Ukrainian terrorism drives the nail in the coffin of the Normandy Format

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August 10, 2016 – 

By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ 

Translated by J. Arnoldski

Today, August 10th, the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) announced that it had prevented a Ukrainian sabotage infiltration of Crimea. According to the FSB, on the night of August 6th-7th, a group of saboteurs attempted to break across the border into Crimea near the city of Armyansk. The saboteurs were covered by fire from armored personnel carriers and small arms on the Ukrainian side. Later, on the night of August 7th-8th, repeated attempts to break through into Crimea were foiled. Ten Russian border guards and soldiers have been injured. Two have been killed – a border guard and a GRU Spetsnaz company commander. 

Information on the breach by Ukrainian saboteurs has spread across the internet for several days. Until today, however, the FSB did not officially comment on these events. Now the lingering silence has been explained: members of Ukrainian special forces’ saboteur groups and agent networks in Crimea have been captured.

Today, the FSB issued an official statement that 7 members of a Ukrainian agent network in Crimea have been arrested. One of the organizers of the terrorist attack, an employee of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR, military intelligence), Evgeny Panov, has also been arrested. He is currently confessing to FSB investigators. The FSB has also confirmed that 20 improvised explosive devices, mortars, grenades, and guns used by special UAF units were found at the site of the saboteur group’s attack. According to the FSB, these munitions and weapons were meant for organizing a series of terrorist attacks on the highway leading to Yalta along which representatives of the leadership of the Republic of Crimea and Russia travel.

Ukrainian representatives have rushed to deny their involvement in the thwarted sabotage and terrorist attacks. GUR representatives have stated that the arrested Panov is not listed as an employee of their department and that the FSB’s report is disinformation. President Poroshenko has in turn declared that Russia’s charges of Ukraine with terrorism against occupied Crimea are unfounded. According to him, they “are a pretext for further military threats against Ukraine.” 

Let us recall that the investigation of two Russian citizens, Alexandrov and Erofeev, who have been called “GRU soldiers” by Ukrainian media, has been widely covered throughout Ukraine. However, Ukraine has still failed to produce any substantial evidence that the two participated in combat operations on what Ukraine considers to be its territory. In the case of detained Panov, everything is different. Apparently, the investigation’s conclusions will be presented to the broader public in a video broadcast or even special press conference. In this case, it will be difficult for Ukraine to explain to the international community why its military intelligence employees committed sabotage and prepared terrorist attacks on the territory of a neighboring state.

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President Putin has since stated that Russia will refuse to participate in the planned Normandy Quartet (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine) meeting on September 5th-6th. Given the unfolding situation, he now deems the Normandy Format “pointless.” Putin called on Russia’s American and European partners to exert pressure on Ukraine, which has opted for terrorism instead of negotiations.

It cannot be counted out that Vladimir Putin’s statement means the beginning of the end of the Normandy Format. Given the UAF’s daily shelling of Donbass and other terrorist acts (such as the assassination attempt on Plotnitsky), negotiating with Kiev is simply pointless. Moreover, Ukraine itself has refused to accept the new Russian ambassador. The impression is made that Kiev is intentionally pushing the situation towards military conflict not only with the Donbass republics, but also Russia. The death of two Russian soldiers is quite a high cost for revising relations with Ukraine, the sick and dangerous man of Europe. 

Kiev is in panic and attempting to put up a line of psychological defense before the eyes of the international community. Here are two telling expressions:

1.  President Poroshenko has suddenly forgotten militaristic rhetoric and phraseology and donned the mantle of peacemaker. According to him, Ukraine is committed to restoring its territorial integrity and sovereignty, including ending the occupation of Crimea, solely by political-diplomatic means. Poroshenko’s numerous statements issued earlier, such as concerning regaining Crimea by force, have suddenly been forgotten.

2.  The second statement is even more telling. The Ukrainian GUR, having been caught in an uncomfortable situation given the capture of an employee of theirs preparing terrorist attacks in Crimea, has used a technique famous from the classic film “Wag the Dog.” The GUR is trying to lead people to forget one problem by inventing another. On August 10th, in the midst of the scandal with terrorists from Ukraine’s military intelligence, the GUR stated that Crimea has become a hub for the delivery of nuclear weapons carried by “warships and submarines.” But the nuclear warheads attested to by the GUR are nowhere to be found in Crimea. This statement is a smokescreen designed to divert attention from Ukraine’s subversive and terrorist operations on the territory of a neighboring state. They are conjuring a new problem out of thin air which is nothing more than a phony sensation. One could put forth the same charges against Ukraine or US Navy ships in the Ukrainian port of Odessa with the same success. 

Ukrainian officials’ clumsy accusations and rebuttals only further prove that the country is guilty of the attack on Crimea and the death of two Russian soldiers. Fortunately, countless more victims have been avoided. Ukrainian terrorist attacks against Crimea have been thwarted. 

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