Ukrainian Crisis: Scene Where Plane Was Shot Down Shows Intl. Diversity In Casualties

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Main Points Of Article:

1. Items Ranging From Bali Travel Guides To Children’s Coloring Books Found In Crash Site
2. Human Remains Strewn For Miles In Donetsk Region
3. Investigators Met With Hostility From Separatists At Crash Site

The site of the downed MH-17 Boeing 777 airplane spans an area of over 9 miles in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine. Journalists on the ground report how horrific the scene is, and what items have been located in the sunflower field the plane came down in.

“It’s a gruesome scene,” journalist Noah Sneider told CNN. “There’s bodies splayed out through the fields. People said the plane kind of exploded in the air, and everything rained down in bits and pieces, the plane itself, the people inside.”

Bodies are being marked with sticks tied with white cotton ribbons. Sources report that the local morgue does not have the capacity to handle all 298 of the bodies. In fact, they report that the scene is even more gruesome due to the bodies already beginning to decompose.

Over 100 of the people on the flight were AIDS researchers, on their way to a conference that now will have a hundred empty seats. The conference the researchers were traveling to, the 20th Annual International AIDS Conference, released condolences. “The International AIDS Society (IAS) today expresses its sincere sadness at receiving news that a number of colleagues and friends en route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today,” the statement read. “At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy.”

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Items that were also on the plane have been found in the crash site. A tour guide to the popular oceanside vacation spot of Bali was found, along with books in Dutch, children’s coloring books, and passports. Ages of the casualties range from infants to elderly citizens from at least 9 nations, including the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, and Malaysia.

International investigators into the crash arrived to hostility from the pro-Russian separatists in the region. President Obama called for the crash site to be left alone by the separatists so that those responsible can be deciphered and brought to justice.

The downing of the plane, if the United States’s working theory that Russia supplied the SA-11, or “Buk,” missiles and how to use them to the separatists, would be one of the worst state-sponsored terror attacks in history. This is already the 6th deadliest plane disaster in history.

Most devastatingly of all, this is the deadliest intentional plane crash in world history.

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Ukrainian Crisis: Passenger Plane Shot Down Over Ukraine, Killing 295, Including 23 Americans

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The biggest news regarding the Ukrainian Crisis since the annexation of Ukraine has come today. A Malaysian passenger airliner was downed by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all 295 people aboard.

In a conflict that already has re-split Europe on Cold War lines, this news raises the stakes highly. The United States said that the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was “blown out of the sky” while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Ukrainian officials blame pro-Russian militants, with the aid of Russian military intelligence, of using a Soviet-era SA-11 Surface-To-Air missile to shoot down the plane carrying citizens of nations including the United States, the Netherlands, and Australia.

Though they deny any involvement with this attack, pro-Russian separatists bragged last month about obtaining this kind of Surface-To-Air, or SAM, system. This would enable them to pull off an attack like this, but they, along with Russian President Putin, pin the blame on Ukrainian forces. Putin called the attack a “tragedy,” but did not state or speculate who fired the missile.

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The plane was legally allowed to fly above 32000 feet, as international air lanes are still open above that mark. This Boeing 777 was flying at least 1000 feet above that requirement when it was shot down.

Separatists have these kind of missiles , as they have used them in recent weeks. Last Monday, they used a SA-11 SAM to bring down a Ukrainian Antonov An-26 turboprop plane. They also downed a Sukhoi Su-25 fighter on Wednesday. Both of these losses have been confirmed by Ukraine.

One local man told Reuters, “”I was working in the field on my tractor when I heard the sound of a plane and then a bang. Then I saw the plane hit the ground and break in two. There was thick black smoke.”

An emergency worker reported at least 100 bodies have been recovered, and a separatist leader has been quoted saying that the group has found one of the plane’s black boxes. Bodies and wreckage are spread for a 9 mile area, blanketing the Ukrainian steppes with grotesque destruction.

Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak demanded swift justice to those guilty and that the crash site must not be tampered with until international authorities can investigate the site. This is by far the most international this crisis has been since the shutdown of natural gas to Ukraine from Gazprom, and the annexation of Crimea.

Ukrainian Crisis: Referendums In Eastern Ukraine

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The regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, in Ukraine, voted today on whether or not to become independent states. The results just came in, and they are: Surprise, independence.

The question on the ballot in Donetsk was: “”Do you support the self-rule of the Donetsk People’s Republic?” The “official” results from Donetsk are 89% yes, 10% no. The head of the election committee, Roman Lyagin, told reporters after the polls closed, “These can be considered the final results.” These numbers are much different than those which came out of a poll from the Institute of Social Research and Policy Analysis, which said that among those asked only 4.7% of Donetsk residents supported independence.

The results for independence in Luhansk were similar in percentages.

The West made sure to pronounce their opposition to the votes. The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “This is the Crimea playbook all over again. No civilized nation will recognize the results. And if Russia takes the next step to re-enact its illegal Crimea annexation in eastern or southern Ukraine and sends more forces over the border, harsh US and EU sanctions will follow.” A spokesperson for the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, explained that, “Such a referendum, against the Ukrainian constitution, does not calm things down but escalates them.”

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The ballot question left it open to different interpretations, which may be one reason for the sky-high unification of the voters. The corruption is in the wording, which could be read as self-rule, autonomy, or independence, depending on the reader. It is also corrupt because of Vladimir Putin’s role in it. He called on the regions to postpone the votes, to begin, “direct, full-fledged dialogue between the Kiev authorities and representatives of southeast Ukraine.” He said this so that when the regions ask to join Russia he can say that, though he was not a part of it, he must listen to what the people want. This is the way he can get around the illegality of this vote.

These votes and their results are illegal and must not be recognized. It is another step in the wrong direction, and is another one in the path toward Putin’s dream of an Eurasian Union.

Ukrainian Crisis: Why This Is An Urban War and How To Handle It

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Cossacks Discuss Upcoming Donetsk Referendum. Credit Here.

It is hard to believe that this is my 13th post on the Ukrainian crisis so far, spanning 3 months, reporting in the modern form of journalism. Hundreds of people from over 30 different nations, including the major players in this crisis: the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and Russia. So now, I would like to discuss something that must be understood for the general public to understand my solutions to the crisis.

Ukraine is fighting an urban war against Russia. To explain this, let us go back to a few months ago, in March, when the conflict in the Crimean peninsula began. We saw the invasion of sovereign Ukrainian lands by soldiers without any distinguishable markings. The international community was stunned and many of us who understand foreign affairs cautiously warned that it may be the work of the Russian Federation.

It then became obvious that these “Pro-Russian Demonstrators” were in fact Russian troops, possibly part of the FSB, and definitely the Russian Army. By the end of March, Crimea had joined Russia through a corrupt referendum.

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Pro-Russian Soldier Defending A Stronghold in east Ukraine. Credit Here.

The violence then moved to the east, where forces have been fighting for months in the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv. The fighting has been in the streets of urban cities, some using Molotov cocktails, guns, cobblestones, and other weapons. With this violence, along with the 40K Russian troops on the border armed for the invasion of Ukraine, it proves that it is Putin and his government causing this unrest.

The bulk of the violence has not been in rural areas, with large tanks and weapons of mass destructions as you would expect in an invasion. The violence has been in the cities, with Russian troops disguised as citizen protestors, and really the only typical large weapons of invasion involved are BTR quick-movement armored vehicles and fast-attack helicopters.

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A heavily armed pro-Russian soldier. Credit Here.

So how can we handle this violence? This is a new type of war, one where it is harder for the West to quell the violence peacefully. This is why I propose 3 actions that need to be taken by the US and UK governments now:

1) President Obama Needs To Garner Public Support For Future Actions By The US

    This needs to occur before #2 or #3 can occur. He needs to address the American people in the same way he did in the Syrian conflict, sitting down and talk out what has happened, and why we need to take action upon it to prevent future bloodshed. I fully support every action he has taken so far, and I believe that an informed public will also.

2) Reinstate Anti-Missile Defense Systems In Poland

      Ever since the first sparks of violence in Crimea, I have wholeheartedly advocated for the West to reinstate anti-missile defense systems in Poland, like they were in the Cold War. This will deter Mr. Putin from any movement west, toward the EU. Poland is one of our greatest allies around the world, and it is our obligation to protect them, and the rest of Europe.

3) Supply Non-Lethal Aid To Ukraine

    Ukraine is not a stable economic nation, especially as this crisis is tarnishing its land. It needs help to prevent Russia from taking any more of its land. The fact is, however, the American people are a war-weary nation. That is why I am advocating for body armor, fuel, and food to be sent to the Ukrainians, things that will not cause direct lethal consequences but will help the Ukrainian people survive. It may become necessary for the American government to send light arms to the Ukrainian army due to its lack of equipment but only if this crisis continues, which I unfortunately foresee. That would come if no progress in quelling the violence occurs by the end of May.

This is the time for the US to take real action in Ukraine. No boots on the ground, but continue to hold military exercises in Poland, as well as reinstate anti-missile systems in Poland and to supply non-lethal aid to Ukraine. We must end this now, before Putin’s dream of a Eurasian Union comes upon us.

Ukrainian Crisis: The Reason Why Putin Calling Eastern Ukraine “Novorossiya” Is Worrisome

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To most, hearing the term “Novorossiya” would elicit a “What?” But in the crisis currently occurring, it is yet another eerie reminder of the Soviet and Czarist Russia age coming back.

For historical background, Novorossiya, or New Russia, was the region encompassing Ukraine and some of its neighbors back when it was conquered by Catherine the Great in the 18th Century. Queen Catherine took it during the Russo-Turkish War, and it was part of Russia until the Bolsheviks granted it to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922.

In a nearly four-hour Q&A Thursday, President Vladimir Putin called this region “Novorossiya”, which was a term that had not been used to describe this region in nearly 90 years. “It’s new Russia,” he said, adding,

“Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Odessa were not part of Ukraine in czarist times, they were transferred in 1920. Why? God knows.”

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Some voiced worry that Putin freely using this term means that he is embracing the idea of the Eurasian Union as an actual reinstatement of the Soviet Union, as I have been warning for over 2 months now. This includes the Polish Defense Minister, and other officials in NATO and the UN.

Yet, Putin seriously believes that what he is doing is best for Russia. At one time we were promised,” Putin said, “that after Germany’s unification, NATO wouldn’t spread eastward.”

He continued:

“Our decision on Crimea was partially prompted by this. Needless to say, first and foremost we wanted to support the residents of Crimea. But we also followed certain logic: if we don’t do anything, Ukraine will be drawn into NATO sometime in the future. We’ll be told, ‘This doesn’t concern you’ and NATO ships will dock in Sevastopol, the city of Russia’s naval glory.”

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As I have stressed many times before, we need to reinstate anti-missile defense systems in Poland right now. No questions asked, I call on NATO, President Obama, and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to do this immediately. I am talking about the European Intercepter System, which, if Russia feels so inclined to escalate its Eurasian Union goal to take over Poland, will defend our greatest ally in East Europe. For right now, though, they would act as a deterrent to Putin and the Russian Government.

I could of sworn we ended this war yesterday.

Ukrainian Crisis: Turning Point In Eastern Provinces

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Armed Pro-Russian Demonstrators Sunday. REUTERS

Ukraine announced that it will deploy troops to the eastern provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv today, April 13th, if pro-Russian demonstrators do not surrender. It is being called a “large-scale anti-terrorist operation” to push back attacks by pro-Russian demonstrators in eastern Ukraine by Ukraine’s Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov in an address.

After the speech, the ousted former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych accused the CIA of setting up the planned operation. The CIA Director John Brennan straight up denies the accusation, with his spokesperson saying the “claim that Director Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations inside Ukraine is completely false.”

