Ukraine’s Home Front Grows War Weary
On a recent afternoon, a group of mothers and fathers blocked three streets around the regional administration building in Lviv, in a part of the country known for its fierce nationalism. They protested against the continuation of the ATO, or the Anti Terrorist Operation, as the war is known in Ukraine. A ceasefire was in effect, but the Ukrainian army was still fighting with pro-Russian separatist forces in the east.
A caravan of trams stuck in the middle of the medieval city waited in line for the protest to end. Pedestrians passed, paying no heed to the groups of relatives who held up signs that screamed for help to save the lives of soldiers in the east. Around the corner, flocks of tourists enjoyed the last warm rays of sun, the savoring hot chocolates and coffees on verandas under colorful autumn trees.
Last Monday Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko saw dozens of Ukrainian National Guard troops marching toward his office in Kiev to demand demobilization. The soldiers refused to go back to their barracks, even under a threat of prosecution.
But full demobilization was out of the question, as Poroshenko made clear in one of his recent interviews given to the local press. “What do you want me to do, to declare demobilization during military actions? No! To let the army go? To leave the country without defense? No, this is never going to happen,” said Poroshenko, leaving no shadow of a doubt.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Human Rights Watch, which together with Amnesty International are the two most authoritative human rights group in the world, published a video yesterday on their youtube channel detailing their accusation against Kiev that it used cluster bombs, banned in 114 countries because of their indiscriminate destructive nature.
The video charges that cluster bombs were used against civilians in East Ukraine by Kiev, saying that this "violates the laws of war, and may amount to war crimes.
Monday, October 20, 2014
BELGRADE -- Belgrade was liberated from Nazi occupation on October 20 70 years ago, after four years of occupation that resulted in the death of around 40,000 people.
The operation to free the city was conducted jointly by the Yugoslav Partisans and the Soviet Red Army. They fought for each street and building from October 11 to 20.
However, the Belgrade operation, as one of the biggest and most important battles in the Balkans in World War Two, ended on October 22, with the liberation of the municipality of Zemun, which was at the time part of the Nazi puppet state dubbed the Independent State of Croatia (NDH).
Around 80,000 Yugoslav and Russian troops fought hard for 11 days against some 55,000 German troops of the Army Group Šumadija, commanded by General Hans Felber.
A total of 20,000 people died in the battle for Belgrade, 16,799 of which were German troops, while 8,739 were taken prisoner. The Partisan forces' 1st Army Group suffered 2,944 dead and around 4,000 wounded, while the Red Army's 4th Corps lost 961 troops.
The New Cold War seems to be playing out in the fast food industry, as the Russian government seems determined to shut down McDonalds, one of the most recognizable images of the West. Russian officials are citing health regulations, but like Mickie D's or not, they keep a pretty clean ship, offering tours to children on birthdays.
Russia has long used "food wars" as a way to send a message, and it is clear that this is the case in these closures. The odd part is that Russia is only hurting itself, as McDonalds employs Russians and apparently gets 85 per cent of its supplies from local suppliers. Given there are nearly 500 Mickie D's spread throughout Russia, that's a pretty big hit to the food industry in the country.
Enterprising Russians have tried to cash in on the burger appeal with burger joints of their own, but people go to Mickie D's because of its brand appeal. At one time the Moscow McDonalds was the busiest in the world, but now is closed.
Friday, October 17, 2014
(Washington Post) “Don’t be a fool, America,” goes one campy hit from just after the Soviet Union broke up. “Give us back the land of Alaska! Give us back our dear land!”
But since the annexation of Crimea this year, the idea of Russia pulling together old territories it once willingly sold or gifted away no longer seems so farfetched – which is giving the Alaska reclamation trope new life in social media, statements and song.
“From Alaska to the Kremlin!” an accordion player and well-known Russian singer belts in a song describing “My Homeland” that has gained well over a million views since being posted on YouTube in late September. (This version, with less hits, has English subtitles.)
Thursday, October 16, 2014
BELGRADE -- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić has presented his visiting Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin with the Order of the Republic of Serbia of the First DEGREE.
Addressing him in Russian, Nikolić said: "Dear brother Vladimir, the Serb people are proud that you wear the highest Serbian order."
Putin expressed his gratitude, and added that he did not think he deserved the recognition with any great deeds: "I accept this decoration as a sign of respect and love that Serbia has for Russia and for the Russian people."
Putin then said he wished to assure Serbia that relations between the two countries would develop in the future: "I wish to assure you that Russia, as it did in the past, will accept Serbia as a greatest ally and will do everything to further develop relations."