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Dmitry Tymchuk’s Military Blog: Summary – September 16, 2014

Article by: Dmitry Tymchuk
Translated by: Voices of Ukraine
Edited by: Voices of Ukraine

Brothers and sisters!

Here’s the Summary for September 16, 2014 (for previous summary, please see Summary for September 15, 2014).

The bad news:

1. The DNR and LNR [Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics] terrorist organizations announced the creation of the ‘united armed forces of novorossiya’ with a single ‘commander-in-chief.’

Of course, they can create even intergalactic forces of space marines, as the name ‘united armed forces’ definitely sounds too luxurious for this gathering of drug addicts and criminals. This is not the point. The point is that Russian soldiers in Donbas have obviously grown weary of ending up under the mortar fire of drunken mercenaries and dying from ‘friendly fire,’ therefore they have been pressuring their ‘associates’ through Moscow for quite a long time, so that the latter create single bodies of government over their gangs. The last straw was the mercenaries’ recent artillery attack on the Russian DRG [sabotage-intelligence group] near Debaltseve.

The creation of a single command for insurgents solves the issue of some sort of cooperation among the Russian-terrorist army. For us it is very bad, as in this case the effectiveness of the enemy is greatly increased.

True, it’s definitely uncertain whether the Donbas big daddies and the small criminal krill will accept the rules of the game in action, not words. Everyone there fancies themselves a prince and Clausewitz (if they are familiar with this character, which is doubtful in general).

2. Despite the agreements Russia signed with the EU and Ukraine on September 12, Russia intends to impose customs taxes on Ukrainian goods.

The Russian Ministry for Economic Development claimed the Russian government was to approve the order regarding customs taxes for Ukraine, and only then postpone its application, should Kyiv and Brussels keep their promise to defer the implementation of the free-trade zone section of the Association Agreement.

Well then, yet one more reason to become more convinced that we should make every possible effort for Russia, in terms of economic cooperation, to end up further away from us than Zimbabwe. Export and import dependence on Moscow can only be acceptable in terms of bulk-buying balalaikas and matryoshkas. Everything else is a crime against Ukraine’s economic security.

The good news:

1. The Verkhovna Rada voted for the resonant bills on the special status of some areas of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts [regions] and for amnesty to the insurgents.

Local elections in the currently occupied districts are to be held on December 7, 2014, a special procedure for local self-government is introduced herein for three years, guarantees are given for the free usage of Russian and other languages, the state will finance the support of the socioeconomical development of these districts. People’s militia units will be set up here, by decision of local councils. The amnesty law prescribes exemption from liability to ‘members of armed formations’ and those who opposed the antiterrorist operation.

On one hand, these laws strongly smack of just handing over Donbas. On the other hand, it is an absolutely necessary step. It’s worth looking truth in the eye: we could have finished what we started and crushed the mercenaries into fine powder (which was where everything was headed), had Putin not sent hordes of his regular troops to Donbas. Ukraine turned out to be incapable of resisting this infestation. Of course, we can carry out general mobilization, put hundreds of thousands of our citizens at gunpoint, and flood Donbas with blood – but this is hardly the best option.

Personally, I thought and still think that the Donbas problem cannot be solved by peaceful means (theoretically, we can give Donbas ‘freedom,’ and then gradually and quietly tighten the bolts, but Russia will definitely not allow for this to happen). We need a different army for victory, which we have yet to create, but the good strong foundation of which has been laid during the current military action. Which is why the special status law is an ellipsis, but not the point (although, there are many questions in this regard – for example, about the financing of these territories). The most important thing is not to forget about this topic, citing economic hardship and other circumstances.

What is no less important is whether Kyiv’s gift will satisfy Moscow and the militants. This is another question…

In any case, while there are debates going on, it is necessary to swiftly create a fortified line of defense along the border of the occupied territories. It will not hurt in any case.

2. The Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] and the EU Parliament simultaneously ratified the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.

Despite all the reservations – it is a strategic victory for Ukraine. This is where Maidan began. For us, the path towards this agreement became not only the fight between ‘good versus evil’ within Ukraine – the forces of light against Yanukovych’s dictatorship, but also with an external aggressor. None of the countries of the EU and their partners have given so much effort (and the lives of the best of their sons) for their choice and for a place within the European family.

But, we all understand perfectly well that the Agreement – is still far from [the membership of] Ukraine in Europe. The revolution within our minds is far from over. Separate thanks go to Putin – with his aggression he pushed many of our compatriots towards the EU much more powerfully than all the talk of democracy and European values put together.

read more

Dmitry Tymchuk, Head of the Center for Military and Political Research, Coordinator of the Information Resistance group
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Translated by: Voices of Ukraine
Edited by: Voices of Ukraine
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February 7: The West should not rule out military resolution of the conflict in Ukraine

February 7 – 5 Ukrainian military were killed and 26 injured in the conflict area in Donbas in the last 24 hours, – informedVolodymyr Polevyi, deputy head of the Information Center of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

February 7 – President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during Munich Security Conference. NATO Secretary General has said that the alliance is strengthening collective security system as well as spoke about providing political and practical support to Ukraine on behalf of NATO.

February 7 – The West should not rule out military resolution of the conflict in Ukraine, – said on Saturday in MunichSupreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations, Gen. Philip Breedlove, writes Spiegel Online. "We are not talking about sending troops to Ukraine," – said Breedlove. In addition, he called Vladimir Putin's proposals on the resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine "totally unacceptable".

February 7 – President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has held tripartite talks with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Vice President Joe Biden – "The parties have coordinated further steps and stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire as well as continued dialogue on the implementation of all provisions of the Minsk agreements".

