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Ukrainian unknowns and uncertainties Part 2

February 18, 2015

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
George Orwell

The establishment media has, with not only biased but also inaccurate and clueless reporting about the Ukraine, again proven to be completely useless. It still makes sense to skim the headlines of Reuters, New York Times, and Washington Post to get informed about the newest marching orders from the “Ministry of Truth,” but beyond that certain authoritative blogs and dissident media are the only sources for correct and complete information about the real situation on the ground and the background of particular developments.

The Minsk 2 agreement was all about Debalsevo, and it demonstrates the ignorance of Ukrainian President Pedro Poroshenko, that he was not even aware of the seriousness of the military situation and first had to be convinced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ukrainian troops trapped in there were facing a Stalingrad-like defeat.

Merkel was correctly informed by the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst), and Debaltsevo became the main theme and sticking point of the 17 hour long negotiations between Merkel, Poroshenko, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. French President Francois Hollande plaid his part as Merkels lapdog, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was an unobtrusive host.

The haste on the part of Merkel to advance this meeting was certainly given impetus by the specter of a dangerous escalation which could lead to NATO battling Russia on Ukrainian soil or even the slow motion start of WW III.

A war between NATO and Russia is not inconceivable anymore but it was not the threat of new weapons deliveries by the USA which caused Merkel to act, because advanced US weapons arrive already since October in significant numbers. “According to our data, the weapons are already being delivered,” — Putin told at a press conference after talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, responding to a reporter’s question about Russia’s reaction to the possibility of weapons supplies to Ukraine.

The NAF (Novorussia Armed Forces) posted countless evidence of Czech, German, and US weapons and ammunition on YouTube and blogs. M109 (Paladin) self propelled howitzers have been spotted several times and unexploded NATO ordnance can be found everywhere along the front lines. The Ukrainian ammunition stocks from Soviet times have long been used up.

Polish, French, and British specialists were certainly among the Ukrainian units trapped in the Debaltsevo cauldron, as the NAF intercepted many conversations between Ukrainian units and the headquarter in English, French, and Polish. It seems though that most of foreign soldiers have been able to escape. They were the first to be evacuated together with the leading officers.

The USA would of course rather like to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian soldier but as Kiev is quickly running out of canon fodder, alternatively advisers, trainers, and specialists from NATO countries have to step in.

The war in Donbass has long ago morphed from a local conflict into a proxy war between the West (meaning the USA plus NATO vassals) and Russia. One could as well say, it was a proxy war right from the beginning.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to spare Poroshenko a humiliating defeat, but she also wanted to send a subtle message to US President Barack Obama, that Europe is not willing to sacrifice itself for the greater goal of US world dominance. She thought that Putin, facing the threat of a military escalation by NATO and increasing economic warfare, could be convinced to let Poroshenko off the hook.

The personal relation between Poroshenko and Putin is astonishing amiable, many insiders confirm that Poroshenko on a personal level gets along with Putin far better than his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych.

deboltsevo 18 02 2015 map

Merkel saw a chance to save the Ukrainian battalions, but Putin didn’t blink. He has proven again and again that he cannot be intimidated and cowed. Russia has a small army, the military expenses are lover than that of Britain and France combined, but the army has been modernized, new sophisticated weapons have been developed, and there is still the nuclear deterrent (1,643 nuclear missiles ready to launch — one more than the USA — according to an official US State Department report). Both countries have been upgrading their active nuclear arsenals since the outbreak of the Ukrainian conflict.

The Pentagon with a budget which accounts for more than 40 percent of the worlds military expenditure wastes a lot of these funds, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter being a prime example. The US nuclear submarines (Virginia, Seawolf, Ohio) could become obsolete by new sophisticated detection methods which can even localize the most quiet vessels and many aviation experts think that the Sukhoi T-50 and SU-35 will easily compete with US jets F-22 and F-35. The same is said about T90A against M1A2 Abrams tanks.

One just has to think about the M16 assault rifle, which is prone to jams and other failures, versus the AK-47 (Kalashnikov), which just works no matter what.

Unasked questions

What no Western media outlet ever addressed is the reason why a force of 6,000 Ukrainian (including an unknown number of foreign) troops were massed in a rather small town of 26,000 people. Debaltsevo is a railroad hub and lies right in the middle between Luhansk and Donetsk, but a garrison of a few hundred soldiers would have been enough to secure the place.

The only reason for this massive number of troops to be concentrated there and to remain even as the cauldron was slowly closing was the designation as an offensive force to break through the front line in the southeast direction towards the Russian border, isolating Donetsk from Luhansk and subsequently finishing off first the Luhansk militia and then the Donetsk one.

This grand strategic plan didn’t work out, as we know now, and the NAF was well aware of the Ukrainian intentions. It is likely that there are sympathizers even at the higher levels of the Ukrainian military command who inform the NAF about projected moves, but even without spies the Russian generals in the control room which plan the Novorussian maneuvers can easily guess what their counterparts are up to, they went through the same military academies back in Soviet times and know the way of thinking of their counterparts.

Betting big, loosing big

The defeat in Debalsevo is not comparable with the Ilovaysk cauldron in September, where some 800 Ukrainian lost their lives, this is bigger, this is a catastrophe for the Ukrainian army. The soldiers in Debaltsevo were the best trained and best motivated, they had the best equipment and the most capable officers.

This force was maybe a third or even more of the Ukrainian combat capacity. The advising Russian generals saw the chance to destroy it and the NAF didn’t loose any time to close the cauldron. Additional artillery was hastily moved in from other parts of the front and also from Russia. This was not a risky move, it was a coherent strategy.

The risk takers were the Ukrainian generals who thought that they could keep the NAF at bay and retain control over the M-103 road between Debaltsevo and Artemivsk.

destroyed artillery snow

The Ukrainian army attacked the small village of Logvinovo near this road with no less than three battalion tactical groups numbering up to eight hundred people, supported by not less than forty tanks. Fresh, well-armed and well-trained battalions went in the battle.

But they had to advance across the steppe, practically in the open, in full view of the heights held by the militia. Under crossfire, they rushed forward with exceptional persistence, ignoring the losses, skillfully using terrain folds and maintaining tactical order.

In the end only a handful of soldiers and two tanks made it into Logvinovo where they were destroyed by the Novorussian defenders.

A few days later in a desperate last ditch attempt the army was trying to assemble another three battalion tactical groups and numerous MLRS (multiple launch rocket systems) north of the cauldron in order to rescue the surrounded forces but it was too late, the planned offensive didn’t even get off.

destroyed tank snow

The Ukrainian soldiers in Debalsevo which are still alive are now either retreating or surrendering.

Eduard Basurin, a military spokesperson for the NAF, confirmed taking some 300 soldiers prisoner and Maksim Leshchenko, a senior official from the Donetsk People’s Republic, told journalists that the Ukrainian troops are laying down the weapons “in their hundreds.”

The mothers and wives of the men caught in the cauldron were trying everything they could to force the Ukrainian high command to accept the Novorussian offer of an evacuation corridor. They protested in front of the General Staff building in Kiev and blocked the traffic on a nearby highway. In a particularly poignant moment one of these women put a megaphone next to her cellphone to amplify the voice of her son calling from the cauldron and announcing that they had only about 3 hours of supplies left.

dead soldier snow 1

President Petro Poroshenko finally has given an order to withdraw the troops, saying: “We stated and proved that Debaltsevo was under our control and that there was no encirclement. Our units withdrew according to plan in an organized manner. They took military hardware with them — tanks, APCs, artillery pieces, tow-tracks, cars.” He added that some 80 percent of the troops have already left the city.

Foreign corespondents report a chaotic retreat. Hundreds of Ukrainian troops flood the city of Artemivsk, 25 miles northwest of Debaltsevo, with two hundred wounded soldiers arriving at the city’s trauma hospital. Blood-soaked stretchers are piled outside the main entrance to be taken and used for the next load of severely wounded.

Many soldiers describe a dangerous retreat in the night over frozen fields, being under nearly constant fire. One medic said he had taken 20 dead to the morgue, most of whom had been killed making their way out of the town. Some had been killed on top of troop carriers as they drove.

The NAF has been heavily shelling any vehicles on a 12 kilometer stretch of the so called “road of life” (which now has become a road of death), the M-103 between Debaltsevo and Artemivsk. Ukrainian tanks took position near a smaller road leading to Artemivsk through Mironovka to cover the escape. But that road is also under fire,

We got out through the fields,” told a soldier who was lucky to escape. Most of the city is captured and government forces were “breaking out little by little,” he said.

dead soldier snow 2

Another soldier told that he had been in a convoy bringing out about a dozen wounded. They had been under heavy mortar and machine gun fire and had fallen into rebel ambushes twice along the way.

Soldiers from the 108th brigade of the national guard said they had been picking up men escaping from Debaltsevo by foot. When asked about the intensity of the enemy fire along the escape route, they pointed to a rear wheel of their armored fighting vehicle, which had been shredded by a mortar round.

Guys are running out on foot through the fields because the rebels are shelling vehicles. They give us the coordinates and we pick them up,” another soldier in this vehicle told. He said the unit had picked up hundreds of men from Debaltsevo.

