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19 August 2014

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William R. Cumming

TTG! Any predictions on "General Winter" showing up and perhaps a rainy and muddy fall?

Will OBAMA do ANYTHING substantive on the Ukraine before the elections?

The Twisted Genius

WRC,

I have no doubt that Russia will ensure the rebels have all the winter gear they need. I'm more worried about the civilian population. The junta army will be pretty well screwed when the bad weather hits. The government is already doing a poor job of supplying their troops.

The only thing Obama can do is rein in the Nuland faction and tell Kiev they are on their own. I doubt he has the stones to do so. There is nothing he can do militarily short of risking nuclear war.

turcopolier

TTG

I watched the videos of the rebel unit. What are we to make of the beards on some of the men? Chechen volunteers?

A Clausewitzian culminating point implies a possibility of a sudden reversal of the situation against the UA. pl

The Twisted Genius

pl,

There are Chechen volunteers among the rebels, but I think these may be local boys growing those style of beards out of youthful fascination with jihadi rebels. One shouts "allahu akbar" and is immediately corrected to say "God have mercy" and "God save and protect."

I do think there is a distinct possibility of a sudden reversal of the situation against the UA. Those troops are exhausted and demoralized.

David Habakkuk

TTG,

Thanks for this.

The Tony Seed material was new to me. Can one rule out the possibility that it is disinformation? I ask the question not because I am predisposed to assume that it is, but simply because I have a certain amount of experience of 'information wars' in the former Soviet space, and know how elaborate the deception operations practised by all sides in these can be.

In relation to MH17, the UN Security Council meeting on Monday, called at Russia's initiative, is interesting.

According to a briefing by their Ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, what was important for the Russian side was 'to focus once again on the need to make the investigation international.'

The Itar-Tass report continued with a fascinating paragraph:

'At the UN Security Council meeting, Russia also asked why ''nothing is known about the record of talks between Ukrainian flight controllers'' before the crash of the Malaysian Boeing airplane, Churkin said. In this regard, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman who will go to Kiev on Wednesday was instructed to learn how Kiev was cooperating with international experts. ''The agreement is that he will also ask about this issue. How are Ukrainians making their contribution in this international investigation? First of all, they should produce the records of talks between their flight controllers, so that this would be possible to understand why they directed the Malaysian airplane in the conflict zone,'' Churkin said.'

Having come across Feltman in relation to neo-con intrigues in the Middle East, I was fascinated to find him surfacing in the famous Nuland-Pyatt conversation. If indeed he is playing a crucial role in relation to the investigation of MH17, that does make one suspect both that a cover-up is being attempted, and also that it may, just possibly, be quite fragile.

It also brings one back to the question of how far the strategies pursued by neocons in relation to Ukraine are related to their strategies in relation to the Middle East.

(The Itar-Tass report is at http://en.itar-tass.com/world/745615http://en.itar-tass.com/world/745615">http://en.itar-tass.com/world/745615">http://en.itar-tass.com/world/745615http://en.itar-tass.com/world/745615 )

In relation to political conflicts in Kiev: What significance should be attached to the ultimatum from Yarosh to Poroshenko, with its threat that 'Right Sektor' militias would march on Kiev, and its subsequent withdrawal in the face of what may or may not have been significant concessions by the Kiev authorities, is hard to assess.

However, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, is not John Kerry, and does not in my experience make allegations which give hostages to fortune, in the way that Kerry does.

So it is, I think, worth reflecting on his comments on the power battle in Kiev, as reported by RT. The claim that the Western powers are primarily responsible for the mayhem in Ukraine is veiled, but unmistakable:

''''The authorities in Kiev are not in control of the numerous paramilitary forces, including Right Sector, which, we estimate, comprises a large portion of the National Guard. The demarche of Right Sector towards the Ukrainian Interior Minister speaks for itself,'' Sergey Lavrov said, adding that existence of armed groups sponsored by Ukrainian oligarchs, such as the Azov and Dnepr battalions, poses a great security threat.

'''We work with our Western partners in Europe and the United States who can really influence those paramilitary units that don’t answer to the central government in Kiev. We know the West has such influence,'' he added.

