This Is The War

This Is The WarThe events of mid-summer in Ukraine and in the breakaway "republics" of Donbass can be called only the escalation.

Eighteen months ago, the President Poroshenko, speaking in the National Guard Training Center, promised to quickly resolve the issue of sending its rapid response team to the forefront for "break-in the battle." At the same time the OSCE observers in Ukraine reported a sharp increase in armed conflict in the Donbass region. After a couple of weeks with a difference of three days, the Head of the State Institute for Strategic Studies, the Ukrainian President's aide Vladimir Gorbulin and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin informed about the approximation of a major war in the east of Ukraine at a meeting with the Ambassadors of France and Germany.

On the 6th of July, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has announced about developing measures in the event of a full-scale invasion of the country, providing reinforcement of work with the reservists. They planned even to create a base of the guerrilla movement in the occupied territories. At the same time the higher ranks called the self-proclaimed “DNR” and “LNR” the occupied territories.

On the 23rd of July, the deputy of Verkhovna Rada, Nadiia Savchenko was in favor of centralization of power in Ukraine, speaking about the need of "hard hand" for Ukraine. Immediately in the leading mass media a discussion was started by the Secretary of the National Security Council Turchynov: a fair amount of experts, deputies acting generals and officials of quite a high rank literally demand the introduction of martial law throughout the country. And one member of the Parliament from the block of Petro Poroshenko even called the date of its introduction - Monday, August 1, 2016.

If all were limited to verbal interventions! Unfortunately, all these prophecies receive their daily confirmation from the "DNR" / "LNR" and the ATO zone. According to our sources, the aggravation began after the 29th of June. Then Ukrainian mechanized infantry, supported by tanks, seized two key heights in the area of Debaltsevo. At night, the troops of "DNR" / "LNR" transferred to this site their reserves and the next day they restored the status quo. According to the reports, six rebels were killed, while the inevitable loss of the Ukrainian side was unknown. Almost at the same time, a full-scale fighting started in the industrial zone at Avdeevka, which was visited by our correspondents, and then the situation was repeated along almost the entire demarcation line.
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What happens if a big war will come back? What forces now confront each other on both sides? How many the dead and the wounded will be? Can there be intense battles in the big cities? Will the opponents be able to achieve their goals, and under what circumstances?

We asked all these questions to the rebuilt army’s commanders from "DNR" / "LNR". According to many of them, too many people in Russia and Ukraine today are prone to benign assessment of the prospects for a full-scale war, which is predicted by the politicians. Public opinion in the rear - for all the inappropriateness of such an expression – is adapted to ongoing losses in the reports from the Donbas.

At the same time civilians from the zone of fighting and the professional militaries (in this case, in the breakaway enclaves) see it as a grand catastrophe.

The two members of the Russian special services, who were observing the situation in the "DNR" / "LNR" in person and by the reports of agents, agreed to comment on the opinion of the combatants.

The editorial uses for the analysis officially published data and the statements by senior military and government officials in Ukraine. We have not yet received an equally candid answers to these questions from the Ukrainian militaries.
But in the future history of the war of Donetsk, which is being created before our eyes by the efforts of the journalists of the leading countries of the world, without doubt, there will be this article as well.

In contrast to the period of active hostilities, which was commented from both sides by Ukrainian, Russian and foreign journalists, today the general public hardly knows about the real situation in the armed forces of "DNR" and "LNR". Meanwhile, there was a grand transformation in them, and this is, perhaps, the most important factor affecting the future of Donbass, about which it is spoken so much in Kiev, Moscow and the capitals of Normandy format.

In January-July of this year, during the business journalist trips, we met the experienced combatants. Many of them have the background of the Soviet and Russian military schools and Academies and after the disarmament of militias happened in the First and Second Army Corps of the Army of "DNR" / "LNR", signed the contracts and so, they are now the official militaries of the unrecognized state formations.

Some of them occupy the senior positions there. We asked them to speak about the past, the present and the future of the armed conflict in the Donbass region from a purely professional point of view.

"LNR" / "DNR": who commands the army

Originally, the process of formation of government bodies in the "LNR" originally was controlled by people from the military intelligence, and that of the "DNR" – by the counter-intelligence and security forces. This gave rise to the differences in the approaches to their management. For example, in "LNR" there is no Ministry of Defense.
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The coordination and communication with the Second Army Corps, created in this area, is carries out by Plotnitsky’s assistant with a small group. Plotnitsky did not have personal militias groups.

The "DNR", on the other hand, in an attempt to take control over the disparate militias, the Ministry of Defense was created. The Ministry supported the visibility of more centralized management, trying to organize the interaction between these units.

Shortly after the beginning of 2015, many of the militia commanders, who completely come off, were killed or sent into retirement. The Russian and Ukrainian media did not doubt that these military leaders have been eliminated with the assistance of the Russian security services, although there were no facts, directly pointing at it. After that, the Ministry of Defense of DNR functions became very decorative.

