Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ukraine War Update: Маленькая видеть. Большая задуматься, лягушка

By and large the war has stopped in Eastern Ukraine. Its not a perfect stop, but its far, far less than the inflamed mini World War I that used to be there. Infantry clashes and occasional attempts to shift the front line some are done by individual units at particular locations. Most clashes are infantry and 82mm mortars only. Avdiivka was the exception: artillery fire was exchanged during an infantry clash.

There is an incredible amount of movement of equipment. Some ascertain this is because the Russians are moving off the militia and replacing them with regular army units. There was a statement from the LNR that they had to provide 190 fighters (+/-) for fighting in Syria. Many have stated this is hard to believe. You can never tell if its true or BS with the Novorossiyan repbulics.

Interestingly, while some points on the front lines seem to have seen heavy equipment (tanks, artillery, APCs & IFVs) removed, Sontseve is once again getting large numbers of troops, tanks and artillery. What's happening is not clear.  An OSCE drone flying in the area was shot down.

My personal speculation is that this will chill out until whatever Putin's plan in Syria is done or close to done. He has limited resources and maintaining a war in Ukraine and Syria is likely to be beyond what his equipment and money can sustain.

In the eye rolling and sad level, the DNR is holding a tank biathalon in Torez. Two children were killed in it. The Russian media reported it was a terrorist attack. The DNR said it was because a tank lost control. If you have watched some of the Russian tank biathalon, you ought not be surprised.

The DNR and LNR have scheduled elections.  These will be as fair as past ones.  They will almost assuredly violate the Minsk Accords: must allow all displaced Donbass residents to vote and allow pro Ukrainian candidates, but...  As a result, Ukraine will not acknowledge them.  The US has readied more sanctions if the DNR & LNR go through with their plan.

 There have been multiple rounds of the DNR and LNR stating they want to join Russia, give dates for elections for annexation and then contradict themselves stating it was never planned.  Either the DNR and LNR are very Orwellian or they are very mercurial and cannot keep a straight line straight.  This is likely the case since Zakharchenko states one day the Minsk Accords are dead and war will be resuming and then the next the only path forward is the Minsk Accords.

The LNR has ordered all the United Nations aid agencies to leave the LNR by friday.  Most likely this will hold in the DNR as well, though it might be delayed a bit.  Doctors Without Borders has long been expelled.

60% of Ukrainians not within Crimea and the Donbass now want to join NATO.  The DNR says it will attack if Ukraine makes any moves towards joining.  

As a result of the blockade, the Russians have started clamping down hard on the Tatars.  This was a predictable tragedy.  Giving Right Sector this much legitimacy will be a mistake for Poroshenko, though Right Sector could just piss it all away as they have done several times before.

We will see what will happen.   I wish I could report Ukraine had recovered the Donbass and Crimea without a fight, but...I am glad the Donbass has largely stopped fighting, but I don't see this as stopping any time soon.

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