The great cost of symbolism? – 25th August

August 6, 2014

Monday 25th August will be a day of immense symbolism in Ukraine – surely far surpassing that of any other previous Independence Day with the exception of the very first.

It is also likely to be a date that this year will have a far greater cost in lives, security and economics than any before it.   There is a war on, even if  US and European voices will shy from the use of the word “war”.  A fight for independence now exists, where previously it was dumped in the laps of Ukrainians in 1991.

As things stand today, it appears the Ukrainian Army has driven a wedge between the city of Donetsk and the rest of the troubled eastern region.  Donetsk is effectively cut off from the rest of the “People’s Republics”.


A very reasonable military maneuver – divide and conquer and all that.

Yet it is disconcerting to read between the lines in many public statements recently, that there is almost an expectation that by this year’s Independence Day, the entirety of the above map will be yellow and blue – victory, militarily at least, complete.

The “between the lines” expectations seem to be set far more by political expediency and the 25th August Independence Day date, than that of military conditions on the ground.  It takes no military expert to recognise clearing rural countryside of opposition forces is far easier and swifter than clearing urban cities.

If what has already come to pass has been considered a bloody affair, then what lies ahead will be bloodier by orders of magnitude – and those orders of magnitude will be further magnified by attempting to meet politically expedient “end dates” that are timed to be purely symbolically aligned.  Progress need be led by military abilities proportionate to the hurdles and resistance it faced, whilst being mindful that any forced stalling of Ukrainian momentum gives rise to the opportunity of a previously non-violent political structure emerging – which is exactly what Mr Antufeyev has been sent to do in the region by The Kremlin.  Mr Antufeyev is now equally as important – if not more so – than Igor Girkin/Strelkov when it comes to the final outcomes.

Very simply, forcing the military issues for the sake of  a declared victory/end of ATO on an already symbolic date will have an exceptionally high – and unnecessary – price.

Assuredly, just as much as President Poroshenko may want to address the nation on Independence Day stating the sovereign territory of Ukraine is now once again fully under State control, President Putin will have exactly the opposite designs.  For symbolic reasons – amongst numerous – The Kremlin will be expecting Ukrainian Independence Day to pass with a very clear message that Ukraine is only as independent as The Kremlin will allow it to be, and ever shall it be thus.  As such continued fighting on this date need occur whatever the cost.

Let us be blunt – The Kremlin’s ability and willingness to take almost any amount of internationally induced pain is far more substantial than what it currently faces.  The Kremlin’s desire to control Ukraine, directly or indirectly, is at the very top of its foreign policy agenda.  Nothing is higher.  Nothing else is as important as retaining some form of control over Ukraine – for literally numerous reasons considered very important by The Kremlin and its current management.

Aside from the east, in the run up to Independence Day, it would seem reasonable to expect “events” in other parts of Ukraine too.  “Events” not designed to light “Novorussia” fires in other Oblasts, but “events” designed to show Kyiv that it cannot guarantee the normalcy of civilised life anywhere on its territory should The Kremlin choose otherwise.

Again to be blunt, there is so much unaccounted weaponry now in Ukraine that it can be buried or Quarter-Mastered for use by those who can take “event” led ad hoc incidents forward across the entire nation for a decade or more.  Thus any declarations of “victory” will very probably be within very limited military parameters if and when they come..

Targets aplenty, weaponry no issue, willing “tourists” and the disillusioned undoubtedly to volunteer in the commissioning of “events” in the years ahead.   A move toward (plausibly deniable) old school terrorist activity is hardly a leap too great to contemplate tactically – though whether such a tactic would have a controlling effect over the destiny of Ukraine, perhaps depends on the frequency and scale of any heinous acts that may come..

That such “events” outside the troubled eastern regions may precede the forthcoming Ukrainian Independence Day this year seems likely – in fact for 3 weeks  in Odessa it has been expected and/or anticipated to occur around mid-August, in an attempt to stifle any significant overt 25th August celebration.

Whether it will manifest itself or not, the net few weeks will reveal – but it is expected nonetheless – and regardless of any military successes or failures in the east.

Not withstanding any of the above, due to the timing of the deliberate collapsing of formal coalitions in the RADA on 24th May, the officially required 30 days prior to any presidential dissolution of the current legislative body provides that President Poroshenko will do so on – or about – 25th/26th August, to facilitate elections on 26th October together with already scheduled local elections.

So how great the cost of fulfilling any such political symbolism for the sake of a calendar date of 25th August?  That depends upon whether military realities – and the speed at which they can be dealt with prudently – are to be sacrificed at the alter of political expediency by the Ukrainian leadership – together with immediate term Kremlin tactics aimed at insuring any such Ukrainian symbolism fails to materialise on that date.

Perhaps wiser heads will simply allow the military timetable to lead the political one domestically – rather than the other way around – in the east.

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