Russia Looking for Excuse for New War against Ukraine -- and Might Have Found it
Russian state-owned media has begun openly speculating about the increased chances of a new war against Ukraine following the assassination of a notorious pro-Russia separatist leader accused of cold bloodedly murdering 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war.
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The illegal and pro-Russia Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in east Ukraine is blaming Kyiv for the death of Arseny Pavlov (aka Motorola), the notorious commander of the DPR militia's Sparta Battalion, who was blown-up in a booby trapped elevator along with his bodyguard.
At the time of their deaths, both Pavlov and his bodyguard were wearing body armor and were heavily armed. Pavlov was a Russian citizen.
A group claimed responsibility for Motorola's execution on behalf of the "misanthropic division" of Ukrainian nationalists. They posted an online video showing four masked men in front of an Ukrainian flag. The men said they were inside Donetsk and would target other separatist leaders.
Officially, the DPR has blamed the attack on a Ukrainian nationalist cell operating in the city. Others, however, believe the killing to be the latest in a brutal territorial war between different rebel factions in the Donbas, and that Russia might be responsible for Pavlov's death.
Pavlov was praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war hero and reviled by Ukraine as a murderer who admitted shooting to death 15 unarmed Ukrainian soldiers that were prisoners-of-war.
"I don't give a f*** about what I am accused of, believe it or not," he said in an interview.
"I shot 15 prisoners dead. I don't give a f***. No comment. I kill if I want to. I don't if I don't," he said.
Officials from Ukraine's breakaway DPR have publicly said Pavlos's killing last Oct. 16 was a declaration of war by Ukraine.
Russian media warns the assassination might draw both NATO and Russia into the conflict in east Ukraine. DPR leader Alexander Zakharchenko stated bluntly the attack constituted a violation of the ceasefire, and "an effective declaration of war."
Russian media said Pavlov's death adds to the tensions along the fragile ceasefire between Kiev forces and the Donbass militia. It claims the DPR is reporting a buildup of heavy equipment along the contact line, as well as the presence of "foreign mercenaries" in the area.
It also alleged the Ukrainian Ground Forces launched a probing attack on a settlement near the village of Leninskoe in Donetsk after an artillery and mortar barrage.
A DPR defense ministry spokesman said Ukrainian nationalist volunteer forces and "foreign mercenaries" (read NATO troops) were present in the assault.
The DRP also alleged that Ukrainian forces in a single day violated the ceasefire 398 times, including 336 violations using heavy artillery and mortars.
All these allegations are taking place to give Russia and the DPR an excuse to launch a new offensive against Ukraine.