For a couple of days now, I have posted various items showing the large number of casualties amongst the Ukie forces fighting against Novorussia, and I have observed with some amusement how many of you have expressed doubts about the veracity of these figures. Today Nora drew my attention to a short video of a Ukie army recruiting officer being confronted by a crowd of civilians, mostly women, mostly mothers. The video is a few days old, but this version is subtitled in English, so please watch it now:
Now, there are a couple of thing I would like to share with you after this video.
First, believe me, these women are aware of the terrifying rumours which speak of casualty figures way higher then those mentioned officially. Keep in mind that a lot of Ukie soldiers simply disappear either torn into unrecoverable small pieces of meat and bones, or hastily buried into mass graves by their own officers to cover up their deaths, either quietly killed and secretly buried by the civilians of Novorussia (I have seen a video of Ukie recruits who say that they are terrified of the local civilians who smile at them and then kill them as soon as they get an opportunity).
Second, and this what a lot of you are missing, the Ukie and Novorussian militaries are dramatically different. Let me explain:
The Ukrainian military has been completely neglected by all the governments in power since 1991. Do you remember the condition of the Russian military during the First Chechen war? Now imagine taking that military, and instead of turning it around, you let it further degrade for another 20 years. That would be more or less what the Ukie military is today. Add to this that most officers and soldiers do not want to fight. Besides fighting a war they personally don’t want (again, not all Ukrainians are Right Sector Nazi fanatics!), they are also literally hungry (they eat snakes now) and totally under equipped. The command and control system of the Ukie military is more or less dead. The ONLY advantage of the Ukies is the sheer number of aircraft, tanks and artillery, and that really is a purely quantitative advantage.
It is composed solely of volunteers. Even the partial mobilization decreed recently in Donetsk is a moral obligation: you are told you have to show up, but if you do not, nobody will get you. Second, there are a lot of very experienced soldiers and officers on the Novorussian side. As as a direct result of that the following is true:
That is literally true. Even if it is exactly the same Grad MLRS. In fact, many, possibly most Grads used by the Novorussians are trophies taken away from the Ukies. But whereas the Uky artillery almost exclusively shoots in more or less random way in the general direction of the other side, hitting only civilians, the Novorussians use each Grad with devastating effectiveness choosing the correct munition, landing it with surgical accuracy right on top of the Ukie positions.
Then look at the footage of Novorussian fighters: a lot of them are 30+ to 40+ years old group. These are folks who have already spent a lot of time in the military, often with experience of war, and who know their job very very well. Yes, it is true that the Novorussians still need many more of such experiences “wolves of war” as they are called in Russian, but they already have a lot of them. So on one hand you have clueless but young guys, and on the other, older, but experienced pros who know how to survive.
Furthermore, you can look at any video shot on the Novorussian side, and it is clear that their morale is extremely high. Most of you have probalby seen the footage made a few days ago of the Vostok Battalion on Saur Mogila where the local commander, Samurai, was preparing his men to go into battle to attack the Ukies in the southern cauldron and then the footage shows them jumping on their vehicles and going into battle. Sure, the guys were tired and serious, but also extremely motivated and impatient to resume the fight. The contrast with footage taken on the Ukie side could not have been stronger.
And then, let’s be honest about it, by now there are a lot of very experienced fighters from Russia in the Novorussian military. Again, these are older men, often with brand new gear, who appear to be either NCOs or officers and who are clearly very highly motivated.
Finally, the Ukies are lead by corrupt and incompetent generals, imagine Pavel Grachev, but even worse. The reports that the fighting Ukies absolutely hate and despise their commanders (not the direct commander, but the top brass, the generals) are all over the social media. On the other hand, you have folks like Strelov, Samurai, Motorola, Kedr, Khodakovskii and others of clearly are both very experienced and very talented. And, again, this is my personal opinion, but there is no doubt in my mind that these local commanders not only have all sorts of, shall way say, “advisers” from the Russia, but that the Russian military supports the Novorussians with intelligence and expertise (who do you guess was the first to detect the envelopment manover attempted by the Ukies along the Russian border?).
So this is in no way the fault of the Ukrainian foot solider who is, by all accounts, courageous, extremely strong willed and who will execute his mission in the toughest conditions. Just look at how long the poor Ukrainian soldiers in the Southern Cauldron have been resisting under absolutely nightmarish conditions! But in these circumstances the Ukies don’t stand a chance, and even though they do have an advantage in the open field by the sheer number of artillery, tanks and aircraft, as soon as they get into closer combat the Novorussians make minced meat out of them.
The true figures are hidden by the junta
Remember this: if Novorussia has something like 6,5 million people, the entire Ukraine has somewhere 40 million people. So what does the junta do? They spread out the casualties. The Ukies are now conducting their THIRD partial mobilization (penalty for refusing to serve: 5 years in jail). They are taking young men as cannon fodder form all over the Ukraine, from Lvov to Vinnitsa to Chernigov and they send them to Novorussia to get butchered by an army and population which fights with the energy of despair and which fights on its own land.
This might shock you and I will get a lot of nasty comments for saying this, but I personally think that the Ukie casualty figures are grossly UNDER-estimated and that when this horrible civil war comes to and end and this issue is professionally investigated we will find that the real figures of killed Ukrainians will be way higher than even the highest figures quoted today.
I think that as it typically the case in a dictatorship, the fact that the 5 state owned TV stations say exactly the same nonsense does not prevent the other information from seeping in in all sorts of creative manners: the Internet, of course, but also relatives abroad, the Russian media, leaks from the government structures, etc. And then you have the number of neighbours who are being told that they son “died like a hero for his country” (and, typically, that his body was not recovered) who then talk to you in the evenings, around a kitchen table, when nobody is around. So for all the Ukie official propaganda the poor women on the video above are absolutely terrified that if they military is allowed to run a conscription locally their sons and husbands will also “died a hero’s death”. Hence their desperate rage.
Us and them?
This is a truism, but I will say this again here: the vast majority of the soldiers fighting against Novorussians are Russian themselves, in the sense that they speak Russian, they are not Nazis at all and they are not the crazy Euromaidanites who started all this shit – they are simple country or small town folks who watched it all on the TV. Sure, they probably hated Yanukovich, but no more than they hated Timoshenko or Yushchenko, and while they feel Ukrainian that does not mean that they have this satanic russophobia so typical of the real Ukie Nazis. Not even most of the National Guard are hardened “Ukie Interahamwe”. That scum is mostly found in the deathsquads of Kolomoiskii and Liashko. In those units you truly have the scum of the earth, pathologically evil sickos who will crucify babies and strangle pregnant women with a telephone cord. This is not a typical Ukrainian thing, by the way, you will find a minority of such sociopaths in any country and society. The difference is that in a civilized and normal society you typically find these types in jail, whereas in the current Ukraine turned Banderastan they are in positions of power. But I am absolutely sure that you could find the proportion of maniacal thugs amongst Russians, Belgians, Peruvians or even Eskimos. That is just a sad part of the human nature. The scary thing is that in Banderastan they get to rule the rest of society.
I take immense solace in the fact that Russians clearly understand that, even the Novorussians do. I just watched a video about 40+ Ukrainian border guards who were terribly shot up by the Novorussians and who offered to surrender in exchnage for a safe passage to Russia. Not only did the Novorussians accept that, but they also fed them, treated their wounds (often terrible ones), then brought them across the border where the Russian military treated them again and then let them chose between staying in Russia or returning home (and risk being investigated by the Nazis for “desertion”). Those who wanted to return did so on Russian military aircraft.
A few commentators said that this was stupid on the Russian part. I categorically disagree. If these guys had been Kolomoiskii’s thugs, then yes, it would have been stupid. But these were basically decent guys, used as canon fodder, in other words, victims. And I am proud that the Russians also understood that and acted with kindness and compassion towards them.
To those of you who believe that the Ukie Nazis might get such a sweet deal, I can reassure you – forget it. Russia is Russia and war is war. In Chechnia for example, when caught the Wahabis were given a 10-15 min one on one “interview” with a a few Paratrooper or Spetsaz NCOs which rapidly established their values as prisoners in an extremely unpleasant dialog for the Wahabi and then, unless the Russians thought they had a high value prisoner, they would be summarily executed and buried. I have no doubt whatsoever of what the Novorussians do when the catch a member of a Ukie death squad and I can assure you that they will not treat his wounds or allow him to survive longer than 30min max. But, again and again, the vast majority of the Ukies butchered today are not members of death squads and even though they are clearly fighting on the wrong side, they have very little choice and they are therefore also first and foremost victims who deserve our compassion.
The Ukrainian tragedy
The Russian word безобразие (bezobrazie) is often translated into English as ugliness, of deformity or even scandal or chaos. But that is not a very good rendering of its meaning. Bezobrazie is composed of the prefix “bez” which means “without” and then the word “obraz” which means “image” or “type” or even “character”. What bez-obraz-ie means the “absence of a coherent image” or, literally, the “loss of your own identity”. This is what happened to the Ukrainian people, they lost their own real identity and they let it be replaced by a ugly, xenophobic, murderous and hate-filled “mask” of sorts, which is not at all what the real Ukrainian culture used to be. This is immensely sad, and I want to hope that this horror can be healed. But in the meantime, Russians need to make sure that they do now allow themselves to be changed by this war, they need to make sure that the Russian people retain their own spiritual and cultural “obraz” in the sense of “identity”. This is also one crucially important reason why they should continue to treat the Ukie soldiers with compassion and kindness: Russian compassion can be a powerful weapon against Ukie hatred and maybe even an impulse for the Ukrainian people to recover their true identity.