Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Brothers and sisters, here is the summary for March 14, 2014 (for summary from the previous day, see Summary of March 13).
The bad news:
1. Russia is clearly playing the “South-Eastern card.” Before, we had hope that they were only testing the waters – “if we pull it off, great; if we don’t, we won’t cry about it.” Now, we can be sure that inhabitants of the Kremlin won’t stop at Crimea.
Today, the reaction of the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] and the MIA [Ministry of Internal Affairs] to recent events in Donetsk is of paramount importance. If they can act quickly and manage to hold a proverbial “public flogging” as a response to the clashes, as early as tomorrow, then the situation can still be reigned in. Seeing the organizers of that mayhem arrested would cool off many “hotheads” imported from Russia. Putin won’t trample over the Donbass, unless it’s already in the throes of the “organized chaos” orchestrated by Moscow.
But this is the biggest problem. We see law enforcers and intelligence services being stuck in a state of partial paralysis. Against this backdrop, the best piece of news came in the form of the evening statement of [Arsen] Avakov, head of the Interior Ministry, where he said that six “direct instigators and participants” of the clashes have been detained. However, until the MIA get their hands on the organizers and the coordinators, these arrests are only a tactical success that doesn’t change the big picture overall.
2. The Head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs [Sergey] Lavrov, after his meeting with the US Secretary of State [John] Kerry, said that “the Russian Federation and the United States continue to disagree on the situation in Ukraine, but today’s dialogue was useful.” As in, the West understands quite well that they shouldn’t impose sanctions on Russia.
Of course, everyone knows that Lavrov is a professional liar, second to none in the post-Soviet area. But the U.S. did not rebut his statement, which is alarming. If Americans, who were the first to stand up for Ukraine, drop the subject of sanctions, then Europe won’t get all up in Russia’s business either. This would be very bad timing [for them to back down], because Russia just started calculating the possible damages arising from the promised sanctions, and wondering whether invading Ukraine will turn out to be too costly after all.
We can’t yet call this a betrayal on behalf of America, but this isn’t friendly support of Ukraine, either. It looks like we’re once again turning into a bargaining chip in a big game between Uncle Barack [Omaba] and Uncle Vova [Vladimir Putin]. Then again, this isn’t set in stone yet – we should wait for the United States and the EU to make concrete statements on the subject of sanctions (quick reminder: Europe promised to make up its mind on the 17th of March, if their actions still matter at all by that time).
3. Speaking of foreign military aid, Ihor Dolhov, Head of Mission to NATO for Ukraine, said that he sees no reason to bring NATO military contingent into Crimea with a peace-keeping mission. Because, [since] “Ukraine is not a member of NATO, therefore, we are not counting on NATO troops as a whole, or any separate members of the Alliance, to take military action to regulate the crisis in Crimea. There are no legal grounds for that.”
I can’t say whether all these were Dolhov’s words, or whether things were confused in reporting and lost in translation. But this is nonsense. It’s one thing to bring the NATO troops into Ukraine to deter aggression. There are really no legal grounds for that. But if we’re talking about a peace-keeping contingent – what does membership in the Alliance have to do with it? Were Serbia and Kosovo members of NATO when KFOR [Kosovo Force] entered there?
The truth is, a peace-keeping operation is something entirely different. All it takes is a UN mandate handed over to NATO, and the troops would be in Crimea on very legitimate grounds. The other matter is, of course, that NATO isn’t that eager to fight Russia, whether in the course of a peace-keeping or any other operation (and the Security Council would not issue such a mandate, because it would just get vetoed by Moscow). But this is what one should be saying, rather than pulling the wool over people’s eyes.
The good news:
1. To America’s credit (to offset Lavrov’s statement), we must point out that they still supported Ukraine through other means. Additional USD 600 million were added to the billion allocated before (the only question is, where the Ukrainian government will direct this money). Also, the West is prepared to give us “technological” assistance in the military aspect.
Earlier, similar statements were made, that the US are prepared to grant Ukraine defensive armaments. That’s good. The only question is, who will use them. We have AKs and machine guns already. What we need is hi-tech armaments, like smart munitions, winged missiles, and unmanned aircrafts. But we also need specialists who know how to use them. Without them, even the best weapons are, sadly, a pile of scrap metal.
2. Today, Ihor Kolomoysky [oligarch and Governor of Dnipropetrovsk oblast] used his own money to pay for the fuel for military units part of the Southern Operational Command. This is refreshing. Countless ordinary Ukrainians have been helping our military in Crimea with everything they could, starting from the first days of aggression. If now, two weeks into the invasion, oligarchs finally joined this cause, this can only be a positive thing. A white-collar “moneybags” fueling a tank with diesel – that’s a PR dream, if you ask me.
But, jokes aside, Kolomoysky gave help where help was needed. Fuel has been a weak link for our troops over the past years, while everyone knows that fuel is the war’s lifeblood. If oligarchs are becoming donors these days, we can only welcome their efforts.
3. The Russian citizen detained near Chonhar today turned out to be a member of the Russian military intelligence – at least, according to the SBU. On one hand, it’s a bad sign – it means that crowds of spies and saboteurs are running free around Kherson oblast (not that many people doubted that).
On the other hand, if the General Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Federation’s General Staff (intelligence ‘creme de la creme’!) employs idiots who think that trampling through enemy territory with weapons and documents is a good idea – we can breathe out a bit. If that’s what their strategic intelligence is like, there’s considerable doubt that ordinary Russian soldiers are capable of carrying out even the simplest of tasks.
And finally, if our border guard and the SBU finally started working against the occupiers, in general, it’s a good sign. Let’s hope that the new day will bring us even more causes for optimism.