Obviously, the claims by Lavrov would mesh with the Tony Seed material, which makes the question of whether one can regard that material as reliable even more important.

(For Lavrov's remarks, see http://rt.com/news/180972-ukraine-west-influence-army/ .)

toto

Thank you for another interesting glimpse at the "Russophile" perspective.

I'm at loss to understand how PCR decided that the British story about the Russian column crossing into Ukraine must have been "fabricated", even though they didn't say anything more than you yourself are saying. Russia is sending men and materiel to the rebels? Duh!

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang, TTG,

I am not a Russianist, and am an ignoramus about Islam, but a number of contacts my and my wife's families have had with Ukraine and Eastern Europe over many years give me a strong predisposition to think that people's allegiances can be unpredictable, to say the least.

Suppose, for instance, that your grandfather was Russian, but was a kulak, who went out into the street in Smolensk shortly after the onset of 'Operation Barbarossa', and was never seen again.

Suppose his daughter ended up living in a hole on the opposite side of the river from Stalingrad, making munitions. Suppose that subsequently a relative in the NKVD suggested that as Smolensk as flattened, and Lviv was essentially untouched by the war, she move there.

And suppose further that she then met an attractive Ukrainian railwayman – the railwaymen were an elite, in Soviet times – and married him. And suppose further, that a close relative of his – it could even have been a brother – had served in the SS Galicia Division, and then had the luck to move to England.

Precisely the complexities of the different 'pulls' operating on people with this kind of history have to make choices are liable to mean that, if they once have to choose, they may choose one side or the other with what can seem an irrational fanaticism.

My suspicion has long been that many Muslims in the Soviet Union have had similar ambivalences.

Among the foremost Soviet military intellectuals – who soldiered on, into post-Soviet times, and when I last looked, was still active and alert – was Makmut Akhmetovich Gareev. His Wikpedia entry gives his religion as 'Sunni Muslim', and there is an interesting account of his early years at

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HUEAAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=Gareev+collectivization&source=bl&ots=_u8ysZQbo-&sig=n4s_yy95H0APlFbKn2xSw64fwK0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=SobzU4LtIobAhAfr3YCgCA&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Gareev%20collectivization&f=false

Anna-Marina

To grasp the nuances, perhaps you need to read the original paper in Guardian. Considering the US/UK sanctions against "Russian aggression," one can be sure that satellite images of the "invasion" would have been shown by the establishment press. Yet, similar to the secret satellite images related to MH17 tragedy, no visuals have been provided in support to the important statements by Shaun Walker.
Why?

David Habakkuk

toto,

Are you on 'Facebook'? If you are, you might look up the page of the former long-serving Canadian government analyst of first Soviet, then Russian, affairs, Dr Patrick Armstrong.

If you scroll down, you will find a letter he has sent to Shaun Walker of the 'Guardian', dealing with articles by him and Roland Olipant of the 'Telegraph'. It reads:

'"Dear Mr Walker

'You and Mr Oliphant report that you saw, with your own eyes, a column of Russian APCs and trucks passing into Ukraine. But, you were, as far as I can figure from your tweets, at Kamensk-Shakhtinsky which is 10-15 kms from the actual border. Then Mr Oliphant put out a photo of a BTR and a couple of trucks near a Lukoil statiuon which, as far as I can determine (CityMaps2Go Rostov Oblast) is on Highway M4/E115 which is, if anything, farther from the border. I am confused. And I certainly don't want to think that you're just making this up.

'PS, not to be too rude (you are after all, Certified Authentic Journalists, whereas I'm just some git, wearing pyjamas in my basement), my smart phone has a camera and GPS, doesn't yours?

'Humbly awaiting correction for my errors, humiliation for my presumption and chastisement for my subjection to Putin.

'Patrick Armstrong'.

bth

There is an astonishing lack of credible first hand reporting in this conflict; so difficult to sort out from open source information. Just sorting out casualties, we see figures of killed and wounded varying between 7 and 14K depending on who you trust - which is nobody.

