Saturday, August 30, 2014

An update on the fighting in eastern Ukraine

Yesterday, I discovered perhaps the most interesting Youtube I have ever seen.  It is a press conference held by one of the main actors who is organizing the resistance to the putsch government of Kiev.  Alexander V Zakharchenko, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of The Donetsk National Republic, is a lawyer with a military background.  He is also historically literate, thoughtful to the point of being profound, and has an interesting grasp on the real economy of the Donbass region.  With limited resources and at most deniable support from Russia, his very determined followers have managed to fight and soundly defeat the Kiev army (plus some mercenaries).

While there are serious advantages to those fighting for their homes over folks who would really rather be home, there is a whole lot more to this than just motivation.  The Donbass region was the site of arguably the fiercest fighting of WW II.  Zakharchenko and his militias are direct descendants of the warriors who defeated the Wehrmacht—the survivors of history's bloodiest battles.  These volunteers are making mincemeat out of a regular army led by men who once graduated from USSR's top military academies.

That battles have become so one-sided that Vladimir Putin called on the Donbass militias to open a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian servicemen who now found themselves encircled. The call is contained in the Head of State's address circulated by the Kremlin press service on Friday.

The presidential address read as follows:
"I am calling on militia forces to open a humanitarian corridor for encircled Ukrainian servicemen in order to avoid senseless casualties, enable them to get out of the area of combat operations unimpededly and reunite with their families; bring them back to their mothers, wives, and children, and urgently to give medical aid to those wounded in the military operation".
I have been listening to military briefings off and on my whole life and NEVER have I heard anything like this.  About halfway through this one it dawned on me that it is characters like this, who win battles they should never win, who can change history.  Was it possible that this was becoming more than an ignominious end to Victoria Nuland's crackpot plans for the Ukraine?  Could this be the beginning of the end of the American Empire itself?  Here, a some self-motivated man who simply wants to defend his home in a place almost no one has heard of completely outshines the typical military briefing where lavishly funded and exquisitely coached USA officers usually embarrass themselves.  The difference is stark.

Besides, Zakharchenko has moments when he is really funny.  The press conference begins with a report of the battle readiness of the Donetsk volunteers as they prepare to drive the Ukrainian army out of Elenkova.  About halfway through the presser he is asked:
Are there regular Russian units fighting on your side?

If you think the Russia is sending its regular units here, then let me tell you something.  If Russia was sending its regular troops, we wouldn't be talking about the battle of Elenovka.  We'd be talking about a battle of Kiev or a possible capture of Lvov.

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