Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
The “offensive to the borders” [of Donetsk and Lugansk
regions of Ukraine] had come to an end. We have suffered major losses, and many
of them were due to the scatter-mindedness of the leadership. We now have to go
over to the defense (which, incidentally, had already happened). What we got
was a “blow with spread fingers.”
In spite of the failure of Novorossia offensive (which
managed to achieve only several tactical successes), UAF is also in a rather
difficult situation. If only the “northern wind” started to blow, they would be
defeated quickly and totally. Since the “wind” can still start blowing
(hypothetically speaking), we can observe a certain degree of panic among the
Ukrainians who are understanding that the “patriotic operetta” may soon draw to
Concerning the Debaltsevo salient, as of tonight it was not
a full encirclement. The “throat” of the salient is under artillery fire, but
it is not fully shut. UAF group in the salient receives supplies and
reinforcements. One can’t say the trip is safe, but Novorossia forces were not
able to fully “strangle” it. The Ukrainian situation is also not that good. It
is difficult to supply the Debaltsevo grouping, and attempts to do so incur
regular losses. Therefore they have to counter-attack, which also means major
losses and so far they were not successful at it.
I do not currently anticipate a large-scale offensive by the
Ukrainian forces. Small-scale attacks with the goal of retaking lost positions
are more than likely. Especially in the area of the Debaltsevo salient. If they
are not able to broaden the “throat” to an acceptable level, that salient will
continue to sap their forces and cause them to continue to suffer pointless and
continuous losses, while at the same time the salient has no importance except
for propaganda purposes. Moreover, the salient will continue to be squeezed due
to local Novorossia attacks. I think that we will see, over the period of the
next 1-2 weeks, the “battle for the airport”, except on a much larger scale.
The sum total of the junta’s conduct is this: “to force
Russia to fight a war”, and the Transdniester situation is just one example of
that. Only one thing is unclear to me: when will they understand in the Kremlin
that they will have to fight?
J.Hawk’s Comment: While I do not pretend to speak for the Kremlin, I think the answer is a relatively simple one: the time is not on Ukraine’s side, not in the political, economic, or military sense. The Debaltsevo salient, as even Strelkov acknowledges, has now become a truly untenable position for the Ukrainian forces. Doing anything at all will cost them casualties. Reinforcing will cause casualties. Standing pat will cause casualties. Breaking out will cause massive casualties. Surrendering will, obviously, take a huge bite out of UAF’s order of battle, and represent a major propaganda defeat, since Debaltsevo is approaching the Donetsk Airport on the “cyborg quotient of Ukrainian invincibility.” A direct Russian involvement, favored by the Russian “party of war” of which Strelkov is a member would accelerate that collapse, but at the same time it would legitimize the Turchinov/Yatsenyuk/Avakov take-over of the country as well as a more direct NATO/EU involvement in the civil war, both of which the Russian “party of peace”, with none other than Vladimir Putin at the helm, is trying to avert. Let’s keep in mind that even though Syriza made a good first impression, it is in the process of being ground into the dust. The ECB’s stranglehold over the Greek economy is so great that the Greeks are likely to buckle under. It is difficult to tell why Syriza’s leaders have shied away from the bold move of exiting the Euro. Are they still suffering from the illusion they are “Europeans”? Are they afraid they’ll get the Ukraine treatment should they ask Russia for help? Either way, the cracks in the EU’s facade are not deep enough yet.
Even though Strelkov seems oblivious to it, Russia’s behavior is exactly the same as when facing Napoleon and Hitler: fight only when absolutely necessary, as the last resort, and using the lowest level of force needed to do the job, while at the same time husbanding resources for the ultimate trial of strength, should one become necessary. These three principles certainly characterized the solitary Soviet effort against the Axis in the Spanish Civil War and the Japanese invasion of China in the late 1930s. There is no reason why Russia ought to behave otherwise right now, especially since the Western coalition arrayed against it is showing signs of disarray, whereas a precipitate Russian action might resolidify it.