Later, with the creation of the First and Second Army Corps of "DNR" / "LNR", some former commanders were involved in their composition. These armed forces live a completely independent life from the politicians, not responding to the attempts of imitating the control over them. And such attempts are taking place.

The difference in approaches to the management, planted by the "founding fathers" of the two republics, turned into a serious political and economic consequences: unlike Plotnitsky in "LNR", the leader of the "DNR" Zakharchenko really gained a lot. According to our sources, he and his entourage most actively seize property and business of fellow citizens who have left to the territory controlled by Ukraine.

In June, the commanders of the army of "DNR" / "LC" began to talk openly about real estate in Spain, purchased by the first persons of Zakharchenko’s entourage during the last year. In spring, one of the special services’ officer who regularly attends "DNR" to meet with the agents and monitor the situation, described the situation like this:

- Zakharchenko was a bandit and remains such. The scale of problems in the management of the city of one million, often critical, did not lead to an increase in the personality. He is unteachable. The other day, being drunk, he beat the cook in the restaurant. In the morning, without explanation or warning, he missed the meeting, which he was supposed to lead and went to put up and apologize. Here is his level.

This Is The WarBy the beginning of this year, a significant portion of the large stores of Donetsk region are nationalized and are run by the wife of Zakharchenko. Loads of humanitarian convoys from the Russian Federation are distributed with Zakharchenko’s participation. A large part of these products are then sold in the stores of his wife. At the same time, the humanitarian aid sent by Rinat Akhmetov fully reaches the destination field.

That is why the control over the "army" is so important for Zakharchenko: losing the possibility to use force, he risks losing both the government and the family business.

Clinging to his authority, the political leader of the "DNR" constantly gave rise to administrative and military initiatives. Back in early 2015, he suddenly gave the order to launch an offensive in Mariupol. It was a pure gamble, an attempt to unleash carnage and draw into it as many troops as possible from both sides, to give a spark to the battle which would be impossible to stop.

However, the majority of commanders refused to obey Zakharchenko and the initiative curled just as suddenly as it was started.

Incompetent, unprepared assault of Mariinka, organized by Zakharchenko at the beginning of June 2015, led to the loss of more than 30 dead and more than 100 wounded. In the last year, there were not savageries like these – the government of "DNR" completely lost the ability to control the army.

The Ministry of Defense of "DNR" is headed by someone Kononov, with the alias of “King”, - known fighter, a former coach of Sambo and small businessman. He is famous for having practiced together with his beloved the trips on the tank along the runway of Donetsk airport, causing the fire of the Ukrainian artillery.

These were adrenalin-causing trips, no more. Psychologically, this is the highest limit of his talents on the part of the organization of the defense of the unrecognized republic.

We should only add, that in response to the call of this brave man, the Ukrainian artillery used to contrive a duel, which often ended in transition shelling of residential areas of the city.

The story of Command Staff Officer:

- Many of the commanders of the militia rushed into the battle not to defend their homeland, but to grab and thieve the enterprises, cafes, restaurants and hotels. This form of supply for the troops in the end are used by up to 90% of guerrilla commanders.

There was a case: due to the peculiarities of the operational plan, one brigade for the defense of Debaltsevo was transferred from the Second to the First Army Corps. It was known for collecting bribes from the drivers for travelling on roads under its “protection”. The then-Commander was the brother of the King. He was done away with in the traditional way in the USSR: he was sent to the Corp to increase in rank.

Because part of the money went to the King, he took the elimination of the “feeder” very painfully. And answered asymmetrically. King recorded the talks between the commanders of various parts of the First Corp (often with bad mouthing), with unflattering assessments of its leadership. And then he took them to the superiors of the Corp housing and employees of special services, familiar to him. These intrigues were partially successful – his rivals sometimes were dismissed. Next to these passions, the situation in LNR, where Plotnitskiy - without much PR and visible results - is trying to resume work at factories under guarantees from Russia regarding the sales, seems almost a pastoral picture.

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How adequately is the situation in “LDNR” evaluated by the politicians in Moscow? This can be judged by this episode.

The official delegation from Russia, arrived in Donetsk with a visit, accompanied humanitarian help. A person, who presented himself as Rogozin’s, was going to offer Zakharchenko a commercial project: to expand on the territory of the "DNR" the set of stores "Magnit". The answer from the local beau monde was eloquent: "Are you mad? Zakharchenko, whose wife has a monopoly on all the major stores in the area, will create - with your help - a competitor? You look like you are serious men, but you thinking is childishly enthusiastic."

Although, of course, Russia tried to support the self-proclaimed republic not only at the highest level. The ordinary people also participated in the process.

The story of Command Staff Officer:

- Some civilians (from Russia – Ed.) found our militaries and step forward with such proposals: "We offer to prepare your gunners at the professional level, able to conduct fire. We are a pro. "

"Okay, drive up, let us discuss this matter", - answered the locals. Three big fish arrived. We already took part in the war there, they say. We are ready to assist you in the preparation of correction specialists and artillery reconnaissance.

- Sorry, - ask the responsible people of DNR army – do you have some basic education?

- I am a mechanic. But it is not important.

- Have you served in the army?

- No, I have not served.

The commander, who participated in the conversation:

- At first I did not even realize that they have offered their services for money. After that, everything was quite funny. In DNR/ LNR there were a lot of interesting things in terms of criminal activity. Well, these guys kissed the hare’s foot and got nothing. No hotels, no restaurants. So they wanted us to make a protection for them, and they would go under it on our territory. Those guys were criminals.

The defeat of the army of thugs

Military reform in the enclave, according to our interlocutors, was equally forced and belated measure. On the eve of the bloody battles in the area of Debaltsevo, the future strategic advantage of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was obvious for local militaries (as opposed to politicians): they had no doubt about it. There was no hope in disparate militias, whose logistics was organized by commanders’ frankly gangster methods.
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But the political situation in the breakaway republics did not allow to begin the “according-to-the-rules” construction of the army to before winter 2014/2015.

The organization of the First and Second Army Corps helped to build a more professional defense in case of sudden Ukrainian onset. The first Army Corps, located in the "DNR", is bigger according to the area under its control, and the number of people. The total number of this military group - 30-32 thousand people.

On the other side of the demarcation line they are opposed by up to t90 Ukrainian battalion tactical groups (about 100 thousand people). The Commanders of the Armed Forces of Ukraine trained the troops, the fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles was significantly increased – this is the main means of military intelligence in the war.

The story of Command Staff Officer:

- On the territory of the DNR/ LNR, immediately after the end of the war, there were many military units, each of which sought to maintain their own prisoners of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And they earned on prisoners’ exchange. Ukrainians usually paid an average of 10 000 dollars per one person. The relatives mostly, of course. What should I say? It is banditry in practice.

Motorola, as far as I know, was not engaged in this, but Givi – yes, the Cossacks, Intelligence Service of DNR – they all are washed-scum. Imagine that they were selling even the bodies of dead militaries from the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They collected them directly in the field, contained in the refrigerators. The bodies with the documents were particularly appreciated. They contacted the relatives: would you want to bury him in a human way? And this practice was in use not only in 2014, all this chaos occasionally reappeared even after the operation under Debaltsevo in 2015. It happened.

Partly because of this reason they started to create the connection of Army Corps of DNR / LNR in December 2014. And in early 2015, when the massacre in Debaltsevo happened, they had not even been formed. Previously, it was impossible to make this reform. But by April 2015, we managed to disarm some 40 detachments. This is about 70% of staff who took part in the defense of the “republics”. There were Chechens, and only they.

Four-fifths of these gangs agreed to disarm voluntarily. The last was the "Troy". Even their patron came from Russia for the talks on arms delivery, in fact, this unit was formed before the visit of Kobzon, a garrison, so to say, organized for a short time. Well, Kobzon left, and the group remained.

They talk a lot about their heroic deeds, but if you seriously re-examine their stories, it turns out that in reality they did not do anything useful, they simply participated in looting and thefts.

50% of members of these units were the volunteers from Russia. Their commander (under the alias “White”) was called for talks five times by the command of the First Army Corps, he was offered to keep the unit in the Corps after dropping out of the “slag”. We tried to give someone a chance. But after that, eight people from this unit were ignominiously expelled from the First battalion of the territorial defense of the First Army Corps - for drug use. 18 people are now incarcerated and about 10 of them are still wanted.

It is possible to meet this type of people from both sides. For example, the four Islamic battalions were called to the battle zone in recent months. Two of them are formed, two are on formation, one is purely Chechen. We possess the data on the battalion’s commander. There are private military units, three groups, mainly Poles, 300-400 people. They are on duty at the forefront. We met even Negros! Well, these are isolated cases, of course.

By the way, from Donetsk side, there was also a detachment of private military company "Wagner", they are now brought out. Their task was to fight against the enemy's reconnaissance and sabotage groups at the forefront.

As for the monetary compensation, the situation has been leveled off, too. From the 20th of January, the new payments were introduced for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They began to divide the militaries on those who simply serve, and those who are in the zone of the ATO. The last one receive additional 1200 hryvnia (about 3100 rubles - Ed.).. And there are soldiers who are on the front line, they added to their basic salary 4200 hryvnia (about 10 800 rubles - Ed.). So, in total, the simple soldier on the front line gets about 8,000 hryvnia (about 20 800 rubles -. Ed.), sometimes even more. For comparison, a fighter of the First and Second Army Corps receives today 15 000 rubles.

The story of deputy brigade commander for combat training:

- Procurement of DNR / LNR army is very different in different areas. Sometimes it is so bad, that they use weapons of our grandfathers. The local territorial defense battalions of DNR are on the leading edge. They do not have antitank missile systems, well, to strengthen them against tanks, the commander has approved the following plan. At the local stores they found about 50 five-shot anti-tank rifles from the times of the Great Patriotic War, dated 1943. To make a shot from a sniper rifle, you have to pop out. And with the anti-tank rifle you do not need to do this. It can shoot from 500 meters, taking almost everything, except the tank.
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The military correspondent of "Novaia", Julia Polukhina, wrote that in summer of 2014 the troops of "LNR" consisted by more than 60% from the locals, while in "DNR" in the operating units there were sometimes up to 80% of people, who arrived to the battle zone. Today, Russian citizens have virtually disappeared from the rank and file of “DNR/LNR” army. Primarily, this is due to the cessation of active hostilities and stop of volunteers’ financing by big and rich benefactors.

Of the approximately 32,000 personnel of the two Army Corps, up to 30,000 are citizens of Ukraine, which is confirmed by the observations of travelling editorial staff, documents and personal testimonies of our interlocutors.

On the experience, past and present – the story of Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army brigade "DNR" / "LNR":

- When the units were formed before Debaltsevo’s operation, there was such a statistics: two-thirds of the locals in Lugansk and more than half of newcomers from the other regions of Russia and Ukraine in Donetsk. For about 40% of the personnel dropped the weapon and fled during the first week of the operation.

More than 2000 people left the battlefield. Not less than one third of militaries from the Armed Forces of Ukraine deserted out of Debaltsevo.

At the first stage of this epic psychology was simple: I fight to the limits of my city, and it is not my business what's coming next. Now, this is different. For example, the leadership of Army Corps broke away with the King, became enemies because the unit was taken away from his brother – and it was a tool for making profit. But logistics, security, fire control has been sharply improved! However, this is not the argument for some heads of the republic, it goes unheard, they do not pay attention to it.

The chances of Ukraine

This Is The WarAt the time, on the request of the edition, the Ministry of Defense sent a letter stating the constant presence of a very large contingent of the Armed Forces of Russia on the territory of the "LNR" / "DNR". According to the General Staff of Armed Forces of Ukraine, it is about 13,000 of personnel, fully staffed units and several hundred pieces of military equipment for different purposes.

If we assume that the Ukrainian military did not make a mistake, what does it mean from a purely military point of view?

Those, who really ruled the military operations in the Donbass, expressed their views. In a brief retelling, it is as follows.

At various times on multiple polygons along the border with Ukraine, a number of battalion tactical groups, formations and units were coming. The interlocutors have emphasized in a special way: during totally different periods and in different places. If they are all gathered in one place at one time, there will not be even 12 thousand of militaries.

Because a battalion tactical group is a maximum of 600 people plus attached equipment subunits. And the largest number of them, gathered on the border with Ukraine, was 6 (only one person indicated the number 7).

More than four and a half thousand Russian militaries never gathered near the border with Ukraine. And NATO's intelligence knows it well.
And if the group of 13,000 had operated in the territory of Ukraine, it could have easily grabbed - in any direction, it does not matter, Donetsk or Luhansk - the whole territory of the region within its administrative boundaries, and free it from the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s units as soon as possible. Even if they had an overwhelming numerical superiority at that time.

But if so, from the point of view of professionals, did the Ukrainian Army have a chance to succeed in 2014?

Opinion of Deputy Chief of Intelligence Brigade:

- The Armed Forces of Ukraine could have easily defeated the partisans, but they made a foolish mistake of not entering directly in the city of Donetsk. The rebels did not have the Joint Staff, the disorganization would start. And Lugansk in territory terms is one forth of Donetsk. It was so easy to take it. But Ukrainian leaders decided not to encircle the city, leaving a humanitarian corridor, then divide into two parts and start stripping.

And these are the words of his colleague in the leadership of one the Army Corps’ Staff of "DNR" / "LNR":

- There was a moment, when the Armed Forces of Ukraine could build on successfully and win completely. It was when Strelkov was still here. If they had not stopped. It is not known why they acted so hesitantly. They could very well take the major cities even without fatal losses. It was stupid to pull the troops in such a thin sausage along the border. Total stupidity.

The level of operations’ planning, including Debaltsevo is considered by our command as being very low. Total absence of order. But they will not always be this way. In the future they will correct state of affairs. Although they will not be able to manage all this senseless volunteer freemen, of course, they will not retract them - the opposition will not give its permission.

This is a negative factor in the military development of Ukraine, which actually works in favor of Donbass.

However, all our sources noted that the strengthening of the positions and the combat readiness of Armed Forces of Ukraine recently was in full swing. Since the summer of 2015, the Ukrainian Army is gradually gaining strength. Along the demarcation line the layered infrastructure for the future fighting was built.

State Engineering and construction company with good technology park equipped the silos of general purpose and command centers with paved communications. The excavators excavate, a standard shipping container was inserted into a trench, reinforced concrete floors were put on top, which were then re-covered with soil.
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You must agree, this is not the checkpoints made of tires on which the journalists laughed in spring 2014.

