Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Ukraine civil war update - 05/27/2014

Please be aware that not all the opinions expressed below are consistent with my own perceptions.

Alarm in Donetsk as people brace for Ukrainian forces attack

27 May, 2014

A woman looks at her building destroyed as a result of Monday's combat of Ukrainian troops with anti-government forces near the International airport in Donetsk on May 27, 2014. (AFP Photo / Alexander Khudoteply)
A woman looks at her building destroyed as a result of Monday's combat of Ukrainian troops with anti-government forces near the International airport in Donetsk on May 27, 2014. (AFP Photo / Alexander Khudoteply)
People donate blood for those injured in clashes between the Kiev forces and the self-defense in Donetsk on May 27, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Natalia Seliverstova)
People donate blood for those injured in clashes between the Kiev forces and the self-defense in Donetsk on May 27, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Natalia Seliverstova)

The self-defense fighters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic withdrew from the areas of Monday’s battles to the city’s center, barricading themselves inside administrative buildings, including regional administration and Ukrainian Security Service offices.

However, the people apparently do not feel safe anywhere in Donetsk, after Monday’s shooting at the city’s railway station, away from the airport area battleground. At least one woman was killed in the incident and two more civilians injured, including an 8-year-old boy.

The PM of Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Boroday, meanwhile claimed that as many as 50 civilians and over 50 members of the self-defense were killed in clashes with the Ukrainian troops on Monday.

While the civilian toll has so far been unconfirmed, there are numerous reports confirming a bloodbathnear the Donetsk airport, in which a truck carrying dozens of injured self-defense fighters was shot at from the air and then destroyed “at point-blank range from a shoulder-launcher.” The survivors were allegedly finished off by snipers, according to the self-defense.
In the Donetsk Region city of Slavyansk, at least three civilians were also killed in Ukrainian army shelling of several apartment blocks.
A Twitter campaign against the Ukrainian military operation in Donetsk has been launched under the hashtag #SaveDonbassPeople. Hundreds of Twitter posts with tagged selfies together with a combination of photos showing civilians killed in eastern Ukraine have appeared since early Tuesday.

- Фото

Donbas miners rising

Following the start of the latest wave of Kiev’s offense, workers at several mines in Donetsk have gone on strike. The action has been launched indefinitely in protest of the military operation carried out by government troops against anti-Kiev forces.
Miners from the Skochinskogo, Abakumova, Chelyuskintsev, Trudovskaya mines have not been working today,” strikers, negotiating with the leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), told RIA Novosti. “People have been standing by the entrances, not wanting to go underground, they are having rallies demanding the suspension of military actions.”
Members of Donetsk self-defense erect a barricade on the road leading to the Donetsk airport, May 27, 2014. (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
Members of Donetsk self-defense erect a barricade on the road leading to the Donetsk airport, May 27, 2014. (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
The industrial region of Donbas is strongly associated with mining and metallurgy, and the miners are believed to be a powerful driving force there. There have only been a few incidents of strikes at the mines since the start of the Ukrainian crisis, with workers being under pressure of losing their jobs and wages if they walk out.
On Sunday, hundreds of people in Donetsk besieged the residence of oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, who owns much of eastern Ukraine’s industrial companies, demanding that he take the side of the protesters and start paying taxes to DNR, instead of Kiev. Akhmetov, who initially issued statements against the military operation, has recently taken Kiev’s side, reportedly pressing his employees to start taking part in “anti-separatist” rallies.
RT’s sources in Donetsk working at Akhmetov-controlled companies said that employees were gathered en-masse at the city’s Donbass Arena stadium. They have been ordered to attend anti-DNR rallies under a threat of losing their jobs.

Ukraine SITREP May 27th, 14:54 UTC/Zulu: assault on Donetsk and a look from above

Tanks are on the move west of Slavyansk, destination unknown, at least a Rota (Company, ergo 16 tanks if at full strength, which is doubtful. Normally any serving tank Rota will be at 75% max at any given time as tanks are under repair, and normally 60%. Under combat conditions it is 50% or less.) with accompanying support units such as BTR's and BMP's plus infantry. Unit unknown.

Unconfirmed information states that one platoon of tanks (Platoon is 4 tanks) lost their way and managed to drive in to a swamp. Two were so deep in water and mud the diesels hydraulicked.

At roughly 18:20 local time a bombardment was made on a residential district in Slavyansk lasting for 20 minutes. One building of flats took 3 direct hits. Casualties are unknown

Vineyard of the Saker,
27 May, 2014

First, a "SITREP from the front lines" by "Juan" 
  • Donetsk Airport freight terminal is burned and partly destroyed. Kiev is believed to be in control of the airport at this time. Damage to the terminal building is unknown.
  • The attempt to seize Donetsk Airport was reinforced by Vostok Brigade. Casualties were heavy in the brigade but numbers unknown.
  • The Vostok Brigade wounded being transported to hospital in a truck were fired upon. The driver was killed, then an RPG round was fired at the truck. All the wounded in the truck were killed, either by the RPG or head shots after the assault. Confirmed by vid and photos of the dead, all that could be seen had head wounds. A second video not being published absolutely confirms that all the dead from the trucks carrying wounded had head wounds.
  • Numerous bombardments last evening and this morning of civilian areas of Slavyansk, Donetsk, Mariupol and Lugansk City and suburbs, civilian casualties are heavy with more than 70 reported dead and wounded.
  • Major movements of Kiev forces as of 05 local time this morning have not commenced. More information on this later.
  • As of 11:30 local time scattered probing attacks are reported around Slavyansk.
  • As of 10:05 local time the situation in Mariupol is unknown.
  • No major attacks by the Nats today, just numerous small probes.
  • Evacuation is being attempted in Slavyansk for civilians but it is not possible, the city is cut off and surrounded to an extent. Don't know if this is true or if it is a charade to mask the evacuation of at least the children. Reality is Slavyansk has to large a population to evacuate, 120,000.
  • Scattered artillery and mortar attacks continue in the vicinity of Slavyansk and the outskirts of Donetsk, almost all at random civilian residential areas. Some casualties but number is unknown.
  • No information on the situation in either Lugansk Oblast or Mariupol in Donetsk Oblast.
The Saker comments:

This is clearly a major escalation of the war.  For the first time for example Su-25 ground attack aircraft have been filmed using unguided rockets to attack the positions of what I will call from now on the Novorossia Armed Forces (NAF).  I have also seen some very bad footage of what appears to be a MiG-29.  The attack on the Donetsk airport involved a long column of transport and attack helicopters.  NAF sources also claim that their checkpoints have been attacked by Ukie helicopters.  All in all, this the first (comparatively) large scale military operation of this war, at least to my knowledge.  Though there are some contradictions in the figures presented by various sources, there seems to be a general agreement that "many tens" of people were killed, possibly up to one hundred, including about 50% civilians.

I have just heard the interview of two representatives of the Novorossia resistance who claim that the number of men wanting to sign up for combat has risen sharply.  Alas, there was not footage provided to support this claim and since I don't know how trustworthy the information given by these officials is I can only mention here "as is" with the usual caveats.

(Pseudo) "Election" of Poroshenko as seen in Moscow
There seems to be a consensus in Moscow that Poroshenko is a political chameleon who can change his opinion as fast as this animal can change his color: first he was a member of Kuchma's United Social Democratic Party, then he helped create the Party of Regions, then he joined Yushchenko's Our Ukraine Party.  He also was a member of the Azarov government under President Yanukovich whom he then betrayed by financing the Maidan movement and joining the Udar Party.  So Poroshenko is the ultimate political prostitute and in Moscow this is definitely a cause for optimism because a prostitute is pragmatic and can be bought.  Does that shock you?  Consider the alternatives and you will rapidly come to the same conclusion as Moscow.

The bad news is that for the time being Poroshenko is clearly on the USA's payroll and that both his rhetoric and his declared policies are pretty much indistinguishable from the one of Iatseniuk, Turchinov, Avakov & Co.  As a result the Kremlin's reaction to Poroshenko's announcement that he wanted to travel to Moscow to meet Putin has been to declared that at this point in time no such visit was being considered.

