A Pro-Russian separatist sits at his position at Savur-Mohyla, a hill east of the city of Donetsk, August 28, 2014.
The second summer of war on the Donbas is in full swing. A year ago, Kiev regime’s armored columns were engaged in bitter fights against local militias which decided to defend their right to live, weapons in hand. But everything has changed in the course of last year: the front, the people, the economy, and hopes.
The frontline has long been stable, more or less along the line drawn up in Minsk in September 2014, corrected in February 2015 after the winter campaign. The strategy, tactics, and forces are different now. First of all, initiative is held by a different side. That’s very important in a situation where the front is 400km long and it’s defended by only 40,000 troops on either side. A year ago, armored columns could pass between opposing positions, covering dozens of kilometers every day which placed the opposing side in a difficult situation. The Ukrainian Armed Forces’ (UAF) raid from Saur-Mogila to Lutugino was a prime example.
Now the war has a positional character, which is wearing both sides as much (if not more) than its active phase. It’s enough to read official news releases by both sides to understand the situation at the front: the bombardments are aimed at the Junta’s checkpoints and “separatists’” cities. Which means the Junta’s army is on the defense and…is afraid to leave those positions which have to be held somehow. Right now nobody is even trying to take those positions even when opportunities present themselves. As happened in Maryinka in early June.
Why? The war strategy of the people’s republics is not aimed at occupying territory but wearing down enemy forces by constant harassment fire, which causes not so much physical harm as psychological. The extended front line which cannot be held by available forces and the impossibility of carrying out a mobilization as planned preclude Kiev rotating its forces on the front lines, which only worsens their moral state. Moreover, they don’t understand whom they are there to defend, and from whom.
This is a different tactic than high-intensity contact warfare. Nevertheless, it brings benefits, invisible at first glance, by forcing enemy soldiers and populations to jump at the slightest noise and be afraid of their own shadow and forcing enemy HQs to wonder who will cover the 400km front line in six months, by which time not only the tanks will be out of commission but the ideology as well.
That’s what Ukraine’s “hurrah-patriots” are afraid of when commenting on the possibility of establishing a 30km buffer zone. They are certain that they’d lose those 30km quickly and forever.
The Junta: The presence of the Junta’s army on territory which it was not able to make its own in one year is killing its soldiers more than the Ilovaysk [August 2014] and Debaltsevo [February 2015] defeats. When interacting with the most motivated Kiev regime troops at company commander level–the volunteers–one can often hear their commonsensical comments that the war on the Donbas is lost and the army must be withdrawn to the border of the regions (and possibly behind the Dnepr River) to avert its total disintegration. And then hope to force the enemy to “fight for Ukraine” with some chance of success.
The army is disintegration as a result of interaction with the local population which views the soldiers as enemies and who cannot be trusted. Soldiers don’t understand for what and for whom they are fighting.
Novorossiya Armed Forces (NAF): At the same time, we never hear that the NAF is holding those or other positions. Their front line consists of well prepared positions occupied only by screening forces. The majority of forces are de-facto resting in the near-frontline zone or are perfecting their combat skills at training areas.
Tank company exercises aren’t even a secret anymore, but rather a PR tool (eg. the exercises by the LPR Corps 2nd Brigade trained motorized rifle offensive operations with tank support).
Just recently, all the armed forces were subordinated to a unified military structure, the “CORPS”. Its inclusion into the DPR Republican Guard deprives the republic’s civilian leadership of the ability to lead its “private” war. Now everything depends on the “corps” command and nobody else. Which means the war has become far less unpredictable and more thought-through.
The leaders of the republics: When the uprising began, the republics obtained a new “elite”. Since the republics were formed in wartime, the elite was military. One had to have not only organization skills but also charisma to become a commander at that time. That charisma played a bad joke on the new leaders. When the new system was in place, they had to learn to work together. Few of them knew how; therefore, everyone who didn’t know disappeared from the republics’ political map. Only those capable of conducting a flexible hybrid war, even playing passive roles, remained. Nearly ALL who started the Russian Spring have been sidelined and are not influencing the republics’ politics.
Moscow is de-facto attempting to channel the new local elites’ energy toward internal creative work (especially ideological). It’s partly successful. I haven’t mentioned the one “exception” which, I think, everyone has noticed. It’s [Alexander] Khodakovskiy [Vostok Battalion]. He fits into the Kremlin’s new strategy of slow and quiet strangulation of the Kiev regime using the rope of its own errors (one can see Khodakovskiy’s SBU education here, where systemic thinking is taught). So I am not surprised by the rumors he is being pushed to become Zakharchenko’s replacement, even as he is resisting the prospect with all his power.
Kiev: The team which lost everything in 2014 is still in power. Due to procedural issues. The U.S. wants to have its own, controllable, but legitimate (as far as the “world” is concerned) government. They are not concerned whether it’s legitimate in Ukraine itself. That’s why Poroshenko cannot be replaced.
This is why the U.S. has chosen the most flawed but, I think, unavoidable plan to marry the Junta and the pro-U.S. wing of the Party of Regions (which, logically, includes the entirety of the party’s oligarchs) as the least painful and conflict-prone option.