Sunday morning, Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian separatists exchanged fire outside a city in eastern Ukraine, leaving one security officer dead and 5 wounded. This is the first deadly encounter in the eastern oblasts, which comes after armed separatists took multiple government buildings last week.

These “pro-Russian demonstrators” are outfitted the same exact way as the ones who took over Crimea, which then Russia annexed. The State Department (@StateDept) tweeted “Militants in eastern Ukraine were equipped with Russian weapons and same uniforms as those worn by Russian forces that invaded Crimea.” The international community is worried that this may end up the same way.

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To address this situation, the UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting at 8 PM April 13th. The US Mission to The UN (@USUN) tweeted, “@AmbassadorPower and the @UN Security Council to hold emergency consultations on #Ukraine at 8 p.m. ET tonight.” This will be an open meeting in New York. Previously to this Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, had his spokesperson issue a statement. “The Secretary-General stresses that further disturbances will not serve the interests of any side. He therefore appeals to all sides to work towards calming the situation, adhere to the rule of law and exercise maximum restraint,” said the statement.

Vice President Biden will also be traveling to Kiev on April 22nd. Biden “will underscore the United States’ strong support for a united, democratic Ukraine that makes its own choices about its future path,” the White House said in a statement.

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Russia has 40K+ troops ready for an invasion into eastern Ukraine at a moment’s notice. If this occurs, it would become undifficult for Putin to take Kiev, and the entire nation. As I have stressed in previous articles, an action needed to be taken by NATO would be to reinstate Anti-Missile Defense Systems in Poland along its Russian and Ukrainian borders.

We must wait and see how this will play out. If the pro-Russian demonstrators do not surrender by 1 AM EST Monday, the anti-terrorism operation will occur, under orders of Kiev. This may be met with Russian aggression, and, in my predictions, these oblasts may either schedule votes or be militarily taken by Russia by Wednesday.

Ukrainian Crisis: Escalation In Eastern Ukraine

 

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Pro-Russian Protester Monday. Credit Here.

On the night of April 6th, Pro-Russian Groups seized military arms and declared one province of Ukraine a separatist republic. These are the largest moves made since March in the ongoing crisis between Kiev, Moscow, and the West.

The overnight takeover of 3 cities in eastern Ukraine looks eerily like how the events in Crimea played out, and that is Kiev’s position as well. The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseny Yatseniuk, said Monday, ” An anti-Ukrainian plan is being put into operation … under which foreign troops will cross the border and seize the territory of the country…We will not allow this.”

These separatists, after taking the cities of Kharkiv, Lugansk, and Donetsk, demand that referendums be held, like those in Crimea weeks ago, on whether or not to join Russia. If these lands join Russia, which could happen by the beginning of May, would be a loss of land equal to the size of South Carolina, and would be another step closer for Putin to take Kiev.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, that the US is watching the events in Ukraine with great caution, and any further steps to destabilize the region would “incur further costs for Russia.”

Kerry “called on Russia to publicly disavowed the activities of separatists, saboteurs and provocateurs” in Ukraine, the Department of State said. He and Lavrov will be discussing peace talks between Ukraine, Russia, the US, and the EU coming in 10 days.

It is presumed that Russia will, if it decides to annex these oblasts, take them like they did Crimea. Already we have seen the similar first step: “Pro-Russian Protesters” taking government buildings. The 40K+ Russian troops who are already on the border between Russia and Ukraine have been outfitted with quick-movement arms, which means they could seize these oblasts with minimal cost to life.

EasternEuropeMap updated

Black Dots: Where Anti-Missile Systems Should Be Placed By NATO. Created by Nassem Al-Mehairi.

We have an option that we can take right now. I want more, stronger sanctions too, but I am going to focus on another course of action we can take. These oblasts, unfortunately, will probably be annexed into Russia. We can, however, reinstate missile defense systems in Poland and put them in Romania. Both of these nations are NATO members, and understand the dangers of letting Putin take Ukraine.These anti-missile systems would draw a line where Putin must stop, where he cannot go without further, much harsher consequences. We then must use sanctions and diplomacy to try to save Ukraine before it is too late.