Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pretty bad day for the eastern Ukraine, and it might get much worse

Okay, the picture of what is going on is getting clearer.  First, besides Donetsk, Kharkov and Lugansk there were also heavy clashes in Nikolaev.  Second, the tactic of the authorities is now becoming clearer:

1) First, cordon off the rebellious city (done in all four cities mentioned above).
2) Second, cordon off as best can be the city center (also done in all four).
3) Third, send in loyal cops from other cities.
4) Try to negotiate by sending in representatives.
5) Scare people off by announcing an "anti-terrorist" operation.
6) Threatening to introduce martial law.
7) Kidnap locally elected officials.
8) Fire most of the local police (officially about 30% will be fired).
9 ) Bring in special punitive/terror detachments (including Right Sector and, reportedly, foreign mercenaries, possibly ex-Blackwater types).
10) Cut off electricity and supplies.

So far, this has apparently worked successfully in Nikolaev and Kharkov were forces favorable to the new revolutionary regime in Kiev seem to be in control.  Luganks seem to be waiting for an assault tonight, as does Donetsk.

Crackdown in Kharkov
What is particularly worrisome to me is that all the footage I have seen appears to be showing only truly unarmed and, frankly, poorly organized civilians.  The barricades they have erected are a big fat joke and the APCs of the pro-regime forces will waltz through them.

Also, nowhere do I see any organized local forces (cops, military, SBU, DAI, etc.) trying to lead the preparations to defend their cities.  At best, they are only remaining neutral and refusing to crack-down on the local population.

To make things worse, I have seen no footage of weapons other than bats.  No firearms at all, nevermind something more useful like 30mm guns or ant-tank weapons.  Worst of all, I see absolutely no radios as everybody seems to rely on cellphone which the regime can disconnect at any time.

Finally, nobody seems to be in charge - there is no one leader, no real resistance HQ, no coordination and therefore probably no reconnaissance or intelligence components.

In other words, this all looks very bad, at least from the footage I have seen.

The one thing the locals seem to have is bigger numbers and a lot of very determination, but that will not be enough against a well-coordinated attack lead by well-armed thugs and APCs.

The contrast between these Russian-speakers and the neo-Nazis on the Maidan is striking.  The latter did have a clear chain of commands (they were organized in groups of 10s then 100s), lots of radios, firearms and the support of well-trained organizers.  And all they faced were pretty well-trained (but not nearly "Spetsnaz" level, not by a huge margin) riot cops with nothing but batons and flashbang and teargas grenades.

I hope that the Russian speakers get organized fast, really really fast.

Stay tuned,

The Saker