Since there's been some interest by the community here in what's going on in Ukraine, let's use this thread as a central place in Turdville to provide updates, cuss and discuss, and pool our info. I'll try to provide routine updates as work/life/family allow, but also feel free to ask questions, provide sources of good information and post relevant info regarding events in Ukraine, Crimea, and the Donbass.
Ukrainian Civil War
I was a little shocked to see such little coverage of the airstrike on the city center of Lugansk yesterday. 7 people were killed and at least 8 wounded--most of these were civilians. There are lots of VERY graphic photos and videos show the horror of this attack (I won't post here). Most memorable are images of a bloody-faced woman whose right leg is partially blown off asking for help while she lays on the sidewalk. The same clips show bodies of civilians (at least 2 more women) lying dead on the sidewalk in front of the city's administration building.
What little coverage there was parroted a lot of false information that the separatists were responsible. Some of the nonsense reported by EuromaidanPR and the BBC said that "terrorists had mishandled explosives in the building", "terrorists tried to fire a heat-seeking missile at the jet and it inadvertently targeted the buildings a/c unit", "the terrorists fired at their own building with multiple RPGs", and the best one: "Russians stole the Su-25 from Crimea and used it against the terrorists to make it seem like it was the Ukrainians." Please.
Long story short, it was a Ukrainian Su-25 close air support warplane that launched an unguided rocket attack (S-8 80mm unguided rockets) at this building. Shrapnel and geolocation of the photos/videos confirm this.
I'm not shocked that the attack occurred. What I'm shocked is the degree of intellectual dishonesty and sheer stupidity that would even suggest this was anything different than an attack by a Ukrainian Air Force jet.
Alas, people will see and hear what they want to see and hear. "...but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears."
- Fighting is escalating in Donbass (mining region in eastern Ukraine comprising Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts)
- Intense fighting on the outskirts of Lugansk where the Novorussia Armed Forces (NAF) have encircled a Ukrainian Border Patrol HQ (not just a checkpoing). Remaining Ukr forces were given an ultimatum to surrender. Reports indicate the Border Patrol forces have requested land reinforcements and that they are not being backed up. Situation looks to favor the rebels in the near term on this engagement.
- Also very heavy fighting in Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, and Krasny Liman. Casualties on both sides, but true numbers unknown. Seems that the Ukrainian forces are making headway in these villages, but at a cost.
Very helpful stuff and it's greatly appreciated.
All: Some of the reports that SS mentioned above can be found in this ZH link:
I only post this because, on this rare occasion, I urge everyone to scroll down through the comments. Notice the obvious pro-Uke troll plant and the obvious pro-Russia troll plant. They argue back and forth on the first page of comments. You should then click on both user profiles and note that each just showed up at ZH in the past 4 weeks.
Do you see how prevalent the paid trolling is? As you scour the internet for information, be very careful to check your sources.
It is difficult for me to understand why the UkArmy ground missile/bomb attack on its own city. Any idea on the motivation or strategy behind such an attack?
About a month back I recall hearing that there were weapons stockpiles (rifles, ammunition, etc) which were massive in Eastern Ukraine. Is the fighting in Donbass related to burial of those weapons stockpiles in the mines near Donetsk and Lugansk?
Thanks for starting this forum listing.
- From all that I have seen, the Su-25 in question was actively supporting the engagement at the border patrol's HQ on the outskirts of town. Video shows this plane dispensing flares over/around the engagement area to ward off any heat-seeking MANPADS surface-to-air missiles.
- It appears that at some point, the aircraft deviates from that area and beings to fly toward the city center, releasing a volley of unguided rockets (presumably the ones that hit the admin building and park area in front of the building). Only one such pass of the aircraft has been reported.
- Trajectory of the rockets doesn't seem to indicate that the pilot specifically target the building itself...bad angle and it looks like only one rocket impacted the building facade. Most fell in front of the building with several impacting the park.
- Based only on these facts and my knowledge of air ops, I think 1 of the following 4 things happened:
1. The Su-25 sees or is told of a target of opportunity at this location (ie, anti-aircraft-artillery, MANPADS platoon, vehicle with reinforcements, etc.). The pilot then tries to engage this presumed target and either misses or had bad intel.
2. The pilot intentionally targets the tire barricade at the front of the building. IF the pilot didn't miss, then the angle of impact of the missiles and resulting damage would support the barricade as the intended target.
3. The pilot, in supporting the troops on the city's outskirts, becomes task-saturated through his maneuvers, countermeasure deployments, and weapons arming, and flat-out screws up, unintentionally firing the S-8 rockets.
4. The Su-25 indiscriminately fires on the city's central admin building "just because" in order to send a message to the rebels.
- Just my humble opinion, but for whatever reason, I think the pilot engaged the barricade intentionally (#2).
Now a lot could be made about "a warplane bombing a civilian target" but because the building was actively and openly being used as administration for the Lugansk People's Republic, the building would legally qualify as a "command and control" target and would be deemed a legal target under the laws of war. This is different than what is happening in Slavyansk, where indiscriminate mortar and artillery attacks are happening on apartment buildings and VACATED schools and orphanages--there, the legality of targets is much more questionable. War is hell, but if the rebels were using the admin building to govern their new republic, it would qualify as a legal target.
However, it is becoming apparent that the "Grand Military Strategy" (military art and science terminology) is to bait Russia into openly intervening in Ukraine/Donbass. Attacks that "cross-the-line" legally, morally, and ethically can be expected (ie, Odessa and Mariupol). But, in this case, I think the pilot is ordered or decides to strike the barricade intentionally.
As for the weapon stockpiles, these have long-since been dispersed to the militants.
Quite simply, the Donbass is fighting because they perceive an existential threat to their lives and homes from what has come to power in Kiev. The referendum turn-out shows just how wide-spread this disagreement with the new Kiev government is. Yes, Russia (via Chechens and other mercs from Poland, Hungary and probably South Ossetia) is supporting the rebels, but there are A LOT of locals who are fighting to simply defend their homes (very prevalent in Slavyansk).
There is a real fascist threat that has emerged from the west (Right Sector--National Guard AND Svoboda party--the "grey hand in the government"), and the people in the Donbass are fearful of this to the point of an armed rebellion.
Because of the fluidity of the situation in the Donbass and the boatloads of lies that get reported, sometimes it's best to wait and see what else materializes before anything is believed. With that being said, here's what we know this morning:
- Yesterday saw some fierce fighting in the villages of Slavyansk and Krasny Liman. Ukr news reported a complete rout of the rebels here and that both villages were fully cleared of "terrorists". The reality is that the Ukr forces did gain some ground here, and may have temporarily "controlled" Krasny Liman, but the rebels were back by the evening. Situation in these two villages looks like again, no one has really gained the upper hand and things are about what they were before yesterday morning's assault.
- Video footage shows the hospital in Krasny Liman was shelled/fired on. THIS is a cut-and-dry violation of the laws of war. Not that it matters much to Kiev or the western media.
- The situation at the Lugansk border guard HQ has ended with approx 50 Ukr border guards surrendering and being released on their own volition. NAF forces here captured some weapons, ammo and at least some armored vehicles (specifics still unknown). Ukr news says they fought to the last bullet, but the video clearly shows they surrendered--most likely because they were outmanned/outgunned and the reinforcements they needed couldn't be or weren't sent.
- Ukraine has received some night vision equipment from the U.S.. Lovely use of our tax dollars....
- Ukrainian "Donbass" battalion received some upgraded APCs and AFVs. Reports indicate this battalion is heading to operate east of Donetsk between the city and the Russian border.
- NAF are continuing to receive "gifts from Santa" and "interesting but welcomed tourists" to their land.
- A rather large movement of heavy armor was video'd moving by train from west Ukraine to the east. Video showed main battle tanks (MBTs), and self-propelled guns (SPGs, aka: heavy artillery).
A good site to follow for news and intelligent analysis of events in the Ukraine is the Vineyard of the Saker.
Saker's site is an excellent source--especially his contact "Juan".
He posted a "must-read" article there last week regarding Russian "inaction" so far. Here's the link and I agree, it's a must read if you are trying to understand what's going on there: http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/06/translation-of-must-read-article-of.html
I've also found several guys on Twitter who have friends like "Juan"--they're providing near-real-time updates with a surprisingly high level of quality intel.
Could you provide twitter recommendations? I have been following the saker as well as Stephen Cohen's reporting for my 'situational awareness' and much more of a a solid, factual analysis with in-depth knowledge of the crisis. I'd like to find some better twitter resources for visuals/on the ground access/etc ... I have found a few, but I know there's better, more direct (wording?) knowledge coming out of local contacts and sources ... anyway, let me know if there cool with having another follower, if ask be needed
Q: will there be / is there an exercise in Ukraine planned for this year - Answer seems to be yes? was 2011, 2012, 2013 see below; speaks also to LT planning
The crisis in Ukraine is fast escalating into a civil and proxy war. Over 150 people have died in clashes between Ukrainian Soldiers and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, many of them civilians. In the bloodiest incident, more than 30 people were killed in Odessa when Neo-Nazis set fire to a trade union building. Most recently jets have dropped bombs on the city of Lugansk.
Given these circumstances, it is quite extraordinary that NATO is planning war games in Ukraine this July. UK and US troops are due to participate alongside Ukrainian troops in joint military exercises as part of NATO’s ‘Rapid Trident’ manoeuvres.
The crisis does seem to be planned long-ago. There's also reason to think the 2001 Orange Revolution was the first attempt to kick-over the table but it didn't bare fruit (pun intended).
Regardless, it's hard to understand the rationale in sending NATO/U.S. troops to exercise on a country's soil who is currently fighting a civil war. Unless, of course, there are ulterior motives. I guess it's what passes for deescalation and diplomacy in today's bizzaro world.
Saker has a new combat SITREP from his contact "Juan". Again, I encourage anyone interested in daily goings-on there to check out his site. Rather than regurgitating his info, I'll supplement with additional things.
- Saker's site isn't the first I've heard of summary executions performed by the Nat Guard/Right Sector. While I have no direct confirmation myself, I'd say these reports are definitely credible.
- Another credible rumor is that pro-Kiev, Polish mercs are operating in the Slavyansk region.
- Slavyansk's central water supply has been damaged in the ongoing attacks there. Some of the people there have tried to get out--some successfully, some trapped. Those who remain will now be with limited water. Druzhkovka (south of Kramatorsk, which is south of Slavyansk) is also reported to be without water.
- Ukr forces have made headway in the northern area of the ATO (Slavyansk and Krasniy Liman). However, in this type of engagement, one should understand "control" as a temporary qualification. NAF forces are using insurgent tactics and tactically retreating when necessary. So, while Ukr forces have "pushed out" the NAF from Krasniy Liman in the last 2 days, it's a misnomer to say they "control" the city.
- Specifics are unknown, but NAF did down some Ukraine aircraft yesterday. Unconfirmed reports of 2 helicopters and 1 fighter jet.
- Last week, I mentioned the removal of the 51st brigade from the ATO. I wanted to make the distinction that this unit is a RESERVIST unit mobilized in the last couple of months from west Ukraine--these are not the regular army nor are they national guard. They're just average men from west Ukraine, drafted under the mobilization. Also remember, part of this unit was killed at Volnavakha. I saw an interview yesterday at one of the 51st's camps. When these men were called up, they were told they would be guarding the northwest Ukrainian border--instead they were sent to the ATO. They're paid $100/mo and they're not given food. What passes for drinking water at their camp looks like brown swill. Now, they refuse to fight or move from their present location. This was/is Ukraine's largest reservist unit.
- While Ukr nationalist forces are making headway in the north of the theater, NAF forces are making even more in the south. NAF has secured the military "bases" around Lugansk and at least two border checkpoints were abandoned yesterday when the Ukrainian guards simply left. Some reports have them fleeing across the border into Russia. It's rumored that about ~130 km of border with Russia is now "wide-open" for additional friendly visitors and gifts from Santa (or as they call him, "Dyed Moroz").
- In unrelated news, acting Ukrainian president Turchinov announced the 100% closure of the border with Russia, including Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts.
- People ARE beginning to flee the territory for Russia, but I don't have credible numbers yet. At least 2 of my wife's friends are making plans to flee the territory formerly known as Ukraine. Right now, our family plans to stay put, but does have a "bug-out" bag prepared just in case. I may have accidently left some silver rounds with them that is part of that bag, but I can't remember ;-)
- Ukrainian heavy artillery has encircled the city of Donetsk and are in position to begin shelling the city. However, Donetsk remains quiet and if artillery is there, no attack seems imminent.
- Seeing some rumblings that in Odessa there's a movement to follow Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts and declare independence. Nothing definitive yet, but I'm expecting this--as well as Kharkov.
- Credible reports are that NAF is receiving (locally and abroad) ~500 new volunteers daily
- Friendly reminder that Putin, Poroshenko and Obama will all be together in Normandy tomorrow. Should be interesting.
- NAF unsuccessfully attacked a Ukrainian border checkpoint in southwestern Donetsk oblast. Ukrainian air support arrived and from initial reports, traversed into Russian airspace.
- Ukrainian government has "closed" several border crossings with Russia. The question remains if they are closed yet manned or closed as in "lights are out and no one's home." News footage shows they're just deserted.
- So, for those keeping score at home, for all intents and purposes, the general trend is that it's becoming easier for Dyed Moroz to cross the border rather than cutting off the flow.
- Locals in Konstyantynivka have resurrected a 70-year-old soviet main battle tank (IS-3):
Not sure where they'll find the ammo for it and what they'll do with it, but shows you some of the resourcefulness and determination of the "terrorists". Now I understand why my wife doesn't want to throw anything away--might find a use for it someday....
- Shelling continues in Slavyansk and Semyonovka. Reports are that Semyonovka looks like a moonscape. I'm thinking aloud here, but does Kiev think EVERYONE in Slavyansk is a terrorist? Videos I've seen of the artillery fire sure seems that way.
- Kiev forces have also deployed T-80 main battle tanks (MBTs) and are using these to attack Slavyansk from the North and South. At least one tank has been damaged by the NAF using an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM).
- NAF has downed another aircraft around Slavyansk...uncomfirmed reports was that it was an AN-30 recon aircraft. Video
- Reports late yesterday that now approx 200 km of the southeastern border with Russia is now open or controlled by NAF militia.
- I've heard a lot about significant casualties on the Kiev side and all I've seen reported officially by Ukraine has been little to no casualties (0-8 per day). Yet, Kiev reports 200-500 terrorists killed daily. Meanwhile, there have been PLENTY of rumors about men buried in the field and hundreds of bodies being sent to Kharkov morgues. Call me crazy, but when I think about young men who were just mustered (NatGuard) and factor in the nature of urban warfare as well as presence of skilled fighters, I call B.S. that Kiev can achieve a 50:1 kill ratio in their "ATO". So yesterday the Mrs. showed me an article with some specific numbers that I'll share below. I asked a source of mine who is from Mariupol who gets pretty reliable information about fighting in the Donbass. He confirmed these numbers were accurate estimates based on all the information he has from 2 May to 5 June (the article says 2-31 May...he qualified that if we include this week, the numbers are good). He also said the list doesn't include 2 Su aircraft that were downed in the last couple of days. Here's the link: http://www.e-news.su/v-novorosii/13392-poteri-kievskoy-hunty.html Take a look at the list...I think you'll see some VERY interesting line items there.
- 70 years ago today, an allied group of nations landed on the beaches of Normandy to free western Europe from Nazi control. Yet, many of these same countries today are supporting a regime in Ukraine that uses groups and organizations made up of nazi-inspired elements, ideology and symbols to fight and kill people who disagree with the direction their country has taken. How far we have fallen....
Excellent, invaluable stuff. Thanks, SS!!
- Kiev has said that all militants in the Donbass must surrender or lay down their arms NLT Monday, 6/16
- Poroshenko has said the ATO needs to conclude in the next week
- Gas talks between Ukraine and Russia broke down today. Russia has given Ukraine the final ultimatum to pay their gas debt by 10 a.m. on 6/16
- 3 different and unrelated contacts have said that "something big" is expected (by Kiev) in the next few days. 14th and 16th were among the dates given (yes, I know my track record and that a broken clock is right twice a day....)
-- One contact specified that Kiev has moved something "bigger than GRAD (multiple rocket launchers)" onto the hill overlooking Slavyansk...plan is to use it on Saturday
-- Another contact (no relation btwn these two) lives south of Slavyansk...said that "we just have to live through the weekend"
-- Lots of other chatter about ATO entering the final (and escalated) phase starting this weekend
- Car bomb attempt today on DNR President, Denis Pushilin's car. Event just happened a few minutes ago and details are scarce. But, Pushilin is not in Donetsk ATT.
- Militia commander in Slavyansk, Igor Strelkov routinely puts out short interviews. Here's the latest:
Interview by KP Reporters, Alexander Kots and Dmitry Steshin
June 12, 2014
IGOR STELKOV: I Saw No Ammo Like That During the First or the Second Chechen War
In his interview to “KP,” Commander-in-Chief of the Donetsk People’s Republic Militia commented on the latest events in Slavyansk and around (photography, video, online stream)
A: We do not expect an assault in the next few days. However, the enemy will, surely, try to feel out our defences, same as they did last night in the Artyom village. No matter, we hit one of their “BTR” APCs.
They have surrounded the city with artillery, at each checkpoint they put 2-4 tanks. Overall, they are conducting a proper siege, trying periodically to interrupt our communication lines. Electricity supply has been cut off in the city, water [supply] is blocked. The pipe was repaired, but flaps have been cut off around the Donetsk village. Water is being delivered only from artesian wells and rivers.
Q: In other words, are you saying that destruction from bombardments is not to blame for the lack of water? This is an intentional disconnection by the Ukrainian side?
A: Exactly so. The emergency at the water supply line was resolved by the municipal services, and water was [then] cut off by order of the Ukrainian military. Same with electricity. Today, a brigade sent by “Donbassenergo” traveled to us from Gorlovka, so as to repair the power lines between Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. Despite an existing agreement, the Ukrainian military refused to let them into the region.
