Rostislav Ishchenko: How to Punish Ukraine

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


In Crimea practically at the same time there was the destruction of two gas pipelines and one pylon of a high voltage line. And although sabotage is still the only version of events, very few people doubt that it is sabotage, and that the saboteurs came from Ukraine, or (if they local) will try to escape there.

In particular, increased security measures at the airport of Simferopol and on land border crossings testify to it. The strengthening of protection of military facilities and weapons warehouses also testifies to it being sabotage. If the investigation was inclined to think that the gas pipelines and the high voltage line was blown on by the wind or that a stone fell on them, then it’s not weapons warehouses that would be taken under strengthened protection, but the work of the Ministry of Emergency Situations that would be more active.

But if we are practically sure that on the peninsula it was another act of sabotage, and if we are also sure that the traces of the saboteurs lead to Ukraine, then a question reasonably arises: “Until when?”

In order to answer this question, it is necessary to firstly give the answer to others: “What exactly can we undertake?” and “What result we would like to achieve?” However, before starting consideration of the matters, I would like to note that in this situation we found ourselves in a position that is a specular reflection of Kiev vis-a-vis Donbass. There [in Donbass – ed] they also ask “Until when?”, meaning Russian support for the Republics. The only difference is that in Donbass there is war (albeit slow), while in Crimea there isn’t any war.

So, can Russia punish Ukraine for sabotage in Crimea? It can.

Kiev’s hysterics concerning the concentration on the borders of Ukraine of shock groupings of Russian troops, even though they seem ridiculous when it is discussed on talk-shows by stupid clowns, are in practice quite substantiated. I will remind that in addition to the troops located in the Caucasus (and this is just through the Kerch Strait (or through Rostov) from Ukraine, during the last two years the expansion of two new armies (one of them tank) was announced. The staff of the tank army is the body of the leadership of deep operation. The tank army itself is not a defensive, but purely offensive (shock) unit capable of arriveing on the Dnieper in a few days after obtaining the order.

Besides this, after the return of Crimea, the group of Russian troops on the peninsula, only according to official figures, grew twofold in number (having reached 40-50,000 people), and in a qualitative way – manyfold. Shock air units are deployed in Crimea, the Black Sea fleet is strengthened by nearly a dozen of new surface ships and submarines. And this is only scratching the surface.

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Furthermore, there is no need to graduate from the Academy of General Staff in order to understand that it is possible to defend the peninsula only in an offensive way. The “unapproachable” Perekopskiy Val was able to stop Vasily Golitsyn for the last time at the end of the 17th century. And then even Tatars weren’t sitting behind the fortifications, but conducted battles in Northern Taurida. Eventually, they simply set fire to the steppe, having deprived the Russian army of forage and having forced them to recede until all the horses died. After all, artillery and transport — everything back then was horse-driven. It wasn’t possible to fight nor to survive in the naked steppe.

However, already since the beginning of the 18th century Russian troops over and over again quietly intruded into Crimea, without noticing the strengthened narrow isthmuses at all. In the same way the Reds, under the command of Frunze, in a few days repelled Wrangel’s army from its positions in Perekop and Ishun. In 1941, conceding to the Soviet troops concentrated in Crimea in number, without having tank units in its army, at the time of the naval supremacy of the Soviet fleet and the twofold superiority in strength of the Soviet aircraft, Manstein broke through into Crimea and forced one part of the Soviet troops to be evacuated in a panic through the Kerch Strait, and the second one locked in Sevastopol, which he then besieged for a long time, without being able to immediately capture it. In April-May, 1944, it is Soviet troops that, in the same way, instantly formed isthmuses and crushed the 17th army of the General Jaenecke locked in Crimea, which had more than enough time to build a strong defense on the isthmuses.

Finally, in 2014, the Russian army (in fact only a unit of special purpose) in a couple of days neutralized the entire Ukrainian group on the peninsula. And this despite the fact that Ukraine, by this time, for nearly 25 years had been preparing to defend Crimea from Russia and concentrated there their best units with the most ideologically-motivated staff.

Thus, it is absolutely clear to all that if events will reach open military operations, they will begin with a large-scale Russian operation for the de-blockading of Crimea from continental Ukraine. By the way, nobody cancelled also the task of de-blockading Transnistria, in which Ukraine, if it will go to fight against Russia, will surely strike a blow, irrespective of the official position of Transnistria itself.

For the solution of these tasks Russia has at its disposal sufficient (even superfluous) forces. The total number of the Crimean group (including the fleet) and the deployed armies – only according to official figure – exceeds 100,000 people. Taking into account the troops of the DPR/LPR – the total number of which is about 35,000 people, but in a few days it can be approximately doubled, and also by the potential strengthening by troops transferred from the Caucasus, the total number of Russian and allied troops under Russian commandment in the Ukrainian direction can reach 200,000 people (apart from the armies of Transnistria).

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Taking into account the absolutely technical and qualitative superiority of the Russian and allied troops over the Armed Forces of Ukraine, this is more than enough in order to solve all actual tasks in a guaranteed way within one-two weeks. However, here we don’t consider the time that will be needed for a definitive cleansing of large cities (where the attempt to organize urban partisan warfare is possible) and the destruction of small mobile gangs in rural areas.

However, after fulfilling purely military tasks, which aren’t a problem in conditions of the overwhelming superiority of the Russian army in all components of military art, there is a question: “What to do with the people and the territory?” The answer to this question wasn’t given in 2014, when neither the anti-fascist activists of Novorossiya seizing the Regional State Administrations, nor the local elite hiding behind their backs, and who then betrayed them in a vain attempt to come to an agreement with the “new authorities”, weren’t able at sessions of regional councils to declare the Kiev putshists as illegitimate and pronounce the seizure of power in regions. There is no answer to this question now either.

It’s not only Russia who can’t rely in Ukraine on any of their representatives of the acting and former elite (even in Crimea, not to mention Donbass). The accustoming of the local elite to life under laws (civilized rules), and not according to “concepts” reigning in Ukraine (informal kin, territorial, and criminal ties, who for their carriers are above the law) moves ahead slowly and with difficulty. Our American and European “friends and partners”, who for dozens of years contributed to the creation of the pro-West Ukrainian elite, by the beginning of 2016 found out with surprise that there aren’t any qualitative managers in Ukraine (however, not low-quality either).

Banally, there is nobody who can guide the State. That’s why it also disintegrates. But neither Russia, nor anybody in the world possesses a reserve of talented managers and necessary material resources in order to assume the burden that can’t be assigned to the Ukrainian elite, because of the latter’s absence of even a poor excuse for State instinct. For example: under no circumstances could Poroshenko, Yushchenko, or any other Ukrainian “reformer” play the same role in Georgia (even though an ordinary elite exists, capable of controlling the territory and the people) that Saakashvili plays in Ukraine. But in Ukraine tours of needed-by-nobody Stateless persons are perceived as something quite natural, and even recently became a serious factor of national politics.

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So, in the course of “punishing Ukraine” (such a punishment that is visible to all how it was punished) Russia needs to destroy the Ukrainian Armed Forces and system of governance, in conditions of a complete impossibility to create a new one in a short time that is adequate and corresponds to objectives. This means to repeat the “feat” of the Americans, who destroyed Hussein’s Iraq, received in Iraq a bunch of various Islamist groups, and who are now continuing the same policy of violent pressure and the destruction of existing governmental institutions, which reached such a level that now it concerns a full loss of influence for Washington in the Middle East. Conceded, by the way, to Russia.

By the way, in Ukraine the Americans achieved approximately the same “successes” that they did in Iraq.

On the other hand, is a terrorist war something extraordinary? No, and not only for Russia. But if indeed we think about Russia, the terrorist quasi-Islamic international community acting against it before, during, and after two Chechen wars was much more dangerous than the Ukrainian special services and “activist”-initiators – limited in opportunities and means. And this international community was defeated not on the battlefield, but via the political platform and the efforts of the special services.

But the confidential actions of politicians and special services don’t tolerate publicity. For many victories on these fronts, even awards are being handed over under confidential decrees.

However, I think that we don’t need to wait for long for a final decision of the Ukrainian question. In 2019 “Nord Stream-2” and “Turkish stream” should become operational.

This will immediately and completely negate not only the remnants of the income to the Kiev budget, but more importantly – the remnants of the value of Ukraine in global and European politics. However there is one “but”. Once I wrote that we constantly lack one-two years. And it is the same now, the Kiev regime shows full frailty, and already now risks not to hold on until 2019, but even until 2018.

In this case, the Russian authorities will be obliged in this non-standard situation to make a non-standard decision “on the fly”. I think that it is ready for this.

And as for de-blockading, in the event of certain options for the development of events, Kaliningrad will also have to be de-blockaded. And the Baltic countries are also nervous. But everyone makes their choice independently.

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