by GH Eliason for The Saker Blog
Everything is pointing to Ukraine starting a winter offensive in Donbass and the possible use of a chemical weapon false flag event to kick it off.
The Ukraine of 2018 is far different than what Europe was expecting. Instead of economic and social reform that was promised at Ukraine’s 2014 Euro-maidan coup, the government of Petr Poroshenko is taking a brute force approach to retaining power past the 2019 elections.
European and NGO supporters have been worried that the powers given with Poroshenko’s martial law declaration may be too spellbinding for Poroshenko. They are worried Kiev will trample on human and civil rights in Ukraine.
On December 10th, DNR’s Eduard Basurin stated they had Intelligence Kiev is going to stage an attack on December 14th, the day before the Ukrainian Orthodox Church votes for Autocephaly (freedom from the Moscow Patriarchate).
Ukraine is going to start their attack from the Mariupol region with a 12,000 man group with over 50 tanks and 40 multiple rocket launchers.
This group will make an offensive drive up the border trying to gain as much of it as possible before the offensive stalls.
From the Saker in September– When Ukraine starts the assault on LDNR, I expect it will be conducted in a similar fashion to 2014. The reason for this is simple. Unless they bought an airforce or large scale surface to surface missiles, the terrain and layout hasn’t changed. Trying to blitz in will only go so far before your troops are decimated. The Ukrainians started pounding Donetsk and Lugansk in 2014 to get the republics to defend the cities and then tried to roll in around them.
The first targets to take are the two main roads connecting the cities. Next, Ukraine will probably try to roll in overland and avoid contact as much as possible on the way to the border. In 2014, they had guides taking them across the open land.
The 12000 troops and equipment in Mariupol are there for two reasons. One is to serve Ukrainian propaganda with possibly a feint to draw DPR resources away from where Ukraine wants to be. The other reason is to roll up the entire border while the contact line troops engage DNR and LNR defenses. In 2014, Ukraine did not allocate near enough resources to do this even though other than key border areas the borders were relatively unprotected. This led to Ukrainian Diaspora volunteers sniping locals that were trying to flee the conflict.
The Kerch incident and its ramifications are still high on the international watch list because United States Special Representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker is saying the Ukrainian ships might have been in international waters when the Russian coast guard fired on and confiscated them.
Part of what’s embarrassing about Volker saying that is the Bellingcat report he gleaned this from used Google maps to make the assessment and according to the author, Russia was 500 yards over the territorial line. Bellingcat should invest in better resources because they made US Rep to Ukraine Volker look foolish because of this mistake.
Going further, Ukraine is claiming the right to transit through the strait without using the established procedures including using a channel pilot to guide the ships through safely. Russia is saying Ukraine refused to call the Kerch Port ahead to set up passage through the Kerch Strait and this neglect was for the purpose of creating an international incident.
Ukraine took warships through the Strait in September with Russian escort. This is a matter of record that was even videoed. However, directly after, the Ukrainian Navy called it a victory saying they did not call or confirm transit or use a pilot to navigate the shallow channel.
The passage of Ukraine’s navy through the Strait in September was clearly recorded as was this latest attempt in November. If the September record, which includes video is looked at, the accepted law and procedure in place can be shown.
Most western sources are saying the Russians violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This is a misnomer because the Azov Sea is considered a private internal sea by both Ukraine and Russia. It is not the high sea and it contains no exclusive economic zones. Either case would have made the UNCLOS applicable.
The text of the 2003 agreement between Ukraine and Russia favors Russia in this instance.
Martial Law and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
The only gain from the Kerch Incident was Petr Poroshenko declaring martial law the same day. It was just ahead of the initial Autocephaly vote for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) separation. The vote was cancelled and pushed back to December 15th, which is one day after DNR Intel says Ukraine will mount an attack.
In the meantime, Ukraine has decided dissenting Bishops are treasonous in an effort to skew the results of the vote to favor the Kyiv Patriarchate.
Ukraine’s relation to its existing churches and the one it hopes to have with a positive vote by Bishops for Autocephaly (independence) is murky.
And yet, Poroshenko’s SBU (Ukraine’s version of FBI) is taking groups of Bishops in for questioning. Ukraine is calling the current Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) Moscow Patriarchate Bishop a security threat and questioning the Bishops and Metropolitans ahead of the vote (Sobor) in what looks like a blatant attempt to change their vote to favor UOC independence.
By delivering the Church to Ukrainian nationalist Bishop Filaret, Poroshenko will be making good on his campaign platform of a united and rebuilt Ukrainian Language-Army-Church.
Recognizing Stepan Bandera Voted a Hero of Ukraine
The Ukrainian Senate (Rada) just voted to recognize assassinated WWII Ukrainian Nationalist leader Stepan Bandera as a hero of Ukraine once again. This move is beyond controversial because the OUNB (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists- Bandera) were WWII’s most enthusiastic murders.
For those unfamiliar with Bandera, his armies included 3 or 4 Waffen SS Battalions that were also prison guards at the extermination camps. The OUN is responsible for the murder of more than 3 million Soviet prisoners of war through forced starvation inside Ukraine.
The OUN committed WWII’s first Holocaust acts at Katyn and Babi Yar just outside Kiev. Today at Babi Yar, instead of a promised Holocaust memorial commemorating the 36,000 Jews that were murdered there, the Ukrainian government put up memorials to OUN members that may have taken part in the crimes against humanity.
Ukraine attempts to say Bandera and the OUN were against the German Nazis, but not according to Slava Stetsko, his one remaining lieutenant and leader of the OUN in 1991. She is the one person that would know the truth and Stetsko clearly says she was in Berlin in 1945 begging Hitler for more money to build armies to serve the Reich.
Recognition of Stepan Bandera by Ukraine on any level should be the factor showing exactly where the country exists politically. Bandera was a fascist and believed in a strongman government. His follower’s politics today is the same.
What kind of country is Ukraine to make a man Adolf Hitler considered violent and unstable its national hero?
Europe and the US would do well to educate the Ukrainian Diaspora and Ukrainian government on what it means to be Democratic. The country has never found its bearings on the one really important factor needed to enter international society and need help.