January 6, 2015
Translated from Russian by J. Hawk
Ukraine is a unique country where black is white, and cowardice is considered heroism since the time of Stepan Bandera.
The fighters from the disbanded 51st Brigade, which supposedly were the best-performing during the so-called “counter-terrorism operation” in the Donbass will form the backbone of the newly formed 14th Mechanized Brigade. This decision was announced by President Pyotr Poroshenko during a meeting with the servicemembers of the 51st Separate Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Ground Forces.
Ukrainian press agency UNIAN has reported that “individual subunits of the 51st Brigade displayed heroism during the battles for Saur-Mogila and the liberation of many towns in Donbass”. The fact that at the moment Saur-Mogila is under firm control of Novorossia Army is not mentioned.
Poroshenko also noted that the brigade suffered about 40 cases of desertion, and its performance during the battle for Volnovakha proved an embarrassment for the entire Ukrainian army, when many soldiers perished due to alcohol abuse and lack of professionalism.
“We need the truth, no matter how bitter it may be”, underscored Poroshenko. “We need to celebrate the real heroes and assess those who broke down and stumbled accordingly, and your brigade unfortunately had such soldiers. The memory of the fallen heroes and those who stood firmly requires us to be honest in the assessment of the 51st Brigade and of other Ukrainian military formations” – said Poroshenko.
The theme of desertion is a consistent one in news stories concerning the Ukrainian armed forces, and not a surprising one considering the level of division and polarization within the Ukrainian society, the deepening economic crisis, and the lack of faith in the abilities of the Kiev political elite. Moreover, one has to keep in mind that in the previous waves of mobilization the Ukrainian military mobilized those deemed most fit and most reliable to fight. Yet even those supposedly most reliable elements proved brittle when exposed to actual combat. The next wave of mobilization has been announced for late January 2015. Who is left to be mobilized, and what will the influx of reservists even less well trained and less motivated to fight do for the cohesion of the armed forces? Moreover, if the next wave of mobilization creates a critical mass of disaffected mobilized reservists within the ranks, these formations could well become the catalyst for an anti-government revolt.