Kiev’s War Bluff: Expert Opinion Round-Up


August 22, 2016 – Fort Russ News – 

– Dmitry Radionov, SV Press – translated by Cosmin Brâncoveanu – 

On Thursday, August 11, the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko ordered a high alert for all law enforcement agencies on the border with Crimea and on the contact line in Donbass. The head of state wrote this on his Twitter. 

Before that, the president said he had met with the leadership of law enforcement agencies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

The same day, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Viktor Muzhenko, said on his page on Facebook that the Ukrainian army had increased its groups on the border with Crimea. 

“Division and units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who perform tasks in the vicinity of the administrative border with the occupied Crimea, are on high alert. We have built up the respective groups,” he wrote. 

In Donbass, demonstrative military preparations was the immediate response. DPR leader Alexander Zakharchenko said that Kiev, in order to divert attention from the failed sabotage in the Crimea, may soon launch large-scale fighting in the Donbass. 

He also warned that attempts by President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to overcome Donbass’ army would end in failure. “We can give him such a rebuff that he wakes up at home, and on Bankova Grushevskogo. If he wants to test our military capabilities, let him try. We are expecting it.”

Doctor of political science and member of the Scientific Council of the Russian Security Council, Andrei Manoilo, does not believe this means war. 

The following is an interview with Dr. Manoilo: 

M:  Poroshenko is just trying to frighten them. Once again. In the spring of 2016, he put the UAF on high alert five times and tried to break the main contact line with special units in an attempt to occupy the neutral zone.  But then he received some nice little responses and with heavy losses (which are not in the official chronicles) he had to withdraw his troops to their former positions. Poroshenko [was probably] urged to show his American sponsors that he really has a real force, not merely gangs of alcoholic looters. 

SP:  Has the resumption of hostilities in Donbass become the only way for Poroshenko and his team to stay in power ? 

M:  Yes, that’s right.  Only the external enemy and the resumption of the war can save Poroshenko himself, and his team, from a “Maidan-3.”  The world does not play in his favor, especially in anticipation of the onset of cold weather.  After a few months of peace, militants would feel the idleness and would overthrow him. 

SP Does Poroshenko fear a military coup ? 

M:  I’m afraid so, and that provokes renewed military conflict. Because if a war starts again in the Donets Basin, then Donbass would draw out a large portion of the radicals, including Savchenko and her ghouls, all the “national battatlions.”  All of them will go to commit collective suicide in Donbass. In Kiev, there will be no serious armed force that could organize a new coup.   

SP:  Who makes the actual decision on the resumption of the war? Recently, many say that the Americans can give Kiev a push towards a military adventure … 

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M:  Previously, only the Americans gave the order to start fighting. Now the situation has changed: the Americans have rushed out of Ukraine, apparently losing interest in it. Under these conditions, Poroshenko himself will be forced to give such an order, but he is afraid of panic. Most likely, this time, the Americans will distance themselves from the current round of escalation and take the view (which ironically is very Ukrainian) that “this is none of my business.” 

SP Do Putin’s words about the meaninglessness of meetings in the Normandy format indicate that the Minsk process may collapse ? 

M:  No, it does not mean curtailing the Normandy Format.  Putin apparently expects from Europe that it is time for them to put Kiev into a grip and force it to comply with the basic provisions of the Minsk Agreements. Apparently, something similar was discussed during [Lavrov’s] recent meeting with Steinmeier. Apparently, Europe is close to [putting real pressure on Kiev], but still hesitates. Therefore, the statement that the Normandy format is useless is nothing more than another stimulus intended to push Europe towards putting decisive pressure on Kiev. 

The Americans have rolled up their gear and quit Ukraine, most likely because there is an agreement with Moscow on this “exchange”, according to which the US will give [Russia] the Ukraine, and [Russia] will … not be recruiting more of their future presidents (given what Trump said recently about former CIA Director Michael Morell) and [Russia] will not break open the secrets of the Democratic Party’s servers (as Clinton said).  And, in the bargain, Russia will give Kerry a refund on his guitar! 

Political scientist Eduard Popov offers his point of view: 

EP: In general recently, land and naval exercises in the South of Ukraine are being held one after the other.  These are the “Sea Breeze-2016” exercises, with participation of the US Navy and NATO forces. The exercises are focused on fighting certain separatist forces. But at the time, observers noted that a possible target of these exercises could be not only Donbass, but also Russian Crimea. Therefore, today’s [Russian] scientists are developing a common conceptual line regarding the militarization of Ukraine. Of course there is an element of novelty in the recent developments on the peninsula: it’s Poroshenko who is “flexing his muscles”.  In my opinion, this is more of a political and psychological, rather than military action designed to demonstrate the readiness of the most decisive action, even before the war. 

The danger of a direct military clash between Russia and Ukraine is really there. But it is not as great as it seems to many of us.  If it were different, the war would have already happened. The question is not whether the war will be between Russia and Ukraine; war is inevitable. The question is when it will happen and with what cause and logic.  Why not now? The actions of the Ukrainian military in Crimea are rough and seem to be a foolish provocation. I’d say that’s obvious.  Kiev had the opportunity to use more cautious methods for sabotage and terrorist attacks in Crimea. Instead, what we have seen is a deliberate and demonstrative action, designed to irritate Russia and cause Russia to make sudden movements. The President of Russia is known for his composure and endurance; the great lesson of the August 2008 war was preparing for such an enemy. And Ukraine itself is in its third year of trying to provoke Russia to take drastic steps. 

