Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

The apparent fall of Debaltsevo and the campaign to stabilize the Mariupol region; Mearsheimer v. War Party; report of a cease fire

Posted by Charles II on February 10, 2015

Added: IBT and NYT report a ceasefire is at hand. Reuters denies this. Let’s hope the former is correct.
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A Kievan irregular unit that uses Nazi insignia, the Azov Battalion, is credited with pushing the rebels away from Mariupol, an important port. Maxim Tucker, Kyiv Post:

Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, famed for its near-suicidal bravery and ultra-nationalist views, is spearheading a Ukrainian counter-offensive along the country’s Black Sea coast today.

Posting a picture of their troops on Feb. 10 outside Pavlopil town hall, some 35 kilometers northeast of their base in the strategic port city of Mariupol, the battalion said that it had also seized the villages of Oktyabyr and Shyrokyne on their way to assault the Russian and separatist-held city of Novoazovsk.

“Ukrainian flags are already flying on government buildings in Pavlopil, Oktyabyr and Shyrokyne,” Azov Battalion press officer Andrii Biletski told the Kyiv Post live from the offensive.

“Our exact position now is secret, but we’re going all the way to Novoazovsk.”

Azov Battalion’s counter-offensive appears to be a coordinated effort by the Ukrainian military designed to relieve pressure on the embattled Debaltseve garrison, surrounded on three sides by separatist forces.

The latter paragraph is odd. Debaltsevo is a long way away from Mariupol (see maps below) and probably a lot less important to the rebels than Debaltsevo is to Kiev– based on how they have allowed their troops to be encircled. It would be hard for the rebels to shift resources this far south. In any case, rebel sources seem to believe that an assault along the Azov Sea coast from Mariupol has occurred. Another pro-rebel source says that this attack was for show:

The attack began in the morning. It was spearheaded by the Azov Special Purpose Regiment. Its troopers drove through the villages located between Mariupol and Novoazovsk which are located in the so-called “no-man’s land”—a buffer zone between UAF and Novorossia forces—where they made several photos which confirm their “victory”. The trip cost them two wounded, due to the fact they were photographing themselves: Novorossia snipers noted the camera flashes.

Azov claims that they captured genuinely important villages of Sakhanka and Shirokino were not confirmed. “As of 15:20, the UAF attack on Sakhanka was repelled. Ukrainian forces which entered the outskirts were forced to retreat. There is fighting around the western edge of Sakhanka and Shirokino”—is how the militia reported the events.

Again, we shall see. As for whether the fighting is designed to gain a bargaining advantage during talks, I am skeptical that a “peace agreement” is in the works.

Rebel sources are claiming as of 2/10 to be in downtown Debaltsevo and to have the remnants of the garrison tightly encircled, with little chance for relief. I can’t understand the commanders who would order their men to hold a position while entirely cut off, leaving them to be slaughtered. Debaltsevo is not Bastogne. It’s not even Pork Chop Hill. It’s a horrible waste of human life and the destruction of homes that Ukrainians need to love in.

Nor can I understand why rebels would consider this a victory. They are leveling their own homes.

John Mearsheimer, who oppose US intervention in Ukraine, debated Gen. Charles Wald, one of the authors of the Atlantic Council/Chicago Council/Brookings report, a report that urged we arm Ukraine. Granting that general officers tend to be incoherent, it’s baffling to me that Wald was the deputy commander of US-European Command. From DemocracyNow, a medley of Wald:

I believe the—first of all, the fact that Yanukovych left the Ukraine was not necessarily through force. It was through a diplomatic means.

No, I don’t believe the Soviets should have invaded Cuba.

If China and Canada want to have an alliance, that’s their problem.

So I think this idealistic, misplaced argument that everything is similar in the world, the Monroe Doctrine, the invasion or the movement of Russia into Cuba are similar, is an argument for people that haven’t studied history, frankly.

And a matter of fact, they have at least a thousand Russian officers in eastern Ukraine today.

NATO has said the Ukraine is not going to be part of NATO.

I think it’s a smart argument that a professor would make, but it’s wrong.

I’m not a weapons dealer, and I don’t represent Deloitte in this discussion

And the fact of the matter is, Putin has no claim to any sphere of influence whatsoever in Europe, other than Russia, period, dot, over and out.

Wald never managed to answer the question of how the US response to the Cuban Missile Crisis was fundamentally different than the Russian response to the coup in Kiev. If a general officer can’t at least manage to dodge the comparison with a little grace, he probably shouldn’t be a general officer. The crack about “a smart argument that a professor would make” was playground stuff.

I am interested in his claim that there are 1000 Russian officers in Ukraine. That sounds unlikely.

BBC Overview of the situation

Pro-rebel map of the region as of 1/30

Pro-rebel claims as to Debaltsevo, as of 2/10

3 Responses to “The apparent fall of Debaltsevo and the campaign to stabilize the Mariupol region; Mearsheimer v. War Party; report of a cease fire”

  1. Reblogged this on [this site].

    [Editor’s note: corrected link by adding the square brackets and contents. Seems like a legitimate site. And thanks.]

  2. I appreciate you examining so many sources of various viewpoints in your dissection of the current situation. I have been looking everywhere for someone who doesn’t blindly repeat propaganda for either side; your sifting through the various statements is a godsend to someone outside of the conflict trying to make sense of it.

    • Charles II said

      Well, thanks, Alexander!

      I have to say, there seems to be a lot less BS about the tactical situation at the rebel websites than at the mainstream media. But it pays to read both and measure their accuracy for oneself. My attitude is that the truth is going to come out eventually, so what’s the point of trying to spin it? Maybe there’s short-term advantage, but the surest way for a state or a person to lose a struggle in the long term is to lie to itself.

      I count myself very lucky to be in a nation that is not undergoing the terrible suffering and instability that Ukraine is going through. I feel it incumbent to use what little influence I have to try to understand the true situation and to try to explain what I see–with no illusions about my own ability to discern the truth. I am appalled by the hard-heartedness that sees people as pawns in financial and Great Power games. How many people died unnecessarily in Iraq for the mad idea that we can re-make the Middle East in our image (and by the way, make a lot of money off Iraqi oil)?

      I genuinely hope there is a just God, because otherwise what goes on in this life would be completely unbearable.

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