Victor Myasnikov
DEFENSE and SECURITY (Russia) | June 2, 2014 Monday


People’s militia downed Mi-8 helicopter of governmental troops near Slavyansk in the southeast of Ukraine. Fourteen servicemen including head of combat and special training of the national guard Major General Sergei Kulchitsky died. Acting President Alexei Turchinov recognized the loss of the helicopter and once again said that armed forces of Ukraine would liberate the east of the country from the militants and all guilty persons would be punished. However, the country exhausted human and material resources for continuation of the antiterrorist operation.

Loss of a general is a strong blow on psychology of servicemen. Morale of the army is not very high already. Majority of soldiers and officers do not wish to fight against the compatriots. That is why mostly national guard and mercenary battalions of territorial defense participate in combat operations.

Speaking in the parliament, acting Defense Minister of Ukraine Mikhail Koval announced that everything was going on according to the plan, "This plan outlines everything clearly, this plan will result in complete clearance of the territory of Ukraine, namely east of Ukraine, from separatists. I think we will fulfill these tasks on time."

At this point optimism ended. Koval explained, "Rotation will not be carried out. We have led out all forces and means. We have closed all state borders, we are ready to fulfill our tasks, we do not have a single spare person to move out and to carry out rotation."

Moreover, in the near future it will be necessary to move to the reserve almost 6,000 conscripts whom authorities of the country have been going to leave in the army after expiry of their service term until the end of the antiterrorist operation. However, mass protests of soldiers’ parents and discontent of the conscripts forced the Defense Ministry to revise its plans.

The command had to remove from the territory of antiterrorist operation the 51st separate mechanized brigade a part of which died near Volnovakha on May 22. Mikhail Koval explained, "Tragedy of this brigade was laid down a long time ago. The tragedy was in the fact that given the wartime authorized strength of 4,500 people there were 450 people in the brigade according to peacetime authorized strength."

The tragedy of Ukrainian army was laid down 23 years ago when authorities in Kiev decided that Ukraine would enter NATO and did not need a strong army. Authorities made the army a source of revenues selling out the hundreds of tanks, combat vehicles, helicopters and airplanes inherited from the USSR. In 23 years Ukrainian army received only ten new tanks and about 80 armored personnel carriers rejected by Iraq because of cracks in the army.

Rotation of troops, that is replacement of worn out military units with fresh ones, is impossible also due to absence of money. There is practically no military infrastructure in the east. Practically all troops were stationed in military camps in the west like in the Soviet time. Transportation of personnel and hardware to the east by railways and fueling of automobiles cost billions of hrivnas.

Outsourcing resulted in a big problem. Civil companies were in charge of nutrition of soldiers. These companies are not obliged to go to a war. Soldiers turned out to be without kitchens and cooks in the field. Procurement is such that majority of military units lives from hand to mouth. They often lack even bread and drinking water.

Two days ago, militiamen captured military unit 3035 of the interior forces. Conscript soldiers fired in the air according to commander’s order and only one contract sergeant was firing a machine gun and was seriously wounded. Yesterday, about 60 soldiers went home in civil clothes. The others were taken by parents earlier.

"People’s mayor" of Slavyansk Vyacheslav Ponomarev announced, "According to our information, losses of the Ukrainian army are the following: 1,200-1,300 people are killed, 15 armored personnel carriers, eight helicopters and three guns are destroyed. They bear serious losses. I speak only about Slavyansk."

Ukrainian troops are obviously incapable of decisive offensive operations. They shell cities from howitzers and mortars. This is an attempt to psychologically suppress the local population and to achieve mass protests to expel the militiamen like in Yugoslavia where bombardment has resulted in overthrowing of Milosevic. However, only more and more people get enlisted to militia.

From the very start the war in the southeast turned out to be a position war for exhaustion. It is dragging on and on. Along with this, whereas militiamen do not lose the firm decision to fight until victory and receive replenishment regularly, the armed forces and the national guard have exhausted their human and material resources.

Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 30, 2014, p. 2



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