US ambassador warns of new Russian “counteroffensive” in Ukraine

posted at 9:21 am on August 26, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Ukrainians have warned for months that Russia has been conducting a low-level war in eastern Ukraine, and not just by aiding so-called separatists in the restive region. The government in Kyiv has insisted that Russian forces have infiltrated the east, and that the “pro-Russian separatists” were largely Russians rather than Ukrainians, attempting to create a provocation that would allow Vladimir Putin to seize more territory, just as he did with Crimea. Those complaints have picked up in recent weeks, corroborated in part when British journalists saw a column of armored Russian vehicles cross the border, which Kyiv later claimed they’d destroyed. Russia has denied all of this, claiming that the only cross-border communications they have sent was humanitarian aid and nothing more.

This time, the Ukrainians have undeniable evidence — actual Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine:

This time, Moscow claims that the Russians simply got lost:

A group of Russian soldiers captured in eastern Ukraine had crossed the border “by accident”, Russian military sources are quoted as saying.

Ukraine said 10 paratroopers had been captured and has released video interviews of some of the men. One is quoted as saying “this is not our war”. …

A Russian defence ministry source was quoted by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti as saying: “The soldiers really did participate in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border, crossed it by accident on an unmarked section, and as far as we understand showed no resistance to the armed forces of Ukraine when they were detained.”

It’s possible that a group of paratroopers got lost, but it doesn’t seem terribly likely. Paratroopers are normally deployed to prepare for a larger invasion, not for ground operations that accidentally cross borders. The US Ambassador to Ukraine called this part of a “Russian directed counter offensive”:

The timing couldn’t be worse for Russia, either:

Russia has always denied assertions by Ukraine, backed by the United States and the European Union, that it has been sending arms and troops across the border to support pro-Moscow separatists. The rebels have been fighting Ukraine’s army since April in a war that has killed over 2,000 people and triggered Western sanctions against Russia.

Tuesday’s video provided the strongest evidence yet to back up Kiev’s claims, sharply raising the stakes before a meeting between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in the Belarussian capital Minsk. …

The Russian servicemen were detained, with their personal documents and weapons, near the small town of Amvrosiyivka in Donetsk region, the Ukrainian state security service said.

“Officially they are on military exercises in various corners of Russia. In reality they are involved in military aggression against Ukraine,” Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said in a Facebook post.

Needless to say, this makes an already-doubtful summit meeting even less likely to achieve success:

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, along with other European leaders, will attend a summit Tuesday in Minsk, Belarus, to discuss the five-month-old conflict, which has left some 2,000 people dead, as well as other trade and regional issues. It will be the first face-to-face meeting of the two leaders since June.

It appeared doubtful, however, that any headway toward a peace agreement would be made, and the alleged Russian incursion into southeastern Ukraine — which Moscow denied — showed how difficult it will be for Ukraine to reestablish control over its own territory.

For most leaders, this would provide enough of an embarrassment to force a halt in their strategies. Not Vladimir Putin, though. If anyone believes that Putin will slow his roll into eastern Ukraine just because he’s been caught red-handed with paratroopers on the other side of the border, think again. Putin has taken his measure of the West and thinks he can live with the economic pain for the short period of time in which sanctions will bite. Fall is coming, and with it the need for Russian gas in eastern Europe. Nothing in the past few weeks other than the lack of an all-out invasion to relieve the rebels gives any indication that Putin’s plans have been deflected to any significant degree. Don’t expect a few POWs to shame Putin into backing down now.


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This time, Moscow claims that the Russians simply got lost

These guys sound like the IRS.

Bitter Clinger on August 26, 2014 at 9:27 AM

The long war begins. It will eventually envelop the entire European continent before it combines with the ME savages. Oh, and Bishop!

HomeoftheBrave on August 26, 2014 at 9:28 AM

This is Russia. The history is well established and long indeed on their ability to withstand sanctions, in Russia going without is a way of life, again we will fail to understand how culture determines world events.

Russia will only back down if presented with an obviously unwinnable position from which they still have a choice to save face. This is currently impossible with our present leadership in the west.

Skwor on August 26, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Oh and we need to consider this is a new type of Russian army. Putin was very unhappy with the reports of drunken revelry after Georgia. I suspect unlike in the past when the Russian army was more thuggish than professional we are likely to find out this is a very professional army.

I know this seems like a stretch given Russia military history but these fold seem way more disciplined than what Russia has ever produced before.

