Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Report: Major Russian military intervention in Ukraine began in mid-2014

Posted by Charles II on March 11, 2015

Via The Guardian, a report by Igor Sutyagin of the Royal United Services Institute claims that:

intervention by Russian troops in combat roles then followed in the middle of August, when the prospect of
rebel defeat had become realistic.

The first phase of large-scale incursions by regular Russian troops commenced on 11 August 2014 and has involved a substantial array of forces (see Table 1). Elements of some Russian reconnaissance and special operations units have operated on Ukrainian soil since 14 July (at the latest), comprising teams generated by six units.

Following their increasingly large-scale, direct and conventional involvement in combat against Ukrainian troops in the middle of August 2014, Russian troops in Ukraine numbered between 3,500 and 6,000–6,500 by the end
of August 2014, according to different sources.

That number fluctuated, reaching approximately 10,000 at the peak of direct Russian involvement in the middle of December 2014.

Now, I don’t know if this is just the same stuff we have gotten from General Breedlove. A journalist who I trust says that it looks like it’s from the Mighty Wurlitzer. But one estimate of troop strength is from Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges, Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, so it’s not from the intelligence-free NATO command that Breedlove represents.

The rebel side has expended a lot of energy in denying that Russian troops are present in any significant numbers. This report is a direct challenge. To be fair, according to the WSJ, Sutyagin was accused of espionage by his native Russia, and is living in exile. He’s not a completely disinterested party. But it all depends on his sourcing. He is not the story. If his sourcing is bad, then the question of why RUSI and The Guardian are pushing it is the story.

For what it’s worth, I have consistently said that I thought that Russian intervention began in mid-summer (see here for an example, though I didn’t specify a time or a scale). However, I have guesstimated overall troop strength at about 1,000, those in the form of deniable “volunteers.” I would be surprised if there were over 10,000 troops there, and if they were there on that scale, the US should be able to show us–its citizens– the massive number of mechanized vehicles (51 total units, including four armored and 12 rocket units, not to mention airborne troops!) that Sutyagin proposes are involved. If we don’t see the evidence, we should assume this is another mobile biological weapons lab.

3 Responses to “Report: Major Russian military intervention in Ukraine began in mid-2014”

  1. One of the good things about the present gridlock is that I can’t see any military aid bills going through right now.

  2. notlurking said

    Are you kidding me, The Guardian is one of the worst sources for news about Russia, Ukraine etc. For them Putin is an incarnation of Hitler-Stalin-Pol pot. Lol

    • Charles II said

      I would guess that some of the hostility of The Guardian’s coverage has to do with the number of anonymous and allegedly Kremlin-paid pro-rebel posters that descended indiscriminately on their website. While a newspaper should be immune to that sort of reaction, I can well-imagine that staff might have felt under assault. The natural response to being under assault is to rally against the assaulter.

      I have usually found The Guardian to be one of the better, less reflexively-pro-U.S.newspapers. Though I certainly have criticized their coverage of Latin America and am not impressed with their coverage of Ukraine. But any good analyst will read news sources that she/he likes and dislikes and sort out the truth even-handedly.

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