Paul Goble, originally on Window on Eurasia
Staunton, May 14 – “Russia is conducting against Ukraine a war of a new type,” one that is so different from military campaigns in the past that it is obvious that Moscow has been preparing for its current actions “for several years,” according to Mihail Koval, who is Ukraine’s acting minister of defense.
Yesterday, Koval said that Moscow’s preparations have been going on “for more than one year.” But he added, those who prepared it did not assume that Ukrainian forces would respond as they have by fulfilling their duty.
Russia’s campaign against Ukraine, the Ukrainian defense minister said is “a war of a new generation,” one in which a neighboring country has dispatched “special diversion detachments” whose members had received extensive training, something that could not have been carried out in a short time.
As a result, he continued, the Ukrainian army “could not begin full-scale military operations … because part of the civilian population and part of the law enforcement personnel in the east of the state are de facto on the side of the enemy.”
All armies operating on their own territory “are accustomed to the idea that people will view them as their defenders, but on the territory of military actions [in this case,] people somehow view us as enemies and [call us names] as they did in Crimea as well. I personally heard,” Koval says, people shout at Ukrainian forces “’Bandera, American, Fascist.”
Another limiting factor on Ukraine’s ability to respond is that “a state which is one of the three guarantors of the security of Ukraine has attacked” the country. “There has never been such a case in world practice. We had expected that Russia would defend us if some other state would hanker after our territory.”
Thus, Ukrainian military forces find themselves in an anything but normal situation, Koval said. Ukraine’s army “was prepared to respond to the open aggression of an enemy, but it has encountered different realities when the enemy hides behind the backs of the civilian population.”