Skwor on August 26, 2014 at 9:37 AM

btw, how is Sgt. Tahmooressi doing?

Terp Mole on August 26, 2014 at 9:38 AM

This is not news. The Brown funeral is news. Hot Air is so last month.

Walter L. Newton on August 26, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Oh and we need to consider this is a new type of Russian army. Putin was very unhappy with the reports of drunken revelry after Georgia. I suspect unlike in the past when the Russian army was more thuggish than professional we are likely to find out this is a very professional army.

I know this seems like a stretch given Russia military history but these fold seem way more disciplined than what Russia has ever produced before.

Skwor on August 26, 2014 at 9:37 AM

I am a bit skeptical of this.

Putin has been threatening for months to invade but has not actually done it. If the Russian army was so tough they should not have a problem sweeping the Ukrainians aside, so why the wait? Putin clearly does not care about Western opinion, American or European, so the idea that he is trying to “cleverly” avoid sanctions doesn’t make sense to me, and invading would probably bolster and not harm his approval at home.

Doomberg on August 26, 2014 at 9:45 AM

A group of Russian soldiers captured in eastern Ukraine had crossed the border “by accident”, Russian military sources are quoted as saying.

Were they driving a heavily-armored Winnebago?

Seriously, all doubt about direct Russian involvement should have been put to rest when they downed the Malaysian Airlines 757. The launcher was observed heading back over the border.

Happy Nomad on August 26, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Ed, do you say Munich or Munchen? Just wondering.

Akzed on August 26, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Putin the Ham fisted munchkin. NATO will say, “Stop”; Putin will say, “No”. NATO follows with, “Don’t”; Putin responds, “Won’t”, and follows with, “Want gas?” NATO: You get a pass”.

vnvet on August 26, 2014 at 9:51 AM

For most leaders, this would provide enough of an embarrassment to force a halt in their strategies. Not Vladimir Putin, though.

I don’t sense much embarrassment by western leaders for installing a puppet in Kiev.

Akzed on August 26, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Poot will claim these soldiers were assaulted an kidnapped on Russian territory while they were building an orphanage, perfect pretext for sending in a few mechanized divisions in response to the outrage. Hitler and Stalin are laughing in hell right now.

Bishop on August 26, 2014 at 9:53 AM

You ever noticed how Russian men and women just look….Russian? I swear to Gaia, every time I see a pic of a Russian I think “Yeah, obvious.”

Bishop on August 26, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Were they driving a heavily-armored Winnebago?

Seriously, all doubt about direct Russian involvement should have been put to rest when they downed the Malaysian Airlines 757. The launcher was observed heading back over the border.

Happy Nomad on August 26, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Heh.

Bill Murray: “C’mon, it’s Czechoslovakia. It’s not like we’re going to Moscow. It’s like going into Wisconsin.”

Harold Ramis: “Yeah, well I got the sh!t kicked out of me in Wisconsin once.”

Bitter Clinger on August 26, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Careful, Ambassador! The last ambassador that transmitted dire warnings to the administration turned up dead in a Libyan hospital ER. Now the country is an Islamist thug stronghold. Just watch yourself, sir, and don’t go anywhere without security that you can depend upon.

ExpressoBold on August 26, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Seriously, all doubt about direct Russian involvement should have been put to rest when they downed the Malaysian Airlines 757. The launcher was observed heading back over the border.
Happy Nomad on August 26, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Yeah, 200 miles away, passing by a local car dealership billboard that pinpointed its location.

Whenever something alarming happens and the fake news has it figured out almost instantly, it’s probably fake.

Akzed on August 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM

You ever noticed how Russian men and women just look….Russian? I swear to Gaia, every time I see a pic of a Russian I think “Yeah, obvious.” Bishop on August 26, 2014 at 9:55 AM

I get the same feeling about Tennesseans whenever I’m in Tennessee.

Akzed on August 26, 2014 at 10:02 AM

A group of Russian soldiers captured in eastern Ukraine had crossed the border “by accident”, Russian military sources are quoted as saying.

That excuse still isn’t working in Mexico.

rhombus on August 26, 2014 at 10:03 AM


I don’t sense much embarrassment by western leaders for installing a puppet in Kiev.

I know, right? Talk about humiliation for Victoria Nuland, the billionaire boys Omidyar, and Soros, those who either funded or conspired to install a pro-NATO puppet government in Ukraine. Ukraine operation about as successful as Libya, Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Ed, do you say Munich or Ed, do you say Munich or Munchen? Just wondering.

