The photo top-left shows supposedly pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine in 2014
The photo bottom-left shows Russian soldiers in Georgia in 2008
Ukraine Provides Evidence of Russian Military in Civil Unrest
The Ukrainian government provided these photographs last week to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna. Ukraine says the photographs document that the armed men who have taken over government buildings in eastern Ukraine are Russian combatants. The State Department, which has also alleged Russian interference, says that the Ukrainian evidence is convincing.
With a modus operandi more characteristic of an organised criminal, Vladimir Putin seeems to have unleashed a Russian special operational force unit in the region of Donetsk. This evenening, the BBC news said of the photographic identification of certain Russian soldiers operating in the Donetsk region that “What comes across from the photos is that at least one unit of heavily armed, well-equipped, pro-Russian paramilitaries has been operating in the Donetsk region.” (BBC)
This tallies with the oservation in my article of 18th April (Further evidence that shows Russian interference in Ukraine). On April 14th, I described the Russian’s efforts as something akin to Agitprop, the London-based anarchist organisation from the 1960s.
Now NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, Gen. Philip Breedlove, has also published the following evidence of President Putin’s deceit:
- The pro-Russian “activists” in eastern Ukraine exhibit tell-tale military training and equipment and work together in a way that is consistent with troops who are part of a long-standing unit, not spontaneously stood up from a local militia.
- The weapon handling discipline and professional behavior of these forces is consistent with a trained military force. Rifle muzzles are pointed down, fingers not on triggers, but rather laid across trigger mechanisms.
- Coordinated use of tear gas and stun grenades against targeted buildings indicates a level of training that exceeds a recently formed militia.
- Video of these forces at checkpoints shows they are attentive, on their feet, focused on their security tasks, and under control of an apparent leader. This contrasts with typical militia or mob checkpoints, where it’s common to see people sitting, smoking, and so forth.
- The way these forces target government buildings, hit them in coordinated strikes and quickly secure the surrounding area with roadblocks and barricades is similar to what we’ve seen in Crimea. Again, indicative of a professional military force, acting under direction and leadership, not a spontaneous militia.
- Finally, the weapons and equipment they carry are primarily Russian army issue. This is not the kind of equipment that civilians would be likely to be able to get their hands on in large numbers.
This supports my own assertion on April 18th: “one or two of the clips showed what were clearly military personnel going in first to storm government buildings, using Kalashnikov rifles and small explosive charges that would make more noise than damage, working as a disciplined military squad to subdue and bring about the surrender of the legitimate Ukrainian police or other personnel within […] the concerted effort to attack similar buildings, with similar, disciplined methods, what seems to be an initial military advance to bring about the surrender of legitimate staff within government buildings, is a very persuasive argument that Russia is directly managing the conflict.”
Any one of the points above taken alone would not be enough to come to a conclusion on this issue, but taken in the aggregate, the story is clear.
You may remember the difficulty in identifying the Russian troops in Crimea because of the masks worn and the exclusion of the press in all but stage managed performances. This morning President Putin admitted that Russian troops were there after denying it repeatedly early on.
The men wearing balaclava-style masks are Russian special forces troops operating in eastern Ukraine. Please visit the following websites for verification: