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acmilano

Military Crisis in Ukraine

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Frank Brown

My father and I were debating a possible Russian intervention in Ukraine the other day, he envisages a Hungary 1956 situation to quell the unrest and believes Russia will invade to force a partition of East and Western Ukraine.

 

Personally I can't see this happening because, as sivis said the Georgian conflict was not plain sailing and whilst it did succeed in achieving most of Russia's aims i.e. the de facto establisment of independent Abkhazia and South Ossetia, that was not an easy process. If their intention is to repeat this on a much, much larger scale in Ukraine then Putin is crazier than I thought.

 

I'm not familiar with the conflict. But did the Russians have support from a large number of people in the Georgian conflict? If not, is it comparable? Would a country in the midst of civil unrest be as much of a challenge as them?

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D- Ice

Crimean government buildings have been siezed by an unknown armed group.

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26365780

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26364891

 

I'm not sure on the news of Russia moving troops to Crimea, but if it is indeed true, I'd guess the gunmen barricaded into the government buildings - who said they are not authorised to make demands or negotiate - are just place-holders. I believe they are intended to keep the government buildings empty and secure until Russia'schoice of politicians and government officials arrive after the invasion. If this happens, I see this as another Georgia/South Ossetia/Abkhazia.

Though I am still unsure Russia who actually go ahead with a military take-over. Has anyone got any sources for the supposed news that Russian troops are going to enter Crimea?

Thanks.

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Max

 

My father and I were debating a possible Russian intervention in Ukraine the other day, he envisages a Hungary 1956 situation to quell the unrest and believes Russia will invade to force a partition of East and Western Ukraine.

 

Personally I can't see this happening because, as sivis said the Georgian conflict was not plain sailing and whilst it did succeed in achieving most of Russia's aims i.e. the de facto establisment of independent Abkhazia and South Ossetia, that was not an easy process. If their intention is to repeat this on a much, much larger scale in Ukraine then Putin is crazier than I thought.

 

I'm not familiar with the conflict. But did the Russians have support from a large number of people in the Georgian conflict? If not, is it comparable? Would a country in the midst of civil unrest be as much of a challenge as them?

 

I think I'm right in saying that within the two regions they essentially annexed, there was a large ethnic Russian population and there was enough significant pro-Russian feeling, or at least significant separatist anti-Georgian feeling for Russia to exploit. Similar to the situation in Eastern Ukraine. I believe that the two cases are loosely comparable because the 2008 Georgian war represents Russia's most significant military involvement since Chechnya and I think, their most serious foreign action since their invasion of Afghanistan. Any potential intervention in Ukraine would be founded upon the lessons learnt in Georgia.

 

But I see your point and you're right, obviously Ukraine's current turmoil and geo-political significance is a major difference.

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Omnia sunt Communia

I'm finding it almost impossible to keep up-to-date with what's going on in Ukraine. As you'd expect the situation seems to be changing by the minute. This talk of Russian intervention is very scary, especially considering that it would soon escalate into some sort of Cold War-style East vs. West conflict. I can imagine the U.S. would begin funding anti-Russian groups, just like they did in Afghanistan.

 

I think a more realistic scenario would be civil war breaking out between the pro-Europe and pro-Russia factions. We've already started to see scuffles amongst them in Crimea. I think most countries prefer that situation to full-blown invasion because it means they can work behind the scenes, supporting their preferred parties, while still maintaining an air of responsbility on the global political scene.

 

What I find very disturbing is that members of the Right Sector have made it on to the new Parliament.

 

And those who are worried about the location of the Russian Fleet, they are based in the Black Sea anyway!

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Frank Brown

 

 

I think a more realistic scenario would be civil war breaking out between the pro-Europe and pro-Russia factions. We've already started to see scuffles amongst them in Crimea. I think most countries prefer that situation to full-blown invasion because it means they can work behind the scenes, supporting their preferred parties, while still maintaining an air of responsbility on the global political scene.

 

Couldn't a civil war with no intervention cause even more bloodshed, though? Compared to an invasion, at least.

 

The Georgian conflict mentioned earlier had only (and I use that loosely) about 250 casualties on both sides, whereas the current conflict in Ukraine is at about 100 or so already, isn't it? It's a flip of a coin and honestly just a guess.

