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February 12: ”Normandy Four” negotiations concluded in Minsk with a disappointing result for Ukraine

February 12 – “Normandy Four” negotiations concluded in Minsk with a disappointing result for Ukraine. Putin did not give in on a single point – there will be no withdrawal of Russian troops (they are, of course, nowhere close to Ukraine), no immediate resumption of control over the border, no reinstatement of sovereignty over occupied Crimea or Donbas. There are, however, the obligations on behalf of Ukraine to service social needs of separatists, legalize their armed gangs and hold fake elections under their watchful eye. The situation looks a lot like the surrender of Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia) to Hitler. February 12 – Total financial assistance to Ukraine from the IMF and other organizations could amount to 40 billion dollars over 4 years, – said IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde. February 12 – Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations has announced the preparations for the 14th so-called humanitarian aid convoy destined for Donbas – more weapons will be transported, no doubt. February 12 – Russia has transferred another lot of military equipment and artillery to the territory of Ukraine, controlled by militants – approximately 50 tanks, 40 “Grad”, “Uragan” and “Smerch” multiple rocket launch systems and 40 armored vehicles crossed Russian-Ukrainian border at border crossing point Izvaryne, – said NSDC spokesman Andriy Lysenko. February 12 – The transfer of the amphibious assault ship “Vladivostok” (Mistral-class) to Russia could begin as early as next week. February 12 – EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini does not expect sanctions against Russia to be discussed during the summit of EU member-states leaders to be held on Thursday. February 12 – Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Lamberto Zannier hassaid that at present it is impossible to determine whether the militants in Donbas are also soldiers of the regular Russian army. OSCE has completely exhausted itself as a security-oriented organization. February 12 – Agreements reached in Minsk during the meeting of the leaders of the countries of the “Normandy quartet” are absolutely weak. This was stated by the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybaskaite, to journalists in Brussels before the EU Summit. “The fundamental part of the resolution is the control of the borders. It was not agreed upon and not resolved,” she noted. “This means that the border is open for crossing by whatever soldiers and whatever artillery,” remarked Grybaskaite. “This means that the resolution is totally weak,” emphasized the President of Lithuania. She is also not very optimistic about the agreements on the cease-fire. “Five months ago we already had one agreement about a cease-fire which was not implemented. Let’s see what happens with this one,” underlined Grybaskaite. “We will observe in the next few days how at least these partial agreements will be implemented,” she added. War is hell! (photo report from occupied Vuhlehirsk) Russia lies… great start to Minsk agreement (Savchenko cannot be released!!) Timothy Ash Ukraine – deal thoughts I guess with hindsight, a deal was always going to be done. Merkel was not going to get on a flight to Minsk, after Kyiv, Moscow, and Berlin, and not get something. And Putin needed to try and rebuild some bridges with Merkel, after seemingly upsetting her at Brisbane. Merkel is probably the honest broker in all this. She really feels for the Ukrainian position, but understands the real threat from Russia – she reads Putin better than any other Western leader, and cannot be bought. But it is Bismark-style real politik for Merkel, and she was desperate to stop the fighting – almost at any cost, which is entirely understandable. Hollande will likely get his aircraft carriers delivered, and sees all this as offering the hope of ressurection in terms of his presidency at home – a global leader, strutting the international stage and making Cameron, et al look like poodles, or rather a bulldog with no teeth. Putin gets his aircraft carriers, which will no doubt have a nice shiny berth now awaiting in Sebastopol. Putin also fended off near term threats of sanctions from the West, and can sell himself to allies in Europe (there are many) as a peacemaker – again heading off further sanctions threats. He has also not agreed to very much, as I don’t think his signature is on the document, so if it fails (and it likely will) he can blame others. He has also headed off the threat of the US arming Ukraine – and therein he is in cahoots with Obama himself, who will see this deal as being useful in fending off calls from the DC consensus (including within his own administration) now to arm Ukraine – and can return to his own “splendid isolation” or “strategic patience” as it is now called stateside. That’s a nice term for doing as little as possible. Poroshenko gets his IMF programme, and can try and roll out reforms attached to this to try and assure the supporters of Maydan that this team is really the Real Deal in terms of the reforms they so desire. Note the IMF press release was timed for 10am, just as news of the Minsk deal broke – so my sense is that someone was telling the Ukrainians that an IMF deal was contingent on a Minsk ceasefire deal. No ceasefire – no IMF deal. And the IMF gets to roll out its new programme, which it has been working on for months. Poroshenko probably also thinks that the ceasefire will buy time for Ukraine to regroup, rearm against the clear and present danger of further Russian intervention. But will it all stick/last? I just do not think so, as I still fail to see from this deal what is different to Minsk I in terms of delivery on Russian strategic objectives in Ukraine. Minsk I clearly did not deliver for Russia, hence that ceasefire did not last long, so let’s see what is really different this time around. The issues of real autonomy/federalism, and border control don’t appear to be properly addressed in this document. Constitutional reform towards the Russian agenda will be impossible for Poroshenko to deliver. And finally and fundamentally why I do not think that the status quo is sustainable – one year ago Russia felt the need to annex Crimea, and intervene in eastern Ukraine. But one year ago Ukraine was no threat to Russia as a) it was non aligned; b) popular support for Nato membership was low single digits, and there was little support in parliament or amongst political elites to drive Ukraine NATO membership. C) the west really did not want Ukraine in NATO as they saw this as a red rag to the Russian bull, and as events have proved could not defend Ukraine under NATO’s TOR; c) the Ukrainian military had limited fighting capability as was proven in the early days of the conflict, but subsequently changed; d) the govt in Kyiv was weak and disarray and the Ukrainian economy on the brink of collapse; e) and as events have proven Russia had de facto control of Crimea via the stationing of 26,000 troops and the long term BSF agreement. And f) and finally Ukrainians were not anti-russian or even particularly anti-Putin. If Moscow was not a real threat a year ago, but Moscow felt compelled to intervene, look at the risk from a Russian perspective now from Ukraine – a) Ukraine is no longer non aligned. B) it now wants to join NATO and opinion polls now show majority support for this. C) Ukraine is rebuilding military capability and the military doctrine is now against the threat from Russia; d) Ukraine has a reform admin in Kyiv, which has a real chance of succeeding now with imf support. It can offer a rival and successful model of development to Putin’s power vertical and sovereign democracy. E) Opinion polls show strong ukrainian opposition/distaste for the Putin regime. So, net-net the above still suggests the risk of further future Russian intervention in Ukraine. P.S.: Please spread this appeal as much as possible.

