United Kingdom & Emirates strike deals with Ukraine to arm and instruct military

The United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates have struck substantial deals to better equip Ukraine’s armed forces as the country seeks to rapidly equip, train, and modernize its military in the face of war with Russia. In separate deals, the UAE will supply Ukraine with armaments and military hardware, while the Britain will provide necessary medical, intelligence, logistics and infantry training.

The deployment of up to 75 British Armed Forces personnel to Ukraine will begin as soon as next week as part of what the Ministry of Defense called a “training mission.” While a seemingly small contingent, the deployment of British troops to Ukraine would mark a significant boost in assistance relative to the benign non-lethal aid received to date.

“Over the course of the next month we’re going to be deploying British service personnel to provide advice and a range of training, to tactical intelligence to logistics, to medical care,” British Prime Minister Cameron told lawmakers during a session of parliament. “We’ll also be developing an infantry training program with Ukraine to improve the durability of their forces.”

In parallel to Cameron’s statements, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced the signing of a deal on military and technical cooperation with the United Arab Emirates during a tour of the IDEX 2015 arms expo in Abu Dhabi. Details on the much needed arms deal were scarce, with Ukrainian interior minister Anton Herashchenko vaguely noting it would involve the “delivery of certain types of armaments and military hardware to Ukraine.”

Ukrainian and UAE companies have previously worked together in the development and production of BTR-3 personnel carriers. Notably, the UAE Army maintains the second largest detachment of Russian-made BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles in the world outside of Russia.

Poroshenko had also reportedly planned to meet with chief Pentagon weapons buyer, Frank Kendall, at the show with the intent of finally securing U.S. weaponry to defend Ukraine from the ongoing Russian invasion.

In addition, Ukrainian companies were involved in several multi-million dollar contracts, including joint development of Superhind Mi-24 attack helicopters with a South African firm, as the country aims to expedite its military modernization process, Poroshenko later said in a news release. Ukraine’s Air Force has been battered in the conflict.

The Ukraine deals coincide with a flurry of activity to bolster military support in the Baltics, with Lithuania announcing a planned reintroduction of military conscription. The Lithuanian government’s motion will see its armed forces increase by 45% in size. Meanwhile, U.S. Soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment took part in a joint parade with Estonian forces in Narva, a city directly on the border with Russia. It was the second time U.S. forces took part in the annual parade, marking the 97th anniversary of Estonian Independence.

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U.S. forces in Narva, Estonia during the military parade

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Russia: Hesitant to resume talks, "such are the laws of war."

[quote style=”boxed”]”It will be much more difficult to resume negotiations. Such are the laws of war.”[/quote]

“Having interrupted the truce, President Petro Poroshenko made a dramatic mistake. This will lead to new victims, but now he will be personally responsible for them,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev publicly posted today on his Facebook page.

Odesa celebrates Constitution Day

Today in Odesa to celebrate Constitution Day, thousands gathered on the Potemkin Stairs to unveil a massive Ukrainian flag in support of the military in eastern Ukraine. The city celebrated the 18th anniversary of the Constitution of Ukraine, and as part of the festivities a wreath and flower laying ceremony took place at the Taras Shevchenko memorial. The event was intentionally apolitical, and those attending were told only to bring flags of Ukraine without any political slogans. The ceremony was attended by representatives of the city of Odesa and Odesa region, military, veterans, and the public.

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Evidence of paid Russian mercenaries mounting

Evidence over the past several days illustrating the motivations behind Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine has been mounting. While some have, indeed, been driven by revanchist ideology (with one famously telling TIME that they were simply conquering “historically Russian lands”), the source of these groups’ financing has been more difficult to trace than the source of their weapons in lieu of a paper trail. This week has, however, seen three illuminating examples of the financial motivations of those recruited.

On June 19, The Interpreter published an investigation, discussing the motivations of those involved in the battle for Donetsk International Airpot. The article discusses one, Yevgeny Korolenko, a rifleman and veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan:

He was a mechanic by training who had a job in some friends’ computer repair shop as a delivery man until they were unable to pay him. His wife speculated that perhaps his shortage of funds could have pushed him into volunteering for Donetsk, although he didn’t speak of it.

Two days later the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) published a video confession of a mercenary claiming to have been contracted by Russia’s KGB successor agency – the Federal Security Service (FSB). The man in the confessional says he was acting on a $1,000 bounty for every Ukrainian officer killed (and $300 for soldiers).

Today, the Moscow Times published an article citing well-known journalist Olga Romanova, describing another insurgent who was also killed in action during the same battle in Donetsk as Korolenko:

 Four other young men from Ivanovo died with him. I asked his parents why he went there. Their reply was grotesque: ‘He wanted to pay off some loans …'”

All of this precedes today’s other revelation that Russia has been actively attempting to recruit mercenary veterans of the French Foreign Legion, targeting especially those of Slavic ethnic origin. The Russian military has in recent years opened its recruitment scope to foreigners with the lure of acquiring fast tracked citizenship.

While the number of professional, heavily armed Russian soldiers mounts in Ukraine, so too is the evidence behind the financial motivations of those fighting there – shaping the war to be less a result of ad hoc extremism, but instead rather that of a state-financed proxy war.

Strelkov Declared Supreme Commander

One day following a local separatist referendum, the commander of the Donbass People’s Militia, the paramilitary wing of the Donetsk Republic Organization, Igor “Strelkov” Girkin has declared himself “Supreme Commander” of the fledgling rebel territory. In his decree, in addition to giving himself absolute authority over all military and security structures and demanding sworn allegiance within the next 48 hours, he declares outright war against Ukraine and all military or police units stationed in the province. Girkin then lists Ukrainian and U.S. officials who will be ‘prosecuted’ for ‘perpetrating massacres’ (including CIA director John Brennan), and concludes his declaration by requesting military assistance from the Russian Federation.

It is unknown at this time if his self-appointed position will conflict with self-proclaimed ‘People’s Governor’ Pavel Gubarev. Girkin has been a vocal critic of separatist authorities in Donetsk, and has publicly stated that there have been conflicts with Republic leadership in Donetsk prior to their working agreement. “The agreement wasn’t easy for us, because in the resistance we have quite a lot of grievances about the leadership of the Donetsk People’s Republic, which has been able to do almost nothing since the seizure of the Donetsk governor’s office.”

Below is his statement:

I decree:

1. Reassign myself as the Supreme Commander of the DPR, and all permanently stationed military units on the republic, including security, police, customs, border guards, prosecutors and paramilitary structures.

2. Entering into the territory of the DPR forces of the counter-terrorist operation (CTO) under Ukrainian rebels who are neo-Naz0 groups (the so-called “National Guard”, the Right Sector,” Lyashko’s Battalion, etc.) are subject to detention and, in the case of armed resistance, will be destroyed on the spot.

3. Law enforcement agencies will prosecute the leaders of the Kyiv junta and other persons involved in instigating, organizing or perpetrating massacres in the territory of the DPR: Igor KolomoiskyValentyn Nalyvaichenko, Andriy Parubiy, Arsen Avakov, Yulia Tymoshenko, Oleksandr Turchynov, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Oleh Lyashko, A. Artemenko, and U.S. citizens John Brennan, Victoria Nuland, and Jen Psaki.

4. All the soldiers and officers of the armed forces, internal security forces, the Security Service, the Interior Ministry and other paramilitary structures of Ukraine from now on will be considered to be illegally within the territory of the DPR. Within 48 hours they are required to swear allegiance to the DPR or leave the country. All will come under the command of the DPR  authorities and will be guaranteed the preservation of military and special ranks, salaries and social security (assuming nothing to do with the commission of serious and very serious crimes).

5. Given the urgency of the situation in the country, the Kiev junta unleashed genocide on the Donetsk population, and the threat of intervention by NATO, I refer to the Russian Federation with a request for military assistance to DPR.

I. Strelkov

‘Strelkov’ has been described by Ukraine’s security service as a Russian colonel and resident of Moscow. He is currently a target of European Union sanctions, and was named by the EU’s Official Journal to be on the staff of the Russian foreign military intelligence agency (GRU), and a key figure involved in the military takeover of Crimea as an assistant on security matters to Sergei Aksyonov, Crimea’s self-declared prime minister.

This act comes a day after Donetsk’ regional referendum, which was internationally condemned by western nations and the OSCE as illegitimate. Reports on the day of the poll showed evidence of mass voter fraud and intimidation. The run-up to the referendum involved the seizure of thousands of pre-filled ballots, and a tapped phone call released by the SBU which unveiled Russian involvement and premeditated fraud.