“Gusar,” an officer of the 128th Brigade published a post on the Zerkalo Nedeli web site:

We are facing the second Ilovaysk. It’s been five days since the cauldron had closed. When the Donetsk Airport was taken, they lied to people for five days that it’s under control. In reality it was the other way around. Debaltsevo is under de-facto encirclement since five days ago. There used to be a small path which they tried to use to break out. They lost vehicles but broke out. The enemy occupied the commanding heights along the road and has it covered with fire. People are telling us nice stories that there are still communication routs, some detours, dirt roads…There was a road like that, but as of yesterday the convoy of five vehicles that left Debaltsevo lost all five of them. Only seven guys made it out. We don’t know what happened to the rest.”

Volunteer fighter Vitaliy Tilizhenko posted on Facebook:

The Debaltsevo cauldron had closed! There is exfiltration by small groups. Somebody is covering the withdrawal and holding positions, gradually abandoning them and withdrawing. We have lost the police HQ and the rail station in the morning. We lost 1/3 of our equipment at Ilovaysk. We’ll lose most equipment here, abandoning it because people are more valuable, and there will be nothing to fight with, as always. All withdrawing groups are falling into ambushes and are losing men and equipment. The ambushes are growing stronger and more fortified with every hour, and the percentage of people making it out of the cauldron is dropping. They won’t say this on TV. Everything is great there. Pedro Poroshenko outplayed everyone, no need for martial law, Europe is concerned, etc.

Semen Semenchenko, Ukrainian MP and commander of one of Kiev’s volunteer battalions, confirmed that the troops were being withdrawn from the contested city. He demanded that Kiev should now attack in other parts of the frontline, which had been weakened by the rebels to lay siege on Debaltsevo.

They are empty and we have troops. One strike and the frontline would crumble,” he assured, adding that the current withdrawal is “beyond comprehension.”

The Novorussian’s are indeed thin stretched and they have paid a high price, an estimated third of their fighters have either been killed or wounded.

There are plenty of unmarked (numbered) graves on the burial ground of the militia, because bodies are shredded or incinerated by artillery hits, and when the comrades collect the remains they are unable to determine to whom they belong.

The German BND estimates that this conflict has cost up to 50,000 lives until now. If it goes on like this a few more month, it will become the bloodiest war in Europe since WW II.

Poroshenko’s advisor Yuriy Biryukov said in an interview on Ukraine’s Hromadske TV that the military does not have the resources anymore to conduct meaningful offensive operations. Biryukov was one of the most ardent advocates for the ATO (anti terrorist operation) in the Donbass, so it’s rather astonishing that he has now changed his mind. The Ukrainian army must really be at the end of its tether if even Biryukov acknowledges its incapacitation.

The Ukrainian army is defeated but the neo-Nazis in the punitive battalions (Azov, Aidar, Donbass, Dnepr-1, and the like) vie for revenge not only against the ethnic Russians but also against the government in Kiev who has, as they see it, betrayed them.

President Poroshenko and some members of the Verkhovna Rada have reportedly taken their families abroad. The wife of Poroshenko left Kiev with the children on a charter flight, going through Paris to the USA.

Again: Betting big, loosing big.

But this is a bloody game, and many innocent people die, while the uncertainty about Ukraine’s future remains.

cat militia fighter

As long as there are cats, life remains bearable even in the darkest hours.

Vsevolod Petrovsky, presente catVsevolod Petrovsky, depicted above, has died in the recent fighting. It is not known what became of his cat.

Further reading:
https://mato48.com/2015/02/08/ukrainian-unknowns-and-uncertainties-part-1/
https://mato48.com/2015/01/25/there-is-no-meltdown/
https://mato48.com/2015/01/20/a-new-phase-in-the-ukrainian-war/
https://mato48.com/2014/12/28/a-testimony-to-be-considered/
https://mato48.com/2014/12/07/news-from-novorussia/
https://mato48.com/2014/11/23/shattered-dreams-of-victory-and-prosperity/
https://mato48.com/2014/09/14/strange-bedfellows/
https://mato48.com/2014/09/06/against-oligarchs-and-false-politicians/
https://mato48.com/2014/09/02/report-from-a-war-zone/
https://mato48.com/2014/08/30/interview-with-alexej-mozgovoi/
https://mato48.com/2014/08/11/did-the-ukraine-shoot-down-mh17/
https://mato48.com/2014/03/09/ukraine-update-1/
https://mato48.com/2014/03/04/latest-news-from-ukraine/
https://mato48.com/2014/02/26/the-freedom-snipers-of-maidan-part-2/

 

5 comments

  1. Ukraine Admits: ‘There Are No Russian Troops Fighting Against Us’
    http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/01/30/ukraine-admits-there-are-no-russian-troops-fighting-against-us/

    Like


  2. […] News from Novorussia Against Oligarchs and False Politicians Report from a war zone Ukrainian unknowns and uncertainties Part 2 There is no meltdown Shattered Dreams of Victory […]

    Like



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