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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eastern Ukraine's fate in the balance



I don't want to do this again. However, if Russia invades Eastern Ukraine, I may continue to make additions and modifications to this map. I have added the main Ukraine Armed Forces air bases to the map.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crimea is lost.

Newer additions mostly at the bottom of the legend box, but not strictly in chronological order. Some of these sites located very precisely, other approximate. Thanks to my return visitors. Visitors from 75 countries so far.

It's all over for Ukrainian Crimea. Ukrainian armed forces have been left on their own, without clear orders or support from the Ministry of Defense in Kiev, which seems to be weakly organized or marginally loyal to the transition "unity" government, such as it is. The scene is lacking even clear signs of an organized retreat at this late stage.

I will no longer document the Russian occupation of individual military sites, since all are presumed subject to takeover sooner or later.

All that remains is to wait and see whether the situation begins to calm down, with Ukraine forfeiting Crimea and holding on to the rest of the country, or whether war breaks out in eastern Ukraine. I don't mean it is just me waiting -- it is also the Russians and the Ukraine central government waiting to see how things play out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A disorganized retreat

Things are beginning to unravel in Crimea. Russian occupation of key Ukraine military sites is moving forward in a haphazard, disorganized manner, by a combination of masked Russian Federation troops and mobs of local, Moscow-loyal irregulars. As of 19 March, the Ukraine Navy Headquarters in Sevastapol was captured and the anti-submarine corvette Ternopil was under blockade. Russians are throwing grenades at the ship to create an atmosphere of intense psychological pressure under a deadline to surrender the ship.

Late 19 March the Ukraine National Security Council announced that troops would be withdrawn to mainland Ukraine. It is important to note that Ukraine itself, three weeks after the overthrow of Yanukovych, barely has a central government. Many of the officers of the military and border control were loyal to the corrupt regime, and are steadily being bribed with cash offers up to $200,000 to defect to Russia. A disorganized, catastrophic retreat and loss of Ukrainian Naval and Air Force assets in Crimea looms. Billions of dollars worth of ships and aircraft are about to be captured.

Meanwhile signs of ethnic cleansing are beginning to show as it has been suggested that Crimean Tarters will have their land seized.

On this blog, the third greatest source of visitors after the United States and Canada has been Estonia. Today, Russia made provocative announcements regarding its "concern" for Russian minorities in Estonia. The crisis in Ukraine has shaken the trust in the NATO alliance and its determination to protect its allies to the core. However the crisis in Ukraine eventually resolves, things will be very different from here on out, in ways that will effect military spending and preparedness for a generation.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory; Crimea is lost

Following the weekend's sham "referendum," Western powers failed to respond with any meaningful sanctions, delighting the stock markets and hedge funds, and emboldening Putin to brazen confidence. Hours after Putin claimed to have conquered Crimea "without a shot fired," violence broke out at the Cartographic Intelligence unit in Simferolpol that was previously blockaded in a standoff. One young lieutenant was killed with a gunshot wound to the neck, and two others wounded with automatic weapons fire. Elsewhere in Crimea, ships moved into the center of Donuzlav lake (where they are trapped) to avoid capture, and an officer of the Foreign Intelligence unit in or near Yalta was kidnapped. Russia moved to seize other military stations among the hundreds on the peninsula. Ukrainian troops have been granted "combatant" status in a Ministry of Defense conference call with local commanders and have been authorized to fire on Russian troops in self-defense.

Tires are again burning in Kiev and the mood is turning to anger and impatience among the people who formed the 'maidan.' Just three weeks after the costly and beautiful victory over a tyrant in Kiev, Vladimir Putin has managed to crush one of the most clear-cut cases of victory over evil in recent memory.

My thanks to readers who have linked to this page in blogs/forums. I too busy keeping up with intel to get into self-promotion.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Running out of gas

On 15 March Russian forces seized a key gas distribution center at Strilkove. Two mi-24 and two mi-8 helicopters and three APCs dropped 80+ troops. This seizure is a devastating loss for Ukraine, as the facility is a pump on the gas pipeline to Crimea, but critically, also the distribution point for off-shore gas platforms. This event strikes a major blow to Ukraine's energy independence from Russia, and possibly also the willingness and ability of the west to help, as this point distributed gas not just to Crimea but up to southern Ukraine. Russia already controls areas where gas pipelines from offshore platforms are distributed, near Chernomorskye and Shcholkine. That Ukraine had left this facility undefended raises difficult questions. Moreover, the state company that runs the gas production facilities had been slated for increases in output and upcoming privatization. Further difficult questions about that will be raised when this is all over.
Update 16 March. The Ukraine Ministry of Defense has made statements claiming that Russian forces were repelled from Strilkove, but this is not true. At last report, Russian forces continue to hold the gas facility. Ukraine military has set up a checkpoint 150 meters north of that position, and looks on helplessly. I am very disturbed by the conduct of this entire incident, and considering the multi-billion dollar value of this small set of gas pipes, I suspect that someone has been bribed within the Ukraine military.

Friday, March 14, 2014

14 March saw the reported stationing of the Black Sea Fleet flagship, the cruiser Moskva stationed far to the north near Russian forces around the Perekopske peninsula, signalling support to deployments there. Additional attempts to overtake Ukraine military units occurred at a small Foreign Intelligence Service station in Alushta, a radiotechnical unit in Evpatoriya, and unit 2248 in Sevastopol.

Large deployments of missile systems, artillery, and other mechanized units from Russia continued through Kerch and also, for the first time, via Yalta, a civil port.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Calm before the storm

The past 24 hours were more quiet as Russian Federation forces bulk up and dig in. In the past 2-3 days, Russian units have focused on securing telecommunications, radio facilities, surface-to-air missile sites, and fortifying large encampments at Dzhankoi Air Base and near the two border crossings in the North at Chondar and the Perkopskye peninsula around Armyansk. A key radio tower at Mount Ai-Petri controls air traffic control communication, and was seized by Russian special forces who demanded Ukraine units on site shut down equipment. Large convoys of BTRs arrive via ferry through Kerch and vehicles and gear have also arrived by ship through Sevastopol. Numerous IL-76 transport planes have been spotted intermittently squawking on civilian bands as they shuttle in and out of sites in Russia east of the Kerch strait. Late 13 March, the Coast Guard unit stationed in Kerch retreated to Mariupol (mainland Ukraine, Donetsk Oblast) with 18 ships and 300 souls to avoid capture or casualties.