Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ukraine SITREP April 16, 10:50 EST (Ukrainian civil war day 2)

It is still a little early to call this day over, especially considering the time it takes for the information to seep out of the eastern Ukraine and make it to the Internet.  Furthermore, we have to be extremely cautious with the news not only because truth is the first casualty of war or because all the information sources have a vested interest in getting out the "right" information "correctly" presented, but because today, just as yesterday, the main characteristic of the situation in the Ukraine is complete, total, chaos.

With these caveats in mind, we can still say the following with a strong degree of certitude:

Something really amazing happened today in Kramatorsk.  It appears that a column of Ukrainian paratroopers entered the city unopposed, some of them put Russian flags on their Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV), others Saint George ribbons.  When they made it to the city center they were greeted by the civilians who brought them flowers and food.  Then, some of them apparently left, possibly on their IFV though that is still unclear to me.  It appears certain that 6 IFV of the BMD-2 types (Airborne IFV) were given to the local self-defense forces.  It is unclear to me what happened to the crews.  Some reports say that they purchased civilians clothes and returned to their base, but that makes absolutely no sense.  Strictly speaking, handing over their IFV to "terrorists" in a "battle situation" could get them summarily executed on the spot.  At the very least this should land them in front of a court martial.  So my guess is that the crews either deserted completely, or stayed around and join the locals.  What is certain is that the local defense forces now have 6 armored vehicles armed with the formidable 30mm 2A42 multi-purpose auto-cannon which can tear into pretty much anything short of a main battle tank.  The BMD-2 is also *ideal* for urban combat: relatively compact, well armored, highly mobile and with that formidable gun (which can shoot armor piercing rounds), it is just about the best kind of vehicle to use inside a city (it also has a machine gun and a guided anti-tank weapon).

By the way, these units came from the same 24th Airborne Brigade I mentioned yesterday, probably one of the few more or less well trained units in the entire Ukrainian military.  

Another less noticed event was an attempt by unidentified paramilitaries to attack or break through one of the checkpoints near the city.  The attack failed, the number of casualties is still undetermined.  The locals blame the Right Sector thugs for this one.

All the other info coming out of the eastern Ukraine are just rumors and it makes no sense to repeat it here, much less so use it as a basis for making conclusions.

What appears to be pretty certain is that nothing major happened today, most definitely no big combat operations.  If yesterday was chaos with local violence, today seems to be only chaos, which is not a bad sign I suppose.

Finally, this "just in" from RT.  Unverified, by consistent with what we know:
Reports from Slavyansk say that the army troops sent to the eastern Ukrainian city for an “anti-terrorist operation” are leaving en masse. Some troops are openly voicing support for the eastern Ukrainians, while others are speaking out against a war. According to Interfax, citing local self-defense activists, some 300 Ukrainian troops agreed to lay down their weapons and “go home” following negotiations in Slavyansk. 
If that is so, this might be the beginning of the end for the "anti-terrorist" operation.   Why?  Because enough of the military switches sides, or at least lays down arms or refuses to obey, no other force can challenge it.  The Paratroopers can easily make minced meat out of any police, SWAT, SBU or even regular military unit.  They could even hold their ground against an armored attack (holding ground is what these paratroopers are trained for).  If the 24th Airborne Brigade switches sides (which has not happened yet!!), then that is the end of the entire "anti-terrorist" operation.  But this is a big "if" and we should not assume something about the entire brigade just on the basis of what one single company did.

Stay tuned, I will try to keep you posted,

The Saker