The first day of what will become the Ukrainian Civil war has finished and since by tomorrow morning a lot can happen, I have decided to provide this intermediate SITREP update tonight rather than to wait for tomorrow.
The short summary of the day is: absolute chaos and local violence.
A couple of things stand out:
- The same source who reported that the CIA Director John Brennan visited Kiev on Sunday or Monday also say that the US plan is to use the Ukrainian military to blockade the rebel cities and to use special units (national guard, SBU SWAT, a newly created unit called “Shtorm” and Right Sector gangs) to actually do the repression.
- In a rather bizarre incident, some Ukrainian officers were told that 30 armed terrorists had seized an airport near Kramatorsk. They landed there supported by APCs and helicopters only to find out that only civilians were present. Rumors say that “several” to “eleven” civilians were killed in that operation. The amazing thing is that the officers really seemed to believe that they would be fighting some kind of military force. When they realize that this was not the case, most of the forces were evacuated and only a smaller force was left at the airport. It is currently surrounded by civilians who are blocking all exists.
- Same thing happened to the recon battalion of the 24th Airborne Division which was sent in to locate “terrorists”. When the saw that only civilians were present they refused to continue their mission, turned around and left.
- A convoy of Right Sector militants disguised as pro-Russian forces (they were wearing Saint George ribbons) were stop and searched by civilians. Soon, after some brutal interrogations the truth became obvious, the trucks full of weapons confiscated and the drivers beat up.
- In Kiev the Right Sector has given the so-called President and his regime 24 hours to take action. If not, they promised to overthrow him. In other words, the small, disorganized and demoralized leftover of the Ukrainian police now might be told to put down both the Russian-speakers in the East and the Galician freaks in Kiev.
- As for the always amazing White House, its press secretary has declared that the USA “praises” the neo-Fascist regime for its “restraint”.
Okay, so what is really going on here?
The Ukrainian military is told that it has to stop “terrorists”. Regardless of whether they believe it or not, the Ukrainian commanding officers are more or less willing to execute that order. What they seem to be unwilling to do is kill many civilians or, even less so, take a city by force. So they stop in the outskirts and conduct very tense and unpleasant dialog with very hostile and suspicious civilians.
The Ukrainian security services are probably more willing to shoot civilians, but they seem to be really weary of entering the rebel cities, and I can’t blame them. Unlike most of the barricades around the cities which are manned with civilians (including women and senior folks), some barricades and buildings inside the city are defended by armed men, some definitely with military experience, and supported by many civilian demonstrators. Any SBU force seen shooting civilians risks being killed by a lynch mob.
The Right Sector thugs would love to kill as many of the accursed Moskals as possible, but they have neither the training nor the numbers to seize a town. And should they be caught they have no hope whatsoever to make it out alive. They will be literally torn into pieces by the locals.
So, to sum it up so far:
1) The Ukrainian military only pretends to participate in the so-called anti-terrorist operation. While some units from Galicia might try it, most units are probably unwilling to shoot many civilians.
2) The cops, SWAT teams and SBU special forces probably would not mind shooting into a crowd, but they would be fearful to enter inside the urban environment of a city and storm buildings while having a furious mob all around them.
3) As for the neo-Nazi thugs and common criminals hired by the oligarchs, they have neither the training nor the means to put down a city.
Thus, the first day of that civil war is one of total chaos and confusion with only localized violence. Even if 11 civilians were killed, this is nothing compared with what would happen in the Ukrainian military decided to attack a city with Multiple Rocket Launchers like the Georgian did with Tskhinval in 08.08.08.
A few words about the Russian speaking opposition now.
I have watched as much video footage today as I could and here is what I see:
1) Lots of real civilians, unarmed, including women and seniors. They seem both frightened and very angry. Their plan is to form a human shield to stop the Fascist assault.
2) Lots of determined and solid looking men, many of the coal-mine workers. They are armed with metal rods, sticks and a few Molotov cocktails. Any trained force armed with real assault rifles could easily kill them, but they would probably make minced meat our of Right Sector thugs. These are simple but *very* tough men, and boy do they look mad….
3) An assortment of self-organized armed groups, mostly equipped with handguns and assault rifles, they have some real firepower, but are poorly trained and poorly commanded. They could not stop a determined assault either, but they could provide enough firepower locally to scare off the cops.
4) A few small groups (3-5 men) here and there who look like they know what they are doing. Some are former paratroopers, others have served in other well-trained units. They seem to be trying hard to get a more or less organized resistance going and they probably could mount an intelligent attack on an enemy column (as happened over the week-end in one case). I don’t think that these groups are very numerous, but they could show up anywhere and they are therefore a real threat to any attacking force.
Taken separately, none of these defenders amount to much of a force to protect even a small city. However, the combination of these very different type of defenders might present a real problem for the Ukrainian command, especially considering the morale problems on the Ukrainian side and what appears to be a fierce determination triggered by rage and fear by the Russian-speakers.
Besides, urban assault operations are always and inherently very difficult and very dangerous. During such operations the most typical scenario is one where the initial attack appears easy and victorious and then all hell breaks lose and what appeared to be a success turns into a nightmare. It takes not only a lot of firepower to prevail in an urban environment, but also a very strong determination and the willingness to kill a lot of civilians. In the eastern Ukraine almost every civilian runs around with a cellphone or camera so there are “eyes” everywhere and every event is filmed, some are even streamed live on the Internet. Not good for the attackers either.
One more thing: I think that a red line has been crossed today and that now that the entire population in the eastern Ukraine has been assimilated to “terrorists” while the two main candidates to the Presidential elections have been assaulted (and one, Tsarev, charged with, I kid you not, hooliganism and sedition!) there are no more hopes for a federalized unitary Ukrainian state. When civilians were shot today in an official and authorized army attack, which was ordered by the so-called “interim President” and which was praised by the USA for its “restraint” a qualitative change in the struggle occurred. Short of a miracle, my personal conclusion is that Ukrainian experiment has crashed and burned. It’s over for “the Ukraine”.
For several days I have spoken of an “escape velocity” and I think that today it was reached. To paraphrase a well-known English nursery rhyme:
The Independent Ukraine sat on a wall,
The Independent Ukraine had a great fall.
All the West’s money and all the West’s men
Couldn’t put that Ukraine back together again
The only question now is what human price will the West and its neo-Nazi puppets in Kiev extract from the Ukrainian people before accepting the inevitable?