Insurgents Identified: The Green Men of VKontakte

This article was originally published on UkrainianPolicy.com

Ukrainian intelligence produced and presented a dossier of photographs to the OSCE last week. The images, and official accusations, point to Russian “sabotage-reconnaissance groups” being involved in the recent armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine – Donetsk region specifically. According to a New York Times article, the photos and their descriptions were “endorsed by the Obama administration,” but who are these men? With the power of crowdsourcing, but mostly with the power of social networking and public profiles, the identities of a series of Russian insurgents in Donetsk have been uncovered. Men have been comparing the size of their guns since the invention of gunpowder, and thankfully these few decided to flaunt just that. Publicly. On the internet.

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From the identified militants, a few notes can be made from the following gunmen who appear to be connected to the raids in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. For one, not all are from Russia. While some may be local radicals, others appear to come from Belorechensk in Russia, or have connections to related neo-Cossack groups. This does not necessarily exonerate Russian state involvement, however. While it’s been known that military veterans and Russian ‘tourists’ have been actively involved for some time, the presence of Registered Cossacks of the Russian Federation connects Russia officially to the ongoing crisis. Registered Cossack organizations enjoy financial and organizational support from the authorities, including monthly salary as police auxiliaries. This, of course, isn’t the first controversial deployment of Cossack forces, who made a name for themselves on the world stage enforcing the law in Sochi.

Another point of interest is the insignia seen on a number of the gunmen. For clarity’s sake, the symbol is that of Andrei Shkuro‘s ‘Terek Wolf Company’, a detachment of White emigre Cossacks who fought for Nazi Germany during the second world war.

So who is involved in the Ukrainian invasion? Let’s take a look.

Continue reading “Insurgents Identified: The Green Men of VKontakte”

Insurgents Identified: The Green Men of VKontakte

Ukrainian intelligence produced and presented a dossier of photographs to the OSCE last week. The images, and official accusations, point to Russian “sabotage-reconnaissance groups” being involved in the recent armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine – Donetsk region specifically. According to a New York Times article, the photos and their descriptions were “endorsed by the Obama administration,” but who are these men? With the power of crowdsourcing, but mostly with the power of social networking and public profiles, the identities of a series of Russian insurgents in Donetsk have been uncovered. Men have been comparing the size of their guns since the invention of gunpowder, and thankfully these few decided to flaunt just that. Publicly. On the internet.

8LtXv_1Zg9U
‘Terek Wolf Company’ insignia seen on several militants

From the identified militants, a few notes can be made from the following gunmen who appear to be connected to the raids in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. For one, not all are from Russia. While some may be local radicals, others appear to come from Belorechensk in Russia, or have connections to related neo-Cossack groups. This does not necessarily exonerate Russian state involvement, however. While it’s been known that military veterans and Russian ‘tourists’ have been actively involved for some time, the presence of Registered Cossacks of the Russian Federation connects Russia officially to the ongoing crisis. Registered Cossack organizations enjoy financial and organizational support from the authorities, including monthly salary as police auxiliaries. This, of course, isn’t the first controversial deployment of Cossack forces, who made a name for themselves on the world stage enforcing the law in Sochi.

Another point of interest is the insignia seen on a number of the gunmen. For clarity’s sake, the symbol is that of Andrei Shkuro‘s ‘Terek Wolf Company’, a detachment of White emigre Cossacks who fought for Nazi Germany during the second world war.

So who is involved in the Ukrainian invasion? Let’s take a look.

Evgeny “Dingo” Ponomarev

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Ponomarev is a 39 year old native of Belorechensk, Russia, in the Kuban region. Pictured above, he is a Registered Cossack with full police badge. He is active in the Terek Cossack community, and featured in many of the photos recently presented by CNN and the BBC detailing the same group of insurgents appearing in Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. At this moment there is no confirmation that he is directly related to self-declared Sloviansk mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev, though they are pictured together.

Profile: Евгений Пономарев

Alexander Ganchev

ganichev

While Ganchev’s profile is littered with cat pictures and memes, in 2013 through to January 2014 there are many photos of him in combat training, including with sniper rifles, assault rifles, heavy machine guns, and rocket launchers. Recent photos from April show him with members who seized buildings in Donetsk. Groups he is a member of include Berkut support, The Supreme Council of the people of Ukraine and Russia (which asks for “practical” assistance in imposing referendums), Crimean “self-defense” groups, and airsoft rifle groups in Crimea (which appears to be a front to gather militants and buy weapons). His current city is listed as Horlivka, Ukraine, and he appears to be from Makiivka.

