Article by: Volodymyr Kopchak
Ever since Russian troops and pro-Russian forces began destabilizing the eastern regions of Ukraine, it has been clear that the Kremlin-backed ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ were committing terrorist acts. Over time – especially when Vladimir Putin’s plans to create Kremlin-controlled self-proclaimed para-governments melted into thin air – the terrorist component has become became increasingly evident in the Donbas.
Local to global
Choosing how to exercise control over the occupied territories was greatly influenced by the passive position of most of the Donbas residents; they were just not ready for any decisive actions. Even supporters of the ‘DNR’and ‘LNR’ gave the terrorists only “moral approval”. So, the leaders of these ‘People’s Republics’ had no choice but to resort to terrorist methods: coercion, intimidation, blackmail, murder and provocation.
Examples of terrorist activities in eastern Ukraine are recorded in the monthly reports of the UN Commission on Human Rights. For example: “Fear is spreading in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts; there is an increase in cases of intimidation and attacks by armed groups against ordinary people who support the unity of Ukraine and openly disagree with the establishment of two self-proclaimed republics.”
Here is another statement: “Besides participating in combat operations (against Ukrainian government forces), these armed groups continue to kill and abduct civilians, resort to physical and mental torture, and demonstrate brutal violations of human rights and international law. The number of people held hostage by armed groups is still unknown.” It is difficult to imagine a more eloquent description of terrorism as perpetrated by the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’.
It should be noted that it was the Kremlin-backed ‘DNR’ terrorists who were responsible for the downing of the Malaysian Boeing-777 on July 17 when 298 innocent people perished. This dramatic crash became the new ‘9/11’ tragedy, propelling the terrorist activities of the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ onto the international stage.
It is relatively simple to make an analogy between the Donbas terrorists and the Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan. What do they have in common? Aggressive indoctrination of local residents together with terror against dissidents, stirring up of anti-Western sentiment and search for external enemies, who are allegedly responsible for all existent problems.
This can be immediately discerned in the rhetoric of the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’: their ‘officials’ emphasize that the West was at the heart of the change of government in Kyiv and incite the population to halt western expansion, explaining that the “mystical Slavic soul” is incapable of accepting European values.
Analogies can also be seen in the environment: destroyed regional infrastructure, and as a consequence, the impoverishment of the local population.
However, it is the Kremlin that controls and manipulates everything at the information level: Moscow has total control over Donbas media space, thus creating a perfect image of the enemy (the Ukrainian government and the West), who is “to blame for all the economic and political problems.”
A black hole
Putin is probably very satisfied with this functional model of the Donbas. Europe will be saddled with a poor and pro-Russian region professing anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western ideology, whose leaders use terrorist techniques to achieve their goals. This means that another powerful (terrorist) argument will be added to Putin’s arsenal in order to put more pressure on the West.
By supporting terrorism in eastern Ukraine, the Russian president has turned the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ into conventional terrorist organizations that pose a new and serious threat to society. This dangerous trend must be stopped; otherwise the international community will have to face a new Al Qaeda.
The Western world long delayed the implementation of decisive measures against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Western leaders were slow to tackle the problem as long as these organizations terrorized ‘only’ the local population and did not spread their operations beyond Afghanistan. Hesitation and delay led to large-scale terrorist attacks and thousands of victims worldwide.
Given the circumstances, there is only one way to prevent another Al Qaeda-type of organization (i.e. ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’) from taking hold of Eastern Europe. The international community must take a tough stand and refuse to openly legitimize these terrorist organizations.
Ukraine has already taken steps to curb the activities of the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’. According to Ukrainian legislation, the Office of the Public Procurator has officially recognized them as terrorist organizations. However, their terrorist activities have now reached the international level, and therefore, they must be recognized as terrorist organizations by the international community.