ENN Issue 9a
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Refugee Crisis Mounts in Russian Ukraine Offensive

July 10, 2009

Warsaw, Poland (Transcript of ENN television reporter, Kelly Crawford)

Polish sources have confirmed that there are still refugees crossing the border from the Ukraine into Poland, as the Russian Union forces continue their offensive against Ukrainian separatist forces.

Little is known about the fighting since the Russians have refused entry to the press citing safety reasons. What little has been learned has come from the refugees themselves and it paints a grim picture for the separatist cause. 

Exclusive ENN amateur video clip from inside Ukraine  

The Russians are apparently using massed firepower to overwhelm tiny enclaves of resistance. Rockets, bombs, and heavy artillery barrages are being used to batter away at the enclaves before any ground troops are committed to battle. The refugees are reporting that many civilians have died as a result of these tactics. Russian officials deny this and said they have gained the upper hand against the rebels with very little life lost. Whose lives have been spared (either Russian soldiers or Ukrainian civilians) remains to be seen.

Several Western officials said under condition of anonymity that the Russian offensive appears to be winding down. The Russian tactic of pounding the separatists before sending in the infantry has been highly successful though many separatists have died as a result.

One refugee I spoke with stated that she had been in one of the enclaves and the effect of the Russian attack was 'truly frightening' and that there 'were bodies everywhere, some you could tell they were human, others were just clumps of indistinguishable horror' and that 'whole buildings had been demolished'. 

Investigations into the conflict leave more questions than answers. If the offensive is winding down, what does that mean for the separatists cause? And what of all the Russian Union forces still located along the border with Poland? Will they entrain for home or will they remain in place? 

Throughout this campaign, the Polish government and NATO have had military forces stationed near the border and while there have been only a few cross border exchanges of gunfire between Russian and Ukrainian separatist groups, the peace between Poland and Russia has held.

Some worries have surfaced among the Polish people about whether Russia will stay on its side of the border if separatists refugees begin to launch cross border raids into Ukraine from Poland. The Polish Minister of Justice, in what appears to be an attempt to defuse the situation, announced that Poland would actively move against any person or organization conducting terrorist campaigns from within Poland. He said that Poland has disarmed all Ukrainian elements inside of Poland and that their continued stay was conditioned on their peaceful intentions.

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