Russia's policy towards the Ukraine

The approach chosen by the Kremlin to deal with the Ukrainian mess is now becoming pretty clear.
  1. Declare that while Moscow has huge reservations about the so-called "elections" it will be willing to negotiate and work with whoever is in power in Kiev.
  2. Declare that secession of combat operations in the Donbass as a pre-condition for any such negotiations.
  3. Agree to try to find a deal on gas sales provided the Ukies pay their outstanding bill.
  4. Basically take note but otherwise ignore any statements made by Poroshenko and judge him by his actions and not his words.

Translated from "Diplomatese" into plain English this means putting the financial and political squeeze on Poroshenko until he decides that his current attempts at rapidly solving the problems of the Donbass by force will fail.

This is a tough and unpalatable policy because it implies that Russia will stand by and watch the neo-Nazi forces killing combatants and civilians across the Donbass.  In this context it is very important to keep in mind another no less disturbing fact: the current level of resistance in the Donbass is still far below what it could be and nowhere near the kind of levels of resistance which took place in South Ossetia, Abkhazia or Crimea.  Just take a look at the map of the Donbass and circle the cities where combats are taking place.  You will see Slaviansk, Kramatorsk, Kransyi Liman, Antartsit and maybe one or two more.  So 
what about all the rest?

What about Donetsk.  We have all seen the combat footage coming out of Donetsk so let me ask you - how many combatants did you see on that footage?  Ten, maybe thirty soldiers?  More?  Fifty?  One hundred?  Did you know that Donetsk has a population just under one million people and that the Donetsk Metropolitan area has two million?  Any military analyst will tell you that you can easily put 10% of any given population under arms, and 20% with some effort.  In other words, the city of Donetsk should be able to generate anywhere between 100'000 and 200'000 men and the Donetsk Metropolitan area anywhere between 200'000 and 400'000 men.  While no reliable figures are available at this point, I personally doubt that the entire NAF has much more than maybe 10'000 to 15'000 men in arms (maybe "Juan" can correct me here).  In other words, what is clear is that 
the current level of resistance in the Donbass is at best about 10% of what it could be.

That is most emphatically not something the Kremlin can ignore.

Of course, some wannabe strategists would want Moscow do to what the USA did with Iraq and simply *assume* that Russian forces will be greeted as liberators by a majority of the population of the Donbass and in this case I happen to think that it might even be true, but that is not a good enough reason to move forces in.  Sadly, but what is taking place now is what I would call a massive "awareness campaign" for the people of Novorossiia: the obscene alliance of Jewish oligarchs and Galician neo-Nazis is showing its true face and with every shell dropped on the Donbass the prospect of a unitary Ukraine are becoming more and more remote.

One anonymous commentator recently 
posted this most insightful comment on this blog.  He/she wrote: Call me cynic, but invasion is when Russia enters in Ukraine after 3 days of shooting. Liberation is when Russia enters in Ukraine after 3 months of bloody mess.  This is absolutely true.

Painful as this may be to admit, 
the current problem is not that Russia is not ready to intervene in the Donbass, but that the Donbass is not ready to make such an intervention justifiable.Other factors which affect the Russian stance: changes in the EU

There is no doubt at all that the results of the recent European elections have been received with elation in the Kremlin.  I have carefully listened to the reaction to these election results by many commentators in Russia and it is absolutely clear that they have a very different view of what happened than their western counterparts.  Where western analysts speaks of a triumph of xenophobic and Right-Wing parties, Russian analysts speak of a victory for anti-EU, anti-NATO and, ultimately, anti-US forces.  Furthermore, what is labeled as "Right Wing" in the West is perceived as "conservative" or even "traditionalist" in Russia.  One commentator said that the victory of the "Conchita Wurst" freak at the Eurovision Song Contest was the straw that broke the camel's back and that it had a direct impact on the European rejection of a morally degenerate and politically subservient Europe.  I am not sure that the Wurst freak by itself has such a role, but the constant barrage of sicko gender propaganda, combined with a frontal assault on European traditional values probably did.

