Summary – July 3, 2014

Summary – July 3, 2014

The bad news:

1. Special forces deny that Stanytsia Luhanska could have been bombarded by Ukrainian pilots. The RNBO [National Security and Defense Council] maintain they have evidence that the tragic shelling was done by terrorists ​​from a “Grad” MLRS (that is the identification of the ammunition used in the shelling). Moreover, this particular “Grad” has been already captured by the ATO from insurgents.

The bad news is that there are many people, including the people in Donbas itself, who believe in the Kremlin’s fairy tales. And therefore it is necessary to clearly dot the “i.” [It is necessary to] conduct the most thorough investigation, with the help of international organizations, in particular the OSCE. And to provide all the available evidence to the UN.

We do not have to constantly make excuses. We must show the world the face of the terrorists, behind whose backs after such bloody provocations, Putin gleefully rubs his little hands.

2. The introduction of martial law in Donbas, it seems, will not work. Given the political reasons for this, I wouldn’t write this particular fact as “bad news,” but I don’t understand how we can effectively control the already liberated territories without martial law.

Local authorities cannot be trusted, today they are for our [guys], tomorrow they will support the enemy. To rely on the local law enforcement means to disrespect ourselves completely. Because according to the logic of the introduction of martial law, local authorities in liberated areas are limited in their powers, and the military commanders take over the control of the situation, and the danger of terrorist “relapse” is [thus] sharply reduced here.

If an effective alternative to this mechanism is offered so we can dispense with martial law, I’ll be more than happy. But for now, there are questions.

3. The Defense Ministry set up a working group to work for the release of Armed Forces of Ukraine servicemen held by terrorists. This is a positive.

The negative is that so far, not a single government agency has been created that would be centrally involved in working on all prisoners of war and hostages. Each agency cares about its own guys, but everyone takes care of hostages among civilians (ie, nobody in reality).

It seems that a single agency (for example, as part of the National Security and Defense Council) should have been created yesterday. Why this has not been done is unknown. While the release of prisoners is a very large and urgent problem.

The good news:

1. During a briefing at the RNBO Information Center, a heated discussion took place. Journalists pointed out that if the ATO forces continue to liberate four settlements a day like yesterday, the operation will drag on for years.

The spokesperson of the Information Center Andriy Lysenko said reasonably, that [only] the settlements where headquarters or insurgent formations are located, will be liberated.

Indeed, terrorists have no forces and means to defend the territory that we currently believe they control. That is why [Ukrainian forces] now attack major groupings, and most importantly, cut off the terrorist groups’ supply channels. In this regard, the release of one village infested with terrorists is much more important than the release of a dozen settlements that are only symbolically controlled by militants.

2. Last night, Russian border guards shot a group of 300 terrorists who tried to break into the Russian Federation from Donbas. 

Putin, as always, plays on multiple fronts. For terrorists, such reprisals are a signal that there is no way back to Russia, and the mercenaries will have to fight to the end on Ukrainian soil. For the international community, it is a show, as in that is how well we protect [our] border! However, there is no confirmation that this very border works infallibly “upon entry” into Ukraine from the Russian side.

But for Russian dumbass-mercenaries and their pro-Russian brothers in Donbas, this is a vivid illustration that Putin abandoned them. And that there are two ways out–either to die for God-knows-what, or to lay down their arms and save their worthless hides.

3. The Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] included in its agenda a draft of amendments to the Constitution submitted by the President. Poroshenko himself called the changes an “antidote to federalization.” 

The meaning behind these changes is well known–a decentralization of power while maintaining a unitary state, and the opportunity of a special status for Russian and other languages. Compromises that are supposed to accommodate everyone.

Let’s see how this will work in practice, during a discussion of the changes. But in any case, it is the beginning of a real, peaceful dialogue. Not with the terrorists, but with eastern Ukraine.

P.S. Regarding the appointment of a new Minister of Defense and Chief of General Staff. Whether it’s good or bad is too early to judge. Although without doubt, it can be confusing that Mr. [Valeriy] Geletey is not from a military milieu–an otherwise normal occurrence in peacetime–in a de facto war, it can have serious consequences.

Thus, for the new Minister of Defense, with no experience in military command structures, the competence of the Chief of General Staff [CGS] is of particular importance. Although General [Viktor] Muzhenko, the new CGS, has proven himself capable at ATO headquarters (except for an odd occasion in which he personally led soldiers in an attack–although for people distant from the army, this is perceived as entirely positive). If the minister and the CGS work in unison from the first day­, all the better. If not, it would be very bad. Let’s hope for the best.

Dmitry Tymchuk, Coordinator, Information Resistance

Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine