пятница, 15 мая 2015 г.
As a rule, when Western economists offer estimates of the reparations that were delivered to the USSR after the Second World War, they more or less agree with the figures published in the 1980s by the West German government. The overwhelming majority of the reparations sent to the USSR from the countries of Eastern Europe were in the form of the products being manufactured at that time in those nations. It is worth noting that some Eastern European countries were sending reparations to the USSR while simultaneously receiving Soviet aid. The following table provides estimates taken from the work of the American economist Peter Liberman. These figures show that 85% of all the reparations deliveries from Eastern Europe to the Soviet Union came from the German Democratic Republic.
The balance of transfers from the countries of Eastern Europe to the USSR, 1945-1960 (in millions of dollars)
Reparations to the USSR
Aid from the USSR
Soviet Net Gain
Deliveries (current industrial output)
(*) Primarily through purchasing shares and equity on favorable terms in local companies / Soviet joint-stock companies and supplying them with raw materials on favorable terms.
Source: Peter Liberman. Does Conquest Pay? The Exploitation of Occupied Industrial Societies. Princeton University Press, 1998, р. 129
However, estimates vary greatly in regard to how much Germany paid the Soviet Union in reparations. In his book, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (University of North Carolina Press, 2007), Vladislav Zubok, a history professor at Temple University (USA), claims, “By 1953 the GDR had paid more than 4 billion U.S. dollars in reparations but still owed the Soviet Union and Poland 2.7 billion dollars, or annual budget expenses of more than 211 million dollars.” From these numbers, one can deduce that the total reparations paid during the eight-year period of 1953-1960 amounted to one billion, 688 million dollars, which can be rounded to $1.7 billion. And from the end of the war until 1960, inclusive, the Soviet Union received $5.7 billion in reparations, although part of those proceeds was transferred to Poland. That total is only one-third of the figure cited by Peter Liberman.
All of Germany was to pay reparations to the Soviet Union (and via the USSR to Poland). However, in 1946 shipments of reparations to the East from the western occupation sectors came to a halt because of obstruction by the Anglo-American allies. After that, the entire burden of reparations fell to East Germany, which was under the control of the Soviet Union. A study by the German historian Christoph Klessmann (1) claims that by 1950 East Germany had paid a total of $3.66 billion in reparations (almost entirely in kind). According to this data, by the beginning of 1950 the GDR’s outstanding reparations debt came to $6.34 billion dollars. In May 1952, at the request of Otto Grotewohl, Stalin agreed to reduce the remaining balance by half, i.e., to $3.17 billion. Thus, the GDR’s total reparations debt was reduced from $10 billion to $6.83 billion, and the country was given an extra 15 years to repay it. I.e., when calculated annually, that works out to the $211 million Vladislav Zubok mentions. The terms of that agreement were met before the end of 1952, and in 1953 Moscow decided to suspend the reparations payments (or to be more accurate - the reparations deliveries). Between 1945 and 1952, East Germany repaid $4,080.8 million of her reparations commitments. In fact, the reparations paid by the GDR were equal to 40.8% of the original amount of her reparations commitments and 59.7% of the adjusted amount.
And how do the reparations transfers to the Soviet Union compare to the reparations received by the Western countries? The statistics on the reparations that went to the West are extremely ambiguous. In the first few years after the war, the USA, Great Britain, and France focused on exporting coal and coke out of their zones of occupation. In addition, they worked assiduously to chop down forests and export the timber. It is worth noting that the allies refused to allow the Germans to credit most of that wood and coal toward their outstanding reparations balance. Equipment worth three billion marks (about $1.2 billion) was dismantled and exported from the western zones. In addition, the US, Great Britain, and France seized a total of 277 tons of German gold (worth almost $300 million), as well as sea and river vessels valued at $200 million. The Western allies assumed control of Germany’s foreign cash holdings of 8-10 billion marks ($3.2-4.0 billion). The value of the German patents and technical documentation confiscated by the United States and Great Britain has been estimated at approximately $5 billion. It is difficult to assess the worth of all the German reparations received by the West, because much of it (especially patents and technical documentation) was confiscated without being officially registered or tallied, and was never included in the reparations statistics.
The claim that Germany has paid in full for the damages that the Soviet Union suffered during the Great Patriotic War is, to put it mildly, somewhat dubious. Of course, if one compares it to the number Stalin named at the Yalta Conference as his suggested price tag for the reparations the Soviet Union should receive ($10 billion), then Germany has even overpaid. But the total reparations bill owed by the countries of Eastern Europe to the Soviet Union turned out to be twice as much as Stalin requested in early 1945. However, if one compares the actual reparations to the estimates made by the Extraordinary State Commission of the Soviet Union to assess the damage caused by the war, and then looks at the data from the West German Ministry of Finance, it turns out that the reparations paid by Germany offset only 12.3% of the total direct damages and 4.4% of all damages that were inflicted on the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany and her allies during the years of war.
Let us not forget that the price for reparations quoted by Stalin at the Yalta Conference - $10 billion - was not an official number. The specific terms for the payment of WWII reparations by Germany and her allies were the subject of fairly lengthy discussions during the meetings of the Permanent Council of Foreign Ministers of the major victorious countries (which functioned until the end of the 1940s). As we have noted, Germany’s total bill for reparations owed was never established. Two obvious conclusions can be drawn in regard to German reparations to the Soviet Union: 1) The commitments for the reparations deliveries from Germany’s western occupation sectors to the USSR were never honored. In 1946, shipments to the East of equipment and manufactured products from these sectors were suspended at the initiative of the US and Great Britain, which unleashed the Cold War. 2) Fewer than half of the original commitments to send reparations from the eastern occupation sector (and from the GDR after 1949) were met. The GDR did not fully honor her reparations commitments even after they were adjusted in 1950.
But a much clearer picture emerges when looking at the reparations commitments that were met by the countries that were German allies in the Second World War. The victorious countries held a conference in Paris in 1946, where they set the terms of their peace treaties with five states that were allied with Nazi Germany (Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Finland). The victorious countries signed a great many bilateral peace treaties with those five states. Those treaties are collectively known as the Paris Peace Treaties, and they all went into effect simultaneously on Sept.15, 1947. Each bilateral treaty contained articles (sections) on reparations. For example, the bilateral treaty between the USSR and Finland stipulated that the latter must compensate the Soviet Union for the harm that had been inflicted upon her ($300 million), and return valuables that had been taken from Soviet territory. The Soviet-Italian treaty required Italy to pay the USSR reparations of $100 million.
It should be noted that only Finland fully honored all her reparations commitments to the victorious countries. Experts claim that Italy has not paid her reparations in full. Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria became members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) in 1949, and Moscow withdrew its reparations claims against them. Reparations from the era of the Second World War have not reemerged as a subject of discussion since 1975 when the Helsinki Accords were signed. However, in the late twentieth century the West unilaterally shattered the Yalta-Potsdam system of international relations and circumvented the precepts that had been formalized in the Helsinki Accords in 1975. With this in mind, it makes sense to refresh our collective memory regarding the history of German reparations and resubmit the bill that resulted from that war, which Germany has never paid in full.
(3) Klessmann C. Die doppelte Staatsgruendung. Deutsche Geschichte 1945-1955. Bonn, 1986.
вторник, 12 мая 2015 г.
Of all the harm inflicted on all the Allied countries (the Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain, and France) during the Second World War, approximately half occurred in the USSR.
At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Stalin suggested that Germany pay a total of $20 billion in reparations, anticipating that half of that sum ($10 billion) would go to the Soviet Union - the country that had made the greatest contribution to the victory and endured more than any of the other nations in the anti-Hitler coalition. With some conditions, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill agreed to Josef Stalin’s suggestion.Ten billion dollars is approximately what the US spent on aid to the Soviet Union under the lend-lease program during the years of the Second World War. Ten billion US dollars, when they were backed by gold (one dollar at that time was technically worth 1/35 troy ounce of gold), were equal to 10,000 tons of gold, so the entirety of the reparations was worth 20,000 tons of gold. In fact, the German reparations that the USSR agreed to accept would barely provide compensation for a mere 8% of the direct damages inflicted upon the Soviets. And the costs of only 2.8% of the total damages were recouped. This appeared to be a generous gesture on Stalin’s part.
These figures stand in stark contrast to the enormous bill for reparations that the Entente Powers (excluding Russia) submitted to Germany at the Paris Conference in 1919. The Treaty of Versailles set the amount of reparations at 269 billion gold marks - the equivalent of approximately 100,000 (!) tons of gold. That nation, which had initially been battered and weakened by the economic crisis of the 1920s, and later by the Great Depression, was unable to pay the enormous sums demanded as reparations and was forced to borrow from other countries in order to meet the terms of the treaty. In 1921, the Reparations Commission reduced the amount to $132 billion, or by approximately 50%, but even that new sum was the equivalent of 50,000 tons of gold. When Hitler took power in 1933 he put an end to the reparations payments altogether. After the Second World War and the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, the foreign ministers of the US, UK, and France forced that new nation to resume payments on the debts owed under the Treaty of Versailles. In accordance with the 1953 London Debt Agreement, the German lands that had been lost after the war were permitted to forgo interest payments until after East and West Germany were reunified. The reunification of Germany on Oct. 3, 1990 reinstated her reparations obligations under the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was given a respite of 20 years to pay off her debts, for which the country had to take out a twenty-year loan of 239.4 million marks. Only late in 2010 did Germany make her final reparations payment to her closest allies. This was very different from the Soviet Union’s policy - only a few years after the end of WWII the USSR refused reparations from Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary, which were by then fellow members of the socialist community! Even East Germany stopped making any reparations payments to the Soviet Union shortly after that nation was established.
Stalin did not want to see a replay of what had happened in Germany and Europe after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. It was precisely that treaty that forced Germany into a corner and set the stage for Europe’s slide into the Second World War. Speaking about the peace treaty with Hungary at the Paris Peace Conference, Andrei Vyshinsky, at that time the Soviet deputy minister of foreign affairs, explained the idea behind the Soviet policy on reparations, “The Soviet government consistently follows this line in its reparations policy, which consists of starting with a realistic plan, so as not to suffocate Hungary or rip up the roots of her economic recovery, but rather to help in her economic revival, help her get back on her feet, and help her to join the common family of the United Nations and to play a role in Europe’s economic revival.”
The USSR also took this magnanimous approach to other countries that had fought alongside the Germans. This can be seen in the peace treaty with Italy that required the payment of $100 million in restitution to the Soviet Union, although this offset no more than 4-5% of the direct damage inflicted on the USSR.
The principle behind this magnanimous approach to determining the sum of the reparations settlements complemented another important principle of Soviet policy - that of using a country’s current industrial outputas the principle means of discharging the reparations debts. This principle was phrased with due regard for the lessons of the First World War. It is important to remember that the demands for reparations imposed on Germany after World War I were exclusively monetary, and to be paid in foreign currency. As a result, Germany had to focus on manufacturing products that were never intended to supply her domestic market with basic necessities, but were instead destined for export, in order to obtain the needed foreign currency. In addition, Germany was compelled to obtain loans in order to pay off each new installment of her reparations bill, which forced her into debt bondage. The Soviet Union had no desire to see that repeated. Vyacheslav Molotovexplained the Soviet position at a session of the Council of Foreign Ministers on Dec. 12, 1947: “No deliveries of reparations are currently being made from the western zones, and industry in the combined Anglo-American zone is operating at only 35% of its 1938 level. Deliveries of reparations are currently being received from the Soviet zone in Germany, and industry there is operating at 52% of its 1938 level. Thus, the index of industrial production in the Soviet zone - even though a more challenging environment exists here for industrial recovery - is 50% higher than the index of industrial production in the Anglo-American zone.”
At the Yalta Conference, the leaders of the USSR, USA, and Great Britain reached an agreement regarding the principle of the non-monetary nature of the reparations. The Anglo-American allies once again endorsed this at the Potsdam Conference. But in 1946 they began to work actively to scuttle this policy. In addition, they also undermined other agreements pertaining to reparations. Even at the Potsdam Conference, the allies of the USSR agreed that Germany could partially offset her reparations debts by supplying products and dismantling equipment in the western occupation zones. However, the allies devised obstacles to prevent the Soviets from obtaining goods and equipment from the western occupation zones (only a small percentage of the planned quantities were received).
One consequence of the Cold War launched against the USSR by the West in 1946 was that no single mechanism for the allies to collect and tally reparations was ever created. And once the Federal Republic of Germany was established in the western zones of occupation in 1949, any opportunity for the Soviet Union to obtain reparations compensation from western Germany vanished forever.
After the Yalta Conference, the precise total of the reparations imposed on Germany after the Second World War was never again cited. And that issue remains fairly opaque. The full sum of Germany’s reparations debts was not documented. An effective mechanism was never created for the centralized collection and tallying of Germany’s reparations payments. The victorious countries satisfied their reparations claims against Germany unilaterally.
Judging by statements from her officials, not even Germany herself knows exactly how much she has paid in reparations. The Soviet Union preferred not to receive reparations in cash, but in kind. According to Russian historian Mikhail Semiryaga, for one year beginning in March 1945, the highest bodies of power in the Soviet Union made almost a thousand decisions related to the dismantling of 4,389 companies from Germany, Austria, Hungary, and other European countries. In addition, approximately one thousand factories were moved to the USSR from Manchuria and even Korea. These are impressive figures. But that depends what you compare them to. The Nazi invaders razed 32,000 industrial plants in the USSR. That means that the number of manufacturing facilities dismantled by the Soviet Union in Germany, Austria, and Hungary represented merely 14% of what was destroyed in the USSR. According to Nikolai Voznesensky, who was at that time the chairman of the Soviet Union’s Gosplan Committee, the value of the equipment taken as spoils from Germany compensated the Soviet Union for only 0.6% of the direct damage she suffered.
Some data can be found in German documents. Thus, according to information from the West German Ministry of Finance and the Federal Ministry of Intra-German Relations, all that was confiscated from the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR prior to 1953 was worth 66.4 billion marks, or 15.8 billion dollars. German experts claim this is equivalent to $400 billion in today’s dollars. Confiscations were made both in kind as well as in cash. The reparations that passed from Germany to the USSR primarily consisted of the following (in billions of marks): goods currently being manufactured by German firms - 34.70 and cash payments in various currencies (including occupation Reichsmarks) - 15.0.
Between 1945 and 1946 a common form of reparations consisted of dismantled equipment from German companies that was sent to the USSR. In March 1945 a Special Committee of the Soviet State Defense Committee was created in Moscow, which coordinated all the work to dismantle German military-industrial facilities in the Soviet zone of occupation. Between March 1945 and March 1946, decisions were made to dismantle more than 4,000 industrial plants: 2,885 from Germany, 1,137 from German companies in Poland, 206 from Austria, 11 from Hungary, and 54 from Czechoslovakia. The key equipment was dismantled at 3,474 sites, and 1,118 million pieces of equipment were confiscated: 339,000 metal-cutting tools, 44,000 presses and sledgehammers, and 202,000 electric motors. Sixty-seven factories that manufactured only military goods were dismantled in the Soviet zone, 170 were destroyed, and 8 were converted to civilian production.
However, once this equipment was dismantled, manufacturing came to a halt in eastern Germany and unemployment surged, so by early 1947 the Soviets began to limit reparations of this type. Instead, 31 joint-stock companies created with Soviet entities were established, based on 119 large firms in the eastern occupation zone. In 1950, these were responsible for 22% of the GDR’s industrial output. In 1954, all joint-stock companies created with Soviet entities were freely transferred to the German Democratic Republic. This represented the final word in that chapter from the history of WWII reparations.
суббота, 9 мая 2015 г.
понедельник, 4 мая 2015 г.
The monument “Rear-to-Front” was opened in 29 June 1979. It is the first part of a triptych, which consists of “The Motherland Calls” in Volgograd and “Soviet War Memorial” in Berlin. “Rear-to-Front” is a composition of a worker and a warrior, who are holding a sword in their hands.
суббота, 2 мая 2015 г.
- Vadim Papura 24.07.96-02.05.2014 - I was throwned out the window
Christina Bezhanitskaya- 18.03.92-02.05.2014 - I was beaten to death
Aleksander Priymak - I was stifled by smoke
Aleksandr Zhul'kov - I was shooted
Gennady Petrov - I was shooted
Andrey Brazhevsky- I jumped out of window and down the fire escape, after I was finished off
Vadim Negaturov - I died of burns
Igor Zayats -I jumped out of window
Irina Yakovenko - I was strangulated
Vladimir Brygar' - I was shooted
Evgeny Mitchik - I was stifled by smoke
Svetlana Pikalova - I was stifled by smoke
Vladimir Novitsky - I was burnt alive
Nina Lomakina - I was stifled by smoke
Victor Polevoy - I died of burns
Evgeny Losinskiy - I was shooted
Aleksandr Konanov - I was stifled by smoke
Aleksey Balaban - I was shooted
Yuriy Karasev -I burnt alive
Serghey Kostyukhin - I burnt alive
Ivan Milev - I was stifled by smoke
Nikolay Yavorskiy - I was shooted
Igor' Lukas - I was stifled by smoke
Andrey Gnatenko - I was stifled by smoke
Leonid Berezovskiy - I burnt alive
Igor Ostroznuk - I jumped out of window and down the fire escape, after I was finished off
Anna Verenikina - I was stifled by smoke
Aleksandr Sadovnichiy - I burnt alive
Gennady Kushnarev - I was shooted
Nikolay Kovriga - I was beaten to death
Victor Bullakh - I was injured, thrown out of window, finished off
Victor Gunn - I was burnt alive
Anatoly Kalin - I was throwned out of window
Alla Polulyakh - I was burnt alive
Sergey Mishin - I was burnt alive
Mikhail Shcherbinin - I was killed, then I was burnt
Pyotr Kair - I burnt alive
Maxim Nikitenko - I was beaten and then thrown out of stairs
Vyacheslav Markin - I jumped out of window
Dmitry Nikituk - I was stifled by smoke
суббота, 14 февраля 2015 г.