Akzed on August 26, 2014 at 9:49 AM

What does it matter?

I just so happen to use Munchen, but I’ve travelled and sensitive to original pronunciations.

Walter L. Newton on August 26, 2014 at 10:06 AM


Careful, Ambassador! The last ambassador that transmitted dire warnings to the administration turned up dead in a Libyan hospital ER. Now the country is an Islamist thug stronghold. Just watch yourself, sir, and don’t go anywhere without security that you can depend upon.

No. He’s perfectly safe and comfortable. This ambassador is a Victoria Nuland stooge who wants to stir NATO against Putin to protect George Soros’s latest investment, the rump state of what was once Ukraine. Nuland hereself got kicked upstairs when her machinations were exposed. She’s now in Asia somewhere. Expect chaos to break out there sometime soon, yo. It follows in her wake.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 10:07 AM

I can’t understand why this is an issue. Ukraine got solemn promises that Western powers would protect its territorial integrity in exchange for its inherited nuclear weapons. The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was signed by US UK and Russia back in 1994.
Highlights (from Wikipedia):
1 Respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty within its existing borders.
2 Refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine.
3 Refrain from using economic pressure on Ukraine in order to influence its politics

Seriously, if you can’t trust Bill Clinton’s word, what can you trust.

deadman on August 26, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Yeah, and Poles invaded Germany. GMAFB.

Ward Cleaver on August 26, 2014 at 10:10 AM


I can’t understand why this is an issue. Ukraine got solemn promises that Western powers would protect its territorial integrity in exchange for its inherited nuclear weapons.

That was before Western powers reneged on the February 21 Agreement. For Putin this annuls the Budapest memo if I understand correctly.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Resist We Much on August 26, 2014 at 10:01 AM

I like the Towel Boy one the best.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 26, 2014 at 10:13 AM

I just so happen to use Munchen, but I’ve travelled and sensitive to original pronunciations. Walter L. Newton on August 26, 2014 at 10:06 AM

I’m sure that you do that so as not to stand out as too cosmopolitan and all.

Akzed on August 26, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Seriously, all doubt about direct Russian involvement should have been put to rest when they downed the Malaysian Airlines 757. The launcher was observed heading back over the border.

Happy Nomad on August 26, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Not going to happen. There’s a huge contigent of people in the west who are eating up Russian propaganda, and are convinced Ukraine or the CIA shot down the airliner, and that Poroshenko was installed in a CIA coup with the recent elections being a trick/farce/sham.

Doomberg on August 26, 2014 at 10:13 AM

From one of my favorite movies, “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming”

Emergency, everyone to get from Ukraine!

http://youtu.be/El03KPUeQc4

Krupnikas on August 26, 2014 at 10:20 AM

No. He’s perfectly safe and comfortable. This ambassador is a Victoria Nuland stooge who wants to stir NATO against Putin to protect George Soros’s latest investment, the rump state of what was once Ukraine. Nuland hereself got kicked upstairs when her machinations were exposed. She’s now in Asia somewhere. Expect chaos to break out there sometime soon, yo. It follows in her wake.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Oh hogwash. Russia bad, Ukraine good. NATO good, the west good.

Walter L. Newton on August 26, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Uh, couldn’t Russia take over Ukraine in a matter of weeks if they wanted to?

Russia’s in control here, not Ukraine. And suggesting that this capture of a few Russian troops is totally going to muck up the “peace talks” seems pretty silly. I can’t imagine a single scenario short of full Ukrainian surrender that would prompt Putin to sign some peace agreement. He doesn’t even acknowledge that he’s involved in armed conflict.

Putin’s biding his time. Winter’s coming and Europe’s gonna need their fix of that sweet Russian NG for heating fuel.

BKeyser on August 26, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Doomberg on August 26, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Victoria Nuland is a double agent. She knew her phone was tapped by her Russian handlers, of course, so she was trying to make it look like a US coup to give Russia an excuse to invade. Those tricky Russians!

Akzed on August 26, 2014 at 10:26 AM

There’s a huge contigent of people in the west who are eating up Russian propaganda, and are convinced Ukraine or the CIA shot down the airliner, and that Poroshenko was installed in a CIA coup with the recent elections being a trick/farce/sham.

Doomberg on August 26, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Well, there is a huge contingent of people who think that Michael Brown, Jr. was completely innocent in his death. That doesn’t make it true.