Any radical attempt to change Ukraine’s top authorities will turn the country into a mess of irreconcilable differences which might affect territorial control. The U.S. doesn’t need it so far therefore they are working with the people who are on the spot even though these people are a bunch of losers who screwed up EVERYTHING.
The biggest headache for all sides in the conflict is the social tension caused by a rapid decline in individual welfare. The West has cultivated the concept of the consumer for decades. Both at home and in the colonies. Largely successfully. Those who adopted the ideology became its faithful adherents. The ideal consumer is not worried about what’s happening around him, which makes him valuable to the U.S. But he has to be constantly fed (as the Strugatskiy Brothers, science fiction writers, perceptively noted). The consumer must consume in order to remain loyal, controllable, and predictable.
On this score, the Junta is doing very badly. The consumer noticed his “ration” has shrunk, he has “lost weight”, and his practically atrophied brains have come back to life. And he started to ask questions. That’s a very dangerous thing for the West, it’s what it fears the most. It is losing support and therefore it is coming up with all manner of devices to keep the starving consumer under control. Here are the reasons for the blockade of the republics, which has been pursued through a variety of strategies.
The first strategy was the destruction of social institutions on territories not under Kiev’s control–the withdrawal of civil servants and banks in late 2014. It struck a serious blow against those local inhabitants who wintered over in LPR/DPR. These people were on the brink of survival, which was useful to the Ukrainian media as something with which to scare their own people. But the first “blockade wave” was overcome after retirees were paid pensions and the civil servants salaries.
Incidentally, one of the greatest taboos on Ukrainian TV, then and now, are not the local inhabitants’ praise for the self-defense militia, but reporting the price of bread in the republics: 2 hryvnya 80 kopeks. Inhabitants of Ukraine: did you know about that?
Kiev developed a new plan in the Spring of 2015. Ukrainian goods which were cheaper than Russian ones would no longer be supplied to LPR and DPR markets. The idea originated with the former MVD (Interior Ministry) general, volunteer battalion crime fighter, and comic Gennadiy Moskal. It was also his idea to turn off water supply to the rebellious regions. A sort of a fascist “gauleiter in an embroidered shirt”.
Kiev thought the idea good and proper and ordered it spread to Donetsk. It led to a conflict between Donetsk military administration head Kikhtenko and Poroshenko. Kikhtenko, also a retired MVD general, opted not to become a fascist like his colleague but retired instead. Zhebrinskiy, who came to replace him, is an old nationalist who adhered to Moskal’s guidelines, which only created a new problem for Kiev, namely smuggling at the frontline.
Everyone is participating in smuggling: LPR, DPR, SBU, National Guard, UAF, MVD. Everyone has their own channels, structures, markets. Every participant gets a cut.
But that’s not Kiev’s, and especially Washington’s, main problem. LPR/DPR and Junta officers are growing closer together. It’s a good thing for the republics: the delivery of cheap goods is accompanied by opportunities to recruit junta officers and establish communications channels. I have a great deal of assurance that the purge of SBU “moles” in the DPR occurred thanks to leaks of information directly from SBU archives. That’s why gauleiter Zhebrinskiy launched the idea of creating food markets on the line of contact and he’s making a show of fighting corruption on the border. Though it’s too early to talk about results.
People have grown accustomed over the course of the year. Everyone is now used to the situation–the people of the Donbas, of the ATO zone, and the Junta’s rear areas. And everyone is adapting to it (which is characteristic of Ukrainian mentality).
People in Donetsk are almost ignoring the customary shelling. On the contrary, a calm day when nothing blows up is a major event which is discussed and around which theories are spun by local “experts.” There was one exception–when shells struck the capital’s new regions and the satellite city Makeyevka, which for the people of DPR also became an event.
On the one hand, it’s good (the internal mobilization precludes rebellions) but horrifying on the other. People who get used to war become asocial, cities used to war are dangerous to the country, a country used to war is dangerous to its neighbors. It’s axiomatic. That’s what the U.S. is trying to achieve. Everyone in the country ought to grow accustomed to conflict which the puppetmasters want to last for decades. Washington can use that conflict (if the Kiev regime is preserved) to influence EU and Russian actions. The victims will include the inhabitants of former Ukraine and neighboring countries which thoughtlessly threw themselves into the game.
That’s why I’m doing everything I can to bring down the Kiev regime and any of its mutations and call on my countrymen to do the same. The pro-U.S. regime in Ukraine spells RUIN for its ECONOMY, WAR for the POPULATION and, ultimately, the DESTRUCTION OF UKRAINE for the benefit of the U.S.
‘Yura Sumy’ is a blogger from the city of Sumy in northeastern Ukraine. He relocated to Russia after the outbreak of civil war in his country.
Situation around Donetsk becoming tenser — OSCE report, TASS, Thursday, July 23, 2015
VIENNA–The situation in the city of Donetsk and around it “was noticeably tenser than during the previous days,” the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine of the European security watchdog the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Thursday in its daily report.
On Wednesday, SMM monitors recorded 76 explosions of mortars and heavy artillery rounds in the area around the Donetsk central railway station, the document says. Also, they observed sporadic fire with the use of small arms, automatic grenade launchers and heavy machine guns.
posted by Ainhoa Aristizabal