By [email protected] (Тарас Возняк)

February 12 – “Normandy Four” negotiations concluded in Minsk with a disappointing result for Ukraine. Putin did not give in on a single point – there will be no withdrawal of Russian troops (they are, of course, nowhere close to Ukraine), no immediate resumption of control over the border, no reinstatement of sovereignty over occupied Crimea or Donbas. There are, however, the obligations on behalf of Ukraine to service social needs of separatists, legalize their armed gangs and hold fake elections under their watchful eye. The situation looks a lot like the surrender of Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia) to Hitler.

February 12 – Total financial assistance to Ukraine from the IMF and other organizations could amount to 40 billion dollars over 4 years, – said IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

February 12 – Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations has announced the preparations for the 14th so-called humanitarian aid convoy destined for Donbas – more weapons will be transported, no doubt.

February 12 – Russia has transferred another lot of military equipment and artillery to the territory of Ukraine, controlled by militants – approximately 50 tanks, 40 “Grad”, “Uragan” and “Smerch” multiple rocket launch systems and 40 armored vehicles crossed Russian-Ukrainian border at border crossing point Izvaryne, – said NSDC spokesman Andriy Lysenko.

February 12 – The transfer of the amphibious assault ship “Vladivostok” (Mistral-class) to Russia could begin as early as next week.

February 12 – EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini does not expect sanctions against Russia to be discussed during the summit of EU member-states leaders to be held on Thursday.

February 12 – Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Lamberto Zannier hassaid that at present it is impossible to determine whether the militants in Donbas are also soldiers of the regular Russian army. OSCE has completely exhausted itself as a security-oriented organization.

February 12 – Agreements reached in Minsk during the meeting of the leaders of the countries of the “Normandy quartet” are absolutely weak. This was stated by the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybaskaite, to journalists in Brussels before the EU Summit. “The fundamental part of the resolution is the control of the borders. It was not agreed upon and not resolved,” she noted. “This means that the border is open for crossing by whatever soldiers and whatever artillery,” remarked Grybaskaite. “This means that the resolution is totally weak,” emphasized the President of Lithuania. She is also not very optimistic about the agreements on the cease-fire.

“Five months ago we already had one agreement about a cease-fire which was not implemented. Let’s see what happens with this one,” underlined Grybaskaite. “We will observe in the next few days how at least these partial agreements will be implemented,” she added.

War is hell! (photo report from occupied Vuhlehirsk)

Russia lies… great start to Minsk agreement (Savchenko cannot be released!!)

Timothy Ash

Ukraine – deal thoughts

I guess with hindsight, a deal was always going to be done. Merkel was not going to get on a flight to Minsk, after Kyiv, Moscow, and Berlin, and not get something. And Putin needed to try and rebuild some bridges with Merkel, after seemingly upsetting her at Brisbane. Merkel is probably the honest broker in all this. She really feels for the Ukrainian position, but understands the real threat from Russia – she reads Putin better than any other Western leader, and cannot be bought. But it is Bismark-style real politik for Merkel, and she was desperate to stop the fighting – almost at any cost, which is entirely understandable. Hollande will likely get his aircraft carriers delivered, and sees all this as offering the hope of ressurection in terms of his presidency at home – a global leader, strutting the international stage and making Cameron, et al look like poodles, or rather a bulldog with no teeth. Putin gets his aircraft carriers, which will no doubt have a nice shiny berth now awaiting in Sebastopol. Putin also fended off near term threats of sanctions from the West, and can sell himself to allies in Europe (there are many) as a peacemaker – again heading off further sanctions threats. He has also not agreed to very much, as I don’t think his signature is on the document, so if it fails (and it likely will) he can blame others. He has also headed off the threat of the US arming Ukraine – and therein he is in cahoots with Obama himself, who will see this deal as being useful in fending off calls from the DC consensus (including within his own administration) now to arm Ukraine – and can return to his own “splendid isolation” or “strategic patience” as it is now called stateside. That’s a nice term for doing as little as possible. Poroshenko gets his IMF programme, and can try and roll out reforms attached to this to try and assure the supporters of Maydan that this team is really the Real Deal in terms of the reforms they so desire. Note the IMF press release was timed for 10am, just as news of the Minsk deal broke – so my sense is that someone was telling the Ukrainians that an IMF deal was contingent on a Minsk ceasefire deal. No ceasefire – no IMF deal. And the IMF gets to roll out its new programme, which it has been working on for months. Poroshenko probably also thinks that the ceasefire will buy time for Ukraine to regroup, rearm against the clear and present danger of further Russian intervention. But will it all stick/last? I just do not think so, as I still fail to see from this deal what is different to Minsk I in terms of delivery on Russian strategic objectives in Ukraine. Minsk I clearly did not deliver for Russia, hence that ceasefire did not last long, so let’s see what is really different this time around. The issues of real autonomy/federalism, and border control don’t appear to be properly addressed in this document. Constitutional reform towards the Russian agenda will be impossible for Poroshenko to deliver. And finally and fundamentally why I do not think that the status quo is sustainable – one year ago Russia felt the need to annex Crimea, and intervene in eastern Ukraine. But one year ago Ukraine was no threat to Russia as a) it was non aligned; b) popular support for Nato membership was low single digits, and there was little support in parliament or amongst political elites to drive Ukraine NATO membership. C) the west really did not want Ukraine in NATO as they saw this as a red rag to the Russian bull, and as events have proved could not defend Ukraine under NATO’s TOR; c) the Ukrainian military had limited fighting capability as was proven in the early days of the conflict, but subsequently changed; d) the govt in Kyiv was weak and disarray and the Ukrainian economy on the brink of collapse; e) and as events have proven Russia had de facto control of Crimea via the stationing of 26,000 troops and the long term BSF agreement. And f) and finally Ukrainians were not anti-russian or even particularly anti-Putin. If Moscow was not a real threat a year ago, but Moscow felt compelled to intervene, look at the risk from a Russian perspective now from Ukraine – a) Ukraine is no longer non aligned. B) it now wants to join NATO and opinion polls now show majority support for this. C) Ukraine is rebuilding military capability and the military doctrine is now against the threat from Russia; d) Ukraine has a reform admin in Kyiv, which has a real chance of succeeding now with imf support. It can offer a rival and successful model of development to Putin’s power vertical and sovereign democracy. E) Opinion polls show strong ukrainian opposition/distaste for the Putin regime. So, net-net the above still suggests the risk of further future Russian intervention in Ukraine.

P.S.: Please spread this appeal as much as possible.

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February 14: Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is part of a broader, and more dangerous, confrontation with the West

February 14 – Prosecutor General of Ukraine in cooperation with Security Service of Ukraine has detained a former Chief of the Party of Regions Oleksandr Yefremov, – said Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Shokin in his comment to Internet media "Ukrainska Pravda".

February 14 – At 0:00 the Armed Forces of Ukraine will cease fire along the contact line, – stated the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko during his address from the General Staff on February 14th.

February 14 – President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has said that peace agreements are in jeopardy as a result of the situation at Debaltseve lodgement. "The whole world is waiting tensely for tomorrow's morning with bated breath. Those who would like to derail the peace process at its outset, have been warned about the consequences. I am not going to say what Ukraine will do if the peace process is disrupted. I will say one thing – we will not turn another cheek if we are provoked and may the Lord forgive me for that", – said Poroshenko.

February 14 – Battalion Donbas soldiers captured 17 fighters in the area of the village Lohvyn in Donetsk region.

February 14 On February 14, terrorists are preparing a massive provocation, which may result in the entry of armed forces from RF. This was aired on Channel 5 by the spokesman of Sector M, Dmytro Chalyj. And they did accomplish this – they shelled with Hrads the Russian territory. Now Russia will blame the Ukrainian side for this.

February 14 In the internet there appeared a video which testifies to the gathering of armored artillery by the Russian side from Crimea to the administrative border with Ukraine.

February 14 – As a result of constant artillery shelling of Debaltsev by the fighters, "the city is burning", the building of the city police was hit directly by Hrad units. This was stated by the Head of the Regional Headquarters of MVS in Donetsk region, Viacheslav Abroskin.

February 13 – 11 Ukrainian military were killed and 40 injured in the ATO area in the last 24 hours, – NSDC spokesman Andriy Lysenko.

February 13 – According to new Minsk agreements, the city of Debaltseve should remain under Ukraine's control. However, Russian terrorists were given an order to gain control over the cities of Debaltseve and Mariupol by February 15th, – informed Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Petro Mekhed: "According to information available and taking into account the fact that there has been an agreement to cease fire on February 15th (0:00), Russian troops and pro-Russian militants were ordered to occupy Debaltseve and Mariupol".

February 13 – Soldiers of 79th brigade of Ukrainian army have detained a terrorist "Gnom" ("Dwarf") who is allegedly second in command at the detachment of Russian terrorists named "Somali". He personally participated in torturing Ukrainian military prisoners.

February 13 – A tank battle for the village of Shyrokine and an artillery battle for the village of Stakhanka have taken place – both are located close to Mariupol, – reports Ukrainian regiment "Azov".

February 13 – When the terrorists were shelling the town of Shchastya (Luhansk region), they killed and injured civilians at a local café.