A couple of knowns.
First, there is a meeting with Putin and what I gather will be some sort of peace summit around the 26th.
Second, the leadership rotation amongst the rebels seemed to consistently extricate Russian operatives and put in the Ukrainians which if things collapse would provide a fig leaf for Putin. Those blamed for downing the airliner also seem to be on vacation coincidentally. If rebel leaders turn out to be responsible or complicit, best they be in Russia and out of sight when Interpol gets the nod.
Third, the Russian humanitarian aid convoy did appear to be spray painted Russian military trucks lightly loaded. Does it seem possible that they might also be available as an evacuation convoy for rebels if things do go badly? If some western reporters are correct and rebels are switching to civilian clothing to blend in, that would not be a winning indicator. One could see where Russia would want a lot of available trucks on hand regardless of how things break in coming weeks.
Fourth, the place is now an economic disaster area and winter is coming - cold facts for the locals. Would any party would want to be responsible for this economic and financial mess through the winter? The Russians and the Ukies might want the EU/US to pay for this via humanitarian aid as part of a negotiated deal and let matters then time jump to next spring?
Fifth and last. Are the Ukies focusing on seizing rail heads? Does someone know the current road, rail and bridge conditions of the area? Transport routes seem important to any assessment of culmination points as the season begins to turn.

ex-PFC Chuck

A video interview, with English subtitles, with Sergie Glaziev who, according to The Saker, is a close adviser to Putin.

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/08/interview-with-sergei-glaziev-must-see.html

William Herschel

I hope you will be contributing more analysis regularly, TTG. A privilege to read. Thanks.

samuelburke

My parents fled a communist country and i can not believe that i find myself almost rooting for the side that represents Russia. After so many years of having to endure soviet communism i have hoped that the long suffering Russian citizenry could have more freedoms but i see now that the west is hell bent on continuing to encroach on Russian and drive them to nationalist fervor.

VietnamVet

TTG,

This is the strangest war in my lifetime. It is completely misrepresented in US media if at all. From the internet, the Ukraine Civil War is described as battalion sized tank attacks with little or no Close Air Support; plus SUV raiding parties and ambushes; and rocket and artillery bombardment. Yet both sides must be getting intelligence from their sponsor’s satellites and telecommunications intercepts. They have a good idea of their enemy’s positions to direct fire on to them.

The terrain is rolling hills, cut by streams, tree lines, and wheat fields that won’t be harvested this year without a cease fire. There is not enough manpower on either side. Apparently artillery and defensive fields of fire have stopped all of the Ukraine tank attacks so far. The halted tanks and troops are encircled by the rebels but there are not enough rebel troops to eliminate all the enemy pockets, yet, according to "The Vineyard of the Saker" web site.

The civil wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia ended up partitioning these countries. The only way for the Eastern Provinces stay in Ukraine is if a loose federation is set up right now. The other alternative is the continuation of the ethnic cleansing of the East by Ukraine until all of the million or more survivors are forced into Russia and a resistance to the occupation starts. That is unless Vladimir Putin forces the rebels to surrender by closing the border which I doubt since he knows the Russian ultra-nationalists would use this humiliating defeat to dispose of him.

Ukraine is running out of time. Donetsk should have been encircled by now, supply lines to Russia cut, and urban warfare commenced to clean out the last of the rebels. Instead, the increasing chaos makes an intervention by Russia or NATO more likely which will, in turn, trigger WWIII.

This is a disaster for the world and I cannot forgive the Western Elite who started this civil war and keep it going.

The Twisted Genius

samuelburke,

I hear ya. My family was heavily involved in the Lithuanian Freedom Army. My great grandmother proudly told her great grandchildren that she shot the bolscheviki. At some point you have to let go.

The Twisted Genius

VietnamVet,

I think you captured the nature of the combat very well. I'm sure Kiev is thirsting for some kind of victory before Ukrainian Independence Day on 24 August. We'll have to see to what lengths the junta is willing to go in order to get something they can tout as a victory.