Doctors without borders about Gorlovka in Donbass.Ukraine:At times you're just waiting for the next blust
Galina, 86, looks at the hole where a shell hit her apartment in Kievsky district in Donetsk, Ukraine.
"'m a surgeon, but I have never in my life seen so many amputaded people- people go shopping and one hour later they are without their legs,The surgeons here -who have never had to deal with war -wounded before -are having to carry out at least one or two amputations every day."
DR.MICHAEL ROSH/MSF SURGEON.
The industrial city of Gorlovka in eastern Ukraine is under constant shelling, its hospitals are overwhelmed with wounded, and medical supplies have run out, leaving many doctors no choice but to stitch up patients with fishing line. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) surgeon Dr. Michael Roesch is supporting the Ukrainian surgical team in Hospital #2. Here, he describes his experience:
I arrived in Gorlovka six days ago and went straight to the hospital. The main operating theaters up on the sixth floor are no longer functioning because they’re just too dangerous with all the shelling. There’s one working operating theater on the ground floor. Every day they receive between five and twenty victims of shelling.
Last week, 60 injured people were brought in on one day. But for three days there was no running water in the hospital, and so they had to cancel all but the most urgent operations. Without water, you can’t sterilize anything.
The city isn’t in ruins, as the shells and rockets don’t destroy buildings completely, though smaller houses in the suburbs can collapse. But all the buildings have shattered windows—an issue when the temperature goes down to 10 below zero at night. Yesterday we passed a children’s playground with scorch marks on the ground from where a shell had exploded. And there are bomb craters everywhere, including one right in front of the children’s hospital.
But you hardly see any children. Most of the families with small children have left. It feels like a ghost town. Most of the shops are closed, there are no cafes or restaurants. If people have to go out, they walk very swiftly. No one stands around unless they’re waiting for a bus.
MSF first came to Gorlovka in September  and since then, my colleagues have been regularly providing this hospital with much needed medical supplies and drugs. When the conflict escalated in January, we decided to have a team based here so we could directly support the local doctors to provide emergency surgical care to influxes of wounded.
Every hour or two, a shell or rocket hits somewhere in the city, completely randomly. Most victims are hit in the open air, when they’re walking down the street or waiting for the bus. Inside houses, you’re mostly safe as long as you stay away from the windows.
Two days ago, a house 200 meters from where we are living was hit. We were woken at 5 a.m. by a sudden blast. The windows were shaking, and we knew it had to be a bomb. I jumped up, gathered some essentials together—my computer, reading glasses, penknife, and warm clothes—and ran down to the basement for shelter. I’d already stashed an emergency medical kit downstairs. At times like that you’re just waiting for the next blast to happen.
"At Times You're Just Waiting for the Next Blast to Happen"
The hospitals are running out of basic medical supplies. Doctors in other hospitals have told us they have no surgical sutures left, so the surgeons are stitching people up with fishing line.
As the water supply worsens due to the shelling, diarrhea amongst infants is increasing, but the children’s hospital has run out of the infusions they need to prevent dehydration. Supplies of all sorts of drugs have run out—we’ve been asked for insulin, antibiotics, disinfectants for wounds—we’ve already received a huge list of things they urgently need beyond what we’ve already brought in.
But getting supplies into the city is not easy. Gorlovka is basically surrounded by the frontline, and can only be reached on one narrow entry road. The area gets shelled often, so it’s dangerous to pass through it, and frequently it is closed.
I’ve visited three hospitals in the city [that] are still functioning, but many health centers and clinics are closed, partly due to the shelling, but also because around half of the medical staff have left the city. Those who remain haven’t been paid for seven months.
Abandoned by the Outside World
The past six days have been really overwhelming for me. I’m a surgeon, but I have never in my life seen so many amputated people—people go shopping and one hour later they are without their legs. The surgeons here—who have never had to deal with war-wounded before—are having to carry out at least one or two amputations every day.
