A Ukrainian soldier pets a dog at the Belbek air force base not far from the city of Sevastopol, in Crimea, on March 21, 2014. Surly and dejected, many Ukrainian soldiers at the Perevalne base in Crimea deserted their posts today, crossing groups of buoyant Russian soldiers moving in -- but 200 were said to be resisting. Overwhelmed by superior force and on the day Russia formally claimed the Black Sea peninsula as its territory, the biggest base still holding out against a creeping month-long invasion was slowly giving up. AFP PHOTO / VIKTOR DRACHEV
Editor's Note: To counter Russian propaganda lies about the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula on Feb. 27, Dmitry Tymchuk has set up the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv. He served in the Army air defense from 1995-1998, the National Guard from 1998-2000 and in the Defense Ministry in subsequent years on missions to Iraq, Lebanon and Kosovo. His blogs are translated into English by Voices of Ukraine. The Kyiv Post has not independently verified his findings, but will correct any misinformation brought to our attention at email@example.com or 38-044-591-3344 or any of our contacts at www.kyivpost.com/contacts
Brothers and sisters!
Here is the summary for March 21
The bad news:
1. The exhaustion of our troops in Crimea has reached a critical point. On their side, there is the feeling of complete indeterminacy, and the bitter realization that they have been betrayed. Kyiv’s response to this is still limited to stories about “political instruments” and “the need to keep standing strong.”
They’re not even harmonizing anymore. These songs hurt the ear and turn the stomach, and all they result in is a strong wish to take off the gloves and throw some punches. I don’t know what our troop formations in Crimea will look like by the morning. What I do know is – unless the leaders in Kyiv take urgent steps to evacuate the soldiers and officers who remained loyal to their Oath, and transport them to the mainland, it won’t even be betrayal anymore. It will be villainy squared.
2. The much-praised partial mobilization, as might’ve been expected, turned into a sad act. People were yanked away from home and stuffed into various units, without even a proper medical check-up. Now, they’re being kept in the military for longer than the regulations say, without any documents that justify that. They are being threatened by prison sentences [in case they desert]. This means that a question arises – who, and how, will compensate them for the time they are being forced to take off work?
This makes me think of an old joke about a local field surgeon who attended an international conference. There, field medics from different countries were talking about the most pressing issues they had faced – for some, that would be brain surgery in field conditions, for some, shrapnel wounds. When it came to our surgeon, he said – for our field surgical practice, the hardest procedure is removing the tonsils.
‘How can this be?’ asked everyone. ‘This has to be the simplest surgery ever!’
‘Well, you see,’ said our surgeon, ‘in our army, everything is done through the ass [arseways].’
Jokes aside, however, nothing ever changes. Leave it to our mobilization people to turn the sacred mission of defending the Motherland into a farce.
3. Some sort of anti-crisis headquarters are being created in Ukraine, by you-know-who, in order to counteract the Russian invasion. If you ask me, that’s just pre-election campaigning. I read the list of the people included in those “headquarters” – and was, ahem, thoughtful (read: hysterical) for a while.
If someone disagrees with me, please explain to me this strange picture: Mr. Turchinov, a protege of Ms. Tymoshenko, is heading the “official” state machine, which, by definition, should be the one counteracting the aggression. If Turchinov, along with the Minister of Defense and the Head of the General Staff, are screwing around instead of working – Tymoshenko could’ve just said so, and, using her authority, suggest new candidates. Then some discussion could be held.
Instead, Tymoshenko is creating her own “headquarters.” On one hand, this is, basically, her statement that the trio of [Acting President and Parliament Speaker Olexander] Turchinov, [Acting Minister of Defense Admiral Ihor] Tenyukh, and [Head of the General Staff Mikhailo] Kutsin (along with the rest of the defense agencies) are unable to counteract the aggression. On the other hand, her “headquarters” bears no actual responsibility or liability for the events. If we win the war, they’ll be the first in line for the prizes. If we lose, they won’t be involved. I’m exaggerating, but this is the gist.
Anyway, if a consultation body is required, then we should turn around until we see the NSDCU [National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine]. That is the body you’re looking for. But do you see it doing any work? Me, I don’t. (The work of the NSDCU and its current staff is a separate issue, which I will come back to in the near future.)
The overall result we’re getting from this is – a bunch of freeloaders and soapbox orators are sitting by the levers and snoozing instead of using them, while their impotence is heavily exploited by their friends, similar freeloaders, to advertise themselves. This is truly bizarre.
The good news:
1. Signing the political portion of the EU Association Agreement increased Ukraine’s economic ratings immediately. We’re still far away from Europe. But now this is the distance between countries rather than planets.
For me, personally, Europe does not mean paradise. It’s an instrument that will help us grow. I don’t believe in the selflessness and holiness of the EU. But they need a Ukraine that is free of corruption, with transparent governance, and guaranteed protection of human rights. Whatever the motives behind their interests, this is a Ukraine that I also want to see. I hope that you agree with me.
Sadly, our liberation from the “sovok” [Soviet] mentality comes with pain and blood, in practice – a war. But fortunately, this liberation is still happening.
2. Today, we solved the puzzle to the picture of southeastern Ukraine. After some acts that were mainly for show, our intelligence services are finally getting a proper grip on the situation. The separatists are losing their morale and valuable staff members. That is the key to our success. I’ve already mentioned that Putin’s victory wasn’t only being forged in Rostov oblast [region], where he was piling up his troops for the invasion. First of all, he was preparing his victory in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk, where the separatists’ mayhem was going to be the strongest blow against Ukraine.
Without chaos, the probability of invasion drops drastically. This is why this is a very important victory – or near-victory, at least. Provided that Moscow won’t try to force the events, seeing that it is losing control over the situation.
3. In Odessa oblast [region], the MIA [law enforcement] and the border guard service are controlling all borderland areas. Block posts have been set up near the Transnistria border. The border is locked.
We previously made numerous reports about Russian special forces and “plainclothed men” being transported to Transnistria. They are instruments of diversion and espionage. Protecting our southern regions from them means protecting the country from Russia’s further expansion.
May the new day bring us the feeling of real and complete safety. That would be worth a lot.