Monday, 8 August 2016

News from Donbass -08/08/2016

Attack? then don't complain if you end up retreating to Kiev -- Zakharchenko

5 August, 2016

Translated by Tom Winter August 6, 2016

The head of the DNI said that Ukraine's army has been preparing to attack, and assured that there will not be a "Minsk III."

If the Ukrainian authorities decide to forget about the Minsk agreements and attack the Donbass, then they should not complain, if they end up retreating to Kiev. This was stated by the head of the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko.

"The reports from our intelligence are that on the other side of the front line everything is ready for an assault. From the political point of view - the undermining of the Minsk process will be from the side of Kiev. Furthermore, a Kiev offensive wil close the Minsk process," Zakharchenko writes on his website.

He believes that, in the current difficult situation in Ukraine, another turn at war may be the only way for Poroshenko to stay in power.

"That is, the whole thing goes to the fact that Poroshenko, like a cornered rat, will rush into the Donbass. Maybe he himself, or perhaps by proxy. For example, give the command to the destroyer battalions to provoke renewed conflict, and then he will blame them for it. But the result will be the same - war," said Zakharchenko.

"We do not want war, because we - as opposed to those who live in the former Ukraine - know that it is not like on TV. But if Kiev will attack us, once again, I can tell you one thing - no complaining afterwards, if you retreat to Kiev: there will not be a "Minsk III," said Alexander Zakharchenko

Assassination attempt on east Ukrainian leader raises tensions and provokes questions
Attempted assassination of Igor Plotnitsky, leader of the breakaway Lugansk People's Republic, provokes fears of infighting and of a possible Ukrainian summer offensive.

Alexander Mercouris

5 August, 2016

News of the assassination attempt on Igor Plotnitsky, the head of the breakaway Lugansk People’s Republic, will come as no surprise to close observers of the Ukrainian conflict.

Whilst there is a strong possibility that the assassination attempt was the work of the Ukrainian secret service the SBU, it is by no means impossible that it is the result of factional infighting within the Lugansk People’s Republic. 

Whereas the political situation in the neighbouring Donetsk People’s Republic has stabilised with its leader Alexander Zakharchenko apparently both effective and popular, the same has not been true of the Lugansk People’s Republic where Igor Plotnitsky is a controversial figure and where there has been a string of unsolved murders going back to the early part of last year. 

The most notorious of these murders was the one in May last year when the popular militia leader Alexey Mozgovoy was killed in a roadside ambush.  Mozgovoy was a known critic of Plotnitsky’s and was opposed to the Minsk II peace process, which Plotnitsky, Zakharchenko and Russia have all backed.  Inevitably Plotnitsky was accused by some of Mozgovoy’s murder, though evidence for that is slight.  Others blame the Ukrainian SBU.  The Ukrainians for their part predictably blame Mozgovoy’s murder on Russia’s military intelligence agency the GRU.

The continued instability in the Lugansk People’s Republic must be causing the Russian authorities serious concern. Whatever their long term aims for Ukraine the Russians need the two People’s Republics to be politically stable if the Minsk II process to which they are committed is to have any chance of success.  Almost certainly in the aftermath of the assassination attempt there will be concerned discussions underway in Moscow about what can be done to stabilise the situation in the Lugansk People’s Republic.   It is not impossible that the Russian authorities will take a hand in the investigation of the assassination attempt.

As for Plotnitsky, he was apparently seriously wounded though his aides say his life is not in danger.  Given his failure to stabilise the situation in the Lugansk People’s Republic the Russians must be wondering however whether he is the right man to be its leader.  There will be others in the Lugansk People’s Republic who will be asking the same question.

Compounding these worries will be fears in Lugansk and Moscow about a possible Ukrainian offensive this summer. So far, though fighting and shelling along the contact line has been going on continuously for weeks, no actual offensive has taken place.  That may be a sign that Russian warnings are being heeded.  However it is unfortunately fully possible that the attempted assassination of Plotnitsky is part of a Ukrainian attempt to destabilise the Lugansk People’s Republic before such an offensive is launchd.

A particular reason to worry that that might indeed be the Ukrainian plan is the start of the Olympic Games in Rio.  If there is a Ukrainian plan to launch an offensive as world attention is focused on the Olympic Games in Rio, then it would not be the first time that Russia’s regional enemies have used the Olympic Games to give themselves cover for an action they are taking. In 2008 Georgia timed its ill-starred invasion of South Ossetia to take place during the Beijing Olympics, whilst the Maidan coup in February 2014 happened during the winter Olympics in Sochi.

If that is the Ukrainian calculation then it is certainly wrong.  It is very doubtful that the death or wounding of such a controversial figure as Plotnitsky would seriously impact on the East Ukrainian militia’s effectiveness.  As for Russia, Putin has made it clear that Russia will not allow the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics to be overrun by the Ukrainian army, and any idea Russia would be put off from acting decisively because the Olympics Games in Rio are underway is fanciful.

Fort Russ Exclusive: Plotnitsky failed hit means All-Out War

Fort Russ News -
- By: Eduard Popov for Fort Russ - Translated by J. Arnoldski

6 August, 2016

Today we witnessed an assassination attempt on the head of the Lugansk People’s Republic, Igor Plotnitsky. Plotnitsky was wounded but his life is not in danger. He has even managed to issue a statement in which he accuses the Ukrainian government and the US special forces standing behind it for the attempt on his life. The Speaker of the National Council of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, went even further in his commentary. In his opinion, the attempt on the leader of the LPR means that Kiev has “opted for escalation.”

The latter statement can only be agreed with. In addition to the intelligence of the people’s republics, the Ukrainian side itself has confirmed this version. Ukrainian media have repeatedly reported the formation of specialized units prepared to assassinate the leaders of the people’s republics of Donbass. The existence of these units has been confirmed by some of the leaders of Ukrainian security structures. Back on April 19th, 2016, the then head of the SBU, Vasiliy Gritsak, offered journalists his prediction as to the fate of the Donbass republics’ leaders, stating that Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky would “finally be taken out.” Lugansk region governor Georgy Tuka demanded that official Kiev carry out a special operation in Donbass whose aim would be the physical elimination of the people’s republics heads. These “predictions” and calls did not remain empty slogans.

On April 30th, the Ministry of State Security of the DPR relayed the following message: Ukrainian President Poroshenko has ordered the liquidation of the heads of the DPR and LPR. Moreover, the report mentioned the use of an explosive device. On April 27th, an unsuccessful attempt was made on the life of DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko.

LPR head Igor Plotnitsky has not enjoyed as much popularity as DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko. Unlike the latter, who personally participated in several major combat operations, Plotnitsky is above all a civilian administrator. Nevertheless, eliminating this figure would certainly jerk the chain of command in Lugansk. As a minimum, it would take some time to reconnect the disrupted chain of management.

This matches and confirms Pushilin’s words that Ukraine is preparing an offensive against Donbass. The logic of the Ukrainian side’s actions leaves one to assume that other terrorist attacks will soon follow on both the territory of the people’s republics and nearby Kiev-controlled areas of Donbass. Other assassination attempts on the DPR and LPR’s iconic military and political leaders should be expected. One would like to believe that these attempts will be unsuccessful. But most important is that their effectiveness will be a priori low, since the Donbass republics already wield mechanisms for state authority and military control.

Today, unlike in 2014 or 2015, the DPR and LPR are real states, albeit incomplete ones. A fully-fledged army has been formed in the place of the militia and in this army, unlike in mere combat formations, the role of individual, charismatic leaders is much lower. The same applies to the state formations now dealing with mechanisms of governance. Therefore, even in the case of successful attempts, Ukraine will not achieve any real, formidable successes. 

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