Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ukraine SITREP April 12, 18:06 EST (and some *very* cautious optimism)

  • No assault in eastern Ukraine after ultimatum deadline passed
  • Iatseniuk mentioned the possibility of a referendum
  • MVD and SBU offices in Donetsk seized by armed men
  • Alpha anti-terrorist team refused to attack
  • Cops (militia) also refused to attack
  • Slaviansk:  city revolts, locals takeover building and built barricades
  • Kramatorsk: gunfire reported around government buildings Police building seized
  • Police SWAT teams have refused to "fire a single shot" against the people and said so on camera.
  • Berkut officers in Donetsk put on old Uniforms and Saint George ribbons and said they would fight on the side of the people.
  • Berkut commander resigned.
  • Kiev regime fired the head of SBU in Donetsk.
  • Head of Police in Donetsk resigns.
  • Oleg Tsarev agreed to negotiate in the name of the East.
  • Krasnoarmeisk: police station seized.
  • Krasnolemansk: police station seized.
  • Kramatorsk: demonstrations.
  • In Poltava 10 buses filled with what appears to be Right Sector thugs armed with Molotov cocktails and base ball bats, explosives have been stop and everybody arrested.  They were heading for Kharkov.
  • Kharkov: 2 opposing demonstrators are taking place.
Bottom line, not only did the promised crackdown did not take place, but the Russian speakers have gone on the offensive and have seized many key buildings in major cities.  The key factor which reversed an almost inevitable bloodbath was the decision of the entire uniformed security and police forces to refuse to obey the orders of the freaks in Kiev and to open fire on their own people.  Everybody seemed to have refused: local cops, SWAT teams, SBU forces and even the anti-terrorist group "Alpha".  This is quite amazing and extremely encouraging.  These officers have decided to follow the example of their Russian counterparts in 1991 and 1993 (in both cases the KGB Spetsnaz units "A" and "Vympel" refused to attack the people around the Parliament, as for the Spetsnaz GRU - the authorities did not even dare to ask it even though a full regiment was available on alert in Naro-Fominsk, right next to Moscow).  

When I first heard that the Ukrainian group "Alpha" had refused I was rather skeptical and did not mention it here afraid that these rumors were only wishful thinking.  Today I not only seen confirmation of that, but I have seen footage from Donetsk were the local Berkut officers have declared on camera that they would not fire a single shot against the people.

God willing the honorable behavior of these officers will inspire other and the entire "repression apparatus" planned by the freaks in Kiev will simply fail to materialize.  That could be a real game changer.

I have to admit that I did not think that events would take that kind of turn. While I did write "there is even a non-negligible possibility that the nationalist freaks will fail in their attempt to restore their rule over the east: a combination of very desperate resistance by locals and an unwillingness of enough security forces to kill civilians just might do the trick"  did not really believe that this would happen.  It appears that it has.

Now that those forces who could have rather easily suppressed the rebellion of the Russian-speakers in a bloodbath appear to have rejected that order and even switched sides, I am fairly confident that the Ukrainian military will not attack either as that would be most risky: they would face the double threat of local police and security forces fighting back combined with an always possible intervention of the Russian Polite Armed Men in Green.

On the political front - two important things have also happened.  Iatseniuk has for the first time mentioned the possibility of a referendum.  This is still a very vague offer, but it has been made.  While Oleg Tsarev, the likely political leader of the eastern Ukraine, has declared that he was convinced that a referendum of autonomy and federalization could keep the country together.  These might, and I a conditional "might", be the first small steps towards a negotiated and halfway reasonable solution which would really be the best possible outcome for everybody.

The other positive development is that Putin's letter to the EU leaders seemed to have finally awaken them to the fact that there were playing with fire and that if they persisted in their completely delusional policies a lot of very real pain would result.  While the White House had its usual psychopathic reaction, folks in the EU have not said much other then Merkel's statement that Germany was taking this problem very seriously, and EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss a common response.  Hopefully the EU banking and business community will put enough pressure on these clowns to make them realize that unless they agree to some very serious negotiations the EU economy will plunge chaos.

So while by nature, training and experience I absolutely loathe to say anything sounding even remotely optimistic, I have to say that following four factors could jointly have a positive impact and avoid a catastrophe:

1) The freaks in Kiev might not have the means for a bloodbath in the East.
2) The resistance in the eastern Ukraine is definitely becoming stronger.
3) The eastern Ukrainian still appear willing to try the "federal solution".
4) EU leaders might be coming out of their stupor.

IF no massacre happens, and IF all the local forces join the anti-Nazi rebellion in the East, and IF Iatseniuk and the other Maidan-freaks agree to a federal solution and IF the EU agrees to negotiate towards that in good faith, then Putin could use his influence with the Russian speakers in the Ukraine to convince them not to secede and accept a federative solution.  Russia will probably have to provide security guarantees to the eastern Ukrainians, but as long as the regime in Kiev does not do something crazy, then Russia will probably restore its economic support, at least in small steps.

If all of that happens, and that is a very big "IF" then the next logical step should be an international conference to save (resurrect?) the pretty much dead Ukrainian economy with not only guarantees and demands for reforms, but a lot of money in the form of long term loans.

Right now all of the above sounds like a naive dream, but I think that compared to just a few days ago this dream, while still not likely by a long shot, has at least become at least a bit less unlikely.

Now, if the crazies in Kiev just continue like before, and that is far more likely, what we are likely to see is a secession of the entire eastern Ukraine without even a Russian intervention.  In theory, there is a lot more power, money and people in the eastern Ukraine then in the western one and if the bulk of the population really firmly decides to say "goodbye!" to Kiev and the Galician neo-Nazis, they can do it.

This will still be a slow process, most folks I think are still unsure and frightened.  What we have seen in the past 48 hours is most definitely an acceleration of the centrifugal forces, but they are still far short of a real "escape velocity" similar to the one in Crimea.

I think that the next week will be absolutely crucial.  Hopefully cool head on all sides will prevail and God will show us all mercy.  Next week will be "Passion Week" or "Holy Week" for Orthodox Christians and at the end of that week the biggest religious of all feast will take place: Holy Paskha (aka "Easter").  I cannot imagine how the Orthodox Christians in the eastern Ukraine will life these days, but part of me wants to believe that by next Sunday they will have the possibility to celebrate this "Feast of Feasts" in peace and security.  I sincerely wish them that.

Stay tuned,

The Saker