Archive for August 19th, 2014


Slow/no progress and rotations

August 19, 2014

Last evening/night saw the meeting in Berlin of the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in what appears to be another diplomatic push to reach a solution in eastern Ukraine – unlikely as that is, given the limited wiggle room for all sides to emerge with a minimum of face-saving outcomes, let alone what can be believably be spun as wins for all concerned in the eyes of their respective publics.

That said, it was a meeting of Foreign Ministers and as such, no major diplomatic or political announcements were ever going to happen.

Serious and/or major announcements are always choreographed for national leaders – not for Foreign Ministers. The net result – Kremlin humanitarian aid now enters Ukraine by agreed mechanisms days after Ukrainian humanitarian aid was distributed by the ICRC.  A propaganda victory of sorts for both sides. That, however, is as far as it goes – at least in the public realm for now.

That being so, a political solution and ceasefire appear to be some way off – perhaps necessarily so.  A bad temporary fix will certainly not last.   A meeting again next week in all probability in the same format.

Therefore the most critical problem of securing and controlling the Ukrainian borders with Russia remains – and whilst that is the case, the flow of more and more weaponry together with additional and rotational personnel.

Eastern Ukraine is currently undergoing yet another rotation of personnel within the anti-Kyiv factions.

What began with the local criminals taking up self-proclaimed positions backed by a mixture of local lawless armed marauders (with GRU guidance) and Russian “adventurers” and “deniables” in eastern Ukraine, was swiftly rotated for more competent leaders (many of whom are Russian citizens) and imported, more professional and better armed deniable “volunteers”.

As the Ukrainian military began to make gains  (albeit in small towns, villages and rural land),  yet another rotation amongst the more professional and better armed imported personnel was underway too.  Ukrainians nominally replaced Russians at the top of local political structures after international ridicule.  Now, as military push comes to military shove around the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk, clearly there is more sophisticated equipment and professional personnel who can use it, crossing the Russian border into Ukraine by the day.

The chance of an undeniable – rather than currently denied – clash between Ukrainian and overt Russian military has grown considerably.  No doubt the need to avoid that is one of the reasons for the newly invigorated diplomatic push – official recognition of – or perhaps more importantly, the ability to deny – such a direct and overt engagement would be no good for any party.


Make no mistake.  There is a war on-going between Russia and Ukraine in the east – but understandably, to some degree or another, it suits both to avoid formally declaring war.  Both are content with their current labels of “ATO, terrorists” and “separatists” at the formal level.

Nevertheless, with the continued influx of advanced weaponry and the professionals who can use them, together with dead and/or leaving “volunteers”, it makes this a particularly dangerous rotation of anti-Kyiv fighters in the east.  Very soon whatever labels Ukrainian and Russian politicians and diplomats may use, even the most gullible and willfully blind of on-lookers will recognise war as war between the two States.

As such, the meeting yesterday was probably as much about prevention in a very specific direction, as it was about cure for existing ills.

23 years after independence was more or less dumped upon it, Ukraine now fights its war of independence that history so often decrees as necessary – but nobody wants to baptise current events that way – yet.  Perhaps they never will.

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