The Ukrainian government’s antiterrorist operation in the east has dragged on for more than a month, yet Kremlin-backed separatism is growing. Moreover, rebels are confident enough to give ultimatums to the central government to withdraw troops or face consequences. In a video released on May 15 from Sloviansk, one of the separatist commanders threatened to destroy all military property, sparing no lives.
The separatists claim 10,000 fighters, 1,000 armored personnel vehicles, missile launchers and artillery vehicles ready to attack. By comparison, the Ukrainian military is hapless. Although Ukraine has 120,000 troops, only 6,000 are considered to be combat-ready.
Considering that the majority of residents in Luhansk and Donetsk oblast want to stay in Ukraine, the creation of partisan, Robin Hood-like armies are a natural response. The Donbas Battalion is comprised of ex-military men with combat experience. They operate covertly, destroying separatist roadblocks, capturing those they consider enemies and freeing buildings occupied by the Kremlin enthusiasts.