However, according to intelligence reports the First and Second Army Corps, as well as according to the testimony of defectors and deserters, the state of the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s departments today is far from ideal. Food is imported for the fighters once in 5-6 days, but they eat all in three days. So this forces soldiers to live on grazing: they give scrap metal, are involved in the trafficking and smuggling of goods into the territory of the enemy. They use money sent from home.

We should tell also about the levying of tolls on the protected roads. According to the local residents and drivers, this practice is fixed on the bridge near the village Schastije, on the roads in the direction of Marinka, Avdeevka and Mariupol. Until recently, the fighters from the units of "DNR"/ "LNR" were engaged in the same practice.

The story of Command Staff Officer:

- In spite of these shortcomings, failures in the supply and organization, still the Armed Forces of Ukraine would win sooner or later, if there were no changes in the army of DNR / LNR. What are the advantages of the regular army before the insurgency? When Leonid led his unit to Thermopylae, he met a detachment of Greek allies. They had an interesting talk with their commander who boasted strength of the squad (it had 1500 fighters). Leonid said, "Who are in your unit? The artisans, the farmers. And I have soldiers. " It happens, that former students are recruited into the regular Armed Forces, but Engels rightly pointed to the advantages of organized warfare on another example of the Franco-Turkish war.

And to this day, personnel training, its equipment, coordination of actions in the unit, the presence of military equipment, intelligence units are put at the forefront as the key elements of military strength. We can imagine a partisan unit with the same intelligence means. But they must be served, and the militias never reaches to meet this task: the equipment is used only to the first failure. There will never be a number of such facilities in a partisan unit.

The Army of Ukraine had all these advantages over the disparate separatist forces. Since the arrival of Sterlkov in Slaviansk, nobody in DNR fought on the outskirts of his village, nobody was eager to help the neighbors. Slavyansk’s defense ended with the city surrender. Therefore, we consider Strelkov neither a skilled military leader, nor even a hero.

The story of the commander of the brigade:

- The number of power units of Ukraine in the ATO zone never reached the numbers, officially announced by its political and military leadership.

They piled the numbers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Interior Ministry, frontier guards and employees of the Security Council of Ukraine. But when the authorities voice guide numbers, the citizens of Ukraine should understand that only the Armed Forces of Ukraine are fighting. All the others are in fact, the serving personnel.

Today (as for the period of January-February 2016 -. Ed.) on three directions - Donetsk, Lugansk and Mariupol - up to 70 thousand employees of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are concentrated. And 30 000 provide accompanying services. By April, they should bring the key group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine up to 100 thousand plus 30 thousand of serving personnel. According to my estimates, during the peak period of fighting in the area of ATO about 35 thousand militaries acted, scattered in different directions. At the same time on our side only 8 000 people (at best) opposed them from our side.

And Zakharchenko and his assistants managed to make money even on these scattered detachments. For example, the locals gave application for 5500 people. At the command of the Corps they agreed, finding out that they can equipped one brigade and two separate assault battalion plus two Special Forces Battalion. They began to build all this crowd. And there were only 2500 people. And where are the other half? After all, the money had been allocated for 5500.
It means, money were stolen, and the personnel was only half-equipped. When all this came up, they began to gloss over the situation, and the command of the Corps filed a report.

It's a shame: we are working like hell, forming everything from the scratch, and Zakharchenko’s people almost openly declare that they consider us their attendants ...

While giving different details, all our interlocutors agree on one thing: the attack of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is very likely to happen. This belief is based on the understanding that the Minsk agreement contain two points, which implementation is impossible (in their opinion). The authirities of "DNR" / "LNR" will not give up the Ukrainian border control to Ukrainian security officials with the support of Russia. The leadership of Ukraine cannot change the Constitution according to the spirit and letter of the Minsk agreements.

Ukrainian society shows militant mood. They dominated for the most part in Western Ukraine and in Kiev (but soldiers are recruited into the army mostly from the South and East of Ukraine). This is a very important part of Ukrainian society, and an even greater share of the elite, concentrated mainly in the capital, is inspired by the experience of Russia in the recent war in the Caucasus - the conclusion of peace agreements in Khasavyurt, was followed by a period of forces’ accumulation and the rapid defeat of the Chechen militia in the Second Chechen war.
It is tempting to imagine Minsk agreements as a kind of close historical analogue of the Khasavyurt agreements.

If the strategic operation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine break out with the aim to release Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the rebels, it will be huge military explosion. Ukrainian army has become stronger thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the State and society, and more organized largely with the help of allies.

But the First and Second Army Corps of the army of "DNR" / "LNR" will be on the defensive, and the law of the defensive battle in terms of the losses has not been canceled. And most importantly, this will be a new bloodshed between hardened, not going to repeat past mistakes, highly motivated (our journalists are more and more sure about it after every new mission) militaries, who have accumulated anger and ammunition; between the armies. The battle will inflame - and this will be incomparable even with the hottest battles of 2014-2015; both sides will suffer huge losses.

"Ukrainian army will have to attack. And I do not envy them"

Interview with deputy Army Commander of "DNR" / "LNR"

This Is The War- President Poroshenko said that on the border with Ukraine there is the concentrated grouping of Russian troops of 32 000 people, ready to attack. Is this true? Is massive gatherings of the Russian troops on this side of the border a warning to Ukrainian military or politicians?

- Where did you take the numbers? Today there are only two tactical battalion groups on at the border. During recent military trainings they have raised the whole South District, it is true. But the district troops are exactly there, where they were in recent years, under Yushchenko and under Yanukovych. Fundamentally, nothing has changed. This is not the border with Ukraine, this is gigantic territory, almost half of Europe. It is advantageous for him to voice such terrible numbers – he is the politician. But I assure you, this is nonsense. Well, the manipulation of numbers, if you want.

It is clear that politicians have to justify their inaction. They are looking for ways to do this always, everywhere. In this case it is convenient to refer to the Russian Army on the border.

- On the side of Ukraine, the volunteers are fighting too, combined battalions with their symbols. They get most of the aid, which is collected by the volunteers, because they are always spoken about. How are they assessed by their opponents in the army of “DNR/LNR”?

- Yeah, the guys from infantry or airborne of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are not on the first place among the public. But the battalions of the National Guard were not While on the forefront, if we give serious assess. I can say surely, that they were not noted at the forefront under Debalcevo as well.

The prisoners have repeatedly shown that these units were engaged in the "strengthening of the discipline" among the others.

In Ukraine, the legend was created about the heroism of its fighters. For example, about what happened at the Donetsk airport. In my opinion, these guys were sent for slaughter in order to create a legend. The airport has no strategic value, there is nothing to hold there.

But to move from the position in an organized way across the airfield, they had to overcome four kilometers of pure space. When they were pressed by the militias, they had no way out. Almost everyone who tried to move away, was killed. They were killed in hundreds, only few groups were able to move away.

And to be honest, speaking about DNR, no one offered them to surrender, just because no one had such a power. Disparate groups stood around them without any serious combat interaction. Who they were to give up? To this scumbag psychopath "Givi"? The defenders were just doomed. Artillery beat without interruption on the terminal, on those the remaining in the basement – by shaped charges, they made holes in the floor.

I myself was very interested in the issue of participation of volunteer divisions in the operations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, I studied it. So, they were no be seen nowhere in the first line, on the front line, in the transition to the offensive. Yes, they have nothing harder than mortar. Now the situation is changing. For example, the battalion "Aidar" is introduced as a separate division into the newly formed under White Church the Tenth mountain-infantry brigade.
It is planned to use it in the Carpathians, it is not all right there as well.

But the most interesting thing is that they are all now completely given to the American structure. More precisely, to the NATO structure. We have teams and individual battalions. They do not, only mechanized and motorized infantry brigades. There are three separate tank brigades. That is, the staff and the infrastructure that can be deployed very quickly for a specific task.
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In general, our opinion of the battalions of the National Guard, which we directly faced, in terms of war professionals is bad. This is not because of personal training of the fighters, somehow it is just better than average – I speak about a bad team composition of these units. They are, of course, cool and often give interviews. But in fact, they have commanders.

- From "DNR" "LNR" side the Ukrainian Army is confronted by another army, with its advantages and disadvantages. How can you characterize it?

- The difference between the "guerrilla forces" from what is now established on the territory of the DNR/ LNR, is serious. Of course, the year is not enough for such a work. It is very short period of time. But they managed to change the outlook of soldiers up to 70. Only now, those who are in officer positions, are beginning to understand that, without organization, without the normal commanding staff, in the future - however it is developing – there will be nothing to catch.

Gangster style has no future, everything will end badly. That is why now Zakharchenko has a minimum number of votes of support among the local militaries. The big disadvantage of today is a rotation system. After 10 months, only 45% is left to serve for the next term. The next rotation will take 90 percent. And it means - all the training must be repeated from the square number one.

Ukraine is facing the reality that in ATO zone there will be only contractors serving their term. As for now, around 20 000 people are going to retire from the Army. The Armed Forces of Ukraine want 80% of them to sign contracts for the continuation of military service (according to official data, about 7 000 people concluded the contracts this year in the spring and summer - Ed.). But as for combat mission specifics, the officers of "DNR" / "LNR" are, undoubtedly, superior to the enemy. Maybe they do not know the Charter properly, or something else. But in the use of technology, in tactics they surpass Ukrainians. Well, they have considerable authority. After all, without the authority the commander is zero.

- Has this war brought something new in the military science? Maybe, new experience?

- Unfortunately, no one wants to realize this new knowledge and new experience. Here, for example, combat formations. It is clear already that there are no alignments, as it is found in the documents emanating from the past.

In particular, the tank units should be built like wedge or ledge.

A tankman must see a tank of his neighbor. Otherwise, psychologically it is much more difficult for him to perform a combat mission. Simply put, he will hesitate in the linear construction much more. If tanks are given to the infantry, the tank should be near the commander's machine. If the tanker looses the commander in the battle, which has been given to him, you can consider the matter lost.

We were always taught: tanks and fighting vehicles should be in front, the infantry standing behind - it is irrelevant for the present time. All the tanks without infantry will be burned. The infantry should be in the front line. And the tanks are behind, covering it. And not vice versa.
This Is The War

As for the actions. Today, the rapid changes are taking place in the capacities of the means of fire damage. In Debaltsevo operation the average consumption of ammunition was 11 carriages per day for the whole artillery group. This consumption was determined, however, not only by the intensity of the fighting, but also by the overall poor condition of the means of struggle. There are no new pieces of artillery - a huge wear of barrels.

The real accuracy in shooting can not be obtained.

We have outdated intelligence means. They were produced years (!) ago. On the other side they already have radars AN / TPQ 36 (a modern portable counter-battery radars, manufactured in the USA, it entered service in 2001. - Ed.). And we do not have anything similar.

Now about the use of drones. They give a lot. It is high time to create a structure for them. The drones’ service should take place downwards, from the top to the unit. It should be borne in mind that the resource of a good drone which price is huge, is exhausted in 6 weeks. Now count how many of them do we need for active combat operations.

But that's not all. In order to conduct reconnaissance on the drones, it is necessary to put the most diverse payload on it. Not only optics. Radar and electronic equipment, which in bad weather allows to explore and to determine the coordinates of objects for firing.

It is necessary to get good modern means of optical reconnaissance. For how long can you use binoculars B8 and B12, developed in 1935?

We practically do not have mining facilities. There are the wheeled and towed mine layers, the old ones from the seventies. We need a system of remote mining. In Afghanistan, petal mines were thrown by the multiple rocket launchers. And how many of them have been left since that time? Well, equipment, which we use, is not modern. Each armored vehicle has a short lifespan. We have already used it for 70 percent.

Of course, this war, has its own peculiarities. If hostilities start, first of all, the one will win who will cause more powerful fire attack on objects that he already knows in advance. And, secondly, the one will win who can competently link with this firing the infantry strike action. Not simply the infantry, but specially trained units.

All the same, if the infantry does not take a city or a village, does not come on line - nothing will happen. And for that we need the fighters. Sorry, but a hundred thousand grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, gathered here, is a very serious fact. If we will count all the bayonets, the number is getting up to 32 000. And no matter how hard we tried according to the military science, to have a different quality, you first need to have quantity. Our advantage is that the Army of DNR / LNR will be on the defensive. Ukrainian army will have to storm us. The well-known law of the defensive battle - one to three or to four. I do not envy them, believe me, it is not bragging.
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- According to the latest public opinion polls in Ukraine, 20% of the population want an immediate military victory in the Donbass. This figure dropped just in four months. Back in March, a third of the people want an immediate victory. However, the closer to the zone of the ATO, the fewer are the supporters of blitzkrieg.

- Yes, blitzkrieg is possible, there is always a chance. Today the Ukrainian Army is really quite different. But the citizens (and the majority of the politicians too) do not realize what price should be paid for it. After all, on this side of the border, military construction is going on in a very serious way. They do not even imagine the extent of the losses. The dead will not be counted by hundreds or even by thousands. Because they reached an enormous density of troops compared with the summer of 2015. 100 000 grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will operate under the conditions of firepower with enormous potential.

Now we have militaries and operational stocks of ammunition which is not less than that of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

And if in the Armed Forces of Ukraine the level of readiness in some groups is reaching 60% , that's already good. I mean artillery and multiple rocket launchers. After all, all storage units must be inspected and their shelf life extended. And they did not do that. Hence the use of unusable munitions that do not detonate, as it should be, they are rejected in the air much more than the norm, and so on.
They received all that remains of the arsenal of the Warsaw Pact, all that it was possible to gather in Bulgaria, Poland and Romania.

Despite this, I repeat, Ukraine has a chance to win. But this military success will be achieved literally by rivers of blood. Because it is practically impossible to create a grouping even in one direction without being noticed. As soon as they withdraw artillery at military positions and begin to move, we will already know. And as soon as they withdraw troops grouping in the starting areas for the offensive, we will not wait. Without details.

"Americans do not have such was experience, as the Armed Forces of Ukraine"

A member of military intelligence - about the role of foreign advisers and reforming of the Ukrainian Army according to the NATO structure.

Before the military campaign of Alexander the Great, Athenian Sea Union had planned the capture of Sicily, of southern Italy and further of Carthage. Thus, the campaign could begin in the direction of the West rather than of the East. Alexander radically changed the whole plan, having won militarily weak Persia. But if he had gone to the West, to the equal opponents, it is unknown whether he would have achieved victory.

The question of the forces’ correlation and the achieved results in the military history comes first. How should we regard the experience of Americans in Iraq and in the Middle East in general? What combat experience of modern warfare do the Armed Forces of Ukraine have today, compared with the armies of NATO, whose instructors teach Ukrainians today? This aspect is commented by the military intelligence officer, who is obliged to study this particular military aspect.

- Will the Ukrainian Armend Forces gain something from the foreign military training? For the moment being – nothing. But they supplied very good sniper rifles, the Donbass army is losing on this indicator because the Ukrainians have NATO caliber 12.7. There are also a 9.3 mm with good heavy bullets.

Over the last three months the army of "DNR" lost by sniper fire at least eight people. Direct hit in the head and chest right at the forefront. At night, they matched 200-300 m closer to the positions and equip for themselves a maturation. They start to work at dawn, and when they leave, the mortars are hammering on the leading edge, to cover their retreat. Therefore, many mortar shootings, which are then announced in the media, do not have a spontaneous nature.

In order to evaluate the difference between the war in Iraq, and the war in Donbass, one must know the tactics of NATO and of the Ukrainian military action. With NATO troops in Iraq, it came down to the definition of power centers and disabling them. These are the key objects and officials. They simply determined that it is necessary to take the capital.

Iraqi troops were on the defensive in full combat readiness. But they had not been attacked, they were actually ignored. At the rear the Americans sent the subversive groups of the paratroops. They gave large cash bribes to the officials in the government and in the provinces, providing the sabotage site and the general passivity in decision making, delay of commands passage to the troops, even commands’ blocking.
This Is The War

And then, under the powerful pressure of information, Saddam Hussein's army simply fled. Although the Iraqi army was considered one of the most combat-ready in the region.

Well, they are Arabs. And now let us look how they fight in Ukraine on both sides. They are Slavs. They all have the same mentality: to stay until the last, to shoot to the last bullet. So it will be this way, that is the simple secret of this war.

The Americans do not have such war experience, as the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They did not act under such terrible shelling. Ukrainians in this sense are much more hardened. Those NATO sergeants who came to teach the Armed Service of Ukraine in the Lviv region, in fact, were not so experienced as Ukrainians. However, today their army is reformed under the management system, under the NATO structure. And what happens at the end, nobody knows: neither the Ukrainians, nor we, nor the Americans.

From the Editor

Taking into account the words of the interlocutors, you can draw several important conclusions.

Since the conclusion of the Second Minsk Agreements, the Armed Forces of both Ukraine and the self-proclaimed republics of Donbass have reached a qualitatively new level: now they are much better prepared to conduct full-scale military actions than a half year ago.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have fold superiority in manpower and significant - in the material and technical equipment, but the capacities of the armed forces of the breakaway republics are enough to lead a defensive war. Regardless of the final result of this war, it will not be a "lightning", but for sure - destructive and bloody.

The troops on both sides of the demarcation line are in a high degree of combat readiness, so that a political decision to launch full-scale military action can be implemented in the short term, but it will not be possible to stop them immediately by political means.

"Russian factor" will play a significant role this war: the armed forces of self-proclaimed republics are almost entirely staffed by soldiers and officers of the Ukrainian citizenship. That is, it will be another type of "hybrid war": civil war, but with two professionally trained armies.

In such a war there will not be a winner for sure, but there will certainly be huge losses. Our interlocutors assess their possible scale of tens of thousands of people. At the same time, they are military people, they only talk about combat casualties. But the front (demarcation) line passes through the densely populated areas, directly in front of it there are Donetsk, Lugansk and several smaller cities.

According to the UN, as for April 1, 2016 there were about two thousand dead civilians while total losses approaching ten thousand. But if you add to the statistics more than 3,600 missing people, the ratio of civilian to military among the dead may be one to three or more. This means - the price of war will be counted in thousands of dead and in tens of thousands of wounded civilians.

So there is one conclusion, and it is very simple. The new "big" war in eastern Ukraine – does not matter who will start it and who will win - will certainly be a terrible crime. But politicians and "public figures" on both sides of the demarcation line continue to escalate the situation.

"What is our ultimate goal: a return of territories without people, the return of persons or the return of territories with people. The last is the most difficult task, "- says the Deputy Minister “on occupied territories " George Tooke.

"Build an army, and five years later to return the territories by military means," - suggests the Head of the Donetsk regional military and civil administration Paul Zhebrivskyi.

"In the case of severe exacerbations at the front a new mobilization will be announced immediately," - reports Alexander Turchinov, the Secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine.
This Is The War

"Kiev adheres to the military option in order to resolve the conflict. These are harbingers of full hostilities "- threatens the Chairman of the People's Council of "DNR" Denis Pushilin.

"If Kiev attacks us again, I can tell you one thing: they will bitterly regret it, retreating to Kiev. There will not be Minsk-3 agreements, "- shows off the Head of "DNR"Alexander Zakharchenko.

The new great war will not end by the truce. This will be a great geopolitical catastrophe in the first place - for Ukraine.
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