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Is the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Underway?

August 14, 2014

Amidst sketchy reports of Russian military moves across the Ukrainian border, the website of the Moscow magazine New Times has posted a picture of Russian BTR armored personnel carriers (APCs) with the following text: “Photo by Sergey Khazov, The New Times, 2125, 14.08.2014, near Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy, Rostov Region” as well as the following explanation: 

Approximately at 2120* — it’s completely dark here — a convoy of armored vehicles drove past my hotel, which is located literally in the open field, near Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy (Rostov Region): a few dozen APCs, infantry military vehicles, and military trucks pulling artillery guns. At first it seemed that they were moving in the direction of the Izvarino checkpoint, where the Russian checkpoint is and where the crossing is to the Ukrainian region which is controlled by the separatists. However, they are not at the Izvarino checkpoint — the author has checked; they have not been at the Severnoye checkpoint either. Obviously, the vehicles crossed the border somewhere else under the cover of night. Anyway, they are not on the Rostov-Donetsk road. They say here that today Ukrainian servicemen who were surrounded at the Luhansk airport have managed to break through the encirclement and started pushing the separatist groups towards Krasnodon. Probably, this is what caused by the transfer of APCs and artillery across the Russian border.

At last, the explicit Russian invasion of Ukraine may be underway …. more as it happens.

*1720Z

From → Strategy

24 Comments
  1. califax permalink

    Mal schauen, ob das Einbetten aus Twitter funktioniert:

    So @RolandOliphant and I just saw a column of APCs and vehicles with official Russian military plates cross border into Ukraine.— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) 14. August 2014

    NB I don't think this was "the invasion" proper. This is probably what has been happening for a while. Extraordinary to see it though.— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) 14. August 2014

    .@shaunwalker7 and I just witnessed a not insubstantial column of APCs and trucks slipping across the border into Ukraine.— Roland Oliphant (@RolandOliphant) 14. August 2014

    Didn't even turn off their headlights. Saw Russian military plates on support vehicles, but no markings I could make out on APCs.— Roland Oliphant (@RolandOliphant) 14. August 2014

  2. thesurlybeaver permalink

    What are the odds that the Aid Convoy is attacked by “Ukrainian Fascists” in armoured personal carriers tomorrow morning shortly after crossing the border?

    • High, unless the Russian army clears the path first….

      • thesurlybeaver permalink

        An attack on an “humanitarian” convoy would create a perfect pretext for a full-scale Russian invasion.

  3. WJM permalink

    My memory of typical Russian truck drivers is quite different, in physical appearance, from this guy, with a paratroopers tattoo:

    Reminds me more of the young contract soldiers in Novosibirsk in 2006, just being released from their training, on board of a sight-seeing tourist boat….nasty macho bunch of drunks, even the Russian captain wasn’t too happy with them, but apparently decided not to act, for some intimidating reason, despite the tourists.

    My understanding of loading a semi-trailer, efficiently & effectively, is also quite different from this one.

    WJ’s thesis: what would prevent any of these trucks to be loaded further, with other stuff?

    Nice sleeping area though, for a peloton of paratroopers, or whatever.

    Or: why would both ammo and troops have to come all the way from Moscow, if you have it available in abundance close to the Ukrainian border, waiting to be loaded?

    Really, perhaps my mindset has been affected too much by decades of dabbling in things automotive & offroad, but you don’t need a *semi*-trailer for this kind of transport/loading-degree….a regular truck would do, *and* have better traction, even as just a 6×4….
    Of course, for PR purposes, the bigger the better….just like Potemkin back then.

    Btw, as a reminder of *what* was collected/asked-for in public, in the weeks past, in Moscow, as ‘aid’:

    http://en.censor.net.ua/photo_news/296558/humanitarian_aid_for_donbas_collected_on_moscow_streets_parts_for_120_mm_howitzers_and_cannons_machinegun

    More puzzling current images:

    Anyway, without the cover(up) of darkness the latter two a bit too stupid to do, even for Putemkin, but still….what is left then, as/on purpose, is either ‘business as usual’, nothing to do with the white convoy, just the ordinary regular on-going smuggling across the border, *or* intimidation, and/or creating confusion.

    That said, a smart Putemkin-move would be to split the convoy, in more than 2 parts, and even most of the following journalists (if there are any, and if they *let* any, in Russia!) will loose track soon.
    Reload any split convoy with military supplies under the cover of darkness, on guarded parking lots, and you have the convoy that the rebels want (there are no *un*guarded parking lots in Russia, even less for trucks, but they can’t park on military bases I assume, that would raise too much conspicion right away)

    And in hindsight, all of us will moan and mourn about ‘how smart’ & ‘how cunning’.

    No man is as blind as the one who doesn’t want to see….

    I’d bomb those bastards, every single white truck without permission & inspection, after complete unloading and reloading….no Russian trucks, no Russian crew.
    (can’t the needed roads, inside separatists-area, not be bombed beyond any reasonable use?….in advance, I mean?)

    PS: I am glad to see at least some German-speaking folks with a sane mind here….in several German forums, I only see a staggering amount of Putin-Versteher, otherwise known as Gutmenschen (of the worst kind).
    (some of which even tried to lure me into believing that ‘Gutmensch’ is a nazi-term….fucking half of Germany believes that!….supported by at least one board of German journalists….I kid you not!)

  4. WJM permalink

    Aid-dispenser:

    I also wonder whether the Russians deliberated whether to paint those APC’s white or not.

    *Those* receiving some flak couldn’t be posed as any attack on the aid-convoy….

    Another nasty thesis, on BI, is that once there is a corridor of any kind, nothing will stop Russia from flooding it with more trucks, less white, less cherry-picked by journalists, if at all:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/russian-military-vehicles-crossed-into-ukraine-2014-8

  5. WJM permalink

    Btw, ran into another Gutmensch-argument on a forum, that Brazil is so eager to fill the food gap of sanctioned western nations.

    Through which harbour do they think to do that?
    (just ignore those who think a plane is a good alternative)

    In winter, I mean?

    Perhaps due time to give Kaliningrad the necessary ‘historical justified correction’?….:))
    (I wonder if Putemkin has a few more billion to spare, to bring their infrastructure to the needed level….or maybe he could hope that the Baltic states do a few railroad-level sanctions on their own, for some new casus belli)

  6. Eric Swinson permalink

    Continuing and escalating. As it has been since February.

  7. WJM permalink

    More near-empty trucks, pix taken by the same Courtney Weaver as in my prevous message:

    http://en.censor.net.ua/photo_news/298153/customs_clearance_of_putins_cargo_has_not_begun_yet_the_convoy_is_almost_empty_photos

    Decoy, propaganda, on-load/next-load preparation or what?
    Or all 3 scenario’s at Putemkin’s last peril/order?
    (does the spy-business typically have plan C, D and E?)
    (must be exhausting, being a spin-docter for Putemkin)
    (risking your life if it goes wrong, *again*(?))

    You’d think the Russians had at least abandoned their usual Potemkinist masquerade from the 5-year-plans of Sovjet days….

    Russian culture in a nutshell….or better bombshell….disguised as a matruschka.

    Funny note in a Dutch TV-discussion, few weeks ago, might be the same where this ‘Russki Avos’ was mentioned:

    If a Russian talks about a ‘win/win’ situation, he doesn’t mean that both parties gain something, equally, but that he wins not only the first time, but also the second time.

      • WJM permalink

        Graag gedaan….;))

        Truck-scenario #4, per Dmitry Tymchuk:

        http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/op-ed/dmitry-tymchuks-military-blog-insurgents-strike-civilian-convoy-killing-dozens-361132.html
        [quote]
        But there is another factor [here]–Russia’s very own trucks, painted from
        the heart in the “peaceful” white [color]. Considering that they will be
        traveling on territory controlled by terrorists, the question arises: what is
        the procedure for their withdrawal back to Russia? Remaining in Donbas,
        they can become a great cover for blocking the actions of the ATO forces
        in separate directions. Since it’s obvious that the Ukrainian troops won’t
        fire in areas where this transport remains. And [we] must agree that 270
        trucks is a lot.
        [/quote]

        The man does have an interesting point…..because no matter how heavy the tanks of your armoured engineering brigade are, you can’t shove several hundreds of those trucks aside, all at once, in a single row of sequential half-finished U-turns….
        (as cover for direct shooting those tarps are lousy, but at the same time quite nice to hide smaller cannon/artillery platforms, as temporarily return cargo….especially being white/under-protected that is)


        Further down that same page is another remarkable note, his changed opinion about Angela Merkel….even that much more positive than before, that they mst have had a much more revealing discussion in private than the press/diplomats have released thusfar:

        [quote]
        3. German Chancellor Angela Merkel supports the continuation of
        sanctions against Russia “in order to show it our seriousness.”

        I think I’ve recently become quite partial towards Mrs. Angela. For a very
        long time, she demonstrated some obscure sympathy for Putin, trying to
        reconcile it with [her] democratic values. But after the disaster with the
        “Boeing,” the German leader [behaves] as if she has been replaced [with
        someone else]: [it’s] a pleasure to observe.

        That is, as I understand [it], a woman. If she really disliked you, then to
        the last bullet. Ah, if only there were more warrior broads like this in
        Europe.
        [/quote]

        Willem
        (does wonder if ‘broad’ can be attributed-to/excused-by any translation error (and not a small one either, in his/her case….only Helmut Kohl might have expressed himself similarly….:))
        Jan

  8. Moscow has now cheerfully lied about this incursion, denying it took place. That’s to be expected. But it’s at least possible that Kiev has come up with its own little fib about it too.

    The Guardian, one of the two UK papers whose journos witnessed the military convoy crossing the border, leads currently with this followup headline: “Ukraine claims it has destroyed Russian vehicles that crossed border”.

    This was reportedly disclosed by Ukrainian President Poroshenko in a phone call to British PM Cameron.

    Now, this is actually quite a significant disclosure, for it would be the first direct battle, that we know of, between Russian and Ukrainian troops. And by inference, it might possibly also tend to confirm that Washington is now supplying real-time satellite intelligence to Ukrainian forces.

    But did it happen?

    First, no photos were released. If you’d just destroyed part of an enemy fighting unit on your turf, you’d think someone would think to take out the iPhone and take some shots of the mangled APCs or whatever. That’s what usually happens these days.

    Secondly, something even stranger. At about 7 pm Kiev time, Maria Antonova, an AFP correspondent, tweeted the following:

    “Kiev published a readout of Cameron phoner, then 2 hours later added a para about APCs from Russia having been ‘destroyed’ last night.”

    She’s referring to the transcript of the Poroshenko/Cameron phone call.

    Now maybe Poroshenko thought he was supplying confidential info to Cameron and felt initially that it ought to be withheld from the public. Then his people see the headlines and realize they ought publish after all.

    Or did they make it up? After learning that the Kremlin was denying any incursion took place, they realized they could say anything they wanted and Moscow wouldn’t be able to deny it. Good for morale. Great headlines in the west. Fantastic stuff.

    Just speculation of course. But possible?

    • Possible, sure …. whole thing remains odd & a bit mystifying.

    • Ihor Molodecky permalink

      I really don’t think that this story is about whether or not Kyiv is fibbing. I think that the main story here is a very clear message to Putin by the President of Ukraine outlining what the response will be to any Russian invasion….regardless of cost. The fact that the statement is attributed to the president carries that much more weight and I have no doubt that Putin understands the message. What he does with that info no one knows. He’ll do his calculations but will understand that any invasion, limited or not, will be strongly resisted. That real time intel that was mentioned will come in handy.

  9. WJM permalink

    Stumbled across an older article from the same field reporter as above, Shaun Walker:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/23/ukraine-crimea-what-putin-thinking-russia

    Hillary Clinton’s view on Putin, few weeks ago:

    http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2014/07/27/fmr-sec-hillary-clinton-to-fareed-zakaria-putin-indirectly-responsible-for-mh17/

    And this one is too tempting true as well:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9225371/if-you-think-you-understand-what-putins-doing-in-ukraine-youre-not-paying-enough-attention/

    [b][i]”Watch this olive branch in my hand; now you see it; now you don’t; now you see it again — oh, it’s a razor.”[/i][/b]

    Content-wise, this is what triggered posting the link:

    [i]So what is Putin’s game? Conferences of intellectuals have been discussing the Russian president in the context of Ukraine in recent months — and they generally find the experience like trying to pin down Proteus. Historian Timothy Snyder, New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier, and a slew of western embassies jointly convened a recent such conference in Kiev which expressed both puzzlement and distress at Russia’s success in persuading many on the western left that Putin’s actions over Ukraine were justified or at least understandable.

    {[/i]note WJ: perhaps *we*, the public, should be puzzled & distressed for *them* not understanding ‘Special War’, in all its facets?….
    (as in Mr. Schroeders baffling & bewildering statement, ‘fuer mich, Putin ist ein lupenreiner Demokrat’)[i]}

    At an earlier conference in Vilnius of Russian, Ukrainian, Baltic, and Polish intellectuals (with a sprinkling of Brits and Americans), ‘Russia Reality Check’ organised by Lithuania’s Eastern Europe Studies Centre,’ those present divided roughly into two camps. Some thought Putin a shrewd, ruthless, cynical kleptocrat, principally concerned to protect and increase his vast fortune, to avoid any future imprisonment, and thus to retain power for himself and his clique more or less indefinitely. That was the optimistic view: it implied a desire to avoid serious conflict—or at least to confine it to domestic opponents.

    But a disturbingly large number, including some former government officials from Russia and western Europe, saw the Russian president as bent upon a tactically cautious but strategically bold campaign to reverse the post-Cold War settlement of 1989, and indeed to go further.[/i]

  10. WJM permalink

    Under the assumption that this is true, could any of the military experts give his thoughts about the provenance of this particular vehicle/division?
    The best of the lot, or bordering on useful idiots?

    http://en.censor.net.ua/news/298926/airborne_assault_vehicle_of_russian_76th_airborne_division_captured_near_luhansk
    “20.08.14 22:21
    Airborne Assault Vehicle of Russian 76th Airborne Division Captured near Luhansk
    The Ukrainian military seized BMD-2 airborne assault vehicle of the Pskov Airborne Division with all the documents as a result of the fighting near Lutuhine in the Luhansk region.

    Journalist Leonid Shvets reports this on his Facebook page, Censor.NET informs.

    He said: “The guys asked me to report: WE ARE AT WAR WITH THE RUSSIAN ARMY. Our troops captured BMD-2 airborne combat vehicle near Lutuhine town, bearing the side number of 275, from the 1st Airborne Company from the military base number 74268 of Pskov Airborne Division, the platoon commander is Senior Lieutenant Popov. They found all the documentation in the vehicle: the log book, evening roll book and discharge book. Russian field rations packed on this year March were also found.

    Concerning the crew, well, let’s say it was lost on the way. If the command will not be catching flies, the evidence will go far beyond a single highly efficient squad of the Armed Forces.””


    Doesn’t look entirely compatible with this page:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/76th_Guards_Air_Assault_Division

    And it also seems closer to the Baltics then Ukraine:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pskov

    Or just a training for the Baltics?

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