Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ukraine SITREP March 12, 12:09 EST (and some debunking)

  • The new authorities in Banderastan have taken the decision to block all Russian TV channels previously received in the Ukraine.
  • The latest polls in Crimea indicate a 85% for a 'yes' in the upcoming referendum.
  • Crimean Tatars have indicated that they will accept the will of the majority of the people as expressed in the referendum.
  • OSCE observers, which had been invited to monitor the referendum, have refused to come even though they had actively participated in the preparation and execution of a similar referendum in Kosovo.
  • Crimean authorities have announced that the Crimean Self-Defense forces now have 3'000 soldiers on active duty and 7'000 reserves.
  • The new authorities of Banderastan have closed the airspace over Crimea, forcing the President of Tatarstan to travel 15 hours by road to get the the Peninsula.  The Crimean authorities have now taken control of the local ATC station.  The airspace over Crimea will be closed until the end of the voting next Sunday.
  • The Banderastani authorities have threatened to cut-off the supply of electricity to the Crimean Peninsula on the day of the referendum.  In response the local authorities have prepared a plan to deploy over 200 generators.
  • Russian banks are actively opening branches in Crimea and the Pensions for April will be paid in Rubles.
  • The former head of the Ukrainian SBU (state security service) under Yanukovich, Alexander Iakimenko has declared that 20 men armed with automatic and sniper rifles were shooting from a building controlled by Maidan commander Andrei Parubii, now Secretary of the National Security Council of the Ukraine and member of the, I kid you not,  Social-National Party of the Ukraine (now renamed Freedom Party).  A sniper of the Russian anti-terrorist group "A" (often erroneously referred to as "Alpha") has declared that according to his analysis there were 4 sniper stations overseeing the Maidan, all in insurgency controlled buildings.  Russia is still demanding an official international investigation about the sniper shootings on the Maidan.
  • In response to the transfer of 15 NATO combat aircraft from Italy to the Baltic states Belarussian President Lukashenko has offered to increase the number of Russian combat aircraft stationed in Belarus by 15 aircraft.

In addition to these short news snippets, today I want to look at the dangers of pseudo-Muslim terrorist organizations could pose to Crimea.

Saudi terror in Crimea?

An increasing number of observers is expressing concerns that various sponsors of pseudo-Muslim terrorism (KSA, Qatar, Turkey) could use their resources to infiltrate the Tatar community in Crimea and launch a terror campaign in the Peninsula.  Is that threat real?  In my mind, there is no doubt that yes, this is a real threat.  However, I also think that it should not be exaggerated for the following reasons:

1) The fact that no terrorist attack occurred during the recent Olympic Games in Sochi is a pretty good indicator that the Russian security services have finally returned to their former level of excellence and that they have a very good - though by definition never foolproof - control of the security situation in Russia.
2) The Crimean peninsula being the host to the Black Sea Fleet has a much higher than normal number of people with security and military backgrounds and a high density of security forces.  This density of military/security personnel to civilian population will make an attack difficult to execute.
3) Crimean Tatars should not be singled out as more dangerous than other groups just because they are Muslims.  Firs, we know already of pseudo-Muslim terrorists who were ethnically Russia and, second, the local Muslim authorities seem to be taking the advice of the Presidents of Tatarstan and Chechnia who are both mortal enemies of pseudo-Muslim terrorism in all its forms.
4) What could a terror campaign in Crimea achieve?  Most definitely not a change of hearts of the local population or a Russian withdrawal.
5) Crimea being a peninsula it is relatively easier to control its accesses or lock in down.  Not an easy place to execute a terrorist attack.

Nonetheless, I agree that a terrorist campaign is always a possibility, if only because of the helpless rage of US and EU politicians who have nothing but hot air to oppose to the Russian speaking population.  Besides, no place can ever be made 100% safe, not even a army base.  However, I think that the threat from the Crimean Tatars is probably much lower than the threat of neo-Fascist terrorism of the UNA-UNSO/Right Sector types who could also count on the full support of the new authorities of Banderastan.

More disinformation from Banderastan:

The new regime in Kiev has announced that the Russian military is massing along the Ukrainian-Russian border, that Kiev was only three hours away for Russian tanks and that the "Ukrainian Armed Forces" (?) were ready to repel any Russian attack.  In response, 
In a confidence-building step, Russia’s Defense Ministry has given permission for a surveillance flight by Ukraine over Russian territory near the border between the countries. Kiev had claimed Moscow was building up its military presence there.
“The Ukrainians have asked for an unscheduled observation flight over our territory,” Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told reporters in Moscow.
Russia and Ukraine are entitled to surveillance flights over each other's territories following the Open Skies treaty signed in 1992, but Antonov said that Kiev had never asked for one before, and that Moscow was "under no obligation" to allow it immediately.
“We have decided to allow such a flight. We hope that our neighbors are assured that there is no military activity that threatens them on the border.”
An interesting appeal to the Ukrainian armed forces:

In conclusion today I would like to post a rather amazing appeal to the men and woman of the ex-Ukrainian military by Admiral Illian, ex Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces: (I have kept the original bad translation)
Chief of Staff UAF Appeal to the soldiers and officers of Ukraine March 11, 14:04
Soldiers and officers of the Ukrainian Army ! At this difficult time for our people consider it necessary to speak words of encouragement to all who wear epaulettes , and who are now faced with a difficult choice . Now , as you know, I was deprived of the possibility to give orders , despite the fact that my appointment as Chief of Staff of the APU was made law by the President of Ukraine , its legitimacy has not yet been contested . But I always moral right to express their assessment of the situation . I am sure that whoever held the presidency of Ukraine today , without the popular mandate in a general election he has no right to order the use of armed forces. The future of the Crimea as well as the right of residents of Donetsk, Kharkov , Lugansk, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk , Nikolaev, Kherson and other cities of Ukraine to freely express their vision of the future of our country, should be solved only through negotiations between politicians , but by no means case with weapons . I hope and I am sure that none of the citizens of Ukraine does not want us to have repeat the Yugoslav scenario . And any attempts to drag the APU in armed conflict look offense. We showed resistance during Maidana need to show it now . Ukrainian soldier - the heir to the glory of the Zaporozhye Cossacks and the great liberator army , broke the back of Nazism - there is no need to prove your stamina and courage. Today excerpt Ukrainian military admires the world on the brink of a global catastrophe . Remember that it depends on you , not only the future of your family , the people and the country , but the entire planet . Remember that the price of unreasoned actions will frustration of our people to live in peace . Keep calm and restraint, do not make the tragic mistake that will be impossible to fix . Do not shoot at our Russian brothers , under any circumstances , do not open fire on , unless it comes to saving your life. And in any situation, people stay .
Y.Ilin , Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces , Admiral
I am sure that most Russian officers have very much the same feelings and this is the main reason why not shots (other than shots in the air) were fired so far in Crimea.

Stay tuned, kind regards,

The Saker