How the undeclared war in Ukraine started and flamed up in April of 2014

Today marks 10 years since Ukraine with its new US-backed coup-installed neo-Nazi government started a war on the population of Ukraine. First masked as Turchinov’s anti-terrorist operation, the ignominious “ATO”.

Below is a translation of an article from that was written by Vasily Stoyakin on the 13th of April 2021, to the seventh anniversary of the start of the Ukrainian war on its people.

The decision to conduct an anti-terrorist operation in Donbas was made by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on April 13, 2014. The next day, Acting President Aleksandr Turchynov put this decision into force.

The ATO was officially concluded on March 30, 2018. Instead, the Joint Forces Operation began. The difference is that the leadership moved from the SBU to the General Staff, that is, the “operation” officially became a war, which, however, has not been declared to this day.

How it all started

Actually, the ATO was first announced on February 19, 2014, as stated by the head of the SBU, Alexander Yakimenko. It was the day after the large-scale clashes on the Maidan, during which several dozen people were killed. However, after the agreement between the opposition and Yanukovych was signed, the operation was cancelled.

But soon the new leadership of the country returned to the topic of the ATO. On April 7, Turchynov announced the possibility of an anti-terrorist operation in connection with the events in Donetsk, Lugansk and Harkov.

On April 6, after another protest rally, its participants seized the building of the Donetsk Regional Council and regional administration and on April 7 formed the People’s Council, which adopted the Declaration of Sovereignty of the DPR and the Act of Proclamation of the State Independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Igor Strelkov’s group appeared on the territory of Ukraine only on April 12…

However, even before the Strelkovites appeared, the candidate for the post of president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, said: “A sufficient number of armed forces are stationed on the territory of the Donetsk region and in the north. The anti-terrorist operation makes it possible to involve in this process both airborne and special forces units and to restore order in the region.”

At about 9:00 in the morning on April 13, 2014, a car with Alpha fighters under the command of Captain Bilichenko, heading for guarding of administrative buildings in the city of Slavyansk, was ambushed by the militia. Bilichenko is officially considered to be the first victim of “Russian aggression”.

Everything seems to be logical, but at 9:25 in the morning, when information about Bilichenko’s death had not yet reached Kiev, Arsen Avakov posted on Facebook information that an anti-terrorist operation had been launched in Slavyansk. That is, the actions of Bilichenko’s group were carried out within the framework of an operation that had already begun.

Therefore, the fact that the meeting of the National Security Council took place in the evening should not be surprising — it was prepared in advance, and the events of the morning of April 13 only accelerated the development of events. The National Security Council adopted a secret resolution “On urgent measures to overcome the terrorist threat and preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

The basis for the decision was the interception of radio communications carried out by the SBU, on the basis of which it was concluded that “a large-scale military aggression of the Russian Federation is taking place in the Eastern part of Ukraine, carried out by the forces of intelligence and sabotage groups of the GRU of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”

The Address by Turchinov

Turchinov began his address to the nation with congratulations on the Day of the Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem.

He further reported that “terrorist groups coordinated by the Russian Federation seized the departments of internal affairs and other administrative buildings in several cities of the Donetsk region. (…) The criminals opened heavy fire, hiding behind a human shield of local residents deceived by Russian propaganda.”

It appears, Turchinov for the first time explicitly pointed out that “blood was shed in the war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. (…) This is not a war between Ukrainians. This is an artificially created situation of confrontation, which aims to weaken and destroy Ukraine itself.”

And, accordingly, “the National Security and Defence Council decided to launch a large-scale anti-terrorist operation involving the Armed Forces of Ukraine. We will not let Russia repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern region of Ukraine.”

Turchynov promised: “For those who did not shoot at our security forces, who will lay down their arms and leave the occupied administrative premises before Monday morning, I gave guarantees in the signed decree that appropriate punishment for their actions would not be applied against them. We are ready to consider the issue of a significant expansion of the powers of the regions and a broad reform of local government, as well as the renewal of local authorities.”

Turchinov at the meeting of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, 2014


In accordance with Article 1 of the Law on combating terrorism, “an anti—terrorist operation is a set of coordinated special measures aimed at anticipating, preventing and suppressing terrorist activities, freeing hostages, ensuring the safety of the population, neutralizing terrorists, minimizing the consequences of terrorist activities.”

In accordance with the law, the decision to conduct an anti-terrorist operation is made not by the National Security Council and not by the president, but by the head of the Anti-Terrorist Center of the SBU or the head of the coordination group of the relevant regional body of the SBU.

The armed forces are involved in the ATO only in cases where the terrorist threat directly concerns the army or threatens from outside the country. The law also did not say anything about involving civilians (volunteers) in the ATO.

Only on June 5, amendments to the legislation were adopted, which allowed the use of the army for the ATO. Up to this point, almost all actions of the Armed Forces and the very existence of volunteer formations were in direct violation of the law.

In conclusion

The situation in April of 2014 was very difficult.

On the one hand, it was obvious that destabilization throughout the country occurred due to the coup d’etat in Kiev and the hasty actions of the new, nationalist-minded leadership of the country. It is also obvious that this leadership did not demonstrate readiness for negotiations (though, even during the discussion of the Crimean problem, Yatsenyuk spoke about the need to expand the autonomy of Crimea), and their status itself was uncertain.

On the other hand, the South-East was not ready for negotiations either — the local and regional authorities had lost confidence, and the people’s republics had just begun to form, and they were in no way in the mood for negotiations with Kiev.

Thus, Kiev’s attempt to restore order in the South-East of the country by force was almost inevitable. There were opportunities to come to an agreement, but both sides did not take full advantage of them.

The ATO, both in form and in fact, was not an anti-terrorist operation, but a military operation against the population of the regions that did not support the coup in Kiev. The name of the ATO was used solely to represent the Kiev regime as a victim. Russian aggression was mentioned directly, but it did not appear anywhere in the documents — after the meeting of the National Security Council in Kiev on the topic of Crimea, they learned that the West does not approve of a direct military conflict with Russia.

On the other hand, in April, the condition of the Ukrainian army was no better than in March, and if the Ukrainian leadership had been confident of Russian intervention, it would not have taken forceful measures. The Russian leadership, however, was waiting for the elections and began to effectively support the republics of Donbass only after the new president [Poroshenko] was elected and it became clear that he was not going to change Turchinov’s course.

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