Translated by Ollie Richardson
The journalist Andrey Babitsky about the decision of the US authorities, weapons to Ukraine, and the consequences of this decision…
So, the decision that was long expected and repeatedly announced on deliveries from the US to Ukraine of “advanced defensive means” was finally made. Kiev celebrates another triumph, believing that now victories over the “separatists” are already in their pocket, although some military experts say that the effect of the introduction of anti-tank Javelin missile systems in the UAF is strongly overestimated by the Ukrainian side. As for sniper rifles, they will definitely won’t make a difference, although nerves, of course, of the defenders of people’s republics can be fairly frayed. The volume of military aid is also rather small, all $47 million was allocated for the purchase of arms for the Ukrainian army. However, it’s not just the US that intends to help Ukraine, a similar decision was made also by Canada. That’s why as a result the cumulative deliveries can be very notable.
So far it is difficult to estimate how significant the superiority in arms will be, but the probability is that the parity will be sensitively broken – not zero at all. The feeling of their own superiority can push Kiev towards more resolute offensive actions. A storm in Donetsk and Lugansk is expected in the near future. The concentration of Ukrainian troops on the contact line for the entire period of fighting was never as high as it is today. The preparation of an offensive by Kiev is connected to the desire of “our partners” to maximally overshadow the electoral campaign in Russia. On the one hand, the Russian authorities haven’t yet abstained from giving direct, open military aid to the republics, and on the other hand, Vladimir Putin repeatedly said that Russia won’t allow Russians in Donbass to be massacred. Aggravation at the frontline, undoubtedly, will present the Russian government with a difficult choice.
In September, speaking at a press conference in China, the President of Russia warned America against deliveries of arms to Ukraine. What was usual in his statement was the fact that he resorted to threats, having promised that in response the DPR and LPR would begin to transfer weapons, which the republics have considerable stockpiles of, to the Ukrainian territory, “to places sensitive for Kiev”. Recently the head of the DPR Aleksandr Zakharchenko confirmed that he is ready to arm 3,000 Ukrainian partisans with pistols, submachine guns, and sniper rifles made in Donetsk. The essence, of course, is not in the guns and submachine guns. If in Ukraine there would be a similar number of people who are ready for an underground armed struggle with the authorities, then in more than three years they will have somehow managed to get hold of weapons.
This is about launching a mechanism of partisan warfare in Ukraine. In my opinion, the likelihood of such a launch is extremely low, because activists who are capable of conducting resolute actions were long ago squeezed out from the country, or locked away in jails. The real scenario, which, it seems, is intended, is a bit different. Partisans – among whom there will be, of course, natives of Kharkov, Odessa, Kherson, and other cities and regions – can materialise in Ukraine seemingly from nowhere. They will be helped with their sacred mission of the fight against Nazis by volunteers from the DPR, LPR, and Russia. How far they can progress in the fight for liberation is not clear, but we will take the most moderate option — at least to the borders of the former Lugansk and Donetsk regions.
There is also one more story, which was also told these days by people from Aleksandr Zakharchenko’s environment. South Ossetia officially recognised the DPR and LPR and is linked to them via inter-governmental contracts, in the pursuance of which it can quite help the rebellious territories the modern, high-precision, and effective arms systems. Such deliveries will equalise the situation and will return parity. Where South Ossetia will acquire modern weapons from concerns nobody, but there are no doubts that upon a request from the outside Tskhinvali will easily become a trans-shipment terminal for the transfer of means of defense, or even an offensive in the republics recognised by it.
Anyway, the illusions of Kiev of a rather quick victory in connection to the decision of Washington will dissipate, I think, pretty quickly. But, on the other hand, the actions of the Americans are rapidly approaching the moment of reckoning, of the involvement, figuratively speaking, of the option tested in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008. The fact that in September, contrary to the norm, Vladimir Putin dared to frighten “our partners” by a scenario of war spreading all across the Ukrainian territory speaks about how seriously he treats the prospects of the situation becoming aggravated and the parity in arms being broken.
The former speaker of parliament of Georgia Nino Burjanadze said that shortly before the events of August 2008 Putin, who was then the Prime Minister, warned Mikheil Saakashvili that in the event of an attempt to storm South Ossetia, Russia will surely intervene. Today the same Putin said that “we can’t and won’t allow a massacre”. This, also, can be considered to be a rather distinct warning. But it seems that neither Kiev or Washington heeded it.
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