Video: Ukrainian forces advancing in east as showdown nears

posted at 10:01 am on April 16, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Russia continues to warn that Ukraine is heading into a civil war — one that most outside observers believe Russia has deliberately fomented. Confused reports coming from the eastern provinces suggest that a war could be inevitable, whether Russia stops exacerbating internal strife or not. The government in Kyiv moved to retake parts of cities held by “pro-Russian separatists” who appear to be in some cases actual Russian paramilitary personnel. The Ukrainian army moved in force to Kramatorsk and other parts of Donetsk, as CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh stood by:

Helicopters and a fighter jet circled the skies above the tense eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk Wednesday, while on the streets below a column of tanks rolled through the city — one with a Russian flag affixed.

A similar convoy of armored personnel carriers also entered the city of Slaviansk, some 100 miles from the border with Russia.

Amid the soaring tensions, confusion is rife.

According to unconfirmed Russian media reports, residents of Kramatorsk captured several armored vehicles from the Ukrainian army. But it’s not clear if that is the reason the Russian flags are on display.

According to the Washington Post, the Russian flags appeared when Ukrainian troops defected after arriving in Donestk:

Tensions escalated in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, with pro-Russian gunmen storming City Hall in the sprawling city of Donetsk and a cluster of Ukrainian troops meant to be restoring order in the region apparently defecting to the side of separatists.

The events suggested the challenge ahead for the pro-Western Ukrainian government on the second day of a campaign to quell the restive east, and came as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Ukraine was on the verge “of a civil war.”

A line of combat vehicles flying Russian flags rolled Wednesday morning into Slovyansk, a city of 120,000 where separatists have set up roadblocks since Saturday. One soldier named Andrei, speaking to the Associated Press, identified the men as part of the 25th Brigade of Ukraine’s airborne forces that had switched to the side of pro-Russian forces. The troops in green camouflage and packing automatic weapons and grenade launchers received a warm welcome from local separatists, AP said. The report could not be immediately verified.

Around 10 a.m. local time, a squad of separatists backed by seven masked gunmen in camouflage stormed the seat of Donetsk’s mayor and local council. On Wednesday morning, they appeared to be allowing employees in this city of nearly 1 million people to exit the building freely, and suited bureaucrats were running back and forth to vehicles in an attempt to save files and computers. A barricade of old tires blocked the rear entrance while men in unmarked camouflage patrolled the front of the building.

The Ukrainians are still pressing ahead nonetheless:

What is the US prepared to do to assist Kyiv? After the White House admitted that CIA Director John Brennan did indeed make a trip to Ukraine’s capital, Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report for The Daily Beast that more cooperation on real-time intelligence may finally be available to Kyiv:

Over the weekend, CIA Director John Brennan met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema to discuss the formation of new, more secure channels for sharing U.S. intelligence with the country now fighting pro-Russian secessionists in its eastern cities, according to U.S. and Western officials briefed on the meeting.

It’s a vitally important issue because the Ukrainians are badly outmatched by the Russian forces massed on their border and infiltrating their cities. If Kiev is going to have a hope of withstanding the pressure from Moscow, their intelligence on the Russian military’s activities will have to be exquisite.

The Daily Beast reported last week that Gen. Philip Breedlove had pushed to share more satellite imagery and other forms of detailed data about nearby Russian troop, but was rebuffed by the White House. U.S. intelligence agencies have long suspected Ukraine’s military and intelligence services to be entirely penetrated by the Russian government because until February the two countries were partners on security issues.

“That place has been run by the Russians for years,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast. “They are very good at collecting any form of communications intelligence, they probably own their network there.” But this official added that nonetheless “there have been ways to communicate between the intelligence services that would be helpful for real-time sharing with Ukraine.”

The defections in the front-line troops shows that CIA concerns about data sharing in real time are entirely rational. How many in Ukraine’s intel groups will defect down the road, too? How many who are Russian assets will stick around and keep absorbing information on American capabilities? It’s a tough spot, which is why Brennan and the White House have moved carefully on this point.

The cleanest option at the moment is increased economic sanctions. The Associated Press reports that the conflict may lop almost two points off of the Russian economy already, so this could be a very tender spot for Vladimir Putin and his wealthy support system:

Russia’s economy slowed sharply in the first three months of the year as uncertainty over the crisis in Ukraine spooked investors into pulling money out of the country, a government minister said Wednesday.

Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev told parliament that growth was only 0.8 percent in the first quarter — far short of the ministry’s earlier prediction of 2.5 percent — because of “the acute international situation of the past two months” as well as “serious capital flight.”

Russian markets have been rattled by tensions between Moscow and neighboring Ukraine, where Russia annexed the Black Sea region of Crimea last month. The main stock index in Moscow tanked 10 percent in March, wiping out billions in market capitalization. In the first three months of 2014, the ruble lost 9 percent against the dollar, making imports more expensive, while spooked investors pulled about $70 billion out of the country — more than in all of 2013. …

So far, the U.S. and the EU sanctions have been limited to individual Russian politicians and businessmen close to the Kremlin. But the possibility of tougher sanctions has been enough to hinder investment, which dropped 4.8 percent in the first quarter, according to Ulyukayev.

The pcoketbook may be our only effective target for dissuading Putin from continuing his efforts to break up Ukraine. Enough pressure there, and Putin may face some defections among his own benefactors.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Couldn’t this crisis have waited until after the next golf outing?

Roy Rogers on April 16, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Have they crossed Okaka’s pink line yet?

ShainS on April 16, 2014 at 10:09 AM

The Ukrainian government should carefully select the troops going to Eastern Ukraine… They should make sure that no soldiers from Russian ethnicity are among these troops…

mnjg on April 16, 2014 at 10:14 AM

The pcoketbook may be our only effective target for dissuading Putin from continuing his efforts to break up Ukraine. Enough pressure there, and Putin may face some defections among his own benefactors.

Putin is a dictator and a mafia leader who controls every aspect of Russia political, military, and economic sectors… There no benefactors for Putin… Any one with money who decides to rebel against him will put in jail or killed and his entire fortune will be taken from his… Look what he did to the owner of Gazprom Russia largest company… He simply put him in jail and took his entire company…

mnjg on April 16, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Well this is going no place good…

sorrowen on April 16, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Dear Leader sent some MRE’s…what else do you want?

d1carter on April 16, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Great, another opportunity to see Obama do nothing but flap his gums. I think I would rather him take an “I see nothing” posture than to talk tough and then do nothing.

Cindy Munford on April 16, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Some how this is poetic justice for Obama; he has lied to the American people without remorse, now Putin is lying to him without remorse.

Tater Salad on April 16, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Yeah it is poetic justice oddly enough.

sorrowen on April 16, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Dear Leader sent some MRE’s…what else do you want?

d1carter on April 16, 2014 at 10:26 AM

I’m guessing the troops that defected were getting sick of eating the MRE’s.

Tater Salad on April 16, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Look, a shiny squirrel.

oscarwilde on April 16, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Will the media follow Putin’s lead and call his false flag invasion a “civil war”? I’m guessing yes.

ElectricPhase on April 16, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Why does this look like the Ukrainians trying to force our involvement?

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 10:40 AM

I’d like to see Russia try to take Ukraine. Just yesterday the President gave Putin a very stern talking-to. You don’t think he wants to get another one of those, do you?

rogaineguy on April 16, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Why does this look like the Ukrainians trying to force our involvement?

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Because that is exactly what it is. Now get to beating those war drums, we gotta have a war don’tcha know… Got to attack that evil Russian empire before it’s to late.

oscarwilde on April 16, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Have they crossed Okaka’s pink line yet?

ShainS on April 16, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Tank treads driving right up the yellow line on his back.

rhombus on April 16, 2014 at 10:43 AM

If those numbers are correct, those have been insanely effective sanctions.

Though of course it also speaks to how stupid a move this was for putin from the outset – uncontrolled illegal military aggression is the quickest way to erode investor confidence in your country. Putin has sanctioned himself.

everdiso on April 16, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Why does this look like the Ukrainians trying to force our involvement?

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Because that is exactly what it is. Now get to beating those war drums, we gotta have a war don’tcha know… Got to attack that evil Russian empire before it’s to late.

oscarwilde on April 16, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Let Putin and Merkel hash it out.

Merkel will negotiate a partition…this is all BS

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 11:02 AM

oscarwilde on April 16, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Let Putin and Merkel hash it out.

Merkel will negotiate a partition…this is all BS

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 11:02 AM

But but but… the Evil Russian Empire of Vlad the impaler Putin must be destroyed… He is threatening world security and global warming funding and killing kittens and stuff.

oscarwilde on April 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM

The lilliputian in the WH calls LilliPutin and threatens him, again.