 

 

 

And those who are worried about the location of the Russian Fleet, they are based in the Black Sea anyway!

Yeah, but according to CNN, they've moved close to Crimea.

Edited by Vlynor

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sivispacem

They're already in Crimea, the Black Sea fleet is based at Sevastopol which is Ukrainian.

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Frank Brown

They're already in Crimea, the Black Sea fleet is based at Sevastopol which is Ukrainian.

 

Misread it.

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Omnia sunt Communia

I'm not saying that civil war is preferable to foreign intervention, but at least civil war allows for a greater chance of self-determination for the people of Ukraine. Even if both sides will be heavily funded by foreign powers. In the event of an invasion, the invading power will just set up a puppet government like they have in other countries. The problem is, that if Russia invaded, I cannot see America letting it slide. They get pretty annoyed when people try to steal their crown for most imperialistic nation on the planet.

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D- Ice

I'm not saying that civil war is preferable to foreign intervention, but at least civil war allows for a greater chance of self-determination for the people of Ukraine. Even if both sides will be heavily funded by foreign powers. In the event of an invasion, the invading power will just set up a puppet government like they have in other countries. The problem is, that if Russia invaded, I cannot see America letting it slide. They get pretty annoyed when people try to steal their crown for most imperialistic nation on the planet.

While I can definately see where you are coming from, I believe national self-determination and direct foreign military influence are completely unrelated. Syria has been in the grips of an incredily bloody civil war for over three years, and Islamic, Secular, Syrian Nationalist, Kurdish, Bedouin Tribal, Sunni, Shia, Christian, and many more other identities are competing for dominance while being manipulated and exploited by all sorts of influences and geo-political agendas. The same can be said of Lebanon and Iraq. Then you have countries like West Germany, and more recently and appropriately South Ossetia and Abkhazia, who's existance started after foreign military occupation, yet had/have a unified self-determined identity.

 

Furthermore, the extent of outside influence in shaping a people's ethnic/national/social identity in no way corrolated to how stable and accepted that identity is.

 

That said, I obviously think direct Russian military involvement would be a terrible thing - not only for Ukraine, but the wider global political climate. The reason is that it would be a blatant escalation of hostilities on Russia's part, as well as an obvious attempt at expansionism at the expense of Western interests. NATO and its allies will then likely respond, either regionally or globally.

Edited by D- Ice

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Doc Rikowski

The reason is that it would be a blatant escalation of hostilities on Russia's part, as well as an obvious attempt at expansionism at the expense of Western interests. NATO and its allies will then likely respond, either regionally or globally.

 

And recruiting a bunch of former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO wasn't a successful attempt at expansionism at the expense of Russia's interests?

 

Strategy and expansionism go both ways in this case.

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sivispacem

Given that NATO is a strategic alliance rather than an economic or political one I find it hard to argue that any nation's voluntary membership could be determined to be an act of hegemony. Coercion possibly but not hegemony.

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Doc Rikowski

Not saying that the new recruits didn't voluntarily join NATO, just saying that the offer, strategically, can be considered expansionism by Russia and that is certainly something that pissed them off. ;)

Edited by Doc Rikowski

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sivispacem

Russian naval infantry apparently blockading Sevastopol airport

Linky

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K^2

Russian naval infantry apparently blockading Sevastopol airport

Linky

To be fair, there is no evidence that these are Russian troops. They wear no insignia or either identifying symbols. Ukrainian PM claims that they are Russian Naval Infantry, roughly equivalent to U.S. Marines. Russia claims that they are Ukrainian pro-Russian militia force. Of course, they are too well organized and armed to be just any militia, but there have been some claims, both side of the border, that these are ex-Berkut troops. These were the interior forces that fought against rebels in Kyiv. Berkut has been disbanded by the order of Ukrainian Parliament, but in Crimea that would only mean that these forces no longer follow government's orders. So this is, at least, plausible.

 

And while whoever they are, they clearly serve Kremlin's interests, the distinction could be critical. If these are ex-Berkut forces, this is an internal matter. If they are, indeed, Russian Naval Infantry, then this is already an invasion and an act of war.

