“An airliner, Malaysia Airlines MH17, was hit by a missile and crashed on the border between Russia and Ukraine. On board there were 298 people, including, seemingly, 80 children: 283 passengers (154 Dutch, one of whom had also Italian citizenship, 27 Australians, 23 Malaysians, 23 Americans, 11 Indonesians, 9 Englishmen , 4 Germans, 4 Belgians, 4 Frenchmen, 3 Filipinos and a Canadian – the nationality of the rest of the passengers is unknown) and 15 crew members”. It was July 2014, and for a year now, the war between the Ukrainian separatists and philo-Russians in the north of the country was on the first pages of every newspaper.
After that episode, the flow of news about eastern Europe has stopped, almost as if it precipitated along with the aircraft. The war has disappeared from the news, replaced by news about the Isis. Yet, it has not disappeared from real life. Clashes have continued, as well as the growth of victim numbers on both sides. The movements of the troops have intensified, especially in the places along the border, as if the final battle was around the corner.
An inexplicable silence that has lasted for months, broken only by the Pontiff when, last June, he asked Putin whom he received in audience in Rome, to “engage in a sincere and great effort for peace”. The Russian leader and the Pope have agreed on the importance of reconstructing a climate of dialog with the aim of implementing Minsk agreements. Then Francis has stressed the humanitarian emergency, asking for corridors to be opened for those who want to bring aid in the area.
An emergency that is still dramatically real nowadays. In Donbass, in fact, war continues with its aftermath of death and destruction. Despite the fragile truce signed in February, in fact, recently there has been an escalation in the conflict, and only in the last 24 hours, seven Ukrainian military men have died and 13 were wounded. While the rebels, in their turn, have denounced the killing of a civilian and the wounding of three others in a bombardment at the hand of the artillery of the Kiev army in their stronghold, Donetsk.
A faint hope comes from the capital of Belarus, where on Wednesday, during a meeting of the ‘contact group’ ( Osce-Kiev -Moscow-separatists), the Ukrainian authorities and the philo-Russian rebels said they agreed to lay down the guns starting from September 1 – the day on which officially begins the new school year – so as not to put in danger the lives of schoolchildren. But, denouncing once again the continuous violations of the Minsk agreements at the hand of philo-Russians, in the course of a visit to Brussels, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked Moscow to cease fire “immediately”, without waiting for September 1 because – he stressed – it makes no sense “to cause more victims”.
In the meantime, the Ukrainian story has been enriched with another “crime-press” detail about the alleged compensation given by Moscow to the anti-Kiev combatants. Delovaia Zhizn, a Russian economics and business newspaper, in an online article with the innocent title “Increases of remuneration for the military men in 2015 “, has included a paragraph in which on February 1 this year, the government of Moscow had paid about $50,000 (three million rubles) to the families of 2,000 fallen soldiers in the south-east of Ukraine and 25,000 (one and a half million rubles) to 3,200 soldiers who had been disabled. Besides – according to the same article -, the military men who have a contract with Moscow get little less than $30 for every day of war. The newspaper has erased the “indicted” phrases claiming that they were inserted by a hacker and not by the editor. The Kremlin has not broken its silence. And it is not a good sign.
Meanwhile, people continue to die. At least two civilians were killed during a bombing last night in the Donetsk region; as it has been said by the “mayor” of the separatist stronghold, Igor Martinov, it is thought to be Kiev’s responsibility. Therefore, the press might have stopped talking, but the weapons – unfortunately – have not done so yet.