Is the battle in eastern Ukraine at a turning point?

A few weeks ago, the separatist militias appeared to be under the gun. In the last few days, the Ukrainian forces have been melting away in an apparent stunning reversal.

The western narrative puts this down to recent direct Russian intervention. Maybe, but there seem to be real grounds for doubt.

At Sic Semper Tyrannis (SST), one of their contributors with a deep military and intelligence background suggests a very different narrative may be called for. While Russia has almost certainly been covertly supplying materials and intelligence to the militias throughout the conflict, there seems little or no credible evidence that they’ve become directly involved. Instead, the separatist forces (with indirect Russian assistance) may have survived the Ukrainian onslaught and, through a mixture of luck, pluck and smart manoeuvring (and, probably, Russian intelligence), turned the tide.

I don’t have either the military background or the in-depth knowledge of the area to properly evaluate these matters. Still, it’s been hard not to notice that one side has run a consistent line, day in and day out and regrettably, it’s not ours.

Ever since this unfortunate crisis blew up about six months ago, the Russians have been calling for a peaceful settlement and good faith negotiations. No doubt these calls are self-serving; hardly a surprise when their vital interests are so directly threatened. Nevertheless, to date I’ve seen no sign that their pleas for ceasefires and a peaceful settlement of the various conflicting interests are disingenuous.

The recent intense fighting, civilian deaths and relentless propaganda wars may of course have pushed things beyond such fond hopes. In any event, the next few days should tell us a good deal more about which narrative is the right one.

Update (29.08.2014):

The proprietor at SST has just weighed in with his thoughts on this remarkable reversal in military fortunes:

In this case the Ukie [Ukraine] government seems to have driven its fragile forces forward seeking an early total defeat of the rebels without regard for the lack of depth it possessed in strategic reserves and the unprotected state of the logistical tails that sustained the spearheads. As is often the case in such an effort the situation is fraught with the danger of a sudden reversal of fortune and that has occurred. It takes an inspirational commander of genius like Rommel supported by something like the General Staff cell in his headquarters to “pull off” something like the Gazala victory. The Ukies don’t have Rommel. They gambled and lost.


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