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Frustrated in Syria, US turns to Ukraine (again) for its next Russian proxy war gambit

With Ukraine rolling out a murderous ethnic cleansing campaign in its Donbass region on the Russian border, the Russian government has responded with restraint. The new provision of arms to Ukraine by the U.S. will likely change that — and start a proxy war more dangerous than Syria’.

by Whitney Webb

Part 2 - U.S., as it faces off with Russia in Ukraine, wading into ethnic-cleansing waters

Mattis’ visit comes amid an uptick in violence in Ukraine’s internal conflict, which dates back to the U.S.-backed coup of 2014 that saw the right-wing billionaire Petro Poroshenko installed as President along with the ascendancy of Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist parties — Right Sector and Svoboda, respectively – to political prominence.

Since the coup, the new ruling powers of Ukraine have engaged in a campaign to target Ukraine’s eastern regions, where Russian culture and language are strong, as they do not conform to the ultra-nationalism espoused by the post-coup government in Kiev.

The region at the heart of the current conflict, the Donbass, falls completely within Poroshenko’s counter-terrorism zone, despite the fact that it is home to more than 5 million people who are now branded terrorists by the government in Kiev. Poroshenko’s government has been supported in this counter-terrorism operation by the U.S., which has given non-lethal aid and military training to the Ukrainian military over the last few years. However, this is now set to change with the Pentagon’s push to deliver “lethal weaponry” — including anti-aircraft weapons and Javelin missiles — to the Ukrainian government.

The government campaign to quell the civilian uprising in the Donbass region has been brutal, claiming over 10,000 lives according to UN estimates cited by the Wall Street Journal. The Ukrainian government has been rather frank regarding the intentions of this operation, stating that it specifically targets civilians in order “to clean the cities.

Clean the cities of what exactly? According to an interview aired by the U.S.-funded, pro-government Ukrainian news channel Hromadske TV, the Donbass is home to around 1.5 million people “who are superfluous” and “must be exterminated.” These “superfluous” Ukrainian citizens were called “subhumans” in 2016 by then-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, also dubbed “Washington’s man in Ukraine.”

Given the stated intention to literally “exterminate” over a million of its people, it is hardly surprising that there has been an uprising in Donbass seeking to stop the planned genocide against them. The forces battling the ethnic cleansing of their people are mostly from the local population, bolstered by Cossack forces as well as volunteers from Russia. The Russian government’s influence is minimal, despite Western and Ukrainian media narratives, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly stated that the Donbass must remain part of Ukraine and has rejected requests from separatists in the region to become part of Russia.

Yet now, with the U.S. seeking to arm the Ukrainian government in their ethnic cleansing campaign, the violence is undoubtedly set to escalate, with civilian deaths certain to result. Though the Pentagon claims that the lethal weaponry it plans to provide is “defensive” in nature, Mattis’ plan to visit — and its stated purpose of reassuring Ukraine of the U.S. commitment to restoring Ukraine’s “territorial integrity” — makes it clear this is not the case. Instead, it shows that the U.S. seeks to enable the Ukrainian government to bring not only the Donbass, but also Crimea, into the fold of the government in Kiev. This, after all, is Poroshenko’s stated goal.

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