I wish I had the time to write a detailed analysis of these elections here.  I will say that I follow French politics 
very closely and that I fully agree with the Russian point of view.  The National Front is not just a "right wing" movement (although in some aspects it is).  It is first and foremost an anti-system movement and party which is deeply affected by the kind of values Alain Soral promotes: the "Left of Labor and the Right of Values".  True, the top leadership of the National Front is still stuck in old "Right of Labor" ideas, but most members are clearly "popular" in their politics, some even very close to Socialist ideas.  In fact, I would argue that the entire Right-Left paradigm simply does not apply to Europe any more.  Look at all the so-called "Left" parties in France, Germany or the UK.  They are all really nasty, hardcore, capitalist and reactionary parties.  I prefer to use pro-system and anti-system categories.  By 'system' I mean the following characteristics:

1) free-market, capitalist, globalist, pro-corporate economic policies
2) promotion of supra-national entities like the EU and NATO
3) total political subservience to the AngloZionist empire
4) support for and constant use of the "Ziomedia" to achieve its goals
5) systematic destruction of traditional European values
6) support for a police state internally
7) support for use of military force externally

These are the policies which the establishment or  "system" parties in Europe have promoted for decades and these are the policies which have been rejected in the latest European elections.  Now look at Russia's stance on the very same issues:

1)  Officially, Russia is a social/socialist state (Putin's words in his address to the Federal Assembly).  In reality there are still many signs of very strong capitalism in Russia, but they are being regulated and contained.  Most of the population is probably far more socialist than the current regime, but compared to the EU/US Russia is definitely a social state.
2) Russia is clearly opposed to the EU and NATO.
3) Russia, at least under Putin, has tried really hard to free itself from the AngloZionist Empire.
4) The Russian media has largely been "de-Zionistized".  There are some exceptions like the notorious Ekho Mosvky (Echo of Moscow, also called "Ekho Matsy" or "Echo of the Matzo") and the Dozhd (Rain) TV channel, but they have very little or no traction with the general public.
5) Russia clearly support traditional values, especially Christian and Islamic ones.
6) Russia's policies on civil rights are a mixed bag.  Unfortunately, the Kremlin does support Internet censorship, so-called "anti-Piracy" laws, surveillance of Internet Service Providers, etc.  The Russian Duma has also passed some terrible laws banning the free discussion of WWII.  The good news is that these laws seem to be applied with clear lack of determination and that they are probably more a reaction  to the rise of neo-Nazis in the Ukraine than a true attempt at internal political censorship.

7) Russia clearly opposes the use of force in international affairs unless the UNSC gives it's approval, Russians are attacked or when a vital national strategic interest is threatened.

In other words, the folks in the Kremlin and the French National Front would largely agree with each other and the fact is that historically these two forces get along very well.

Russia is clearly counting on the fact that before the end of the year it might see a much more friendly Europe than it has so far.
Other factors which affect the Russian stance: crypto-alliance with China

Though I wish I could I cannot go into an analysis of the recent Russian-Chinese agreements (others have done so very well - see 
hereherehere or here).  I will just say this:

While, for a number of reasons, the word "alliance" has never been used by Russia or Chinese officials - they prefer to speak of "partnership" - the fact is that what Russia and China have committed to is exactly that: a strategic alliance.

Two huge countries do not commit to a 30 year long full spectrum joint development program without committing to an de-facto alliance.  No country decides to commit to a 400 billion dollar deal without committing to a de-facto alliance.  This alliance will make it possible for Russia to create a single energy distribution network, meaning that gas could be sent from any place in Russia to any client state.  As for China they have basically decided that their energy needs for the next 30 years or more will entirely depend on Russia.  So whether the word "alliance" is used or not, we are dealing with a clear strategic and vital pact, the decision to operate in symbiosis if you want.  From now on, China will depend on Russia and Russia will depend on China.  Put differently, the survival of the other partner will become an existential priority for both countries.  I call that a crypto-alliance.

Furthermore, while both sides went to extraordinary lengths to declare that this alliance or, excuse me, "partnership" was not targeted against any third party, and most definitely not against the USA, it of course is.  Russia and China are now committed to create a dollar-free economic zone, not only for energy but for all goods and services.  And whom do you think the Russian and Chinese military strategists see as their biggest potential enemy?  Bulgaria?  Nepal?  Of course not, it is pretty darn obvious that they both see the US as the number one enemy or, as the Russians used to say, their "main adversary".

