• Українська
  • Русский
  • English
Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

On Ukrainian counterstrategy

16 April, 2014 - 17:59
Photo by Ruslan KANIUKA, The Day
Photo by Ruslan KANIUKA, The Day

An anti-terrorist operation is carried out in Donetsk oblast. According to acting president Turchynov, it is going to be carried out in stages and in a reasonable manner. It is an answer of Ukraine’s government to Russia’s special operation in eastern Ukraine, where local separatists under the control of Russia’s troops are occupying administrative buildings like terrorists. What is the result? At the time when this issue was being prepared, the separatists surely remained in control of the captured buildings.

On Monday night angry protesters, displeased with the government’s actions, gathered outside the Verkhovna Rada to demand the resignation of the MIA chief Avakov and more resolute actions for the defense of the country’s territorial integrity. The main slogan was “We are fed up with you!” The storming of the parliament building was even discussed but fortunately, never happened. No matter how critical the attitude towards the government is today, such actions would play into Moscow’s hands.

The same applies to the beating of presidential candidate Tsariov. This video has traditionally become part of the Russian TV stories. But here comes a question to Ukrainian journalists: why invite Tsariov over to a talk show on ICTV? The same question arises about Vadym Kolesnichenko opening his blog, where he is given an opportunity to propagate anti-Ukrainian ideas. As a result, the odious MP gave up his mandate, because the business is finished, Russia has taken Crimea away.

It is known that the MIA is creating special-purpose battalions made up of volunteering patriots to counter separatists in the east and south of the country. In particular, these units are being formed in Dnipropetrovsk, Luhansk, Donetsk, Odesa. At the same time, self-defense groups are created in the cities on community level. Sadly, in the eastern regions the citizens who stand for integral Ukraine are often left unprotected and exposed to separatists’ attacks.

Presidential candidate Tymoshenko also creates her own resistance movement for the protection of Ukraine. She announced this on air of the Svoboda Slova (Freedom of Speech) show. According to her, this movement should be joined by the military who have an experience of participation in hostilities, former special squad soldiers, people who are familiar with the strategy of military doctrines. Such position looks weird at the very least, taking into consideration the fact that Tymoshenko’s party Batkivshchyna currently holds power. Instead of real actions and responsibility for domestic security, we see self-advertizing.

How is the formation of special-purpose battalions and self-defense forces in regions going on? The Day’s experts tell about this. What should we expect from the Kremlin? What does Ukraine’s government have to do in response? How should the West react? Former First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of Armed Forces of Ukraine, Admiral Ihor KABANENKO answers these questions.




How do you assess the situation in the east of the country, what stage of its special operation is Russia implementing now? What should we expect from the Kremlin next?

“This is not only my assessment, but the situation is extremely dangerous. The invasion of Russia’s troops took place, special operations forces (intelligence and diversion units) of the Russia’s army are acting openly, they capture military and police sites and facilities. They strike in the weakest spots they are very well familiar with. Of course, the fifth column we do not see is working there. But it plays a rather powerful role in this game.

“The technological model of the Kremlin’s strategy is the ‘creeping’ formation of instability sources using special operations forces (diversionists) and radical citizens of Ukraine (mercenaries of sorts).

“That is, the in-depth special operation is continued, the efforts in it are growing. We see that a ‘springboard’ on the border of Donetsk oblast is being created. Further internal invasion is very likely in the future, and at the moment when the situation becomes critically unstable, an appeal to the Russian Federation or an illegitimate ‘referendum’ might be sent out. This is a probable ending of the second stage of the special operation in this region. Russian troops are the most likely to take on the victorious role in the closing period according to this scenario. This will be the third stage.

“But we should have no illusions about how everything is going to end. Moscow needs whole Ukraine. All of it. And unfortunately, the general public does not know the genuine distribution of roles in this play. Putin’s role is obvious, of course. At the same time, in our camp we have some actors too. It is the hidden fifth column. Someone said once: ‘Everything is more or less clear with an obvious enemy. Look for a hidden one. He has a lot more opportunities to put you down on your knees.’”

How effective are the actions of the Ukrainian government? What must be done?

