By Petr Ivanchenko
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak announced a
demobilization of all punitive troops who have been under arms for a year or
more. This measure concerns both recalled reservists and draftees.
“We will complete the training of new recruits in March and
April, who will then replace those at the front right now,” said Poltorak
The demobilization is to begin on March 18, 2015.
“The demobilization will begin on March 15. The conditions
are as follows: as of that date you must be in service for a year, minus 10
days, since your date of arriving at the military commissariat following your
mobilization,” announced Sergey Galushko, the deputy head of the information
technology department for the Ministry of Defense.
In his words, if someone had arrived at the commissariat on
April 20th, then on April 10 he should be demobilized and sent back
to the reserve.
Incidentally, the demobilization and the release to the “general
reserve, where they will remain prepared to carry out future missions” will be
conditional on the arrival of trained replacements to the units in question.
There is little doubt that the rotation will greatly
decrease the already low combat readiness of Ukrainian formations, since they will
lose a significant proportion of fighters who have genuine combat experience
(assuming Poltorak keeps his promise).
Numerous sources confirm that the training of the
replacements is going exceptionally badly, and that the training camps are pure
fiction. It is obvious that the main burden of training will fall on the field
commanders who receive the replacements.
It means that Ukrainian forces will not be able to conduct
active combat operations for some time. Does it mean that the junta will relent
and its formations will not participate in active operations? Is the junta
ready to accept an armistice after a thorough defeat?
It’s doubtful. The junta badly needs a “victory” or
something that can be presented as a victory. There are certain hopes that
there will be disorders in Moscow, which could be portrayed as an achievement,
and one leading to something. But that did not pan out either.
Ukraine’s population, for its part, is ridding itself of the
revolutionary frenzy and is starting to ask more questions of the junta. Just
as their attention could be diverted by an escalation on the Donbass.
Therefore there is high likelihood that the junta will try
to carry out an operation of some sort which could be presented to the
Ukrainian society as a victory. And only afterwards, having obtained the status
of “victors” would they embrace a “ceasefire”, which would mean a serious
preparation for the destruction of the Donbass.
Therefore one canoe rule out the possibility of an armed
provocation against Russia around Crimea, which would escalate the conflict to
a new level. There are many indicators that Ukraine is preparing for something
of this sort.
In any event, the timeframe of the demobilization announced
by Poltorak suggests that the provocation would have to occur within that
period, irrespective of whether it would be launched against Novorossia or Russia
in the Crimea. The Kiev junta will do everything possible to use as many of its
experienced and prepared fighters in these fights. As a last gasp.
Naturally, the junta would rather not carry out any
demobilization, but it is forced to do so by the rapidly growing social
tensions (the relatives of mobilized reservists are ready to rebel) and by the
failure of the fourth wave of mobilization. Therefore one can use the
demobilization to give some hope to the prospective cannon fodder.
Moreover, one can also use the demobilization to provoke
conflict between the relatives of the fighters and the draft evaders, by
arguing that the army cannot release somebody’s husband, son, father, because
the neighbors don’t want to relieve him.
Still, promises are made to be broken. It may yet turn out
that there will be no demobilization, especially if combat operations escalate.
Therefore the soonest any Ukrainian draftee gets demobilized is by getting
ingloriously killed in yet another Donbass cauldron and getting sent home as a
J.Hawk’s Comment: Nemtsov or no Nemtsov, Ukraine is still a
country in crisis which now has to decide what to do with all the reservists it
called up last year. It’s hard to imaging Poltorak or anyone would dare cancel
the demob, regardless of whether replacements are available. Keeping soldiers
beyond their originally established term of service risks major discipline problems,
to the point of mutiny and rebellion. Maybe they’d be willing to stay on if
there was a prospect of participating in some quick victorious campaign, but
that’s just not the case.
However, the demob order only affects the UAF. It does not
concern the volunteer battalions or the National Guard, whose relative importance will grow as a result. But those formations are not enough to
compensate for the loss of the combat veterans of the UAF. Given the personnel
and equipment problems, it seems highly unlikely that Kiev would seriously
entertain another offensive any time soon.