So this is a tectonic shift.  Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have basically committed their countries to a strategic alliance which will define the future of our planet more than any other factor.  Already now the combined power of Russia and China far supersedes the power of the AngloZionist Empire, thrown in the 
BRICS, the SCO, the CSTO and the EEC and will will clearly see the beginning of a consolidation of the Eurasian landmass against the AngloZionist Empire.  Here, again, the Russians feel that time is on their sides and that with each passing day they are becoming stronger while the Western plutocracy is becoming weaker.

A look from above

So let us look at the big picture.  If we "take-off" from Slaviansk or Donetsk and look at what is taking place on a global, planetary, scale we shall immediately see that the Ukraine is only the latest visible flashpoint of a much bigger struggle: the decolonization of the entire Eurasian landmass.  While the US and its EU puppets have their gaze fixed on such "developments" as the (pseudo-) "election" of a non-entity like Poroshenko to the (largely symbolical) position of President of (the completely broke) "Banderastan", the Chinese and the Russians are busy looking decades down the road with the shared objective to bring down the AngloZionist Empire.  In this context, the Ukraine will not be neglected, of course, but each policy decision towards the developments there will be carefully evaluated in the context of this global, over-reaching, strategy.

The Saker.

Clarificatons about certain issues mentioned in today's SITREP

27 May, 2014

Clarificatons about certain issues mentioned in today's SITREP

As is often the case, my previous SITREP has touched superficially on a number of issues which have raised some eyebrows and, since I have the time, I feel that it might be a good thing to clarify my position on some of them.

A "limited" Russian military option

First, this is clearly a possibility whose main quality is that is falls short of a full-scale ground operation. However, those who advocate for this option often do not really understand what it entails. Let me give you an example by using a grand favorite of Americans: a no-fly zone.

The standard US/NATO practice if to precede the imposition of a no-fly zone by a almost total suppression of enemy air defenses. US/NATO generals always do that because they want to make it look like this is a clean, victim-less operation since, after all, nobody gives a damn about who many "bad guys" die as long as "our boys" come home. The problem with that is that a total suppression of enemy air defenses rarely works. This is particularly true of the Ukraine which holds large stocks of Soviet air defense systems which remain very capable even when old are. I remind you that the super-dooper mega-secret "invisible" and "we own the night" US F-117 stealth fighter bomber was shot down by an export version of the 1960s Soviet 125 Neva/Pechora (SA-3 GOA in the NATO classification) air defense system. The US also lost another two F-117 to the Iraqi Air Defenses (I know that for a fact, but that is officially denied). The Ukraine inherited some very powerful systems like the S-300, S-300V, several versions of the Buk, the Tunguska and the Igla MANPADs. They are not as new as the Russian systems, but they are still way more capable then anything Yugoslavia had. Furthermore, we also know from the war in Georgia that Ukie air defense systems have been modernized by the Ukrainians themselves and, in some cases, with Israeli help. So while the Ukrainian military is more or less a joke, the Ukrainian air defense capabilities are not to be dismissed too easily. In other words, it is one thing to impose an no-fly zone over Libya and a very different thing to try that with the Donbass.

Also, this scenario simply assumes that the Ukies will take a Russian attack sitting like ducks and without taking action. This is naive. There are a lot of very capable senior officers in the Ukrainian military and they know that just sitting and waiting is no option. Does anybody know what they might or might not do if the Russians attack? I sure don't.

Limited and "no fly zone" types of operations have this way of getting out of control which makes them all very risky.

Finally, while there are people dying every day in the Donbass, there will be many more people dying if Russia intervenes.

Wars are messy and ugly and they typically refuse to proceed according to the plans of those who start them. This is why Russia is doing the right thing by avoiding such a war for as long as it is possible.

