Sputnik Exclusive: DPR Leader Says Situation in Donbass Comparable to NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia
19:07 GMT 06.03.2022 (Updated: 19:37 GMT 19.10.2022)
© Sputnik / Eugene Odinokov / Go to the mediabankDenis Pushilin, representative of the Donetsk People's Republic for the settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine
© Sputnik / Eugene Odinokov/
Russia and its Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic allies began a military operation in Ukraine in late February after weeks of escalating shelling, sniper and sabotage attacks by Kiev forces. The security crisis is the culmination of a calamity that began in 2014, when Western-backed forces overthrew Ukraine’s government in a coup.
The situation in the Donbass is comparable to that in Yugoslavia during the 1999 NATO bombings, and the Donetsk People’s Republic is ready for and wouldn’t be surprised by all manner of war crimes by Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist battalions against the civilian population as they retreat, DPR Head Denis Pushilin has said.
“From the eight years that we’ve confronted Ukrainian armed aggression, we know to expect anything from the nationalist battalions. The Kiev regime is intensifying its terrorism. Today in Mariupol and other cities we are seeing the real picture of their atrocities. During all the years of conflict the same thing happened on our land,” Pushilin said in an interview with Sputnik Serbia, commenting on the recent reports of Azov fighters’ use of civilians as human shields in the besieged city.
“They have organized chaos with impunity, hiding behind the civilian population. Now, they are not allowing the civilian population to leave cities. Showing disregard for people’s lives, they are turning houses, apartments, schools and kindergartens into firing positions. On 5 March, [they] attacked civilians leaving Volnovakha. They opened fire on women and children. Colonel Vladimir Zhoga, nom de guerre Vokha, commander of the Sparta reconnaissance battalion, was mortally wounded in this attack,” Pushilin said.
Civilians living under Ukrainian control over the past eight years have suffered dramatically, the DPR head said.
“When we free settlements, we see that people there have lived through a humanitarian disaster. Unfortunately, the situation in the Donbass has a lot in common with the one in Serbia when it was being bombed by NATO. And the same interested parties stand behind these crimes. It is the same scenario,” Pushilin suggested.
“Today Ukrainian formations leave destruction and fear in their wake as they retreat from their positions, leaving no electricity, no water, no communications [infrastructure] intact. Houses and infrastructure are destroyed. People are jubilant when they meet DPR and Russian forces. We immediately begin rebuilding. People have hope for speedy peace and a return to normal life,” he said.
Russian-led Military Operation Didn’t Come From Nowhere
Western officials and media have spent over a week accusing Russia and its Donbass allies of an unprovoked and unexpected act of “aggression” against Ukraine, suggesting there was no justification for the military operation which started on 24 February. Pushilin doesn’t share in this view, pointing to the months-long campaign to pump Kiev up with weapons, weeks of military escalation, and preparations for a new acts of aggression against the Donbass.
“Through the end of last year and the beginning of this year, Ukraine was concentrating forces along the line of contact, while massive deliveries were being made to Kiev from the United States and NATO countries. Bayraktar [drones], Javelin Anti-tank missiles, Stinger MANPADs – the list goes on and on. Tons of weapons were pumped into Ukraine and urgently transferred to the Donbass,” Pushilin said.
This was followed by “shelling, a wave of bomb threats, provocations, threats of a chemical attacks, as well as an informational buildup” of the situation, he said, adding that DPR intelligence showed that Kiev had made all the preparations necessary for an all-out military offensive in Donbass.
Pushilin revealed that in the space of 16 days of escalation in February, before Russia-led forces began their military operation to demilitarize Ukraine, Kiev carried out nearly 800 attacks against cities in the Donbass, using all calibers of weapons, including Tochka-U tactical missiles and BM-21 Grad rocket artillery. These attacks killed 26 civilians, and injured 109 others, including 7 children. 514 houses and apartment blocs were damaged, along with 198 pieces of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and critical infrastructure, ranging from electricity and water stations to gas, Pushilin said.
“At the same time, Kiev deliberately led the Minsk platform-based negotiation process into a dead end. This forced us to take measures to protect the civilian population. Together with Lugansk People’s Republic head Leonid Pasechnik, we turned to Russia to ask President Vladimir Putin to recognize the Donbass republics and conclude treaties of friendship and cooperation with us – including cooperation in the field of defence,” he said.
22 February 2022, 16:36 GMT
Moscow’s recognition became a jumping off point for changes which the Donbass had been waiting for “for eight long years,” Pushilin stressed, adding that the people of the DPR and LPR “experienced feelings of joy and gratitude” over Russia’s decision.
Pushilin says that 39 settlements have been liberated from Kiev forces in the course of the military operation that was begun on 24 February. “We need to push the Ukrainian military and their deadly weaponry away from our cities, so that people can finally live in peace and calm,” the DPR head said.