Topic: Ukraine-Russia Conflict
The Kremlin faced public accusations in regards to whether or not Russia was secretly sending militant forces to the Ukraine to squash the ongoing rebellion. President Vladimir Putin responded by stating “The deaths or wounds of Russian soldiers in special operations can be classified as military secrets, even in peacetime”. Therefore, official information or data on Russian troop number deployments, or death/wounded tolls would not be made public.
A ceasefire was established between Russia and the Ukraine in February, following the death toll from combat reaching 6,000. Witnesses from both Ukrainians and Russians, as well as reports from third party observers, have stated the deployment of unmarked soldiers from Russia are still entering combat in the Ukraine. However, Putin insists that none of his men are taking part in war efforts during this ceasefire. Russia’s own political opposition argues that “by refusing to acknowledge that its soldiers are in combat in Ukraine, the Russian military is unjustly denying them disability payments and denying their relative’s death benefits and other awards.”
Although Putin insists that no combat is occurring and their is a ceasefire currently in effect, injured soldiers continue to mysteriously end up in hospitals, and hundred of new graves for deceased Russian military are being dug under the cover of night. Statements from relatives of dead Russian soldiers insist that some type of combat is occurring which is being kept secret by Russian government, in order to avoid responsibility for waging war during an established ceasefire. The Kremlin has responded in stating that the death of these soldiers are due to russian training drills and other secret operations which are not tied to the Ukrainian conflict.
A Russian opposition leader, Boris Y. Nemtsov, gathered data stating at least 200 Russian soldiers were dead within a month of the ceasefire being implemented, with no information on how many Ukrainians were dead. Ironically, Nemtsov was killed on a Moscow street in February.
The Kremlin is continually wavering in whether or not to acknowledge their Russian troops with a sense of nationalist pride, or to deny their involvement in order to avoid opposition from it’s local and global audience. When the conflict first occurred and unmarked soldiers took control of the Ukrainian province of Crimea, Russia denied any involvement. Russia claimed that these soldiers in ski masks and unmarked uniforms were independent from official Russian military. Several months have passed since this event, and now Russia publicly states that the soldiers who took over Crimea were Russian military, and the Kremlin has established a national holiday in their honor.
Opposition and testimony from Russian citizens illustrates Putin’s involvement in the Ukraine during a ceasefire as a “secret war”. Several accounts of Russian soldiers dying without a clear reason insinuate combat is still occurring, and Russian soldiers are being deployed to the Ukraine in secret. Russians who have been in alignment with their government’s actions until this point, are now questioning why their relatives are being sent home in body bags and being buried in the dead of night without notice.
Russia faces an issue of using unethical means to keep their war efforts a secret to the entire world, and more importantly, to their own people. the Kremlin does not want to be identified as continuing deadly combat during a ceasefire, which is apparently being ignored. Little is officially known of the actual death toll or what the combat details entail, but it can clearly be established that something is occurring which does not comply with the ceasefire.
From a public affairs issue, Russia’s actions have already gathered negative connotation from the global audience, and now Russia’s own people are beginning to question their government’s motives. Those who have attempted to shine light on this secret war have been keep quiet, and slowly yet surely the Russian people will lose pride and trust in their government if the facts are not made public. Russians and Ukrainians deserve answers that explain the deaths of their loved ones, and Putin is attempting to keep something secret from the global public at large. Because of this secretive discourse, it can be fair to say that he is clearly hiding something that does not align with political ethics, and the trust of his nation may be at risk because of it.
Publication: NY Times
Publication Date: May 28, 2015
Article Title: Putin Declares Soldiers’ Death and Wounds Secret, in War and Peace