Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ukraine: how Cyborgs' fame evaporated

The first month of 2015 is ending, various ceasefire treaties are being forgotten, and the meaningless Ukrainian civil war is gradually getting restarted.

When I wrote about the battles of the Donetsk airport in October 2014, I was implicitly assuming it would take days or at most weeks before Novorussia would get the Sergei Prokofiev International Airport, or whatever would be left of it.

Please don't allow kids to watch this 22-minute video.

Instead, it took more than three months. Last week, the Donetsk Militia was finally able to take control of the airport again. The Ukrainian troops who used to defend the airport for months have previously earned the status of legends. They were named the Cyborgs which means that they must have some superhero skills or be hybridized with killing robots.

If you watch the video above, you will see that Novorussia didn't allow these rather ordinary guys to enjoy their celebrity status. The well-known Novorussian commander Givi forces them to memorize his name – I am Givi, a big boy here (oh, you didn't know I was Givi? Slap!) – and he forces them to eat their Ukrainian medals and reveal their birth places. They are shown the devastation they have brought to the Donetsk Region and some of them are chosen for the "parade of shame" through the street during which the ordinary citizens of Donetsk treat these Banderistas in an unflattering way.

Of course that this endpoint was largely unavoidable. Donetsk is quite a large city and this city and its neighborhood is dominated by folks who oppose the current government in Kiev. The Kiev-led Ukraine may be larger than the current territory of Novorussia but they don't exist in the vacuum and of course that it is unavoidable that some Russians help their brothers on the Ukrainian territory, whether this help has any official component from the Kremlin or not.

(Today, Muzhenko, a top military boss in Kiev, admitted that the Ukrainian troops are facing no regular Russian army units.)

I think that Novorussia has some momentum. In recent 24 hours, they managed to encircle Debaltsevo, a 50,000-people or so town which is an important railway hub. The Ukrainian Armed Forces would have held Debaltsevo for quite some time – it was a "tongue" through which the Ukrainian territory was penetrating to the Novorussian land. But I guess that "tongues" may be rather hard to defend and they are likely to turn to encircled areas.

Meanwhile, near the beaches, the important port of Mariupol – almost 500,000 people before the exodus – is at stake, too. It is currently controlled by Kiev. However, it's a city where the champions of Novorussia may enjoy a majority, too. It is arguably the most crucial city on the possible land bridge between mainland Russia and Crimea. The idea that Novorussia is geometrically connected with Crimea must be rather attractive for those who stand against Kiev.

The attack on Mariupol has already been launched by the Donetsk independent president Zakharchenko before he revoked this order. But I think that it is more likely than not that an attack on Mariupol will begin again. We are being told that the main pro-Kiev force that will defend the city will be the Azov Batallion that uses the swastika as their ID, among related things.

By this composition, one that is among top 10 of my favorite classical music pieces, Sergei Prokofiev (a Russian born in the Donetsk Region who would move to the West after the Bolsheviks took over) predicted the dance of the knights of both sides, Romeo and Juliet, at the airport named after him, the composer. BTW I always tended to confuse the composition with Wagner's Valkyries, do you see my point?

All these deaths, suffering, and destruction are so unnecessary... It would be enough to replace the battle by a referendum in the city. Folks in Mariupol, do you want to be a part of the residual Ukraine, or do you want to join Novorussia? The outcome could be highly correlated to the outcome of a prolonged battle. Except that the deaths, suffering, and destruction would be avoided.

By the way, I have always found it insightful to visualize "proper elections" as a "civil war done in the right way" without all the damages.

Unfortunately, people who are excited about wars don't think in this way. The government in Kiev still wants to believe that it may pretend that the Novorussian forces are just an irrelevant bunch of criminals who can be ignored, who don't have to be negotiated with, and who will affect nothing in the future. Needless to say, the folks on the Novorussian side are showing Kiev that this description is deeply flawed.

I urge both sides to negotiate. To realistically estimate the expectation value of the territory they could still control after another year of the war. And to look whether these estimates have a chance to be compatible with the estimates of the other side. If that's the case, a deal may be made. Referendums may be made in all individual districts. Where do the people want to belong?

As long as at least one side will keep on pretending that it faces no comparably strong or legitimate foe, the war will have to continue.