Q: What is happening on the other fronts – in Donetsk, in Lugansk?
A: The enemy continues to advance on the direction leading to Donetsk. They have put up new checkpoints in the vicinity of Kurakhovo, Konstantinovka and Ukrainsk. Step by step, they advance on Donetsk, trying to encircle it.
Q: Are attacks on multiple fronts possible?
A: The have a great number of tanks, soldiers and artillery. In theory, that should be enough. They are experiencing very serious problems with discipline and morale. At the checkpoints, there is universally heavy drinking, soldiers are refusing to follow their commanding officers’ orders. There are already instance of infighting with use weapons among the units of NazGuard and the Ministry of Defence. [Their] army is not only unprofessional, it does not want to fight. They are ready to fire at city blocks from afar with cannons and mortars or to batter Semyonovka with tanks from a safe distance. Yet when it comes to direct combat, no one is willing [to fight].
Q: What can you say about the strange incendiary ammunitions used by the [Ukrainian] army? There is talk of white phosphorus charges.
A: I am not such a big military expert so as to determine the type of ammunition by its appearance. In practice, I had never encountered such ammo. Neither during the first, nor during the second Chechen campaign. At first, I thought these were low-altitude discharges of the so-called “chandeliers” – special lighting bombs. However, “chandeliers” must be suspended on parachutes. Here we are talking about a [type] of cluster ammunition, which explodes in the air and floods certain areas with an incendiary mix. I do not know what type of ammunition this is.
Q: The militia tell us that professional tank and mortar crews have appeared on the Ukrainian side. Have they learned how to fight or are we talking about mercenaries?
A: I think that we are still talking about particular detachments of the Ukrainian army. We should not dismiss the enemy as talentless and useless. In every army, even the most dilapidated, there are professionals, masters of their craft, who can teach others willing to learn. However, it does not take a genius to remain in a stationary position, in absolute safety, 2.5 kilometers away, and shoot at one spot day after day.
Q: Are the militia seeing a growth in professionalism?
A: The militia is progressively turning into a fighting force, able to counteract the enemy on defence. Given the enemy’s colossal overwhelming superiority in heavy armaments, it is simply madness to attack them.
Q: Information has appeared on the Internet, citing you, that some type of ammunition with chemical or bacteriological weapons’ markings is being unloaded at the airport near Kramatorsk …
A: It is very difficult to unload anything at that airport. It is half controlled by the militia, at least its civilian part. Helicopters can land only on its most remote part. The militia cannot observe it from its positions. Accordingly, I cannot comment on that – I do not have any such information. We do have information that some weird train cars with strange markings have been unloaded, under heavy guard, between Cherkasskiy and Bylbasovka.
We suspect that something unconventional is being unloaded there. However, it’s impossible to say if this is chemical or bacteriological weaponry. We can only suspect this. Who it is that spread this information from my name I don’t know. On the Internet, I write only on one known platform, and several people have the permission to retype these messages verbatim. And in the past three days I have had no ability to go in the Internet. In the city, we have practically no access.
- Reminder that ~1,500 Ukrainian airborne troops (regulars, not Nat Guard) are still under siege at the Lugansk airport
- Yesterday, a Ukrainian Defense official said on public TV that Kiev plans to use special "filtration" camps to re-settle the sepratist area. I'd provide the link, but he was speaking Ukrainian and doubt you all would find that useful.
- Lots of reports about Ukrainian army AND Nat Guard dissenting and in some cases quitting the engagement area. Most complaints are about lack of pay. Some show their muster documents that state they are to be deployed to regions OTHER than the ATO. Nat Guardsmen complain they aren't on any official rosters nor orders of battle. I'd like to add that in Ukraine, if you go to war, you get a huge pension. So, Kiev puts together an army, but refuses to pay them and fudges the documents so they'll never have to pay them the benefits. Not sure what's worse...the fact that Kiev is so incompetent and dishonest or that so many young men are willing to kill their former countrymen if the money is right.
- Finally, remember that it's the West/US/NATO goal to goad Russia into invading. Russia has been doing everything short of that. The trend is escalation by Kiev, but how long can/will Russia refrain? Yesterday, a rally was held in Moscow to show support for the Donbass...SUCCESSFUL rallies don't happen in Moscow without the approval of the government. Putin's closest advisor has also called for a no-fly zone. Has the mood inside the Kremlin changed? Again, time will tell....
Silver Sooner, much appreciated.
Thanks Sooner, you updates are fantastic, such an important story that no one is getting info on, this is my source and it's appreciated
Someone has posted this comment:
Rumor is some big thing in the works from Kiev / NATO. Might start this weekend
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