LilliPutin laughs his azz off…what’s left of it.

Schadenfreude on April 16, 2014 at 11:06 AM

The biggest ally of Putin is…wait…heh…Merkel.

BASF is their biggest chemical company, supplied with gas from Russia. Merkel talks to Putin a lot. She doesn’t give a damn about obama, nor does anyone else.

The world laughs at the dummies who brung/kept the turkey in the White House.

Schadenfreude on April 16, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Rank stupidity. Any sanctions we place on Russia hurt the US more and help induce an alternate to the petrodollar. Brings China, Russia, and India closer together. I think it even brings Germany closer to Russia! The US is quickly finding itself completely contained by the rest of the world.

Moreover, why prop up a country when its military is defecting?

antisense on April 16, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Why does this look like the Ukrainians trying to force our involvement?

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 10:40 AM

They are, along with McCain and his ilk along with Big State Republicans, and those who fetishize Russia as an enemy.

Indeed, McCain and other want US troops to be placed conveniently in order to antagonize Russia into attacking them.

antisense on April 16, 2014 at 11:16 AM

oscarwilde on April 16, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Let Putin and Merkel hash it out.

Merkel will negotiate a partition…this is all BS

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 11:02 AM

But but but… the Evil Russian Empire of Vlad the impaler Putin must be destroyed… He is threatening world security and global warming funding and killing kittens and stuff.

oscarwilde on April 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM

While I’m not soft on the danger of the Russia-China-Iran alliance…this is not the hill nor the commander in chief…

Merkel and Putin will partition.

Putin will get the productive parts of the Ukraine…Merkel gets the old gas lines and avoids War in her backyard?

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 11:18 AM

The biggest ally of Putin is…wait…heh…Merkel.

BASF is their biggest chemical company, supplied with gas from Russia. Merkel talks to Putin a lot. She doesn’t give a damn about obama, nor does anyone else.

The world laughs at the dummies who brung/kept the turkey in the White House.

Schadenfreude on April 16, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Yep.

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Couldn’t this crisis have waited until after the next golf outing?

Roy Rogers on April 16, 2014 at 10:08 AM

I give ‘em credit for waiting until after the Olympics. I had a feeling Putin didn’t want another 1980 on their hands.

TMOverbeck on April 16, 2014 at 11:46 AM

There’s no legitimate moral reason for East Ukrainian people to respect the extremist junta put in power by the coup.

David Blue on April 16, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Patton would drive his column out of Russia near their western border with Belarus the 190 miles south right into Kiev, trapping the bulk of the Ukrainian forces between the capital and their eastern border with Russia. He’d have the whole country in a week.

BKeyser on April 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM

…are you sure the picture you used for this thread…isn’t the BLM…heading out to handle the Bundy problem?

KOOLAID2 on April 16, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Why does this look like the Ukrainians trying to force our involvement?

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Because that is exactly what it is. Now get to beating those war drums, we gotta have a war don’tcha know… Got to attack that evil Russian empire before it’s to late.

oscarwilde on April 16, 2014 at 10:42 AM

How to distinguish ‘trying to force our involvement’ from ‘preparing to defend their country’? Just a matter of whose talking points to accept perhaps?

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Regardless of where this situation ends, and when the **** hits the fan today or tomorrow, and lots of Ukraine boys and girls start getting blown to smithereens and they, in turn, start blowing lots of the young Russian aggressors to smithereens, remember who is the culprit that made all this possible – our own feckless chicken necked pseudo-president, Barack Hussein Obama.

Not only did he encourage Putin’s aggression by not offering any resistance, he probably secretly authorized it he’s that kind of sneak.

No matter who wins or loses, full credit should be given to the slimy basta*d responsible for the further damage to the reputation of the United States. Put another feather in his bonnet.

dockywocky on April 16, 2014 at 12:15 PM

He’d have the whole country in a week.

BKeyser on April 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Then what?

The coup is basically by and for oligarchs, with American and EU support. But it also has real popular support from ultra-nationalists in Western Ukraine. None of these forces are about to go away, and none of them are potentially loyal to Russia, or even potential friendly fellow-citizens for a democratic Ukraine that respects the rights of Russian-speaking East Ukrainians.

Whether he wants a buffer state (which is my guess) or just a bigger Russia (which doesn’t make sense, but is possible because who knows), Putin can’t use Western Ukraine.

Patton got fired. And a Russian general that started talking like Patton would also get fired.

David Blue on April 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

He’d have the whole country in a week.

BKeyser on April 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Then what?

The coup is basically by and for oligarchs, with American and EU support. But it also has real popular support from ultra-nationalists in Western Ukraine. None of these forces are about to go away, and none of them are potentially loyal to Russia, or even potential friendly fellow-citizens for a democratic Ukraine that respects the rights of Russian-speaking East Ukrainians.

Whether he wants a buffer state (which is my guess) or just a bigger Russia (which doesn’t make sense, but is possible because who knows), Putin can’t use Western Ukraine.

Patton got fired. And a Russian general that started talking like Patton would also get fired.

David Blue on April 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

To believe that Pooty “wants a buffer state” you have to believe that Pooty really and truly believes that Eastern Europe is a threat to Russia, and that’s some kind of fairy tale.

Pooty wants to reassemble the USSR, nothing less.

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Trying to figure out why:

extremist militants taking over government building = good when they are against the corrupt government of Yanukovich but

extremist militants taking over government buildings = bad now because they are against the corrupt government that threw Yanukovich out.

On what basis can we say that the Kyiv government is in any way legitimate? Because they took over some buildings and staged a coup but we like that they’re anti-Russian so coup-staging and taking over buildings = okay?

Seems Putin is more credible on this one guys, sorry.

theblackcommenter on April 16, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Soon well get The Obama Shuffle:
I did not know.
It is not my fault.

Where is King Putt?
a) On the golf course.
b) At a fund raiser
c) Blaming Bush.

The eastern region of Ukraine is ‘tank country’ (read: Panzer Leader by Heinz Guderaian or Hitlers Greatest General – Manstein) this could get very ugly very fast.

Missilengr on April 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM

To believe that Pooty “wants a buffer state” you have to believe that Pooty really and truly believes that Eastern Europe is a threat to Russia, and that’s some kind of fairy tale.

Pooty wants to reassemble the USSR, nothing less.

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 12:40 PM

It’s America and the EU that’s a threat. And with NATO extending into Russia’s near abroad, and with American and EU support for the destabilization process and the coup in Ukraine, it’s clear the threat is real.

Putin wasn’t doing anything about Ukraine before the coup, except match the EU bribe for bribe in wooing the elected Ukrainian government.

It’s the coup that’s started everything. And it’s the junta in power, that started off by prohibiting the official use of the Russian language (thus suppressing the rights of Russian-speakers) that has made things worse.

David Blue on April 16, 2014 at 1:01 PM

The Ukraine issue reminds me of the Trayvon Martin case, in that in both cases, the people who were ramping up excitement had an agenda with a pre-set villain, but in both cases what they wanted to ignore was what a very ugly customer their “innocent victim” was.

David Blue on April 16, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Face it, Ukraine is lost.

Not only is Obama going to do nothing about it, the American people don’t care about it at all. The real question is what Obama and Congress will do if Putin tries the same thing in Estonia, which is a member of NATO. Are the Europeans willing to go to all-out war with Russia over Estonia?

If not, NATO is finished. If the Europeans are not willing to protect a NATO member, then there is no reason to have an alliance like NATO. And THAT is what Putin wants. Putin wants the destruction of NATO without firing a shot, just like the Soviet Union lost the Warsaw Pact without firing a shot. This is Putin’s revenge, and if you don’t believe it, just wait a few months when Russian troops start rolling into Estonia. Then what will we do??? Nothing, of course, and that will be the end of NATO.

Libertyship46 on April 16, 2014 at 1:07 PM

To believe that Pooty “wants a buffer state” you have to believe that Pooty really and truly believes that Eastern Europe is a threat to Russia, and that’s some kind of fairy tale.

Pooty wants to reassemble the USSR, nothing less.

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Putin might also be anticipating an EU Fail.

Which would mean chaos.

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 1:13 PM

OK, Libertyship46, we’ll see in a few months whether Russia has attacked and annexed Estonia.

You say he will, and I say he won’t. (Unless they have a coup, which I don’t expect.) Putin wasn’t doing anything about Ukraine before the coup.

If I thought Putin had a fixed agenda to blitz the Baltic countries I’d think he was a villain too. But that’s not how it is.

The real villains are everybody behind the coup. They have wrecked the Ukrainian state.

David Blue on April 16, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Putin might also be anticipating an EU Fail.

Which would mean chaos.

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 1:13 PM

In respect of Ukraine, we already have an EU fail.

Putin has kicked Ukraine off welfare, because why wouldn’t he? And the EU is not going to pay the bills.

Plus the Kiev coup was on behalf of corrupt oligarchs (who loot money, they don’t create it), supported by West Ukrainians (who consume the government money), against Eastern Ukrainians who create what little prosperity exists.

The Eastern Ukrainians have now won two elections straight, and both times they have seen the government they elected set aside by extra-constitutional means. They do not want to be looted by anti-Russian ultra-nationalists who hate them and want to spend their money while denying them their democratic rights.

The only way to keep peace at all now would be for the EU (which means Germany, since German taxpayers always pay the bills) to pour a river of free money into the broken Ukrainian state.

The Germans aren’t willing, and anyway they don’t have the money.

David Blue on April 16, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Missile Shield in Europe? The Russians are not a threat — We don’t need no stinkin’ missile shield.

Yes – I will sit down with Iran without preconditions.

SemperVI on April 16, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Maybe it’s just me but if we are going to get into another war, I would rather it be with Mexico, not Russia, as it is Mexico, not Russia, that has tens of millions of invaders in America.

VorDaj on April 16, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Putin might also be anticipating an EU Fail.

Which would mean chaos.

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 1:13 PM

In respect of Ukraine, we already have an EU fail.

Putin has kicked Ukraine off welfare, because why wouldn’t he? And the EU is not going to pay the bills.

Plus the Kiev coup was on behalf of corrupt oligarchs (who loot money, they don’t create it), supported by West Ukrainians (who consume the government money), against Eastern Ukrainians who create what little prosperity exists.

The Eastern Ukrainians have now won two elections straight, and both times they have seen the government they elected set aside by extra-constitutional means. They do not want to be looted by anti-Russian ultra-nationalists who hate them and want to spend their money while denying them their democratic rights.

The only way to keep peace at all now would be for the EU (which means Germany, since German taxpayers always pay the bills) to pour a river of free money into the broken Ukrainian state.

The Germans aren’t willing, and anyway they don’t have the money.

David Blue on April 16, 2014 at 1:41 PM

I should have been more specific.

Maybe Putin anticipates a breakup of the EU.

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Maybe Putin anticipates a breakup of the EU.

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Oh. I misunderstood you.

I don’t think the EU is about to break up. Eventually, because it is so dysfunctional, but not soon.

And I think Putin knows that. He’s seen a dysfunctional behemoth limp along for decades before imploding.

David Blue on April 16, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Maybe it’s just me but if we are going to get into another war, I would rather it be with Mexico, not Russia, as it is Mexico, not Russia, that has tens of millions of invaders in America.

VorDaj on April 16, 2014 at 1:45 PM

This. Exactly.

It seems like grand strategic dreamers want US forces to guarantee the borders of every country in the world except America.

David Blue on April 16, 2014 at 1:56 PM

See what folks need to know is that when the Soviet Union fell, here were no shots fired. No tanks. It was quiet….UNTIL NOW. This has been festering since the wall came down. Look a your Presidential history in the U.S. since then. We’ll not much could happen when Reagan was in office, and maybe not so much when Bush 41 came along. He pretty much kept the Kremlin at bay, stayed friends etc., but then Clinton came, Putin came into play in 1996 under Yeltsin who quit unexpectedly. Then we had Putin as Pres there in 1999, while the U.S. had Clinton for 8 years. Putin was churning then just waiting for Bush 43 to leave.

My point is, they vowed quietly to get the countries back once the time was right, and they have been sitting, watching, waiting. Now here we are. At our most vulnerable and all of the bad guys are looking at what they can get away with. I am surprised more isn’t happening, and maybe it is and we just don’t hear about it.

johnnyU on April 16, 2014 at 3:17 PM

just my .02 sorry for the type-o’s

johnnyU on April 16, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Russian insurgents (military) have begun a campaign to divide Ukranian citizens, create unrest, cause defections, and basically give Putin another ‘I have to go into this area/nation for the protection of Russian citizens’ excuse. This has been a highly disciplined, well-organized plan that has been smoothly carried out so far. Russia WILL invade Ukraine! It’s only a matter of time.

easyt65 on April 16, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Everyone’s experience with Russia only goes back to the USSR. More keen analysts, (if they are trying to go ahead with a expansionist/recapturist metaphor), liken it to reforming the old Russian empire before communism.

antisense on April 16, 2014 at 3:56 PM