 

I hope, everyone involved will have a cool head about it, and not jump to accusations. Since Russia has claimed these as Ukrainian militia, and they wear no insignia, they are illegal combatants in either case. Ukrainian government should treat them as such, rather than start a pissing match with Russia that they have no hopes of winning. As illegal combatants, Russia could not claim lethal force against these forces as an act of war in any case, so Ukraine should just roll with it.

 

That's not really a skirmish that Russia wants to get into, IMO. A military incursion onto the soil of a sovereign nation who are not only arguably better trained, equipped and supported but also have the backing of most of Europe? Just remember how messy Georgia was for Russia a few years ago, despite their apparent military superiority

Don't know how I missed that. What's was messy about Russian incursion into Georgia? They went in, they hit military targets and the pipelines, and they left. It's the most by-the-books strike against another nation that I recall in recent history. I'm not going to say that it was completely clean. Any large action like that is not without f*ck-ups. But they achieved all of the objectives with minimal losses and left before UN or NATO even decided what they are going to do about it, leaving the later with much egg on their faces and showing other nations in the neighborhood that they can't rely on Western support.

 

Russia did have a foot in the door in Georgia, however, with Georgian troops shelling civilian targets. They might be trying to provoke something like that out of Ukrainian government with everything that's been going on, but they aren't quite there yet. So if we are looking at the Georgian scenario, there is still time until the invasion.

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UtricularEwe001

BBC has confirmed that, at least 8 military helicopters landed in Sevastopol international airport.

 

EDIT:

 

Welp

 

 

Edited by UtricularEwe001

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RoadRunner71

By the uniforms and equipament, they look like Russian troops or, at least, armed by the Russian Government.

 

I have a doubt, if the Russian Army enters in Ukraine, wouldn't this be just like the Iraq invasion?

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K^2

Welp

 

Yup, these be Russian troop transporters. Definitely Mil helicopters. I want to say Mi-24 Hind, but I'm not absolutely certain.

 

Edit: Apparently, Ukraine military does operate a number of these as well, so in principle this could be gov't troops, but that seems less likely. It'd be nice to know direction they came from. They don't have that great of a range, but they could have been brought in on ships.

 

 

I have a doubt, if the Russian Army enters in Ukraine, wouldn't this be just like the Iraq invasion?

No, it's going to be a lot more like Georgia.

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uNi

Another video from the convoy posted earlier:

 

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Max

That's not really a skirmish that Russia wants to get into, IMO. A military incursion onto the soil of a sovereign nation who are not only arguably better trained, equipped and supported but also have the backing of most of Europe? Just remember how messy Georgia was for Russia a few years ago, despite their apparent military superiority

 

Don't know how I missed that. What's was messy about Russian incursion into Georgia? They went in, they hit military targets and the pipelines, and they left. It's the most by-the-books strike against another nation that I recall in recent history. I'm not going to say that it was completely clean. Any large action like that is not without f*ck-ups. But they achieved all of the objectives with minimal losses and left before UN or NATO even decided what they are going to do about it, leaving the later with much egg on their faces and showing other nations in the neighborhood that they can't rely on Western support.

 

Russia did have a foot in the door in Georgia, however, with Georgian troops shelling civilian targets. They might be trying to provoke something like that out of Ukrainian government with everything that's been going on, but they aren't quite there yet. So if we are looking at the Georgian scenario, there is still time until the invasion.

 

Whilst they did manage to achieve their aims and extract from Georgia before the international community could respond the fighting itself was messier than Russia anticipated and revealed the limitations of the ageing, largely Soviet-era equipment. For example the Russian Air Force underachieved by Western Standards, there is little evidence that Russian maneuver was adequately supported by artillery, use of conscripts etc. Here is a good analysis from the SSI: http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB1069.pdf

 

If the war is measured purely by the fact it achieved Russian geo-political objectives, then yes, it was a success. But it was against a far weaker force with a significant disadvantage in men and heavy equipment. The Ukrainian army is better equipped, better trained and far larger than their Georgian counterparts so will present a greater challenge in any potential conflict.

Edited by Max

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sivispacem

 

Russian naval infantry apparently blockading Sevastopol airport

Linky

To be fair, there is no evidence that these are Russian troops. They wear no insignia or either identifying symbols. Ukrainian PM claims that they are Russian Naval Infantry, roughly equivalent to U.S. Marines. Russia claims that they are Ukrainian pro-Russian militia force. Of course, they are too well organized and armed to be just any militia, but there have been some claims, both side of the border, that these are ex-Berkut troops. These were the interior forces that fought against rebels in Kyiv. Berkut has been disbanded by the order of Ukrainian Parliament, but in Crimea that would only mean that these forces no longer follow government's orders. So this is, at least, plausible.

 

And while whoever they are, they clearly serve Kremlin's interests, the distinction could be critical. If these are ex-Berkut forces, this is an internal matter. If they are, indeed, Russian Naval Infantry, then this is already an invasion and an act of war.

 

I hope, everyone involved will have a cool head about it, and not jump to accusations. Since Russia has claimed these as Ukrainian militia, and they wear no insignia, they are illegal combatants in either case. Ukrainian government should treat them as such, rather than start a pissing match with Russia that they have no hopes of winning. As illegal combatants, Russia could not claim lethal force against these forces as an act of war in any case, so Ukraine should just roll with it.

That's not really a skirmish that Russia wants to get into, IMO. A military incursion onto the soil of a sovereign nation who are not only arguably better trained, equipped and supported but also have the backing of most of Europe? Just remember how messy Georgia was for Russia a few years ago, despite their apparent military superiority

Don't know how I missed that. What's was messy about Russian incursion into Georgia? They went in, they hit military targets and the pipelines, and they left. It's the most by-the-books strike against another nation that I recall in recent history. I'm not going to say that it was completely clean. Any large action like that is not without f*ck-ups. But they achieved all of the objectives with minimal losses and left before UN or NATO even decided what they are going to do about it, leaving the later with much egg on their faces and showing other nations in the neighborhood that they can't rely on Western support.

 

Russia did have a foot in the door in Georgia, however, with Georgian troops shelling civilian targets. They might be trying to provoke something like that out of Ukrainian government with everything that's been going on, but they aren't quite there yet. So if we are looking at the Georgian scenario, there is still time until the invasion.

I'm fairly certain I've seen photographs of individuals armed with AN-94 rifles, which as far as I'm aware are only deployed in small numbers to elite Russian forces. Though I suppose it's entirely possible that these have been supplied by Russia to arm militias or members of the disbanded Berkut, that would surprise me as they hardly have a surplus of them available.

 

In terms of strategic aims the strikes on Georgia were fairly successful but on an operational and tactical level it indicated some fundamental weaknesses in Russian military capability. Despite vast numerical superiority they failed to make rapid progress through terrain that they should have been competent fighting in, failed to maintain air superiority which permitted Georgian aircraft to run close air support duties largely unimpeded and demonstrated serious weaknesses in their ability to use even the newest generation tactical ballistic missiles with accuracy against the valuable targets. Collateral damage was very high for a conflict fought largely outside of urban areas and given their enormous superiority in terms of manpower and capability Russian losses were fairly high.

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K^2

In terms of strategic aims the strikes on Georgia were fairly successful but on an operational and tactical level it indicated some fundamental weaknesses in Russian military capability. Despite vast numerical superiority they failed to make rapid progress through terrain that they should have been competent fighting in, failed to maintain air superiority which permitted Georgian aircraft to run close air support duties largely unimpeded and demonstrated serious weaknesses in their ability to use even the newest generation tactical ballistic missiles with accuracy against the valuable targets. Collateral damage was very high for a conflict fought largely outside of urban areas and given their enormous superiority in terms of manpower and capability Russian losses were fairly high.

That's pretty common for Russian military operations since... well, ever. Red Army did not take Stalingrad with superior tactics and equpment. They took Stalingrad with lots and lots of dead bodies of Soviet soldiers. And this has not changed. The ends justify the means, as far as military and political leaders are concerned. So while I can understand your argument that Georgia operation was botched from perspective of modern military, from perspective of Russian commanders it was a success, because it has achieved its objectives. And in the eyes of Putin, it is a success. So if we are discussing whether or not Russia would try this again in Crimea, they absolutely would. And they don't care about collateral on either side.

 

Don't get me wrong, I find it all disgusting, and I don't think it's worth the human lives it's going to take. But we are talking possible outcomes here, and that's just strategy. Putin has his own agenda and ability to sacrifice as many lives as it take to achieve its objectives.