“Moscow demonstrates a rather non-standard strategy. At the same time, there is little adaptivity and adequacy on our side. By and large, victories start with ideas and strategies.

“It is reasonable to build our own counterstrategy when we understand the technological model of the Kremlin’s strategy. That is, the non-standard Moscow’s strategy should be countered by a non-standard strategy of our own actions.

“Undoubtedly, we must understand that the problem cannot be settled without force actions. This is the nature of any conflict. But the application of force must be well thought through, applied in specific points if possible, and selective in methods with the goal of achieving maximal effect with minimal losses.

“In the conditions of certain unidimensionality of the Kremlin’s actions, it is possible and necessary to act effectively. The counterstrategy must be preemptive in content, flexible in forms and ways of acting, it must combine open and hidden actions. It should clearly separate Ukrainian citizens in the east from diversionists and separatists. The first ones should be dealt with, their problems must be solved with the application of state mechanisms, and the second ones, who violate the existing legislation, kill people, and destroy the state, should be treated in an absolutely different way. These mechanisms were tested in the world and in Ukraine, they just need to be implemented.

“We need a working body of coordination and cooperation that would work round the clock. Last year, the General Staff created and sent to the National Security and Defense Council a draft presidential decree ‘Provision on the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.’ There remains only one thing: to consider and sign the document and create the Headquarters. The legislative grounds for the formation of this crucially important body were created long ago in Ukraine. It is reasonable to do this as soon as possible.

“There could be an alternative to the mentioned above in the form of a corresponding body (working round the clock as well) at the National Security and Defense Council, which, according to the Law of Ukraine ‘On the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine’ (Chapter 2, Article 3), would perform a function of ‘coordination and implementation of control over the activity of executive branch bodies in the sphere of national security and defense in circumstances of military or emergency state, and with the appearance of a crisis situation threatening the national security of Ukraine.’ But neither emergency, nor military state is announced in the country (by the way, a lot of experts have already spoken on the appropriateness of this), and legislation holds no clear definition of a crisis situation that threats the national security of Ukraine.

“Tactical actions are the subject of special attention. The tactics of application of our troops (forces) must receive a considerable amount of work. Within the framework of forming the counterstrategy, it is reasonable to view possible operative and tactical action scenarios of the opposite side and create corresponding plans of our actions (in particular, asymmetric).

“Of course, it is appropriate to give the country’s defense a national character, that is, form a necessary amount of squads of territorial defense (by a separate decree of the president of Ukraine). This will allow to build an echelon defense system.

“Besides, the experience of the World War II and modern conflicts should be studied and used. It might contain a lot of interesting points.

“Everything must be prepared and calculated. Professionals must guide all the processes. Not amateurs or political opportunists, but professionals who have knowledge and experience. This is utterly crucial. Not for them, but for the victory, for the preservation of the country and people.”

What do you think the reaction of the West should be? What specific steps in support of Ukraine should they take?

“Most likely, the West will try to continue supporting Ukraine with sanctions. Perhaps, military and technical aid will be increased. In case of an escalation, the holding of a humanitarian operation and sending peacekeepers and observers is possible. At this stage, this is probably it.

“I consider this to be a principal mistake, because Putin’s advancing to the West is a direct threat to Europe and the formation of a new European order. When the North Atlantic community will ‘ripen’? Perhaps, this is a matter of several following weeks. Or months. This is not going to be even a matter of a huge number of refugees. It will be a matter of understanding that the aggressor cannot be restrained, he really threatens Europe and he can only be stopped with the application of force.

“At the same time, we must understand the consciousness of the Western establishment: they all work for voters and depend on them. That is why they try to delay the adoption of harsh and unpopular decisions for as long as possible.

“Unlike them, the Kremlin always receives support after victories with the application of force. These are the mental, psychological, and historical differences of the two civilizations. It has always been that way in Russia. There were no exceptions. Victorious wars gave new ‘blood’ for the existence of the Russian Empire and ensured adoration of the Moscow elite.

“Anyway, nobody is going to wage war for us. At least, until we start defending ourselves.”

By Ivan KAPSAMUN, The Day