February 13 – Right wing party "Pravyi Sektor" believes that that any agreements with separatists are unconstitutional and thus the party reserves its right to active military operations, – stated party leader Dmytro Yarosh.

February 13 – Russian terrorists have shelled the city of Artemivsk, which is located behind the combat line protected by Ukrainian forces.

February 13 – 4 people were killed and 16 injured as a result of shelling by Russian terrorists at the city of Hirnyk (Donetsk oblast).

February 13 – US Senate has passed a resolution on the release of Ukrainian pilot and member of Ukrainian Parliament Nadiya Savchenko.

February 13 – In the last hours before the beginning of the ceasefire, foreseen by the mutual agreements in Minsk, the danger of bloodshed only increases. This was stated by the German official Gernot Erler, an advisor to Merkel on Russia, reported the Bayerischer Rundfunk: "The risk is truly very high. In the last hours before the ceasefire, there exists the danger that the sides will attempt to increase losses among each other," he said. According to him, the heightening may lead to the reality that the readiness for a ceasefire will dwindle to nothing. "There is a diffference between Minsk-1 and Minsk-2. I see more concrete definitions in the new agreement. Also, backing up the new document are three preidents and a chancellor," noted the politician.

What Russia wants:From cold war to hot war

Russia's aggression in Ukraine is part of a broader, and more dangerous, confrontation with the West

Marco Bojcun: MINSK II: Land for a ceasefare, but not for pease

Lithuania's view on Minsk2

Putin's war on the West

Flawed deal in Minsk

Polish view on Minsk2

Ukraine's other war – on corruption (NATO Review)

Lilia Shevcova: The Kremlin Is Winning

By Taras Kuzio

What will the west do when Minsk-2 unravels?


European leaders desperate to avoid going down an Iranian-style route of economic and financial sanctions and to dissuade the US from sending weapons signed a second agreement to end the fighting in Ukraine on Thursday in the Belarus capital, Minsk. But it will be as unworkable as the first Minsk agreement signed in September 2014. The new agreement has weaknesses similar to those of its predecessor and will unravel in the next few months.

How will the weak Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) go about removing foreign troops and mercenaries? Will Russia really permit Ukraine to take control of its border next year, after local elections in March and the adoption of a new Ukrainian constitution that outlines some form regional devolution to the Donbas?

Indeed, could elections ever be considered free and far if they are held under the barrel of a gun? With crime rampant in the separatist-controlled Donbas, will it be safe to transfer funds for social payments and pensions from Kiev to the region and for taxes to be transferred back to the central government?

The reaction from leaders in the region was sceptical or cautious at best. Dalia Grybauskaitė, Lithuania's president, said Minsk-2 was a "weak" document; Bronisław Komorowski, Poland's president, said peace was still a faraway goal.

The main reason Minsk-2 will not hold is that the person who began the conflict – Russian President Vladimir Putin – has not achieved his strategic goal of destroying Ukraine as an independent state. Western sanctions have not served as a deterrent.

As Andrey Illarionov, a former economic adviser to Putin, reminded us this week:

the goal of Putin's war against Ukraine is an attempt at the inclusion of it, Belarus, and also Russian-speaking enclaves in other countries in some kind of geopolitical union called 'the Russian world,' with the liquidation or at least the limitation of their sovereignty.

The Donbas conflict will only end, he argues, if Putin gives up "the policy of denying the statehood, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and other states with Russian or Russian speaking population".

Putin has always confused Russian speakers in Ukraine with Russians, and has talked of "17m Russians" living in Ukraine. That this is a misnomer can be seen from the weak support for separatism in the six Russian-speaking regions of eastern and southern Ukraine outside the Donbas.

US and EU leaders are unwilling to face the implications of a return to the Europe of the 1930s, with one country seeking to destroy another. They are desperate to put off the inevitable confrontation with Russia through negotiation. A year ago, when former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made an analogy between Nazi Germany and Putin's Russia defending their co-ethnics in other countries, she was ridiculed. But today, her critics agree with her.

Putin's demand for Ukraine to become a federal state is a non-starter. It has no support among the Ukrainian public or its elites and is an attempt at 'Bosnianising' the country. No federal country in the world gives its provinces a veto over foreign and defence policy, as Putin is insisting the Donbas must be given in Ukraine.

Putin's objective to install a pro-Russian leader, parliament and government presupposes the annulling of presidential and parliamentary elections held in May and October of last year that were recognised as free and fair by the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the EU. No sovereign country in the world would accept such a demand from its neighbour.

Putin's paranoia about Nato and EU enlargement into what he views as Russia's 'zone of privileged interests' is a misnomer. Although an April 2008 Nato summit in Bucharest named Ukraine and Georgia as future members, France and Germany have said they would veto this. The EU has never offered membership to Ukraine.

And who will persuade the Ukrainian parliament to overturn a December vote by a constitutional majority of 302 to move away from the non-bloc status that Putin wants Ukraine to return to?

When Minsk-2 unravels, what will US and EU leaders do next?

Ukraine will not agree to a Minsk-3. If Russia and the separatists again fail to implement the agreement, the only options open will be to remove Russia from the Swift international payments system, blacklist its president, prime minister and its foreign and defence ministers, and supply Ukraine with defensive military equipment, training and satellite intelligence.

You can't make the same mistake twice. The second time you make it, it's no longer a mistake. It's a choice.

Taras Kuzio is a research associate at the Centre for Political and Regional Studies, Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta and non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, School of Advanced International Relations, Johns Hopkins University.

P.S.: Please spread this appeal as much as possible.

March 25: The Head of State Emergency Service Sergiy Bochkovskyi and his deputy Vasyl Stoyetskyi were arrested at cabinet of ministers of Ukraine meeting, broadcasted live

March 25 – On Monday Pechersky District Court (Kyiv) arrested a ship Kanton flying the flag of Island of Tuvalu, which in July 2014 has attended the port of Sevastopol (occupied by Russia and closed for ships) and in March visited the port of Kherson to load the cargo.

March 25 – The Head of State Emergency Service Sergiy Bochkovskyi and his deputy Vasyl Stoyetskyi were arrested at cabinet of ministers of Ukraine meeting, broadcasted live. Officials were read the charges, handcuffed and led out of the room. They were accused of corruption.

March 25 – 20 railcars with ammunition has arrived at the railway station Krasnodon from Russian Federation, – informs NSDC spokesman Andriy Lysenko.

March 25 – 10 high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles arrived in Ukraine as part of military aid from the United States for Ukrainian army, – informs NSDC spokesman Andriy Lysenko.

March 25 – Germany is ready to discuss sending a peacekeeping mission to Ukraine, stated today Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a meeting with Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Groysman.

March 25 – OSCE monitoring mission hasn't received detailed information from the parties to the conflict in Donbas on withdrawal of heavy weapons, stated Deputy Head of the OSCE's mission Alexander Huh.

March 25 – Passenger bus blew up as a result of hitting a mine in the area of Donbas occupied by Russia near the checkpoint on the way from Horlivka to Artemivsk, killing 4 people.

March 25 – European Parliament has voted to grant Ukraine an assistance package amounting to 1.8 billion Euro.

March 25 – President Petro Poroshenko signed the request of Ihor Kolomyiskyj to leave his position as the Head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration.

The Parliament Deputy, Anton Herashchenko commented thus on this event: "This night that happened which was due to happen sooner or later. Kolomyiskyj and his team – Hennadiy Korban, Bpris Filatov, Sviatoslav Oliynyk and many other Dnipropetrovsk patriots, whom they united, and made a real feat in the spring and summer of last year, when they did not permit the pro-Russian forces to arrange a riot not only in Dnipropetrovsk but also in Zaporizhzhia regions."

Poroshenko dismisses billionaire Kolomoisky

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In Ukraine conflict with oligarchs boils over

P.S.: Please spread this appeal as much as possible.