Objections to my mentioning the "sads"

This time again I got not only comments but even emails objecting to my reference to the "sads". My recent post of the Conchita Wurst photo with a bearded man from the Donbass has also irked some readers. Mostly what I am told is this:"stop your anti-sads rethoric or your readers will be upset" (of course, were I use "sad" they use "gay"). My reply is simple:

I never wrote a single word on this blog with the intent to become popular or not to ruffle any feathers. If fact, I don't give a damn about catering to the modern sociological and cultural trends of the day. I simply write the truth as I see it and in this case it is very simple: what modern society calls "sexual diversity" I consider as psycho-sexual pathologies, personality disorders. Second, I object to the instrumentalization of sexual pathologies for political purposes: sex belongs in the bedroom and it should stay there. And third, I consider that the so-called "West" suffers, among other ailments, of an acute case of psychological, moral and spiritual "AIDS": an acquired deficiency in its ability to distinguish between what is wholesome, healthy, natural and contributing to the growth of the individual and what has the opposite effect. In Russia there is a comprehensive rejection of this "western societal model" which I fully approve of and I have no intention of catering to the micro-agenda of those single-topic folks who would have me join the passive herd of bystanders who dare not call things by their name. This is why I refuse to use the term "gay" which I consider a ridiculous misnomer. Solzhenitsyn used to speak of a "decline in courage" and I personally see everywhere and in everything. If I was also afraid of offending somebody for simply speaking the truth, I would not be able to look at myself in the mirror. People should come here to get my honest opinion, not to get my support for whatever lifestyles they fancy. The more pressure I will get to shut up or accept the modern dogmas of political correctness, the more I will push back and denounce that kind of pressure for what it is: an attempt to silence the opposition.

The Eurosceptics: Right-wing racists or anti-system progressives?

Let me begin by saying that the only country in Europe whose politics I follow really carefully is France. I do not know what the Eurosceptics are like in other countries. With this caveat in mind, is the French National Front anti-Muslim and racist? The answer is, I believe, yes and no.

Yes, there is most definitively an anti-immigrant core in the FN. This group is represented by Marine LePen who, logically, is also rather Right-wing in her politics. But you have to look beyond that and understand the following:

First, immigration in Europe is, objectively, a real and very serious problem. Denying that makes no sense at all. Second, this problem has been created the capitalist classes who saw in it a way to not only get cheap labor, but also to break the resistance of the European workers and to deconstruct the social state. In other words, from the point of view of the worker in France or German the immigrants and his capitalist bosses are very much part of the same threat to his lifestyle. Add to this toxic brew the Euro-bureaucrats who took it all one big step further and opened the EU to the huge and poor people of Central Europe. For the German or French worker what used to be a problem of Arabs and Africans has now turned into a problem of Poles and Romanians, especially Gypsies. In fact, a lot of the French Arabs from northern Africa now vote with the FN against immigration because they now see their very hard earned benefits melt away under the influx of Romanian and Moldovan immigrants. Likewise, it used to be that Islam was seen as a threat, now it is Muslims who are on the front lines of the fight against thefts and muggings which take place in London or Paris.

So, yes, the first-step of the rejection of the system often goes through an anti-immigrant phase. And some remain stuck there. But the next step is a realization that immigrants and local workers are both equally the victims of the capitalists. This is what Alain Soral's movement Equality and Reconciliation stands for. This movement is probably 40% Arab or African by now and yet while E&R does not make the political endorsement of any one party, Alain Soral (himself both ex-Communist and ex-National Front) clearly states that the FN is the only non-system party in France. And since E&R is clearly pro-Muslim I think that it is likely that most anti-Muslim voters of the FN could easily turn their position to a pro-Islamic one if they are explained what really happened to Europe and how both local workers and immigrant Muslims have been used and artificially pitied against each other by the plutocrats.

Does the French model hold true for the rest of Europe? I don't know. But I have no doubt that very voter for the FN is at least a potential member of E&R at which point he/she will automatically drop his/her anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic stance. Does that mean that there are no racists or bigots inside the FN? No, of course not. But even if their rejection of the "system" is initially polluted by racist or secularist bigotry, these elements rapidly disappear as soon as they are explained how misguided these views are and that immigrants and Islam are not a risk for Europe, but a fantastic and possibly life-saving opportunity against the real threat: the plutocracy, globalism, turbo-capitalism and imperialism.

To those who still would not accept that I have a simple peace of advice: study Soral and see what E&R does day in and day out. They are the "proof" of my thesis: the real enemy of the patriots in Europe is not the immigrant, it is the globalist. In his book 1984 Orwell has Winston saying "if there is hope it lies with the proles". So to paraphrase him I will say this: "if there is hope for Europe it lies with the extremes" (whether Left or Right).

Kind regards,

The Saker

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