Happy Nomad on August 26, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Heck, it didn’t stop the Albanians in Kosovo, why would this stop someone like Putin?

GWB on August 26, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Oh and we need to consider this is a new type of Russian army. Putin was very unhappy with the reports of drunken revelry after Georgia. I suspect unlike in the past when the Russian army was more thuggish than professional we are likely to find out this is a very professional army.

I know this seems like a stretch given Russia military history but these fold seem way more disciplined than what Russia has ever produced before.

Skwor on August 26, 2014 at 9:37 AM

I am a bit skeptical of this.

Putin has been threatening for months to invade but has not actually done it. If the Russian army was so tough they should not have a problem sweeping the Ukrainians aside, so why the wait? Putin clearly does not care about Western opinion, American or European, so the idea that he is trying to “cleverly” avoid sanctions doesn’t make sense to me, and invading would probably bolster and not harm his approval at home.

Doomberg on August 26, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Read this article, Skwor is correct.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/world/europe/crimea-offers-showcase-for-russias-rebooted-military.html?_r=0

rob verdi on August 26, 2014 at 10:39 AM

That was before Western powers reneged on the February 21 Agreement. For Putin this annuls the Budapest memo if I understand correctly.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 10:12 AM

You do realize, right, that Russia refused to sign this almighty February 21 agreement? So all of you Putin apologists can kindly quit embarrassing yourselves by pretending as if it justifies the armed invasion of a neighboring sovereign state. Or is this the part where you go full crazy and describe the current government of Ukraine as a “fascist junta.” We don’t watch Channel 1 here in the United States. That isn’t to say that our news media is honest, but their ridiculous propaganda is of a different sort.

And please quit with the Soros scaremongering. For all of these worries of leftist overthrow, there have been an awful lot of statues of Communists being toppled and center-right politicians placed in power over the past 9 months. Yes, Soros has gotten involved, because creeps like him jump to get their mitts on anything and everything. Do you claim that to prevent against him, that they need a big brother such as Putin to protect them from themselves? Because that sure as hell isn’t a conservative argument. The Ukrainian people need to be trusted to see through charlatans such as him. Such decisions are the basic responsibilities of liberty. Considering they’ve tossed out more statist thugs than we have over the past year, I daresay they have a better handle on it than we do.

Gingotts on August 26, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Last time, the Krauts got so far lost, they wandered all the way to Moscow.

formwiz on August 26, 2014 at 10:55 AM


Or is this the part where you go full crazy and describe the current government of Ukraine as a “fascist junta.”

Oh, yes. Please forgive me, I mean what with Arseniy Yatsenyuk and even Poroshenko straight arm-saluting it at Right Sector rallies that resemble Death Metal concerts were Death Metal concerts held circa 1942 in Nazi Berlin, it’s hard not to draw the wrong conclusions about their beliefs or intentions, no? Those bucket helmets with the swastikas are just biker-gang bravado I suppose.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Gingotts on August 26, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Funny how objectivity can be mistaken for bias.

I have no idea what Channel one is.

I don’t watch RT unless Drudge links to it or whatever.

Yes, There Are Bad Guys in the Ukrainian Government. It’s time for a frank conversation about some of the unsavory characters in Kiev.

If I were like you, I guess I’d accuse you of being an apologist for fascists.

Akzed on August 26, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Honestly, I think these guys did actually get lost. This sort of thing happens more then you’d think.

A British marine assault force for example stormed a Spanish beach by accident about 20 years ago. It was foggy and they were trying to do a military exercise on Gibraltar. They got lost in the fog and accidentally stormed a sandy Spanish beach. They realized their mistake almost instantly, got back in their landing craft, and powered away as fast as possible. The Spanish government wasn’t even upset about it. They sort of shrugged, said “it happens”, and life went on.

Now are the Russians messing with Ukraine? Obviously. Might they invade if they thought they could get away with it? Sure.

But in and amongst that there are a lot of guys marching back and forth along that border and it really isn’t too hard to believe that some of them might have put a toe over the line by accident.

I’d give the guys back to Russia… you gain nothing by holding them. You “MIGHT” gain something by turning them over. However, I am not banking on that. I am merely saying… you get nothing what so ever by holding them. So you might as well try to get something by giving them back. If you get nothing… you still didn’t lose anything.

Karmashock on August 26, 2014 at 11:27 AM

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Oh, brother… He’s clearly waving, but thank you for making your level of credibility clear.

Yes, There Are Bad Guys in the Ukrainian Government. It’s time for a frank conversation about some of the unsavory characters in Kiev.

If I were like you, I guess I’d accuse you of being an apologist for fascists.

Akzed on August 26, 2014 at 11:14 AM

You can accuse me of whatever. I am accusing you of being horribly misinformed on this issue.

“Extremist” politicians do exist in Ukraine. The candidate of the party that article specifically frets about received a total of 1.16% of the vote in the Presidential elections of May 25. I’d expect a similar result in October.

Another extremist, Mykhailo Dobkin received another 3% of the vote. That was the guy Putin’s side (your side?) preferred. He is an advocate for separatist groups in Ukraine.

Gingotts on August 26, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Hey, if we want to talk fascism, what about Ol’ Rooty Tooty Pooty? Fascism, as technically defined as a marriage between business and government, is what Putin does for breakfast.

Does anyone think that the Russian economy isn’t essentially dictated by Putin? He moves CEO’s around, or has them killed, frequently.

So you Russian apologists, you do realize that Putin out fascists just about anyone other than Obama, right?

Vanceone on August 26, 2014 at 11:43 AM


I’d give the guys back to Russia… you gain nothing by holding them.

Oh, no, effendi, clearly these few wayward paratroopers who weren’t at all para-trooping but rather on backs of trucks tooling across public roads are the spearhead of a major invasion as the super-genius U.S. Ambassador attests in his paranoid rant from the bunker of the U.S. compound surrounded by U.S. marines.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 11:48 AM


So you Russian apologists, you do realize that Putin out fascists just about anyone other than Obama, right?

Yes, and all the more reason to back slowly away and allow Ukraine and Russia to sort out their own affairs.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Putin has taken his measure of the West and thinks he can live with the economic pain for the short period of time in which sanctions will bite.

The Chinese compensate for all the losses.

LilliPutin is on top of the world because the USA has an Eunuch in Chief.

Schadenfreude on August 26, 2014 at 11:53 AM

Oh, yes. Please forgive me,

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Nope.

You’d have to sincerely repent for all you communist trolling and tell the truth first.

corona79 on August 26, 2014 at 12:03 PM

It is long past time that we approved natural gas sales to Europe. Why must we always delay any decisions until it is too late to do any good.

Remember when Al Gore said 10 years ago that there was no point in allowing oil exploration in ANWR because it would be 10 years before it became available? That was in 2004. Well, guess what, the future came but we still have done nothing.

Planning and preparing is part of leadership.

KW64 on August 26, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Yes, and all the more reason to back slowly away and allow Czechoslovaki and Germany to sort out their own affairs.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 11:50 AM

TarasBulbous on August 26, 2014 at 12:22 PM

You ever noticed how Russian men and women just look….Russian? I swear to Gaia, every time I see a pic of a Russian I think “Yeah, obvious.”

Bishop on August 26, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Yeah, they look a couple of steps back on the evolutionary scale.

slickwillie2001 on August 26, 2014 at 12:28 PM

I’d give the guys back to Russia… you gain nothing by holding them. You “MIGHT” gain something by turning them over. However, I am not banking on that. I am merely saying… you get nothing what so ever by holding them. So you might as well try to get something by giving them back. If you get nothing… you still didn’t lose anything.

Karmashock on August 26, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Did the Russians return the Ukrainians who exited into Russia to evade being surrounded awhile back? If so, then I would return them without weapons or military gear.

KW64 on August 26, 2014 at 12:31 PM


You’d have to sincerely repent for all you communist trolling and tell the truth first.

Who would be the “communists” in your strangely anachronistic storyline I wonder? The Russians? I would describe Russia as naively neo-mercantilist,like just about every other developed or semi-developed market-state including the U.S. in every major export sector, e.g. agriculture (Monsanto), capital or durable goods (Boeing, Caterpillar). Russia’s problem is an export-based economy based on the monocultures of energy and to a far lesser degree metallurgy. They need Europe. Europe needs them.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 12:31 PM


You ever noticed how Russian men and women just look….Russian?

Slavs. Slavs look like Slavs. Blondes among them because of Viking colonization. Also Asiatic influences reflecting every wave of Asiatic or Steppe horse-invader peoples that ever swept out of the vast planes of Eurasia the Mongols only being the last of them. As a civilization they never passed through the fires of The Reformation or The Enlightenment. They burned in their own way to produce a European model Absolutism with which, and against which, they still struggle.

casuist on August 26, 2014 at 12:35 PM