Therefore, I believe that the organizers of this operation (most likely the Americans, not the Ukrainians) hoped to provoke the responsive sending in of Russian troops. Our political and military leadership understands this and does not want to act in a predictable way, for the opponent to play by his rules. Sorry for the cynicism, but [it won’t happen] until Russia has paid a high enough price to start a war with a country that is huge by European standards and supported by the collective West. More weighty grounds are needed. Therefore, to give a brief answer to the question “whether or not war”, it’s rather “no” than “yes.” 

SP:  Has Kiev not gone too far with the Crimea? Isn’t this an occasion for “forcing them to make peace”? 

EP:  I think not. First, Ukraine’s military strategy has long been developed by the Americans, not the Ukrainians. Secondly in my opinion, their plans were intended to be a demonstrative sabotage and terrorist attack with artillery fire from the territory of Ukraine resulting in a Russian military bombardment. There would be no need for such a deliberate show off – the attack would be held quietly. Or quietly averted. It’s unlikely to result in any coercion to peace talk. Russia now has very limited measures for influencing Ukraine. To say this is reminiscent of Russia’s actions against Georgia military attack in August 2008, well, that’s not an accurate statement because the risk is too great.  Our president has a very serious task in front of him, and I believe, public opinion should not push him towards drastic steps. 

SP:  Is the Ukrainian regime really ready for war? Is Poroshenko not afraid of a military coup at the first serious failure? 

EP:  Over the past year and a half, the Ukrainian armed forces have substantially increased their military potential, and indeed, the DPR and LPR armies have also increased theirs. I think Poroshenko should be more afraid of a military coup in peace than in war.  Carrying out a coup during fighting with NATO’s enemy number 1, Russia, would not be allowed. I have long compared post-Maidan Ukraine to a bicycle; as soon as it stops moving (stops fighting or expanding), it falls over. Therefore, for the Poroshenko regime, war is the best and perhaps the only guarantee against a coup or a new “Maidan”. 

With regards to the purely military aspects of the issue: from open sources of information, we receive conflicting information and evaluations. The arms industry in Ukraine, as far as I can tell, is generally poorly prepared for war even against a relatively weak opponent – the republics of Donbass. It is no accident that President Poroshenko and Defense Secretary Turchinov talked about plans to militarize Ukraine’s industries, according to which more than 800 enterprises are supposed to be put on a war footing. This plan is intended for January 2017.  In late July, there were reports that Ukrainian soldiers and even a representative of NATO died as a result of the detonation of expired ammunition.  I believe that Ukraine is experiencing an acute shortage of artillery shells and is using outdated munitions, which of course leads to fatal consequences for the Ukrainians themselves.  Commanders of the DPR army have recorded the same thing. 

SP:  – Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the fact that Europe is very tired of the Ukraine, and that Europe has plenty of their own problems. In the case of a new war, will the EU support Kiev, as it has done in the past ? 

EP:  I’ve had the opportunity to get acquainted with the opinion of so-called “anti-mainstream Europe”, although the concept is quite vague.  Their anti-mainstream position is gradually strengthening, and even a part of the political mainstream taking on some of the anti-mainstream positions, such as opposing anti-Russian sanctions over Crimea, among others. To name some right-wing parties, there’s the “League of the North” in Italy and “Alternative for Germany”; on the left, this includes the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, the most numerous party in the Czech Republic.  Even the Republican Party in France is moving to an anti-mainstream position, as shown by the recent visit of French parliamentarians to Crimea.  So we know Europe is definitely tired of Ukraine.  But so far, beyond these and other anti-mainstream parties, very few people dare to declare dissatisfaction with the policy of their governments in relation to Ukraine. 

I believe, however, that Angela Merkel thinks the Poroshenko regime is not working as well as they want it to.  But thoughts and real politics – well, those are two different things.  My answer to your question is summed up in the words of the famous Italian public figure, writer and columnist Max Bonelli, author of the book “Antimaydan.”  In conversation with me, he was very pessimistic about Italy repealing the anti-Russian sanctions. The political system of the EU is very effectively controlled by the architect of “united Europe” – the United States. According to Max Bonelli, in Italy there are 1,300 US military bases.  Another brilliant analyst of the political and social model of “united Europe”, the deputy chairman of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, Josef Skala, in an interview with me today outlined Brussels’ policy as neo-McCarthyism.

[American control of Europe] is manifested in the fact that all the various intellectual and social forces for a balanced approach to Russia are automatically called “Kremlin agents” without any evidence.  In practice this means a lack of breathing space for public figures and politicians, who would find their careers thrown into the trashcan if they discussed these things. 

For example, my friends from the right-wing conservative party in the Czech Republic Narodni Demokracie, received criminal sentences for blocking the show-off convoy of American occupation vehicles in March 2015, the so-called “Dragoon March” through Eastern and Central European countries. This year, the effectiveness of the policies of liberal repression showed that no one should dare stop American vehicles. Another famous leader of anti-mainstream Europe, Mateusz Piskorski, has been in prison for three months now. 

So, my answer to the question: despite all the domestic dislike and contempt for Porsohenko and his regime as a whole, Europe will still have to support him in full. Some countries will try to minimize this support, while others (Poland, the Baltics) will help to the fullest extent. Europe is in a state of occupation. It is a semi-colony of the US. Expecting more independent steps from it means deceiving yourself. 

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