Before looking at the latest developments in the Ukraine, I think that it is important to at least mention two major developments involving Russia. First, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus have signed the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and they will soon be joined by Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Second, China has officially called for a new security alliance with Russia and Iran thereby proving that all the naysayers who said that China did not really mean it to form an alliance with Russia were plain wrong. As I mentioned it in a previous SITREP the scope and nature of the recent economic agreements between Russia and China already constituted what I called a crypto-alliance and now we see the first official move by China to drop the 'crypto' part of it. Again, this is truly a major tectonic shift in world politics and, arguable, the creation of the most powerful coalition of countries in history. The title of Godfather of this new coalition should really go to the USA and Barak Obama who by his amazingly arrogant and hostile policies towards both China and Russia has greatly contributed to the forging of this alliance.
This process is far from over, by the way. Not only are there discussions to expand the BRICS to other countries (like Argentina), the SCO or CSTO could also be expanded to include countries such as Iran or Pakistan. AS for the Eurasian Economic Union, it will eventually morph into a single political entity, a Eurasian alliance which could include China in economic and/or security agreements.
|Lukashenko, Nazarbaev and Putin sign the EEU|
Latest developments in the Ukraine
The Ukrainian offensive has seen yet another dramatic escalation with, for the first time, the use of "Grad" multiple rocket launchers on the city of Slaviansk. At least one Ukrainian helicopter, reportedly carrying a general and 12 other people, has been shot down by the Novorossia Defense Forces (NDF). Sporadic artillery fire, at times intensive, has been heard through the night and casualties continue to be brought into the local hospitals. Several Ukrainian units have put down their weapons and basically surrendered to the NDF. In Sebastopol special headquarters have been set up to deal with the flow of incoming refugees. In Kiev the Parliament is considering declaring martial law which would basically give unlimited power to the junta and suspend most civil rights.
There are two ways to look at these events. You could say that a lot happened, there is an escalation taking place, people on both sides die, helicopters got shot down, units are refusing to obey criminal order, etc. But you could also say that from a purely military point of view absolutely nothing happened at all. Think of it this way:
What have we seen since the junta began its terror operation in Novorossiia? Slaviansk and Kramatorsk have been besieged and shelled. The junta forces have seized the airports near Slaviansk/Kramatorsk and Donetsk. That's it.
Now let me immediately dispel the notion that these airports are somehow strategically important. They are not. Normally, in most military conflicts, airports are very important objects, especially their runways and radars. But in this case the seizure of the Slaviansk/Kramatorsk and Donetsk airports has not been followed by any use of them by the junta, if only because there is way too much combat still taking place around them to make their use safe. Besides, what need is there for airports when everything can be reached by road anyway? What about denying the use of this airport to either the NDF or the Russians should they decide to intervene? Well, the NDF has no air assets at all, as for the Russians they sure don't need an airport to land an Airborne Regiment, Brigade or even Division. So why did the junta decide to commit its best forces to seize these airports? Simple - because they are not cities. Or, put differently, because they are located outsides cities. The fact is that the junta simply does not have the forces needed to occupy and control any city, so this is why they go for objectives which are outside cities.
Petr Poroshenko has announced that what the junta calls the "anti-terrorist operation" should not last for weeks, but only hours. So this begs the question: if the entire mix of junta forces (military + death-squads) have not succeeded in taking either Slaviansk (hab: 130'000)or Kramatorsk (hab: 165'000), what are their chances to take Donetsk (hab: 1'000'000)? Zero, of course. And even less than zero if that is to be done in a matter of a few days and hours.
So what is the point of all this?
Is it that the political leaders and the junta are simply stupid or completely miss-informed?
No, it's not that simple. For one thing, to speak of a "junta's strategy" or "Poroshenko's strategy" is plain wrong as this accepts they myth that that is an independent government in the Ukraine. There is none. Truly, all the decisions are taken by Uncle Sam and his representatives in Kiev and the so-called authorities are just the USA's collaborators who simply take orders form their boss. And for all their sins, the folks in DC are neither stupid not poorly informed. So what is their strategy in this frankly weird civil war?
Ideally, the first objective of the AngloZionists would be to trigger a Russian military intervention in protection of Novorossiia. That would re-create the kind of Cold War tensions these folks are so nostalgic for. It would give a justification for the existence of NATO and, if played well, it could even result in NATO and Russian forces looking at each other across the Dniepr river. Not only would such a situation be a dream come true for the US military-industrial complex, it would make it possible for the USA to achieve one of its most important strategic objective: to keep Europe colonized and to prevent any chance of its integration with the East. Far from being stupid, this strategy is nothing short of brilliant as it gives Putin only two choices: if Russia does not intervene Putin will look weak, indecisive, or even like a traitor to the Russian people, but if Russia does intervene, then Putin will be called the "New Hitler" or "New Stalin", a crazed Russian nationalist hell-bent on re-building the Soviet Union and crushing the freedom-loving Europeans under his tanks. Are these cliches? Yes, of course, but they will be used. So for Putin its "damned if you do, and damned if you don't".
