Mariupol is a Ukrainian city in southeastern Ukraine, situated on the north coast of the Sea of Azov at the mouth of the Kalmius River. On January 24, civilians came under fire there. The death toll went up to 30, including 2 children. 95 people (9 children) were wounded. The tragedy of Mariupol was immediately used in the interests of anti-Russian information campaign. The monitoring team of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMMU) went to investigate the accident on spot. According to its report, the fire came from the areas under the control of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
One by one Western officials started to launch accusations against Russia and the Novorossia’s armed formations. US State Secretary John Kerry said, «I join my European counterparts in condemning in the strongest terms today's horrific assault by Russia-backed separatists on civilian neighborhoods in Mariupol, a peaceful city 25 kilometers outside of the Minsk ceasefire line, using Grad rocket systems and other advanced weaponry». Kerry accused Russia of being behind the new attacks launched by the militiamen against Mariupol and Debaltsevo, the Donetsk region. According to him, «The separatists' new offensive, not just in Mariupol and Debaltsevo, but along the ceasefire line, has been aided and abetted by Russia's irresponsible and dangerous decision to resupply them in recent weeks with hundreds of new pieces of advanced weaponry, including rocket systems, heavy artillery, tanks, armored vehicles, in addition to continuing operational command and control». NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg talked about «…the shelling of residential areas in the city of Mariupol from separatist-controlled territory». He added that there are «indications of a large-scale offensive by Russian-backed separatists at multiple locations in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts as well as against the city of Mariupol». British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was quick to condemn the shelling of Mariupol by separatists and called on Russia to «to stop its material support to the separatists immediately, and use its considerable influence over the separatist leadership to stop these indiscriminate attacks, and fully abide by the commitments they made at Minsk».
The Saturday’s shelling brought to the fore the issue of introducing new sanctions against Russia. Canada will impose additional anti-Russian sanctions in connection with the deliberate shelling of the residential neighborhood of Mariupol, which led to numerous victims, Minister of International Trade of Canada Edward Fast told at the briefing in Kyiv on January 26.
What really happened on January 24?
The OSCE mission based its reports on the fact that the shelling came from north-east. It surreptitiously instilled the perception that once the self-defense forces were deployed near the Mariupol’s eastern areas since September there was nobody else who could fire from this direction. The affirmations are far from reality. Novoazovsk, the nearest populated area located to the east from Mariupol is really controlled by the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic. The distance between Novoazovsk and Mariupol exceeds 40 km, with the dividing line in the middle. An over 20 km wide strip to the east of Mariupol is under the control of Ukrainian forces. Nothing prevented them from shelling the city. When Alexander Zakharchenko, the Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, made an announcement about starting an offensive against Mariupol, he did not mean an operation to seize the city but an advance in its direction to destroy the positions taken by Ukrainian artillery in the eastern approaches to it. From the very start the whole wave of accusations against the Donetsk People’s Republic and Russia was a staged performance to become another phase of the ongoing information war.
The Ukrainian forces are losing ground on the battle field. The only thing they and their Western sponsors could do is to strike back waging information campaign. The best action to be taken under the circumstances is to accuse the enemy of being involved in military crimes. If there are no facts, then the killed women, children and old people could be used to substantiate the claims that Grad multiple launch rocket systems were fired by separatists supported by Russian troops, something Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko insists on.
Stratfor (an American publisher and global intelligence company company) articles indirectly confirm the fact that the Mariupol events were a provocation staged to directly involve the West in the combat actions taking place in the east of Ukraine. The main mission is to demonstrate that the logistics of Russian forces deployed in the Crimea will be vulnerable if Ukrainian forces become stronger and the United States together with its allies lends them a helping hand. Stratfor affirms that if Russia wants to keep the Crimea it should establish a land corridor to the Azov Sea and keep it under its control. At present Russia enjoys tactical superiority on the theatre but if the United States increases the military supplies to Ukraine and provides training to enhance the Ukrainian forces combat capability – then the superiority may vanish in a 6 – 12 months – period, Stratfor experts believe.
Americans and their puppets in Kiev still cherish the plans to involve Russia in the war and make it bring its military to the Ukraine’s territory. Then they could openly accuse Russia of being an aggressor, mobilize the world community and make the conflict escalate much further. Russia does not want to play by these rules. That’s why Ukrainian military shelled Mariupol – Ukraine has to do the job by itself.