February 7 – Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) has publicized intercepted conversations, which suggest that Russian military are provoking clashes between the ATO forces and militants of "People's Republic of Donetsk". They must be getting new "arguments" ready for Putin's negotiations.

February 7 – Armed Forces and the National Guards of Ukraine have received new military equipment – a modernized armored vehicle "Spartan", equipped with heavy machine gun and "Stugna" missiles.

February 7 – Ukraine is ready to support ceasefire at any time, – stated the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in his comments to journalists at Munich Security Conference. Whereas the issues of state's federal structure or the autonomy of certain regions (Putin's wishes), may only be decided at a national referendum, not in Moscow or Berlin. All is needed for peace in Donbas is closed borders with Russian Federation and withdrawal of Russian troops, not peacekeeping forces. In his speech at Munich Security Conference, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko presented the passports and military service cards of Russian soldiers who "must have gotten lost in Ukraine" and were detained by Ukrainian military.

Near Debaltseve after attack Russian terrorists appeared "cemetery" Russian tanks (video).

Poroshenko in Munich (20 min)

By Taras Kuzio

Arm Ukraine and force Putin back to the negotiating table

Russia, despite its repeated denials, is sending large quantities of military equipment to the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine along with 9,000 of its troops. Movement of Russian forces, including the Pantsir-S1 missile system, are being tracked by think tanks and western intelligence agencies. Only Russian professional (not conscript) troops and intelligence officers can operate highly sophisticated Russian military equipment – not irregular separatist forces.

Respected Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer has concluded that the aim of Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, is to destroy Ukraine's independence by installing a satrap in Kiev similar to Chechen warlord Razman Kadyrov, thereby ending Kiev's goal of integration into Europe.

Putin reportedly told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Kiev should deal with the separatists by buying them off with autonomy and money as he had in Chechnya, which to her was unacceptable.

Russia and its separatist proxies have never abided by the September Minsk peace accords and last month tore them up and demand a new agreement that would lend legitimacy to their territorial gains. Military assaults have claimed a growing number of civilian lives, including 40 in rocket attacks on the port city of Mariupol and a Luhansk hospital, with the total number of civilians killed rising to 5, 500, according to the UN. Growing numbers of combatants continue to die on both sides, as illustrated by these gruesome photos of a column of 16 Russian and separatist tanks that was destroyed yesterday.

In the face of the new Russian-backed offensive, pressure on US President Barack Obama to send defensive military equipment to Ukraine is becoming ever more intense. The release of a report for the Atlantic Council of the US by eight US ambassadors calling for military assistance was published along with a crescendo of commentaries in The Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times (here, here andhere), The Wall Street Journal (here and here), The Washington Post, The New York Times, The American Interest, The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times and Spiegel Online.

This chorus of support was backed by influential former US National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. A bipartisan group led by Republican and Democratic Senators Rob Portman and Dick Durbin called for military assistance to Ukraine "to defend its sovereign borders against escalating Russian aggression".

The New York Times reported that the US was considering supplying arms to Ukraine, something reportedly confirmed by Douglas Lute, the US Ambassador to Nato. Ashton Carter, President Obama's choice to become his fourth Defence Secretary, said three days later he was "very much inclined" to provide arms to Ukraine to fight Russian-backed separatists.

Ukraine has been seeking western weapons since the summer of last year but so far has received only non-lethal equipment such as winter clothing, bullet proof vests and night vision goggles. The US did send 20 light counter-mortar radars late last year and, with two-decades of cooperation in Nato's Partnership for Peace programme, is beginning to train four companies of Ukraine's National Guard.

Arguments against the supply of weapons, the Wall Street Journal wrote, "look increasingly naïve". Nevertheless, Canadian commentators have pointed to Ukrainian corruption (see here and here) and the presence of "UkrainianNazis" as a way perhaps to justify the Stephen Harper government's decision not to providie military support. High levels of corruption never stopped the supply of Canadian military equipment and special force trainers to Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Although Putin and the Russian media have repeatedly raised accusations of"fascism" in Ukraine, it is the Russian (rather than the Ukrainian) regime that more closely resembles the political science definition of "fascism".

Nato will not send weapons to Ukraine but the UK, Poland and Canada would follow the US lead. President Obama is fighting against his own Democratic party if he sticks with the position of Chancellor Merkel, who continues to put naïve faith in a peaceful solution.

Economic sanctions (helped by falling oil prices) have not discouraged Putin's reckless and bloody intervention in eastern Ukraine. Some of those advocating military support to Ukraine believe – as in the 1980s through weapons supplied to the Afghan Mujahedeen – that only a growing number of casualties will force realignment in Russian policy to that of public opinion, two thirds of which is against intervention in eastern Ukraine.

The Donbas conflict, engineered and sustained by Moscow, is already Europe's worst security challenge since World War II. There have been 40 close military encountersin the air between Russia and the west since the annexation of the Crimea in March last year. Putin believes he is fighting a "Nato legion" through alleged Ukrainian proxies and has always claimed the Euromaidan revolution was a western-backed coup. Russian soldiers dying at the hands of western weapons would return the world to the Cold War of the 1980s, although it remains unclear which US congressman would today step up as the new Charlie Wilson.

Putin will stop his destabilisation of Ukraine and return to negotiations only when western arms equalise both sides on the battlefield.

Taras Kuzio is a research associate at the Centre for Political and Regional Studies, Canadian Institute forUkrainian Studies, University of Alberta and non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, School of Advanced International Relations, Johns Hopkins University.

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