What a difference a week makes. Only last Friday the white convoy rolled into Lugansk with humanitarian aid for the besieged inhabitants. It was the first overt sign of Russian support to the people of Novorossiya in quite a while. They were beginning to think Putin had forsaken them. This was never the case. The best statement on the support provided by Russia to the rebels is provided by Boris Rozhin in his blog "Colonel Cassad." In one posting he assures his readers that Russia has been providing all manner of support to the rebels, but it has done so covertly. Thats how it’s done in the real world and especially by the Russians, the masters of maskirovka. TTG
I've actually never made it a secret that the "military surplus store" exists and it does exist (which is why I never wrote that Russia fully dumped Donbass), providing various amounts of military and financial aid to the fighting detachments, depending on the will of those on whom these flows are locked in, and on those who are involved in their distribution. For some time now, the "military surplus store" has a seasonal sale and also hands out credits, which does not prevent the continuation of the official line of "Nope, nothing, and there was never anything." On the Internet you can prove whatever you want, the diplomats will continue to play ping-pong, which can last for weeks or months. There is certain work and there is its informational and diplomatical cover. Exactly the same way as it was in the Crimea. Because this game goes on and is accepted by all parties (it would seem that the masters of the junta already have a bunch of "evidence" of the work of the "military surplus store", but they are consistently treading water in the style of "But there is no way the militia could have exactly this." and receiving the already standard answers in the spirit of "Well, you never know where and what they are filming, you never really know what the militia have there, you have no evidence." Because this scheme is cyclic, it will continue for an arbitrarily long time, if it is necessary, then it will continue up until the capture of Kiev or even Lvov, Mr. Lavrov will walk up to the mike and tell you that Russia is no way involved in anything whatsoever. And officially it will be that way. And the fact that some blogger or a commentator wrote in their blog,... these are personal opinions of individuals. And try to tell me that this scheme is not working.
Actually the meaning of all these disputes is that in addition to the real war, the parties are also fighting between each other for the creation of the dominating informational picture so that the situation would be officially re-evaluated and in this case Russia would recognize at least some evidence of its participation in the war in the Donbass right now (and not sometime later, when the situation will already be played out).
Therefore, it does not matter which evidence, real or fake, the junta will present, in any case it will be denied, because those are the rules of the game. When this simple thing becomes clear to you, you will be much less excited by the next "revelations" from the junta side. In general, all of it can be simply ignored, because they are presented by the enemy, against whom there is a war to its destruction. From the point of view of the unfolding offensive operations south of Donetsk, it is actually an minor issue, because the catastrophe of the southern group of forces of the junta is coming up much faster than there will be any impact of the "evidence of the invasion of Russia".
And regarding the "workers of military surplus store", the presence of which the junta is trying to prove, then officially there's nobody there, of course. And officially there won't be anybody there. Well, and now I think that you figured out everything and will ask stupid questions no longer. (Colonel Cassad)
More and more glimpses of this support have been coming out. Last week in his news conference, which I consider to be a declaration of independence for the new nation of Novorossiya, Alexander Zakharchenko announced that 1,200 rebels returned from four months of training in Russia to fall in on a vast stock of captured equipment. He explained that his forces are getting a lot of logistical support from private sources and volunteer artillery experts from Samara were aiding the militia. Today he said that there are about 3,000 Russian volunteers fighting alongside the rebel forces. Russia, no doubt, provides intelligence support. I doubt anyone, including the combatants, have a better grasp of the true situation in Ukraine. I have always assumed Russia is providing a steady supply of artillery and rocket ammunition for the very effective rebel artillery units. I also would not be surprised to learn that some of the tanks and artillery the rebels picked up were left there by “Father Christmas.” At the request of Pavel Gubarev, the former leader of the Donbass People’s Militia, Russia helped establish a coordination center in Krasnodon. That sounds like the coordination centers we recently set up in Iraq.
Neocons and R2P harpies (or should I say pigeons) have been screaming bloody murder about the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory of the last few days. They cannot imagine that the rebels, who Kiev has repeatedly assured the world are on the verge of total defeat, are capable of first blunting the massive Ukie assault on Ilovaisk and then going on the offensive to the gates of Mariupol all in a matter of days. I find it quite believable given the fluid nature of combat over the last few months. A good account of the events that led to the rebels standing at the gates of Mariupol is told by Rozhin. It’s worth a read for its clarity. The military situation reminds me of the battle of Gazala waged south of Tobruk for several weeks in May and June 1942. Rommel feinted to the north then led his Afrika Korps south to swing around the British defenses. As is common in military operations, things did not go exactly as planned and the battle was an often confused and close run thing. What finally assured Rommel’s victory was his belief that his forces were better trained, better organized and better led at all levels. This stood him well in the confused and fluid battle. The army of Novorossiya displays the same qualities.
Today Obama said, “There is no doubt that this is not a homegrown, indigenous uprising in eastern Ukraine. The separatists are backed, trained, armed, financed by Russia.” Russia is actively supporting Novorossiya, but that does not mean it is not a homegrown, indigenous uprising. Does the support given to Washington by the French mean that our War of Independence not a homegrown, indigenous uprising? Kiev has repeatedly vowed to wipe out the Moskals. What choice did the Moskals have but to take up arms and resist.
The cacophony of alarming declarations is almost overwhelming. Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said in a Twitter post: "The new columns of Russian tanks and armor crossing into Ukraine indicates a Russian-directed counter-offensive may be underway." In the face of all this noise, it was heartening to hear Obama say, "We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we're doing is to mobilize the international community to apply pressure on Russia.” Obama will visit Estonia before attending a NATO summit in Wales next Thursday and Friday. He intends to "reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the defense of our NATO allies." Let’s hope he can resist the whispers of all the Grima Wormtongues that surround him between now and the NATO summit.
Putin has recently stepped up his public support for Novorossiya. He told Poroshenko that he will not dictate terms to the rebels and that Poroshenko would have to talk to the Donbass representatives directly. I don’t think there will be a deal behind Novorossiya’s back. In a presidential address today, Putin asked the militia forces to open a humanitarian corridor to allow the encircled Ukrainian forces to cross the Russian border. That would save the rebels the time and effort of having to reduce these pockets themselves and free up those militia forces for offensive operations elsewhere. The rebels have expressed their support for this initiative. Putin also said he would be sending more white convoys and would coordinate these convoys directly with the rebels rather than with Kiev. He also congratulated the Novorossiya militia on their accomplishments. On a firm, but conciliatory note, he added, “I once again call on the Ukrainian authorities to immediately stop military actions, cease fire, sit down at the negotiating table with Donbass representatives and resolve all the accumulated problems exclusively via peaceful means.”
If this was a chess game, Putin is in a position to checkmate the West in half a dozen moves. Let us hope the West can see this and quietly concede rather than act as a flock of pigeons. A ceasefire and negotiations is far preferable to toying with the possibility of nuclear war. - TTG
The painting above is “Defend Sevastopol” by Vasily Igorevich Nesterenko done in 2005. I think it evokes many elements and much of the spirit of both Russia and Novorossiya or as David Habakkuk might say, the Putinistas and the Strelkovites.