Profile: Александр Ганичев

Igor Georgievsky

igor1

His hometown is listed as Simferopol and photos show him in Sevastopol, and in group shots with other self-defense militants. Above he is seen at the Sloviansk airfield in Donetsk region (here’s video of the airfield with the same helicopters). He’s in the ‘People’s Liberation Movement in Ukraine‘ (which calls to ‘liberate’ the ‘western occupied colony’ from ‘invaders’), Russian Spring, and another group which calls to retake Odessa from ‘fascism’. He is seen with the Terek Wolf Company insignia.

Update: Since this article broke, Georgievsky has issued a statement of pride that he and his “brothers of the list, and those who have not yet got there” gained attention.

Profile: Игорь Георгиевский

Tikhon Karetniy

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Like Ponomarev, Karetniy is a member of the Belorechensk Cossack community in Russia. A photo posted on the community page details the group involved in the seizures in Sloviansk called “Terek Wolf Sotnia“. His profile is relatively new (registered in February, active more recently) so it cannot be confirmed that his identity is real, however, he does have the social connections with other members involved with a higher degree of authenticity. It’s likely this is him pictured with Ponomarev.

Update: Karetniy has since deleted all personal information and photos from his page.

Profile: Тихон Каретный

Zheka Kovalyov

zheka

Kovalyov is another from Belorechensk, Russia. His photo albums contain many swastikas and neo-Nazi or ultranationalist imagery. Photos dating back 2 years show him in paramilitary garb, while his profile picture appears to be  ‘self-defense’ force paramilitary in Crimea. In another photo he appears with Karetniy while wearing the ‘Terek Wolf Company’ badge, who is also an insurgent in Donetsk with a Russian Cossack connection.

Profile: Zheka Kovalyov

Evgen Zloy

zloy1

Photos show him carrying an automatic rifle in front government buildings in Slovinansk. His profile lists him as being a Simferopol native, and is a member of a Simferopol Don Cossack group. Photos also show what appears to be a swastika pendant, and Russian ultra-nationalist graphics.

Profile: Евген Злой

Edvard Pitersky

edvard1

Pitersky lists himself as residing in Kharkiv and a member of the Oplot fight club and ‘Polite People of Kharkiv‘ (a reference to the ‘Green Men’ from Russia). He is ironically a member of the ‘Anti-fascist movement of the South-East‘ as well as the ‘White Legion‘ neo-Nazi community.

Profile: Edvard Pitersky

Dima Kharkovsky

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Current city is listed as Sloviansk. He appears to be a local and a member of Gubarev’s militia.

Profile: Dima Kharkovsky

Ignat “Topaz” Kromskoy

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Topaz is a sort of celebrity in internet circles. He was placed under house arrest on March 29 for his involvement in the March 1st raid on the Kharkiv Regional State Administration building. On April 7, Topaz fled house arrest, cutting off his monitoring bracelet. Topaz has since given interviews with the Russian channel LifeNews, and spoken about the current ‘guerrilla struggle’ and need to use firearms to capture buildings. Pictures with assault rifles, BDU, and St. George ribbon indicate it’s likely he has been involved in the current insurgency in Donetsk or Luhansk since his arrest.

Profile: Ignat Kromskoy

Sergey Anastasov

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This profile is less straightforward, but the photos appear to sync up. Anastasov is from Simferopol. Photos include him with various firearms. The above photo makes no indication on which building he is in, so it’s possible he was only involved in Crimea.

Profile: Sergey Anastasov

Anton Morozov

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From Irkutsk, Russia. His main profile shows him in military fatigues in what appears to be barracks. Photos include neo-Nazi imagery (burning an Israeli flag) and Eurasian symbols. He appears to be pictured with Zloy, above. Correction: Morozov denies this is him, and it’s entirely possible that it was a convenient juxtaposition with a lookalike.

Profile: Anton Morozov

Motyl: Could Russia Occupy Ukraine?