Second option: to wear down the NDF to the point where they will eventually surrender. Not very likely, but in theory possible. Should that happen, this could be presented as a double victory for Poroshenko: he crushed the "terrorists" and he "deterred the Russian Bear". Again, this is a lot of whishful thinking, but in theory the US might see that as a unlikely but possible outcome.
Option three: the old US strategy of "what I cannot have, I burn down". Basically, the strategy here is to destroy and damage as much of Novorossiia as possible, making a recovery as long and costly as possible. This is also a lesson to all those who dare defy the Empire: you disobey and we will make you pay.
As I mentioned above, Russia really has very few options to chose from. Any direct Russian intervention in the Ukraine - which in military terms would be a no-brainer - would have huge political consequences for the future of Europe's stability. In essence, by not intervening Russia is denying the USA the Cold War v2 it wants so badly. Should Russia intervene, and that is very possible, it would mean that the Kremlin accepts that the real price of its intervention is a long term re-submission of all of Europe to US interests.
Russia does, of course, have the option of covertly assisting the NDF and there is no doubt in my mind that it is already doing it, but this can only be done in a very careful and remote manner in order to avoid giving the US any proof of covert support. Still, advanced anti-air and anti-tank weapons are clearly shown on some videos which shows that somebody is helping the resistance.
Russia has also begun leaking information about the Ukrainian units involved in terror operations against the people of the Donbass. For example, Russian TV has announced yesterday that the following units have been involved in the bombing of the Donetsk airport: the 299 Tactical Aviation Brigade from Nikolaev (Su-25) and the 40th Aviation Brigade from Vasilkovo (MiG-29) who use the Ivan Kozhedub Air Force University of Kharkov (Mi-24; Mi-8) as a combat operations basis. Russian bloggers have also leaked the photos and names of the pilots involved.
Russian jurists have created special legal companies who take the testimony of the Ukrainians whose civil or human right have been violated by the junta to file lawsuits in Ukrainian courts. Of course, the Ukrainian courts are fully expected to reject the complaint at which point the Russian can then file their lawsuits at the European Court of Human Rights.
The good news for Russia is that there is no way that the Junta can take Donetsk or Lugansk. And even if junta forces did enter these cities they would not be able to control them. The Russian military strategists understand that very well. After all, the Russians have more urban combat experience than any army in the world: during WWII the Soviet forces liberated 1200 cities form the German Army and that experience has been studied over and over again in the Russian military academies. Furthermore, while currently only a minority of the man of combat age in the Donbass have joined the NDF, the constant shelling and terror of the junta's assault is motivating more and more of them to join the resistance.
Time is on the side of Novorossiia and of Russia.
My own feeling is that Poroshenko will soon fold and announce some kind of "peace initiative" which would probably not involve a complete withdrawal of junta forces from Novorossiia as demanded by the local authorities, but it will include a "suspension" of combat operations. Poroshenko - who is most definitely not a dumb man - knows that he absolutely must sit down and begin negotiating with the Russian and he also knows that the Russians simply cannot negotiate with him as long as active combat operations continue. I cannot prove that, but I believe that Poroshenko himself already understands all this and that what is happening now is that he is trying to convince the US of the need to accept the facts on the ground. Right now, Poroshenko can hide behind the tiny figleaf excuse that he has not been formally inaugurated, but that pretext will vanish pretty soon (on June 7th) and I suspect that as soon following his inauguration he will announce some kind of peace initiative.
Until then, the Russians will have to wait and grind their teeth at the news of every atrocity committed by the junta's neo-Nazi death-squads. Payback time will come, but the first priority will have to be to deny the AngloZionists the Cold War they are so desperately trying to trigger..
PS: as a small footnote: to those of you who can read Russian and who have an Android device (smartphone or tablet) there is a new and very interesting application called Вежливые Люди available from the Google Play (aka Android Store) called . There are two versions of it, the one supported by ads:
and the one costing $1.12 which is ad-free:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gentlemen (which I urge you to chose over the other one).
Вежливые Люди provides updated information from 18 different news sources mostly focused on the events in the Eastern Ukraine. You can browse through them and get a title and a paragraph or so and then, if you click on it, it takes you to the full article. See the screenshot to the right.
This app is only in its version 1.0 but it is already very useful and well designed and I find it one of the best sources of information about what is happening in the Ukraine. I highly recommend it to you, especially the articles from the "Голос Севастополя" which is based in the Crimea provides up to date information from the resistance in the Donbass.
For English speakers my first choice would be RT News English and its excellent Android application: