Posts Tagged ‘war with Russia’

BANDERA’S SPIRIT

January 1, 2017

torch-paradeToday is Stepan Bandera’s birthday. A Ukrainian nationalist, he is both much-loved and much-hated. Loved by those who want to see the resurrection of Ukraine as a nation, and hated by those who deny the right of Ukraine to exist.

Bandera was born 108 years ago Western Ukraine and assassinated by a KGB agent 58 years ago in West Germany. At different times the Ukrainians struggling for their independence (and, consequently, for the rights to know their history, to develop their culture, to speak their language, to have their own church) were named after their national leaders: “vyhovtsi” (after Ivan Vyhovskyi, in the 17th century), “mazepyntsi” (after Ivan Mazepa in the 18th century), “makhnovtsi” and “petliurivtsi” (after Nestor Makhno and Symon Petliura, in the 1920s). Since the 1940s the name has been “banderivtsi.” Interestingly, though the name, as it was coined in KGB offices, was meant to be pejorative, it is now used by ardent adherents of the Ukrainian cause with much pride, which reminds me of how the term “Christian” was used: originally the name was negative in ancient Rome, but later, with the spread of Christianity, the meaning turned to be positive, or, as linguists say, “elevated.”

However, in the popular Russian usage the word “banderovets” (it may be roughly translated into English as “Banderavite”) has extended its meaning and is generally referred to everyone who advocates their Ukrainian identity. A Ukrainian who is nothing but an immigrant worker in Moscow, goes as “khokhol” among Muscovites, but the one who emphasizes his Ukrainian background, and is principled, say, in using the Ukrainian language in the Russian surroundings will sooner be called “banderovets.”

It has become a recent tradition that annually, on January 1, young nationalists arrange torchlit processions in Kyiv and other major cities of Ukraine to honor Stepan Bandera. The Russian media do their utmost to demonize such manifestations. The same is done by some of the Western media which view the events in Ukraine through Russian eyes. “The man in the street” and the pro-Russian sympathizers are scared. I’m not. In their majority, the Ukrainians are fairly tolerant, and there’s absolutely no danger that they may fall into political or any other kind of zealotry. Sooner, the opposite may take place: Ukraine gained its independence rather late, and it may be swallowed and digested by such monsters as globalization, liberal thinking, political correctness, etc. The torchlit demonstrations are an antidote against this threat. Without the “Bandera spirit,” Ukraine would have long ago dissolved in the swamp of incurable Russian ills –servility, lawlessness, isolationism, xenophobia, chauvinism, laziness and aggressiveness.

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THE STEPPE AND THE SPIRIT

December 23, 2016

leonid-kutsenkoA country can be best known by its province, not by the capital city. Those who live in Yorkshire villages represent England in a way which is more in sync with English traditional culture and history than, say, the population of London can represent it. The same is true about my Ukraine. I thought about it yesterday when I was attending a function at a pedagogical university in the city of Kropyvnytskyi. That social gathering was honoring the memory of the university’s professor Leonid Kutsenko who had tragically died ten years ago. I knew Leonid from the time when he was a second-year student in the 1970s at the same university. He was a very charismatic person – he was, what may be called “a man of passion.” His charisma combined with his sharp intellect, vehement quest for knowledge and (as it was sometimes said behind his back) his “abnormal” integrity. Leonid didn’t hesitate to voice what he really thought about a person or an event. Surprisingly, this “non-diplomatic” stand was an asset that attracted many people to him.

However, the chief feature of Leonid Kutsenko’s character was the love of his “small motherland.” He was born in the Ukrainian steppe, he knew the steppe and he could speak about it for hours. Once, both of us were going in a car along an endless road in southern Ukraine. I was driving the car and Leonid was in the passenger seat. Tirelessly, he was telling me a history of every village we were going through, and about outstanding personalities who were born here and later made these parts famous. Incidentally, our steppe (meaning the people) has always been independently minded. It had its own rebellious mentality which neither the Russian czars not the communist leaders could root out. The names of the cossack Ivan Sirko (17th century), or of the rebels Taras Triasylo (17th century), Maksym Zaliznyak and Ivan Honta (18th century), Nestor Makhno (20th century) are known practically to every Ukrainian. As I was listening to Leonid in the car, we missed a point where we had to turn off from the main road and we went on ahead for another hour and then had to make a U-turn and ride back. But I wasn’t in the least sorry for the time lost or petrol wasted because there was no loss or waste – I had heard a wonderfully passionate lecture of a scholar who knew his country and who was proud of it.

Much later, during Gorbachev’s “perestroika”, Leonid Kutsenko was able to travel to the Czech Republic, France and the U.S.A. where he worked in the archives and gathered much valuable material about the Ukrainian refugee writers who had fled the communist regime in the 1920s and in the 1940s. Actually, it was he who discovered for the present-day generations of Ukrainians the name of Yevhen Malaniuk whom the Russian propaganda had labeled “nationalist” and had always tried to hush up his name.

Incidentally, the other day I watched a video with a Russian military expert talking about the next stage of the war in Ukraine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CY5c6xZVvo ). Mikhail Aleksandrov spoke about, as he put it, a Syrian variant for my country: a large-scale offensive must start, he said, supported by the Russian aviation and long-range systems (rockets, cruise missiles, Iskander missiles). They will destroy the main Ukrainian infrastructure, communication centers, command centers, air-defense systems, heavy weaponry. And on the destroyed positions, where mostly the infantry is left with light weapons, the Donbas forces will advance. They basically will clean the territory from the remnants of the Ukrainian army, the expert concluded.

At the function, the university professors took the floor, reminisced about their former colleague, and at one point I thought that it won’t be so easy for Putin or Aleksandrov to crush Ukraine, even with the fifth column referred to in Aleksandrov’s video interview. The matter is that each of Kutsenko’s colleagues had very much the same spine as Leonid Kutsenko or Yevhen Malaniuk once had. And very much the same passion that has been growing throughout centuries in this rebellious Ukrainian steppe.

THE BIRD WOMAN

March 20, 2016

2016-03-20The Old Lady in Maidan NezalezhnostiThis morning the snow was falling on Independence Square (Maidan) in Kyiv. It melted as soon as it touched the pavement. The square was wet and almost empty. An old lady took remains of food out of her huge bags, crumbed them and fed the pigeons. She was murmuring something while dropping pieces of food on the pigeons’ black backs. The pigeons were many. They swarmed round the woman’s feet, fluttered up onto her bags, and then jumped down to pick the crumbs.

I watched the woman for some time. When she finished her job, she collected her bags, blessed the pigeons with the sign of the cross, turned round and went slowly away. I took a picture of her. The lonely woman shuffling away. What is not in the picture, is a patriotic song resounding from a loudspeaker from the other side of Khreshchatyk Street and the feel of a distant war hanging over the square.

UKRAINIAN HURGHADA

November 9, 2015

Glory to Ukraine-Glory to the HeroesHurghada, an Egyptian coastal resort, is a traditional place of rest popular with visitors from the ex-USSR. A Facebook user Nina Didenko shared a story that had happened this past summer in Hurghada.

Vacationers were taking the sun on the beach on a hot morning. They were from Ukraine, Belorussia, Moldova, Russia… All of them communicated in Russian and it was hard to say which of them was from which place. The only “known” group were a few strongly built young men with deep brown tan on their necks and arms but with quite white torsos. The people already knew that they were the military from the city of Kirovohrad in Ukraine who came to spend their leave there. The young men had arrived a day before and celebrated their arrival into the early hours after midnight– this might be the reason why they appeared somewhat late on the beach the next day. This time the youths decided to make their presence on the beach more impressive, and they suddenly shouted in a clear and loud chorus: “Glory to Ukraine!” (a customary greeting of all those who, on Maidan in Kyiv, were fighting against the hateful regime of Viktor Yanukovich and who are now fighting against the Russia-backed separatists in Donbas). The call, like an explosion, ripped the sleepy atmosphere of the beach. And then… “Glory to the Heroes!” sounded as a reply in many voices from the loungers. The exchange of these two phrases has always been a kind of password into a circle of all those who are ready to stand up in arms for Ukraine. It was so when Ukraine fought for its independence in WWI, later – in the years 1942-1952 in West Ukraine against the Germans and the Soviets, then during the Revolution of Dignity in Kyiv in the winter of 2013-2014, and also now, when the war against Russia and its hirelings is waged in East Ukraine.

For a moment, with this two-sided greeting, the African beach of Hurghada turned into a Ukrainian territory.

The episode told by Nina Didenko has a personal note for me too. In 1970-1971 I served in the military unit in Kirovohrad. There was much of training, shooting and reconnaissance instruction. And when we were rigging our parachutes on hot summer afternoons, we wore our blue-and-white striped vests, and the sun was tanning our necks and arms.

WHAT THE KIEVANS ARE MADE OF: NEWS, BOMB SHELTERS, RIFLES, METRO TOKENS AND… ENGLISH WORDS

February 7, 2015

A few typical Internet headlines I came across after yesterday’s Merkel-Hollande blitz-visit to Kyiv and Moscow.

Associated Press: Merkel uncertain whether Ukraine peace talks will succeed

Merkel, Hollande end Moscow talks without word of peace deal

Bloomberg: Ukraine summit is unsuccessful

Washington Post: Moscow talks fail to produce a Ukraine peace deal

BBC: Ukraine can’t stop Russian armour

The Guardian: Putin and Poroshenko to hold phone talks after inconclusive end to summit

Financial Times: Merkel-Hollande mission ends with promise of more talks

Reuters: UK concerned over “threatening” Russian nuclear strategy

Kerry delivers hot-air speech to Ukraine while Putin supplies tanks, missiles and troops

In his interview with the German ZDF the U.S. Senator McCain said what most Ukrainians actually think: not giving modern arms to Ukraine is to pursue the same appeasement policy towards Putin which the West used before WWII in relation towards Hitler. Amidst all the political blah-blah a European country is being torn apart at the beginning of the enlightened 21st century. An enlightened, tolerant, politically correct, anti-racist, anti-fascist, civilized century with high humane orientation.

2015-02-07basementOn a local level here, Vitaliy Klichko ,the mayor of Kyiv, got all bomb shelters in the city listed. He says it’s another measure of enhancing the residents’ readiness for an enemy attack. It must be admitted that the name “bomb shelters” is rather overstated. Ninety per cent of such shelters (there are about 700 of them) are metro stations and basements of apartment buildings. The shelter we are assigned to is under my building. It’s unequipped — at the moment some stray cats are mainly found there. If our 16-storey building collapsed, it might take quite some time before rescue-teams (should there be any at the right time) could take us out from under the debris. On the other hand, how many civilian people would be able to get into the Kyiv shelters? Roughly 100,000 out of the total (official) population of 2.5 million. Estimates based on the amount of bakery products sold in the city suggest a minimum of 3.5 million, which means there are up to one million undercounted residents.

2015-02-07c Meanwhile, students are trained to use automatic rifles in schools of Kyiv. Such lessons are called here “lessons of valour” and are conducted by the volunteer defence battalion Azov. Here are pictures of “valour lessons” in the Obolon district where I live.2015-02-07e

The centre of Kyiv looks comparatively deserted. Not so many pedestrians and less traffic than usual. In the evening the city is dark, dirty, wet and cold. In an underpass leading to the metro station street musicians in military fatigues play some instruments. Next to them a few young couples shuffle their feet to the music. Three or four policemen stand a bit afar. Some more military may be seen near the windows where metro tokens are sold and Bild090further down on the platforms – sometimes with dogs which are said to have been trained to sniff explosives. There are also “retired” dogs. One scene in a Kyiv market was particularly moving and I couldn’t help taking a picture of it.

Yesterday was the last day when tokens could be bought at their “old price” – 2 hryvnias a piece. As of today, February 7, you have to pay twice as much for public transport. That’ s why yesterday there formed long queues of people buying tokens for future use, and the administration ordered that no more than two tokens should be sold to one passenger at a time.2015-02-07Queues in Metro

The TV-like advertisements on monitors inside metro cars have disappeared, and the monitors remain depressingly black. Surprisingly, one of the major English-language schools abundantly advertises its services on the escalators all the way as the escalators move. Each fixed light-box past which a passenger floats up or down has a word with a corresponding illustration. Being a word-lover, I appreciate the Bild045choice of the vocabulary: desuetude, insouciance, erstwhile, nemesis, ingénue, ebullience – to name just a few which I remembered. I only thought that if you stop an English person in a street in England and force out these words at him, what will the person think of you?

THE SCI-FI MIRROR

July 31, 2014

220px-PeaceOnEarthMy friend whom I have known for more than 20 years (since the time when I was teaching English at a higher institution) commented on my blog post of July 26 “When the Nation Reaches Adulthood…” I am grateful to Waclaw for his drawing my attention to the book “Peace on Earth” by Stanislaw Lem. It has taken me a few hours today to read the book, and I marvel at how prophetically this futuristic satire depicts Ukraine’s situation.

First a few words about the plot. Being concerned with arms race on Earth, all the nations conclude a treaty according to which they send their weaponry to the Moon. However, this kind of super-détente doesn’t work because the lunar artificial intelligence (created by the earthlings earlier to take care of the weapons) develops into an alien force which is threatening to invade Earth (hence, the satirical title of the story: “Peace on Earth”). The space explorer Ijon Tichy is sent to the Moon on a recon mission. Right on landing there, he suffers an electronic attack resulting in the severance of the connection between the left and the right side of his brain. Another man-trap set for Ijon by the lunar intelligence is a decoy robot who pretends that he is Ijon’s “brother.”

Actually, this last word “brother” was the main emphasis of Waclaw’s comment in my blog entry I wrote about the hypocritical epithet “brotherly” often attached to the relationship between the Russians and the Ukrainians.  Here’s a quote from “Peace on Earth”:
… First I heard two words muttered in a hoarse voice: “Brother dear … dear brother …” A minute of silence and then again, “Brother dear … dear brother …” . “Who’s that?” – I wanted to shout but didn’t dare to. I sat curled up, feeling the sweat beading on my brow, and the strange voice was filling the inside of the helmet. “Come, my dear brother, my dear brother, come to me. Have no fear. I’ll do you no harm, my dear brother, just come. Fear not, I do not want to fight. We need to fraternize. It is true, my dear brother. Help me. I’ll help you, too, dear brother.” Something clicked, and the same voice grew completely different – growling, brief and snappy: “Drop the gun! Drop the gun! Drop the gun! Drop your weapon or I’ll burn you! Do not try to escape! Turn your back! Hands up! Both hands! So! Both hands on the head! Stand there and do not move! Do not move! Do not move!”
The schizophrenic split of Ijon’s personality is worthy of note too.  Due to his brain bisected, one hemisphere does not cooperate with the other, and consequently, one part of his body (hands, feet) is performing actions opposite to those the other part is performing. For instance, it repeatedly strikes Ijon on his face. I immediately saw a parallel in Ukraine’s actions. Russia has launched an act of aggression against Ukraine. At the same time, however, Ukraine continues to trade with Russia (for one, it’s delivering to Russia the military hardware within the frames of existing contracts). Euphemistically, Ukraine calls the war with Russia an “anti-terrorist action”—not a “war”, and it also awaits Russia’s consent for the ratification of the Association Agreement with the EU.

I wonder if the Ukrainian “chair-borne” command will, at some point, start reading Stanislaw Lem.

WHEN THE NATION REACHES ADULTHOOD…

July 26, 2014

2014-07-26rip_ussrThere is a joke about a stranger asking a way in a city. The first person, whom the visitor addressed, said the shortest way to the visitor’s destination was from Cathedral of Praise to Covenant Fellowship, then to Family Harvest Outreach and, finally, to New House Ministries. The same route was explained by another person in a somewhat different way: “Go from Barley Mow to Olde Man and Scythe, then to Kentish House, and when you reach Cheviot Inn, you are at the right place. “

As a high-school student, I studied History of the Soviet Union, of which History of Ukraine was a part. In hindsight, I understand that the communist historians were taking students through the past centuries by “church names”, i.e. highlighting positive moments of the relationship between the two nations. However, the objective picture will emerge when the Ukrainian history is traced along the “pubs” – an endless string of tragedies and social catastrophes created by Russia. Were there any positive moments? Yes. But when compared with the negative aspect of the union with Russia, the positive element was hardly dominant.

For more than three and a half centuries it was crammed into our heads that Ukrainians and Russians were “brotherly” peoples. When I hear the word “brotherly” from the Russian lips now, I always have a feeling that something different is meant. Something opposite, to be exact.  I remember the same deceitful language was used when in 1968 the Soviets were giving military “assistance” to the “brotherly Czechoslovak people.” What kind of brotherhood can exist between the Russians and the Ukrainians if both had no less than five major wars between each other?.. if the artificial famine was organized by Russia in Ukraine and the scholars cannot agree about one thing only: how many millions (two? four? seven? ten?) of the Ukrainians died in the famine?.. if the Chernobyl disaster (thirty kilometers from the capital city of Kyiv) was actually Moscow’s culpability?

I shudder with disgust when I think that the “brother country” can blow up its own residential buildings and use it as a pretext to do away with another nation (the Chechens)… when passenger airliners can cold-bloodedly be downed for political purposes, or simply, for scaring an opponent (the Korean Airlines Flight in 1983, the Polish 2010 TU-154 plane near Smolensk, and the latest – the Malaysian MH17 Flight over Ukraine)… when political opponents are murdered on the territory of other countries (Yevhen Konovalets in the Netherlands in 1938; Stepan Bandera in Germany in 1959; Georgi Markov in 1978; Alexander Litvinenko in Britain in 2006)… With Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian citizen, the Bulgarian secret service was formerly involved, but it’s common knowledge that it couldn’t have happened if the Russian patron hadn’t OK’d the action.

Here, in Ukraine, you may sometimes hear the phrase “We love the Russians, we hate Putin.” I would agree with it if the generalizing article “the” in the sentence were replaced by the indefinite pronoun “some.” I deeply respect the philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, the dissident Andrey Sakharov, the philologist Dmitriy Likhachov. In my opinion, Yevgeniy Yevtushenko remains the greatest Russian poet of the second half of the 20th century. But… the fact also remains that nations are – directly or indirectly – accomplices in their leaders’ crimes. Adolf Hitler would not have been able to arrange the Holocaust if anti-Semitism had not been so popular among the Germans in the 1930s. At the moment Vladimir Putin is doing what the Russians want him to do. Millions of the Russians consider Ukraine to be an “error of history” with no right to exist. If Putin suddenly stepped down now, they (the Russians) would find another Putin. The sooner the Ukrainians understand it, the more mature as a nation they will be.

ABOUT PROFESSIONALISM

July 23, 2014

2014-07-23AdYesterday the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a law on partial mobilization, which was previously approved by the Parliament. This morning I went to the military commissariat – a local military agency that drafts men for military service. It’s not that I hoped to be called up to the battlefront 🙂 Being 65 years of age you can hardly be drafted into the army – at least not until you are suddenly promoted from a retired captain (which I am) to the rank of a general: only generals are privileged to stay in the army when they are over 65. I had just a couple of required papers to hand in at the commissariat.

A symptomatic detail on the approach to the military office struck my eye. Right on the asphalt before the entrance gate there was an inscription made in white paint: “Body Armour: Levels 4 and 5”. The cell phone number was also indicated there. The levels meant threat levels (i.e. standards) for bulletproof vests. I thought about how skilfully our businesses can find niches for profit. It is being reported widely in the media that there are not enough armour vests for our soldiers, so, ring up and – hey, presto! – a vest crops up at the other end of the phone. When it comes down to a draftee’s  life or death, the sum of about USD 700 (the average price of a vest with a high level of protection) may be scraped up. Or it may be not, considering that 700 dollars amount to more than two average monthly salaries in Ukraine.

However, tangible financial and material support is given to the Ukrainian army by civilians. Banks issue “army bonds” which they sell to the population. Over the radio you may hear regular calls to send an sms to an announced number: the cost of the sms (about half a dollar) will be your contribution to the re-birth of the army. People queue up at hospitals to donate blood for wounded soldiers. It looks like after two decades when the army was being destroyed all that time, it’s the people’s war and it’s the people’s army now.

When already inside the building of the commissariat, I observed reservist officers waiting for their turn to be invited to respective desks. Most of them were intelligent-looking young people, very quiet and very polite. I compared them to the soldiers whom I see every evening on television. (Such soldiers are regularly interviewed by correspondents). With balaclavas covering their faces, with tattoos on their arms and grenade launchers in their hands, with their rough talk (sometimes you hear a beep if the interviewees’ words are too rude), the soldiers look “real tough.” I thought that if it should come to the point of these intellectual men – polite, considerate, with quiet clever eyes – commanding  those tough unruly guys, you will never know who will be in command.

I deeply respect the lads whom I see on TV: they risk their lives daily, and they – very often –lose their lives these days. But just as they cannot stand before students delivering a lecture in biochemistry, the reservist officers (defacto teachers or doctors) will hardly be able to effectively command a military operation. We don’t need the “people’s army.” We need a professional army. Then there will be no need to write on the asphalt where bulletproof jackets of proper threat levels can be bought.

 

 

 

A LIKELY FUTURE

July 19, 2014

2014-07-18Ribbentrop-MolotovThe shootdown of the Malaysian airliner brings a new factor into the development of the warfare in Ukraine. If it is proved that the plane was downed by the Russia-supported rebels (and there cannot be otherwise), the rebels will be officially re-qualified from “separatists” into “terrorists”, and Russia will hardly keep supplying them with weapons on the scale it has been doing until now. The support with the manpower, if not stopped altogether in full view of the watching world community, will have to be only secretly arranged, which will mean the considerable reduction of such support. On the other hand, I don’t think Mr. Putin will distance himself from the terrorists (who are actually the Russian “wild geese” recruited at military call-up centers right beyond the Ukrainian border) to the point of breaking away from them. The 90 percent of the Russians will “not understand him” then. Which is why, to save face, Mr. Putin may announce that Ukraine hasn’t been able to guarantee peace and security on its own territory and launch a full-scale invasion into it. I am afraid that even in this last case, the old and slow Europe will hardly rush to rescue Ukraine. There may be some back-door games between the Asiatic gas supplier and the European gas consumer followed by compromises, which will make Ukraine into a sacrificial lamb. Alas for Ukraine!2014-07-18You are a gas

(The cartoons are uploaded courtesy of Kyiv Post)

DOWNING THE AIRCRAFT

July 18, 2014

I’m reblogging Mark Galeotti’s post from the address http://inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.com/ . That’s what I feel about yesterday’s tragedy too.

 

Reasons Why Malaysian Airlines MH17 Was Probably Shot Down By A Rebel Missile – And Why This Means The Rebels Have Lost

Of course, it’s still too early to say definitively what happened but this is a personal blog, not a newspaper article or a government report, so I have the space to vent and express what I think rather than what I know. So, here goes.

Although I wish it were otherwise, I feel the overwhelming odds are that MH17 was shot down by a Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile fired by the rebels (but supplied by the Russians):

1. The rebels, notably generalissimo Strelkov actually claimed to have shot down a government An-26 in the general area of the MH17’s demise. The social media claims in question have been retrospectively deleted, but in this age nothing is truly lost.

2. The rebels have shot down other government planes and indeed there is strategic merit to their denying their airspace to Kyiv’s forces, given that air power is one of the government’s real advantages. If they thought the MH17 was a government plane, then this might have seemed a great opportunity.

3. MH17 was flying too high for the man portable and light vehicle-mounted SAMs the rebels have openly deployed, but recently they admitted–and again these claims seem to have been retracted–to having at least one Buk-M1 SAM system, a tactical battlefield system that has the range to claw a civilian airliner out of the sky, and the warhead to do it with one hit.

4. The Buk is a radar-guided missile, so it could quite possibly have been launched without any eyeballing of the target. Furthermore, while the rebels may have the Buk’s radar targeting system, they lack the extensive radar network and, above all, the skilled sensor operators who might have been able to tell a passenger airliner from a government troop plane.

5. The pattern of wreckage, the state of the corpses, suggests a catastrophic in-air impact and then rapid descent, not a crash from engine or system failure. Again, this speaks to a missile attack, and there do not seem to have been Russian or Ukrainian fighter jets in the air near there. So, again we’re back to a SAM.

Yes, I am excluding the more outré conspiracy theories, that MH17 was destroyed by government forces to demonize the rebels and likewise that it was shot down by an S-300 from Russia. This was, in my opinion, a tragic and murderous blunder rather than an intentional atrocity. This in no way excuses the attack–human lives are human lives, whether Ukrainian airmen or multinational civilians–but helps explain what’s going on.

Either way, I suspect that when the histories are written, this will be deemed the day the insurgency lost. Or at least began to lose. Especially given the presence of Americans and other Westerners on MH17, the Kremlin will, for all its immediate and instinctive bluster and spin, have to definitively and overtly withdraw from arming and protecting the rebels. This is especially considering the presumption that Moscow supplied the missiles in the first place. A single Russian report alleged that the rebels had captured a Buk from Ukrainian government stocks, but this was almost certainly preemptive disinformation as there is nothing else external to the rebels’ own propaganda to support this claim. Besides which, while it is not that difficult to find crew for artillery, even tanks, the Buk does require well-trained crews, and ones trained relatively recently.

Meanwhile, Kyiv’s determination to defeat the rebels will not only be strengthened, it is likely to be blessed by the West. It’s not inconceivable that we will not only see Western MREs (meals, ready to eat) and body armour being deployed, but Western lethal weapons, trainers and even special forces.

Without Moscow’s support, the insurgency cannot last for that long. That is not to say that when it goes down, it will go down easy. If anything, the opposite is true as they may no longer have the option of finding sanctuary in Russia. Fighters with their backs to the wall are always dangerous.


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