Citing a 2008 study by US Army Major Glenn E. Kozelka and a 1995 RAND Corporation study by James Quinlivan, Motyl comes to the following conclusions when assessing troop requirements to occupy Ukraine in a military invasion scenario:

  • • In order to occupy Donetsk and Luhansk provinces alone, Russian would have to deploy somewhere between 26,702 and 133,514 troops.
  • • A “land bridge” from Crimea to Transnistria would mean occupying Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odessa provinces—which would entail somewhere between 46,497 and 92,994 soldiers.
  • • Occupying all seven southeastern provinces would require between 118,536 (26,702 for Donetsk and Luhansk and 91,834 for the others) and 317,182 (133,514 for Donetsk and Luhansk and 183,668 for the others).
  • • If Russia decides to conquer all of Ukraine, it would need an additional 548,587 troops—for a grand total of 667,123 to 865,769 troops.
  • • Kyiv city and Kyiv Province alone would require 90,676 occupying soldiers.

In light of Russia’s estimated current force levels on Ukraine’s borders (50,000–80,000), the best Russia could do under low- and medium-violence assumptions would be to invade a few southeastern provinces. If those assumptions are changed to medium or high, only one or two provinces would be within its grasp. These conclusions assume that an invasion would entail no force deterioration as a result of the Ukrainian army’s resistance. Change that assumption, and Russia’s capacity to occupy southeastern Ukraine declines even more.

Dr. Alexander Motyl is a professor of political science at Rutgers-Newark. A specialist on Ukraine, Russia, and the USSR

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Felgenhauer: Russia’s Window of Opportunity in Ukraine

If Putin decides to send in his troops, he has a narrow window in which to act. The winter of 2014 in Russia and Ukraine was relatively mild with little snow, while the spring is early and warm. The soil is drying rapidly, meaning that it will soon be possible to move heavy vehicles off of highways and into fields in southern areas of Ukraine close to the Black and Azov Seas. A key date is April 1, which marks the beginning of the Russia’s spring conscript call-up, when some 130,000 troops drafted a year earlier will have to be mustered out as replacements arrive. This would leave the Russian airborne troops, marines, and army brigades with many conscripts that have served half a year or not at all, drastically reducing battle readiness. The better-trained one-year conscripts can be kept in the ranks for a couple of months but no longer. Otherwise they’ll start demanding to be sent home, and morale will slip. As a result, Russia’s conventional military will regain reasonable battle-readiness only around August or September 2014, giving the Ukrainians ample time to get their act together.

Ukraine has scheduled a national presidential election for May 25 that may further legitimize the regime the Kremlin hates and wants to overthrow. The Kremlin may find it hard to resist the temptation to attack Ukraine and “liberate” the south and east while Russia is ready, the Ukrainian military weak, and the regime in Kiev unstable. Such a move could lead to more Western sanctions, but this risk maybe dwarfed by the vision of a major geostrategic victory seemingly at hand.

The window of opportunity for an invasion will open during the first weeks of April and close somewhere around the middle of May. During his long rule Vladimir Putin has generally shown himself to be a shrewd and cautious operator, but his actions during the Ukrainian crisis have been rash. So far his daring has paid off. This, unfortunately, is precisely what could trigger more bold moves down the road.

Paul Felgenhauer is a military analyst and journalist based in Moscow

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An Open-Source Map of the Russian Occupation

The following map is an open source project designed to help spread accurate, timely information about the Russian occupation of Crimea. Data is drawn from various open and private sources. Some precise locations are unknown, and the status of many sites remain uncertain and in flux. Updates are made frequently. This map is created and maintained by “Paul Szegedin” (a pseudonym) and is also found at occupiedcrimea.blogspot.com. He can be reached at atszegedin74@gmail.com should readers be able to provide information or offer additional aid to the project.

Ukrainian sites are marked in Blue, Russian sites in Red. Abandoned military sites are in Green.

Things are beginning to unravel in Crimea. Russian occupation of key Ukraine military sites is moving forward in a haphazard, disorganized manner, by a combination of masked Russian Federation troops and mobs of local, Moscow-loyal irregulars. As of 19 March, the Ukraine Navy Headquarters in Sevastapol was captured and the anti-submarine corvette Ternopil was under blockade. Russians are throwing grenades at the ship to create an atmosphere of intense psychological pressure under a deadline to surrender the ship.

Late 19 March the Ukraine National Security Council announced that troops would be withdrawn to mainland Ukraine. It is important to note that Ukraine itself, three weeks after the overthrow of Yanukovych, barely has a central government. Many of the officers of the military and border control were loyal to the corrupt regime, and are steadily being bribed with cash offers up to $200,000 to defect to Russia. A disorganized, catastrophic retreat and loss of Ukrainian Naval and Air Force assets in Crimea looms. Billions of dollars worth of ships and aircraft are about to be captured.