The bad news:
1. It is absolutely obvious that Putin will not back down. Meanwhile, if the Ukrainian government thinks that appeals by some European leaders “to resolve the conflict with political means” make [any] sense, it is clearly mistaken. To accept the “political” solution to the crisis is possible only by accepting the loss of, if not all, then (in the beginning) a part of the Donbas.
Putin–either himself or through the mouths of the terrorists–will demand the recognition of the “DNR” and “LNR” [Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics] as separate “states” outside of Ukraine. If Ukraine does not agree to that, he is ready to accept the “DNR” and “LNR” as unrecognized (or rather–recognized by only a handful of misfits led by the Russian Federation) quasi-state formations–obviously, under the tacit protectorate of Russia. This is the version akin to Transnistria and Abkhazia.
In the course of negotiating an option of some autonomies and other federal entities (which Kyiv could agree to as a compromise), these can be discussed only as pulling the leg of the world community. Putin doesn’t need Donbas under the slightest control of Kyiv, do not have any illusions [about it].
And so, to begin negotiations with a view to “peacefully settle the conflict” can only be done after mentally saying goodbye to the territories that are currently controlled by the terrorists.
But we all know too well that Putin needs the “LNR” and “DNR” only as a springboard for further destabilization of the situation and exclusion of the entire south and east from Ukraine. The Kremlin doesn’t need the heaps of Donbas–it needs the scientific and industrial potential of Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia, as well as the strategic territory in the south represented by Odesa, Kherson and Mykolaiv Oblasts (in terms of support of Crimean livelihood and the connection to Transnistria, and taking control of the entire Ukrainian coast of the Azov and the Black Sea). This is a minimal program. Where the Moscow’s potentate [ambition] brings him next–is another question.
It is possible to stop this scenario only with force, and only now. We have to understand that for all the riches of Russia as Europe’s raw material appendage, the Russian military power is not unlimited–at least in terms of the so-called “conventional armed forces.” Zhukov’s version that “Russian women will give birth [to more]” will obviously not work in this situation–the more Russia’s little soldiers come back home in coffins, the more unsteady Putin’s throne will become. The Russian propaganda TV works beautifully on Russian zombies for as long as they don’t have to bury their offspring in unmarked graves.
If I’m wrong, and it is still possible to solve the conflict through political means, without damaging the national interests of Ukraine–I will be extremely happy. Unfortunately, I don’t see any reasons for hope regarding this now.
2. In the context of the ATO, the season of rampant witch hunting has resumed. The public and various experts are beginning to blame the leadership of the ATO, the MoD [Defense Ministry] and the GS [General Staff] for failures. Military command sees the cause of failures in the invasion of the Russian army, and (still unobtrusively) notes the sins of the volunteer units (mostly, their “ungovernability”) and the insufficient level of morale among the mobilized [servicemen]. The highest leadership of Ukraine promises “personnel decisions” in the military.
The question is: who is right?
The answer goes as follows: it is an infrequent occurrence when everyone is right.
I’ll start with the most unpopular–with the criticism of an ordinary soldier, be it a volunteer or a mobilized serviceman. We find a thousand and one reasons to explain the lack of basic discipline in the ranks of our troops. These arguments sound convincing and it’s impossible to contradict them. Besides the tiny detail that no army can exist without discipline, and even more so, it is unable to successfully fight [without it]. It’s been tested for thousands of years, [we] don’t have to test [this theory].
I will get a response in the form of a question: so this is the soldier’s fault? To this, I will give a simple answer. Although I have the department of military journalism behind my shoulders, after all I started off in [military] service as an officer inside “the troops,” with the [military] personnel. The main lesson that I took away [from there]: there are no bad soldiers.
But in order for the biggest sloven to truly become a great warrior, they need commanders not just from among the likes of regular military school graduates, but the officers [who are] the leaders. Those [usually] prove themselves in their work. Now, the tricky question: how many of our sergeants or warrant officers who proved themselves, received the rank of second lieutenant as a result of the ATO, for example? Or is it such a big problem to make changes to the “Regulations on military service by relevant categories of servicemen” to assign the officer ranks in the “undeclared” war? How many platoon commanders who have shown themselves were promoted to the company and even the battalion level commanders? But in fact. such promotions are a normal practice of war, i.e., conditions under which anyone can show their best and worst qualities in the course of a few hours.
Now about the generals. If a general fails to fulfill his official duties–he should be removed from office, just like any other official who sits in his pants at work for nothing. In this respect, I fully agree with Yuri Butusov, who argues that the phrase “no one to replace [them with]” is not an argument. Few generals, and no one to choose from? Not a problem. Here, we [should] apply the principle of “natural selection,” i.e., the appointment of those senior officers who distinguished themselves, to the general’s office/position. Do not make a fetish of the general’s stripes when it comes to the fate of our Motherland.
3. And finally, about the Russian invasion. We are told that the Russians threw their armed forces at Donbas, and therefore everything got dramatically complicated.
Yes, this is a problem, and a colossal [one at that]. But what was our army constantly training for in theory–including the preparation of the very same generals at the relevant department of the Defense Academy? Well, not to the ATO after all! But first and foremost to the war with an enemy’s regular army. That is–precisely to the situation that has taken place nowadays.
I agree, there is nothing enjoyable about this, but let’s not pretend that we have been attacked by Martians, the issue of its confrontation being veiled by the darkness of secrecy. The Russian soldiers are of the same blood as the Russian mercenaries, they only differ by the absence of inscriptions on their graves. I don’t think that working on the algorithms of their send-off into these graves is an impossible task.
The good news:
1. One of the main tasks in Donetsk Oblast is to save the southern direction, to prevent the Russian troops from taking Mariupol. The National Security and Defense Council said today that Ukrainian troops are building defenses in the city. They promise that Russian invaders have no chances in this direction.
This raises two questions. First, how sufficiently are the units that are preparing for defense (which are predominantly the National Guard), provided with heavy weapons? Secondly, according to our forecasts, the invasion of Mariupol can take place not only in the land theater [of operations], but also from the sea. Here, we only have the forces represented by border guards and their motorboats (for obvious reasons, the Navy ships from the Black Sea cannot be transferred to the Sea of Azov). Are our forces ready to protect the coast?
Hopefully, military command has considered these moments.
2. The decision to impose new sanctions by the West against Russia will be made in the next few days.
The general mood in Europe is encouraging. The German leader Angela Merkel stated that the sanctions against Russia are necessary, in spite of their negative impact on the German economy. (By the way, judging by the Western media, Angela Horstovna [patronymic from Horst] again fell out of love with Putin, what a sin it is to mourn). British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the presence of Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine is “unjustified and unacceptable.” The Polish leadership has customarily supported [official] Kyiv as well. The head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso got completely stunned by Putin’s statement that if he wanted to, “he would be able to take Kyiv in [the course of] two weeks.”
Here, we see two weak links. Firstly, funny guys from the OSCE, who mumble about the fact that it’s difficult for them to confirm the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine (well, it is clear as day: once you have enough brains to sit at a pair of border checkpoints, better to keep silent and do not sign on for the entire Ukrainian-Russian cordon).
And [secondly] there are these very greedy but not very smart leaders of Cyprus, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, who are [nervously] trembling over [financial] losses more than the security of the continent. Especially since the Czech Republic and Slovakia have themselves experienced from Hitler what Putin is now doing to Ukraine. They could have better remembered the lessons of history. Plus there’s the question, what kind of trust from Ukraine towards these neighboring countries can we talk about from a historical perspective? The answer is obvious.
Dmitry Tymchuk, Coordinator, Information Resistance