It’s difficult for the hospital staff, but they are coping remarkably well. Like the rest of the people here, they have a very stoic attitude. They are very brave, very calm and contained; they are doing their best to cope.
But you can sense that underneath they are very close to desperation. They feel abandoned by the outside world. Apart from MSF, there are no other international organizations here. People are desperately waiting for a sign from the rest of the world that they haven’t been forgotten.
среда, 11 февраля 2015 г.
Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany are expected to gather in Minsk, Belarus, for what is widely viewed as a last attempt to stop the violence in Eastern Ukraine. The talks come as deaths continue to pile up in the civil war-torn nation.
Wednesday’s meeting in Minsk has drawn worldwide attention, with some 400 journalists covering the event. Even on Wednesday morning there was no certainty that the talks would actually go as planned.
"There are a number of problems which remain to be resolved ... but it is very likely to go ahead," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France Inter radio. He added that "it is really a last chance negotiation."
Later it was confirmed by the office of French President Francois Hollande that both he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were going to Minsk for the talks. The Kremlin officially confirmed that President Vladimir Putin will participate in the meeting.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is going to Minsk as well, said he was certain that the talks would result in a political settlement of the conflict.
“The experts are working. There is considerable progress,” the minister said, declining to reveal any details of the draft agreement.
A Russian diplomatic source told Reuters that there was 70 percent chance that that the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany would reach an agreement.
"The presidents aren't traveling for no reason," the source said.
Representatives from the Ukrainian rebel forces were not invited to the talks, but they are taking part in a separate meeting of the so-called “contact group,” which also includes Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The group’s meeting on Tuesday saw no breakthrough, although sources familiar with the issue said that a ceasefire plan was agreed upon. The parties provided guarantees that the plan would be implemented if Wednesday’s negotiations produce concrete results, according to a RIA Novosti source.
“Yesterday the parties agreed to stop fire and pull back the weapons. Kiev, for its part, guaranteed that. Representatives of [the self-proclaimed republics] declared that they guaranteed it as well,” the diplomatic source told.
The rebels indicated that it would be up to Kiev to demonstrate a willingness to reach a peace deal. The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics reportedly want their latest land grabs amid escalated violence to be part of the peace settlement.
Kiev apparently resists such demands and wants their opponents to fall back to where they were in early January.
“The key position is ceasefire without any conditions,” Ukrainian President Poroshenko described his negotiating position on Wednesday at a cabinet session. He added that if no deal is reached, Ukraine will declare martial law, a move his government has previously rejected.
“The cabinet, the parliament and I are all prepared to declare martial law,” he warned.
The Ukrainian government wants to take back control of the land it lost after launching a failed massive offensive in January. The situation is not unlike that in August 2014, when a Russia and OSCE-brokered truce put an end to a string of military defeats of the troops loyal to Kiev. Some rebel officials accused Ukraine of agreeing to the first ceasefire only to build up their troops and prepare for a new crackdown.
Poroshenko is going to Minsk a day after visiting Kramatorsk, a city where 16 people were reported killed from a rocket attack on Tuesday. Kiev was quick to blame the rebel forces for the attack, an accusation that the militias denied, saying they had no artillery units close enough to fire at Kramatorsk.
Meanwhile the rebel stronghold of Donetsk suffered yet another shelling by artillery, which they blamed on an infiltration group sent by Kiev. At least four people reportedly died from the attack, which hit a bus station just a few hours before the talks were scheduled to begin.
Few details are known about the proposed new peace deal on the table in Minsk. It would reportedly involve a wide demilitarized zone along a disengagement line to prevent artillery attacks, political reform in Ukraine to offer wide autonomy to its dissenting regions and possibly a contingent of international peacekeepers to monitor the situation. If the talks do produce a truce document, implementing it in practice would be a challenge on its own.
The alternative to striking a deal, however, is further escalation of the conflict. The US and some European countries, such as Britain and Poland, said they were considering supplying arms to Ukraine. European heavyweights Germany and France, as well as several other EU members, spoke sharply against such a move.
The West’s arming Kiev is bound to further alienate Moscow, which already sees some of the troops fighting for Kiev as “a NATO legion,” to cite President Putin.
Kiev and some Western nations accuse Russia of fanning the flames in Ukraine by supporting the rebels, providing them arms and sending troops to fight by their side. Moscow denies the accusation and blame Washington’s unconditional support of Kiev’s aggressive policies for the continued hostilities.