Monday, April 14, 2014

Ukraine SITREP April 14, 13:00 EST

It appears that the next 24 hours will be absolutely crucial for the future of the Ukraine.  So far, these are the most important developments:

The following cities have seen uprisings taking place over the week-end: Kharkov, Slaviansk, Krasnyi Liman, Kramatorsk, Lugansk, Enakievo, Gorlovka, Donetsk, Khartsyzk, Ilovaisk, Mariupol.  To get a feel for the spread, check out this map:

Rebel cities in the eastern Ukraine
The second big development is the clear increase in the quality of the forces opposing the takeover of the eastern Ukraine by the revolutionary regime in Kiev.  Up until Friday, most of the demonstrators were civilians, "armed" with bars, stones, Molotov cocktails, bats, etc. and, frankly, their barricades looked pretty lame.  Over the week end some better equipped forces have appeared, this could be due to the seizure of weapons caches from the SBU, but my guess is that there is a traffic going on between Crimea and the eastern Ukraine.  Some Crimeans have said so openly.  Furthermore, it is very likely that there are also volunteers from Russia, probably with military backgrounds, helping out the locals.   The barricades look far better built now, they are over 6 feet high and they seem much better protected.

The Kiev regime and the USA have accused Russia of having GRU agents involved.  Well, I am pretty sure that they are there - they would be stupid not to - but to present the spreading insurrection as the result of the Kremlin's covert operations is rather silly.  While I would expect the SVR and GRU to try to help, they are going to try to stay several steps removed in order to avoid a potential political scandal for Russia.  But could the GRU be providing equipment for Russian volunteers in eastern Ukraine.  Yes, that is definitely possible, thought not necessarily the most likely explanations.  The fact is that nobody really knows.

There are some pretty consistent rumors that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency,  John O. Brennan, has covertly travelled to Kiev and that he is the one who told the regime to put down the rebellion in the East.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  What is certain is that the SBU has been run by the CIA since 22 years already and that the authorities would never have gone ahead with this plan without getting Uncle Sam's approval.  Since the offensive basically failed, it appears that the US has told its Ukrainian allies to "cool it", either to try to negotiate or just to win some time.  Whatever may be the case, both Iatseniuk and Turchinov have now promised a referendum on the future of the Ukraine and all the "legitimate demands" of the East.  Nobody trusts them (Turchinov had just announced an "anti-terrorist" operation!), but this is nevertheless a *huge* development.  At the very same time, there are repeated reports about a secret order by Turchinov to crack down on the eastern Urkaine and that Andrei Parubii (Maidan), Valentin Nalivaichenko  (SBU) and Vasilii Krutov (Military) have formed special headquarters to coordinate the repression.

Finally, there are a lot of reports of large columns of military units moving towards the East.  They even include artillery  and heavy multiple rocket launchers.  My hope is that these are moved to the eastern Ukraine in order to try to stop a Russian military intervention.  I am not saying that this would work - it would not - but that I hope that this is the plan.  I don't want to even contemplate the possibility that these systems might be used against the civilian population.

There are basically three scenarios for the short term now:

1) The Ukies give up on the notion to solve this problem by violence and terror and some kind of deal will be hammered out between Russia and the US on the 17th.
2) The Ukies do attack and fail.
3) The Ukies attack, are successful and Russia intervenes.

Can a unitary Ukraine still be saved?  At this point, I would say that this *might* still be possible, but that the Ukies have to really give up the notion of breaking the rebellion in the East by violence and the USA have to finally stop the nonsense and agree to seriously negotiate.

If the Ukie do try to attack and put down the rebellion by force, they can kiss the eastern Ukraine goodbye forever.

Stay tuned.

The Saker