 

 

I'm fairly certain I've seen photographs of individuals armed with AN-94 rifles, which as far as I'm aware are only deployed in small numbers to elite Russian forces.

Interesting. That's a pretty bad slip. Would you be able to find some links? The only pictures I've seen, soldiers had AKs. The two are very similar, but the gas port on AKs is above the muzzle, as in all of the pictures I've seen, and on AN-94 it is bellow the muzzle. Makes it very easy to tell them apart.

 

But yeah, as information mounts, it's starting to get pretty clear that these are Russian troops. Still, it wasn't smart of the Ukrainian gov't to take that position. Illegal combatants are much easier to deal with than foreign military troops. Even if the later are an invading force. There are a lot of protecting rules that don't apply to soldiers with no insignia and not recognized by any government. After Russia denied that these are Russian troops, Ukrainian gov't should have rolled with it.

 

 

The Ukrainian army is better equipped, better trained and far larger than their Georgian counterparts so will present a greater challenge in any potential conflict.

Ukraine has almost no government right now, and Crimean local authorities aren't cooperating. If Russian troops move into mainland Ukraine, your point might stand, but not in Crimea. In Crimea, their situation is probably better than it ever was in Georgia. And like I said, even if it's going to mean heavy losses for Russians, that's not something that's going to stop Putin.

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D- Ice

I'm no expert on military matters, but my money is that the unknown troops are Russian Special Forces. Their equipment and uniforms seem far too good for regular Russian troops.

 

But yeah, as information mounts, it's starting to get pretty clear that these are Russian troops. Still, it wasn't smart of the Ukrainian gov't to take that position. Illegal combatants are much easier to deal with than foreign military troops. Even if the later are an invading force. There are a lot of protecting rules that don't apply to soldiers with no insignia and not recognized by any government. After Russia denied that these are Russian troops, Ukrainian gov't should have rolled with it.

Very good point. But calling Russia's bluff might still result in the same retaliation against Ukraine. If the Ukrainian Government attacks these troops as illegal non-state combatants, can't Russia just retaliate the same, under the guise of supporting their Crimean militia allies?

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K^2

That's possible. But in either case, going around declaring these Russian troops reduces your options for action as situation changes. It's a bad move.

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sivispacem

I'll have a look for the images, I can't remember where I saw them though. I spotted it based on the stock design as the barrel forward of the foregrip wasn't visible, but on some further investigation this seems to match the stock design for some variants of the AK-12. I didn't spot a Picatinny rail though.

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K^2

The pictures I looked at closely, the soldiers are holding AK-103s, which don't have Picatinny rail either. But I have no idea if any forces within Ukraine would have these either. Certainly not the military, but I couldn't find anything on the interior forces.

 

On the other hand, AK-103 is common for Russian Special Forces, so it certainly makes sense there.

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Max

@K^2, I suspect you are right about the Crimea. A limited invasion cutting of the majority Russian Crimea seems to be Russia's likely move. If this is the case and Russia moves quickly enough it seems unlikely that Ukraine would be able to dislodge them with such a sympathetic population.

 

If so, what is the objective? A permanent annexation of the Crimea following an occupation and an election based on the right to self-determination? I'm curious as to wider, long-term Russian motivations.

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sivispacem

I doubt a Crimean annexation is particularly likely. A powerful independence movement sanctioned and supported by Russia, even direct intervention from them, but I don't foresee Crimea becoming a Russian protectorate through direct military intervention. I drew comparisons with Georgia earlier so forgive me if I draw them again; Crimea isn't South Ossetia; whilst there's provably a majority who sympathise with Russia over the Ukraine there's a very sizeable Tartar minority who have already shown themselves willing to instigate violence against pro-Russian political forces. It's much less clear cut than in 2008 and much more likely to invoke an anti-Russian, armed and unified militia movement.

 

Interesting analysis from a Foreign Policy Research Institute associate and geographical area expert: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/68091

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Omnia sunt Communia

I'm so confused. I honestly have no idea what's going on anymore in Ukraine.

 

BBC News are now showing footage of armed soldiers taking control of the Crimean Parliament earlier. Look very professional, if not Russian troops, definitely have funding from somewhere.

Edited by Omnia sunt Communia

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K^2

Sivi, just saw footage with soldiers carrying AN-94s. No doubt. Good call.

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