The three-ring diplomatic circus in Ukraine continues to entertain, even if sadly so. The White House found itself having to backtrack on the CIA’s denial that Director Brennan was not in Kiev over the weekend and his visit had no connection with the military crackdown ordered against East Ukraine during that time. It was a special moment.
Kiev’s military faced off with protesters in east Ukraine on Wednesday to sort out their differences…and found none. Soldiers appeared reluctant to go into battle against anti-government activists.
When Ukrainian Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) entered downtown Kramatorsk as part of Kiev’s military operation against anti-government protesters in the east of the country, they were stopped in their tracks, surrounded by crowds of local residents.
One YouTube video of what happened next shows a woman coming to a soldier with the reproach: “You are the army, you must protect the people.”
“We are not going to shoot, we weren’t even going to,” is the soldier’s reply.
Similar conversations could be heard at each of several APCs which entered the city, with locals promising to defend their neighbors, in case the soldiers start a military operation.
Military vehicles parked in downtown Kramatorsk have turned into hotspots for political discussion, with people beside the vehicles trying to get their views through to people on top of the tanks.
Another video features the Kramatorsk crowds loudly chanting “Army with the people” and applauding the soldiers as they were leaving their APCs.
“Guys, we are with you! You are great!” women are heard yelling to the vacating soldiers.
Six Ukrainian military vehicles in Kramatorsk actually switched sides and began flying Russian flags on Wednesday.
Around 60 crew members of Ukrainian armored vehicles sent to Kramatorsk for carrying out the military operation against anti-government protesters, have switched sides and joined the local self-defense squads, according to RIA Novosti, citing the self-defense leadership.
Radicals have attacked two Ukrainian presidential candidates. One of them, Oleg Tsarev, was “brutally beaten,” claimed the candidate’s press office. The radicals poured green antiseptic solution and flour on another candidate, Mikhail Dobkin.
Oleg Tsarev was attacked after being trapped inside the ICTV media building following his appearance on the ‘Svoboda Slova’ chat show, according to the statement released by Tsarev’s office.
“It was with great difficulty that government’s security forces were able to recapture Oleg Tsarev from the angry mob. He was severely beaten and is in serious condition,” the press office said.
“Law enforcement structures and the army are failing to cope with their tasks because they have been plundered,” Batkivshchina’s press service quoted Timoshenko.
The regime is also mobilizing the fascist forces that spearheaded the February 22 coup against the elected president, Victor Yanukovych, to crush anti-government protests. On Tuesday, Andriy Parubiy, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, announced that a National Guard battalion “comprised of volunteers from Maidan self-defense troops,” had left Kiev for the Donetsk region. The “Maidan self-defense troops” that spearheaded the right-wing, pro-European Union protests in Kiev were led by the fascist Right Sector militia.
Washington is fully supporting this military operation backed by fascist thugs, which threatens the lives of countless thousands of civilians in eastern Ukraine.
I have watched as much video footage today as I could and here is what I see:
1) Lots of real civilians, unarmed, including women and seniors. They seem both frightened and very angry. Their plan is to form a human shield to stop the Fascist assault.
2) Lots of determined and solid looking men, many of the coal-mine workers. They are armed with metal rods, sticks and a few Molotov cocktails. Any trained force armed with real assault rifles could easily kill them, but they would probably make minced meat our of Right Sector thugs. These are simple but *very* tough men, and boy do they look mad….
3) An assortment of self-organized armed groups, mostly equipped with handguns and assault rifles, they have some real firepower, but are poorly trained and poorly commanded. They could not stop a determined assault either, but they could provide enough firepower locally to scare off the cops.
4) A few small groups (3-5 men) here and there who look like they know what they are doing. Some are former paratroopers, others have served in other well-trained units. They seem to be trying hard to get a more or less organized resistance going and they probably could mount an intelligent attack on an enemy column (as happened over the week-end in one case). I don’t think that these groups are very numerous, but they could show up anywhere and they are therefore a real threat to any attacking force.
Taken separately, none of these defenders amount to much of a force to protect even a small city. However, the combination of these very different type of defenders might present a real problem for the Ukrainian command, especially considering the morale problems on the Ukrainian side and what appears to be a fierce determination triggered by rage and fear by the Russian-speakers.