Feeling of ‘solid Western support’ behind Kiev’s renewed assault on Donbass

Daniel McAdams
Daniel McAdams is Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He served as foreign affairs advisor to US Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) from 2001 until Dr. Paul’s retirement at the end of 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, including as editorial page editor of the Budapest Sun. He also served as special rapporteur for the British Helsinki Human Rights Group while based in Europe, monitoring human rights and elections on the ground in various contentious states, including Albania during the 1996-1998 civil unrest, Montenegro, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, and Slovakia. He was a Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow (1998-2000) and an American Swiss Foundation “Young Leader” (2006). He can be reached on Twitter or at dlmcadams@gmail.com
Members of the Ukrainian armed forces drive an armored vehicle in the town of Volnovakha, eastern Ukraine, January 18, 2015. (Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko)
Kiev’s renewed military offensive in the east comes from strong US support, in particular neo-conservative Congress, which is pushing Kiev to reclaim the Donbass region from militia, Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute, told RT.

Ukrainian troops launched a massive assault on militia-held areas Sunday morning after an order from Kiev, a presidential aide said. Meanwhile, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has just released a statement calling for steps to reach a ceasefire – and to implement the Minsk agreements – starting from Monday.

Donetsk shelled as Kiev ‘orders massive fire’ on militia-held E. Ukraine

RT:Can we take these diplomatic statements seriously, when the military’s actions seem to contradict them?

Daniel McAdams: I think this is a frozen conflict. It probably can’t go on very much longer the way it is. We saw just this last week President Poroshenko talked about achieving a military victory in the east. He said, “we will retake Donbass region.” He has probably calculated that he has US government's support in this move.

If you remember back at the end of last year, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act – which was passed by Congress and signed by the president – section 3 of that act states that it is US policy to assist the government of Ukraine in restoring its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

So they are maybe calculating that they do have US backing. Remember there is $350 million in that bill that can be used to provide weapons to Ukraine. So they may be hoping that some sort of a provocation or some sort of an escalation may trigger the release of that money to Ukraine. It's a speculation, but reading from past history I think it can be something worth considering.

Local resident Nikolai, 82, inspects his apartment, which according to locals, was recently destroyed by shelling, in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, January 15, 2015. (Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko)

RT:The Ukrainian army is stepping up its offensive with anti-government forces, saying they have come under artillery fire at least 50 times on Sunday alone. Do you think the army can regain control over the territory?

DM: I think they have claimed that they have retaken the airport or part of the airport, that I don't know how true that is or how much truth there is to it.

I think the army from Kiev has been very careful in portraying this as a response to the militias taking the airport, which has been held by Kiev. And I think this is certainly how the US and its allies are portraying it – that they have not crossed any lines; they've not violated Minsk – so therefore, they are in the right.

However this is an escalation and I think any of us who is watching understands that there has been no real ceasefire. There have been over a thousand people, the majority of them being civilians in that independence-seeking region, have been killed since the ceasefire was announced just a couple of months ago. So for these people, there is really no ceasefire. These skirmishes are escalating and I think it is leading to something much bigger.

RT:What do you think about the timing of the assault. Why now?

DM: I think the Ukrainian army has had a chance to regroup. I think they feel much more confident that they have solid Western support. I think you have new a Congress in Washington that is dominated by very, very neo-conservative, very aggressive republicans, who have been very, very strongly one-sided in their view of this conflict. And they also feel that they have some authority to continue US intervention in the region rather than to back off and let Ukraine solve its own problems. So I think there is a really renewed interest in the US, in solving this problem to what the neocons perceive as US advantage.