetsk is keen on resisting attempts at subjugation by Kiev. Its population continues to struggle to go on with its daily life as residential neighborhoods are frequently shelled. While Russia undoubtedly lends its support to the self-proclaimed republic via various means, it would be incorrect to say that the local population does not stand behind the republic. In a recent visit to the Donbass in East Ukraine, a group of journalists including myself visited Donetsk in order to better understand its reality for ourselves. The trip was organized by Europa Objektiv, a German-Russian NGO whose mission is to provide journalists with a tour of the frequently misrepresented region. We had many questions on our mind with respect to the situation in Donetsk. The image many of us had was that of acity whose streets were vacant of people and that was ruled by rebels through the use of force. Would we encounter Russian forces? Was there fighting in every area and would we be shelled? These were some of the questions. We left Rostov for Donetsk by car. Vietnamese journalists, two Englishmen from a Conservative think-tank and myself. On our way...
Are There Nazis in Ukraine? A Visit to Lviv

Are There Nazis in Ukraine? A Visit to Lviv

  Tuesday, 06 January 2015 10:52By Joshua Tartakovsky, SpeakOut | News Analysis Truth-Out.org  The conflict in Ukraine has been to a large degree about history and how to interpret it. The marches held in honor of World War II Ukrainian leader Stepan Bandera this past Thursday, January 1, 2015, in Kiev marking 106 years to his birth, confirm that understanding the past is essential for making sense of the future. While some have argued there are no fascists in Ukraine and that protesters in Maidan came from a wide gamut of Ukraine’s civil society, in the US Congress, difficult questions were asked about US support for the neo-Nazi Right Sector and in Russia, alarm was raised when pictures of protesters wearing Nazi insignia, and later Ukrainian army soldiers with fascist beliefs, were revealed. (Photo: Joshua Tartakovsky)The questions of what to make of modern-day Nazis and of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), Organization for Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Stepan Bandera, suddenly became relevant and highlighted again the importance of understanding history in understanding the present. As one who lost people on both sides of my family to German and Ukrainian fascists, I was very interested in making sense of past as well as present events. To this end, I visited Lviv, Ukraine in December 2014 and read historical articles seeking to understand to what degree Ukrainain fascists were involved in World War II atrocities. This article is a culmination of these efforts. Following the coup that took place in Kiev, Ukraine, in February 2014, rumors have surfaced of neo-Nazis marching in the streets of the city and of a “fascist takeover.” Many have...
Is Poroshenko Preparing for Peace or War?

Is Poroshenko Preparing for Peace or War?

Fort Russ January 2, 2014 By Joshua Tartakovsky, Independent Researcher What is one to make of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s recent statement that violence and force have failed in suppressing the Donbass and that negotiations must be carried out? Poroshenko said that there is no military solution to the war in Donetsk and Lugansk while qualifying his statement by saying that if Russia will launch an intervention, Ukraine will introduce martial law. Poroshenko’s statement that “we haven’t got the resources for an offensive today” can be interpreted to mean that either he is planning to get the resources in the future or attempting to appear pragmatic so as to deflect accusations from ultra-nationalists that he betrayed their cause.  Poroshenko also said that he would meet the leaders of Russia, Germany and France in Kazakhstan on January 15 (incidentally the same day in which anti-Russian government protests are expected to be held in Moscow and around the world) to discuss a settlement.   Did the Ukrainian President finally realize the futility of bombing civilians in his own country who dared to protest the illegal coup that took place in February 2014 and do not feel represented by Western Ukrainian ultra-nationalists? Is the fact that many in the Ukrainian Army oppose the so-called ‘anti-terrorist operation’ and even deserted, mean that he realized that a full conquest will not be possible, or that he must salvage Ukraine’s economy with Russia’s support before the already-dire economic situation deteriorates further? Did Poroshenko have a change of heart (or mind), possibly despite American full support for the military actions he has been taking against Donetsk...