A civil war is underway in Ukraine. Curiously, no one has labeled it as such even though the Ukrainian government launched an offensive, helicopters were shot down, dozens were killed in the process, and military operations took place in multiple cities.

Two Ukrainian government helicopters were shot down and six people reported to have been killed on Friday morning as state forces launched a military offensive in Slavyansk, the eastern separatist-held city where armed pro-Russia militia fighters are holding several people hostage.

A spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin described the offensive as a “punitive operation”, raising the stakes in Ukraine’s confrontation with pro-Russia rebels and Moscow, after a week that has seen separatists seize control of more government, police and judicial buildings in the country’s east.

Punitive Operation

Let’s not call it a war, let’s call it a a “punitive operation”.

“While Russia is making an effort to de-escalate and resolve the conflict, the Kiev regime has ordered combat aircraft to fire at civilian towns and villages, launching a punitive operation and effectively destroying all hope for the viability of the Geneva agreements,” said Dmitry Peskov, in remarks quoted by the Interfax news agency.

Anti-Terrorist Operation

Later in the day, Kiev labeled the non-war war an “anti-terrorist operation” complete with the following promise: “Ukraine’s leadership is ready to grant amnesty to all . . . that did not commit capital crimes”

Warnings of “War”

Today, the non-war talk turned even more serious and dozens were killed. Bloomberg reports Ukraine Presses Assault on Rebels With Warning of ‘War’

Ukrainian forces pressed their assault on separatists today and the head of the anti-terrorist center warned eastern regions are “essentially” at war, even as OSCE hostages were released.

The Ukrainian anti-terrorist operation in the Donetsk region left five dead and 12 wounded, said the center’s chief, Vasyl Krutov. Government forces secured Slovyansk as operations in Kramatorsk continued, he said. Another 42 people were killed and 125 were injured in a building fire and street battle in Odessa that began last night when pro-Russians attacked marching football fans and a pro-Ukrainian rally.

“What is happening in the east is not a short-term action, this is essentially a war,” Krutov said today.

Open clashes are sweeping Ukraine’s east, from Donetsk near the Russian border to Odessa, about 100 miles from the European Union’s southeastern frontier in Romania, amid signs the industrial and coastal regions are slipping out of the Kiev government’s control.

“We, Ukrainians, are now constantly pushed into confrontation, into civil conflicts and to ruination of the country from inside,” said acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on his website today. “We cannot allow this to happen and have to be united in our fight with a foreign enemy who wants to destroy Ukraine.”

Kerry Warning

“It’s important for Russia to withdraw support from the separatists and to assist in removing people from the buildings and begin to deescalate the situation,” Kerry said in remarks to the press in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

In his own website statement following the conversation, Lavrov said he warned Kerry about a “fratricidal conflict” brewing in Ukraine. He also urged the U.S. to get Ukraine to stop the offensive in the eastern regions.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said at a briefing today in Jezioro, Poland, that officials are “losing hope” about a diplomatic solution to end the crisis.

“This is a war of maybe a different kind, it is a war that’s undeclared,” Tusk was quoted as saying by PAP newswire at a media briefing. “But what we’re really dealing with is de-facto a war. You can clearly see that actions taken by the international community haven’t brought results.”

What Is It?

It’s not a civil war it’s a …

  • Punitive operation
  • Anti-terrorist operation
  • Warning of war
  • Civil conflict
  • Desperate situation
  • Confrontation
  • Fratricidal conflict
  • Offensive
  • War of a different kind
  • De-facto war

You can call it whatever you want, but please don’t call it what it is: a civil war.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock