Monday, August 18, 2014

War Update

I haven't posted for two months. During this time the so-called ATO, or Anti-Terrorist Operation, has been steadily gaining steam. The Ukrainian Army has been rebuilding itself and taking back territory from separatists. A passenger jet was shot down by a Buk land-to-air missile launcher brought over the border from Russia and operated by Russian technicians.

News from Ukrainian sources seems encouraging, but progress is consistently much slower than predicted. Non-official sources (I follow Semen Semenchenko's Facebook page; he is a volunteer battalion field commander) are not as optimistic and view the current operation as a long-term undertaking, and not something that will be over in a few weeks or months.

Occasional in-depth essays or interviews from analyst Andrey Illarionov (in Russian) are also hardly optimistic. I have mentioned Illarionov several times and want to post a recent presentation of his in English.

Here he talks about hybrid war and the Kremlin agenda. I want to point out that Illarionov is definitely one of the most alarmist voices on the subject of Ukraine, but his projections have consistently come true. I listen carefully to him to try to understand the range of possibilities of what might happen in coming months and years.

War developments

As of early August Russia appears to have been supplying considerably larger numbers of weaponry and manpower to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. I have read estimates that the proportion of Russian forces among separatists has risen from 20% to 50%. A lot of high-tech weaponry has been brought in from Russia. In addition, Ukrainian forces continue to be shelled from across the border.

The fact that Russia has been ramping up direct support for separatists despite the increasing success of the ATO and all the new sanctions is not good news. What is Mr. Putin up to? How far will he go? Does he have a clear plan, or does he simply see no way out of the current situation other than to blindly move forward?

What seems certain is that things will not end well for Putin, if history has anything to teach us.

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