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You're reading: Sergiy Rakhmanin: Stepping to a non-hybrid defeat

Ukrainian politicians occasionally recognize in their statements that what is happening in the East of the country is a war, and Russia is a de facto belligerent.

But de jure the state does not consider the neighbor as an aggressor. Neither after annexation of Crimea, nor now, when the hostile Grads cover our territory with fire, and when columns of enemy's equipment openly cross the state border. Nobody hides from foreign journalists anymore, no one cover identifying signs on the armor.

Any war involves martial law, rupture of diplomatic relations, imposition of direct sanctions. It involves shooting at the aircrafts that violate our airspace and returning fire from the Grad rocket systems, self-propelled guns, howitzers and mortars. And it definitely doesn't involve humanitarian assistance from the actual aggressor, no matter whether he respects the rules, who shall examine the goods, and under whose patronage they are delivered.

The authorities clearly understand that Russia is the aggressor, but stubbornly refuse to officially recognize it, making themselves look foolish.

An unrecognized aggressor has every right to provide humanitarian aid to the victims of the internal conflict (this is what anti-terrorist operation means) on the neighboring territory. Formally, he is not an aggressor, right? And while being the aggressor, he has the moral right to ignore the rules, conventions and procedures.

Everyone understands that hybrid war has very specific rules. Then why does someone complain that "humanitarian convoy" turned out to be hybrid too? We either play by our rules, or take the enemy's. But this may be the first step towards a non-hybrid defeat.

Ukrainian authorities are not to be envied. They cannot call the war a war, because they have to follow their allies' tastes, who are satisfied with hybrid newspeak, and don't need to take uncomfortable moves. The West can refuse to provide us with the necessary military and technical aid, claiming that Ukrainian troops are armed and better equipped than the separatists. “It's not a war, it's the anti-terrorist operation: Ukraine is not at war with Russia,” the West says.

Meanwhile, the same West (on a commercial basis) provides Ukraine with intelligence services, which clearly show that "non-belligerent" Russia regularly carries out attacks from its territory, and transfers personnel and weapons.

Kyiv Post+ is a project to offer special coverage of Russia's war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.

The European Union and the United States can be understood - they have their own interests, goals and priorities. But their tiring meditation actually ended with the imposition of sanctions. Ukraine is only getting ready to impose them. They will definitely hurt our economy, but the countries that have already imposed them will not benefit either. It's not just their war. This is our war, even if we're ashamed to call it one by name or not.

And it's not just about sanctions. About those who kindled the war and financed the killings, has any of those people been put behind bars? Don't we know their names? Isn't there enough evidence? Or not enough of political will?

In the context of the real war, the state is engaged in a "hybrid struggle" with a very real “fifth column.” Undisguised enemies can freely leave the country, and will be solemnly put on a wanted list afterwards.

Those who stayed continue to lounge in parliament, scurry in the corridors of the Cabinet and the Presidential Administration, win at corrupt tenders. A hybrid fight with a "glamorous underground" looks especially cynical amid the real war with very real deaths.

In a private conversation one diplomat admitted: “When I talk with your high-ranking officials, I do not see them as leaders of a belligerent power... Maybe I'm wrong ..." Maybe. By the way, I forgot to ask him what was the key word in his sentence - "belligerent" or "leaders."

In the occupied territories civilians -- still Ukrainian citizens -- suffer from consequences of militants' actions. The state started caring about them only when the caravan of "white and fluffy" KamAZ with strange filling headed to the Ukrainian border. Suddenly three domestic trucks with humanitarian help were formed.Why didn't they do this earlier? Did they wait for a reminder from Moscow? Have they forgotten about the Red Cross? Did they wait for tip from (Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaliy) Churkin?

You can't complain of imposed help from the aggressor and accept it at the same time. It is impossible to be a petitioner and the dispenser.

Ukrainian allies still have doubts about our solvency, as well as the aggressor, who is more and more convinced of his impunity.

We can only guess about the main objective of the "humanitarian convoy" operation.

One may assume that Moscow needs a “correct picture” for internal use, that it wants at least partly to divert attention from the Boeing story, the July 17 downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight that killed 298 people, that it preys on the troubles it created for Donetsk and Luhansk citizens.

But, among other things, the Kremlin tries its limits. “Try to refuse. Try to not let our convoy inside. We will hitch a trailer with armored vehicles to it, not openly. Your actions? Will you shoot? Try us.”

The Kremlin hopes that this completely frank rudeness will increase both our compliancy and West's compromises. The West still doesn't believe in our resistance, and doesn't want the full-scale war.

It is no coincidence that the formation of the "humanitarian" convoy was followed by rumors about the new "ceasefire" negotiations. Poroshenko talks with Putin occasionally. It's hard to tell how often they get in touch, but last week the information about their hour and a half phone talk was confirmed by two sources.

What have they agreed on? Who will make concessions? Is there a direct link between this conversation and the mass exchange of prisoners? Is it connected with strange behavior of our government in Russian convoy story?

The reasons why the Ukrainian government has not introduced martial law in war-torn areas are yet unknown. Experts do not have a common ground in their view on this legal regime, but there is a version that the main obstacle to martial law is the upcoming parliamentary elections. According to Article 83, Ukrainian parliament has immunity in case of martial law. There is no doubt that this parliament must bear political responsibility, but it's sad if the political situation prevailed over the state needs. During war times the elections may become hybrid. It can lead to (together with the old electoral law) to a hybrid parliament, where hybrid collaborators replace outright enemies. I hope I'm wrong.

We can confidently speak about our success, because it is based on timid, confused, not fully comprehended, but for the first time in nearly a quarter century, real pride for the homeland.

It's enough to believe in our victory over the country, where everything becomes hybrid, from freedom of speech to patriotism.

Sergiy Rakhmanin is deputy chief editor at Zerkalo Nedeli newspaperl; translated by Kyiv Post staff writer Iryna Yeroshko or

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