BTW some critics have "accused" Poroshenko of clandestine talks with "Russia". They argue that a secret amendment to the Minsk protocols already assumed that the Donetsk Airport would be given to Novorussia, much like an extra strip on the Ukrainian-Novorussian current border/front, in exchange for the island around Debaltsevo. Well, if Poroshenko is secretly negotiating with anyone closer to the other side, it's surely good news.


  1. Then there is the theory that Poroschencko is an American puppet, and that the war is being conducted at the behest of the Americans. Recently, American and British commandos have been filmed operating with Kiev forces in the war zone, which lends credence to the rumors.

  2. Check out the wikileaks where Poroschenko is labelled as an "insider":

  3. Lucretius was right all along and your distorted "views" on Ukraine etc. has reached level unimaginable to me. I will never read any post by you again because of your lies, propaganda and glorification of mafia, thugs, the worst elements that live in Donetsk. Cyborgs that you described in such a despicable way, are patriots to THEIR country. Thugs you glorify are criminals sponsored by KRemlin. I am sure one day ALL of "novorusia" (seriously???) "soldiers" will be either executed or in prison after trial in Hague.
    Oh, and by the way tell your drunk pressident to celebrate "Solidarność" movement too - he hass exactly the same right as to celebrate freeing of Aushwitz. And to your information - russian diplomats were invited by polish Foreign Minister but declined to come. Mr Motl, turn that Russia Today off!

  4. You will find your "Kremlin sponsored criminals" in the above video from 13.52 on (women, elderly, young girls).

    Have you been diagnosed yet ?

  5. I wonder if Russia will allow such a vote in Chechnya.

  6. If your subtle reference is to the Crimean referendum, then you'll have to wait till a violent pro-Nazi mob takes over the Russian government, chases away a democratically elected president, and tries to ban the Chechen language. Then by all means the Chechens should decide whether they want to be part of this mess...

  7. American spotted?

  8. Look at this Lubos:

  9. Are the Ukrainian Army Forces indiscriminately shelling urban areas?

  10. There have been numerous Americans fighting in the civil war before. Their number is probably smaller than the number of Russians because of the different distances and relevance of the conflict but of course that it's otherwise analogous - people from outside do care about the civil war, too. When they say mercenary, what does it mean? Who is paying these Americans?

  11. Here's an example from the HRW:

    This happens on a daily basis. Apart from unguided Grads, they use banned phosphorus and cluster bombs.

  12. Eelco HoogendoornJan 30, 2015, 2:52:00 PM

    To be fair, there is plenty of bad blood between Russians and chechens to justify such a referendum, without an exact analogy to the Ukraine situation...

  13. Eelco HoogendoornJan 30, 2015, 2:56:00 PM

    To parade these guys in a city in front of cameras is of course a publicity stunt. However, I agree that there is no reason to doubt how genuine the emotions are of people who get their city shelled, for the crime of preferring Moscow to Kiev.

  14. This is a dubious measure, but I certainly see what they want to achieve - a little interaction with the local folk would not hurt "the liberators from Kiev", many of whome have been brainwashed into wiping out the "Untermenschen" (using the language of their prime-minister Yatsenyuk).

  15. Dear maels, I haven't watched Russia Today (correctly: RT) for days but I enjoy the freedom to watch it - it's what we won in 1989 - and this also allows me to appreciate that much of the information said there makes much more sense than hateful rants of a brainwashed simpleton such as yours.

    The people protecting Novorussia - thanks but that's the most sensible word for the political entity that separated from the post-coup Ukraine in 2014, and again, I enjoy the freedom to call things by the right names - are at least as justified, as legitimate, and as patriotic as those defending Poroshenko or Yatsenyuk. They also had a higher GDP per capita in the peaceful times, to mention another detail that I don't consider quite irrelevant.

  16. The analogy was suggested by MikeNov, whereas I just clarified under which conditions this analogy would be valid. Concerning "bad blood", things are not straightforward indeed, but you'd be surprised that many of the staunch pro-Russian volunteers fighting in Donetsk are Chechens.

  17. I don't know, and it is also true that there are foreigners fighting for the DPR, for example Spanish fighters. There is however, a difference, and that is that the people I see helping DPR are proud of it, whereas these fighting for the Ukrainian government seem to have something the hide. They cover their faces, etc...

    In addition, in western media they always accuse Russians helping in Eastern Ukraine, as if that is the worst thing anybody can do, but so it would be hypocritical if somebody fighting for Ukraine is of those western media's liking. That is maybe the reason that they hide their faces.