The Twisted Genius

David,

We cannot be absolutely certain that the Tony Seed material isn't disinformation. All things are possible, but I've read several reports months ago about Pravy Sektor and Svoboda training camps in Galacia and Poland. I'm inclined to believe it.

I see that Pravy Sektor has been guaranteed positions within the intelligence services by the Kiev government. I can't see anything good coming out of that.

turcopolier

TTG

Who is blue and who is red? pl

J

TTG,

Serb volunteers have been working with the
pro-Russian forces.

The Twisted Genius

pl,

Blue is the Ukrainian government forces. Red is the rebels. It's funny how the Russian side accepted our convention of blue force/red force to represent us/them. Some of the arrows representing attacks are as small as platoon strength. The solid lines indicate dug in lines of troops or, in many cases, mutually supporting strongpoints.

pbj

regarding the map:

Yep -- in this case its more confusing since the Ukrainians also use red to mean "us" and blue to mean "them", so their maps are colored backwards vs separatists' maps.

Also, I'm sure most of you figured it out, but the numbers next to the arrows are dates.

Also from the legend: I don't know if this is standard in military maps, but the circles with X are artillery strikes, from context I'm inferring it is BY the side whose color it is.

Black words are names of places.
Red/blue words identify fighting units. (typically the blues with numbers are UA, the blues without numbers are Ukrainian irregulars).

Everything else is more or less self-explanatory i think.

Lastly if you go to kot-ivanov.livejournal.com, you can make yourself a sort-of slideshow to see how it evolved.

pbj

Regarding Transcarpathia --

This is actually rather bad news in my opinion. One of the instigators of that movement is the extreme-right wing Jobbik party of Hungary. Yeah, they'll have good looking young clean cut guys as their spokespeople, but in terms of the language these used on the ugly end, when working up a crowd, I think they're actually are worse than Svoboda / praviy sektor in the Ukraine, although I generally can't stomach watching footage of either kind for more than a few seconds.

One difference is that Hungarian ultra-nationalists typically direct their hate against Jews and Gays (and I'm really not saying that lightly), vs Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who like to hate Russians.

Fortunately, Hungary is a smaller country and does not have the significance, corruption, or weapons that Ukraine has. Also fortunately, these guys don't seem to have the indirect support of the US State dept, like (in my opinion) Svoboda/PS did in the immediate post-Maidan.

At the moment, the connection to the Ukrainian conflict is minimal -- just a few speeches. But keep an eye on this. One of the things that really angers me about the whole Ukraine conflict is the way it is set to stoke the fires of some really nasty ultra-nationalists in eastern Europe (where I'm originally from).

Especially after seeing how the extent of extremist groups in the middle east went from bad to worse to what we have now...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jobbik

bth

This zerohedge post on the pending collapse of the Ukrainian economy is worth review.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-08-19/ukraine%E2%80%99s-next-crisis-economic-disaster

FB Ali

TTG,

Thanks for this post.

In a previous post I had suggested the reason why Putin's support of the separatists was limited, and likely to stay that way (ie, the limited support for the separatist cause among the population).

Yesterday I was reading a transcript of Putin's remarks at a meeting with some Duma members on Aug 14, and I realised that the main reason for Putin's actions was something different. It became quite clear that he is totally committed to rebuilding Russia, and this aim completely overshadows all other issues and concerns.

All out support of a Ukrainian separatist revolt, or being saddled with a breakaway portion of that country, would seriously impact his overriding goal. Already he is spending billions of rubles on Crimea, all of which could have been used for his main project. He cannot afford to divert more resources for Ukraine.

Reading the transcript it was also crystal clear that the Western portrayal of him as someone playing Cold War geopolitical games was all propaganda. That is the last thing that occupies his attention.

It also struck me how different he is from Western leaders. The latter are marionettes spouting the nonsense that their shadowy manipulators put into their mouths. Vladimir Putin is a statesman, mature and confident enough to treat his audience as adults and speak to them of serious matters frankly and openly. The transcript is at:

http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/22820

LJ

English subtitle map:

http://slavyangrad.org/2014/08/20/map-of-novorossiya-hostilities-english-aug-10-18-2014/

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