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Four battles that broke the Ukrainian army

The latest fighting near Avdeevka in Ukraine repeats the same disastrous tactics which led to the Ukrainian army’s previous defeats in the “cauldrons” along the Russian border (the ‘southern cauldron’), in Ilovaisk, at Donetsk airport, and in Debaltsevo.

Alexander Mercouris

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The latest fighting in and around the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdeevka is being represented as the product of a supposedly new Ukrainian ‘infiltration’ tactic whereby Ukrainian troops are said to insert surreptitiously into no-man’s land thereby gradually gaining territory and putting the eastern Ukrainian militia at a disadvantage.

In my opinion this is wrong.  The latest ‘infiltration tactic’ is simply a variant of the same tactics the Ukrainians have used throughout the war, which is to attack headlong, putting their troops in an untenable position, which causes them to suffer heavy losses for no actual gain, and in which certain cases leads them to becoming surrounded in pockets which the militia calls “cauldrons”.

The militia use of the term “cauldron” (sometimes translated as “kettle”) to describe how these pockets work.

The Ukrainian troops cut off in these “cauldrons” are deprived of resupply and reinforcement.  Over time their position becomes completely untenable.   The militia does not try to storm the “cauldron” but instead lets it slowly ‘heat up’ until resistance finally collapses.  Any Ukrainian troops still left in the “cauldron” when the collapse comes are then generally exchanged for militia prisoners taken by the Ukrainians.  The heavy weapons left behind – the tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery – are however taken by the militia and refurbished in the militia’s workshops.  The Donbass being a major industrial area there is no shortage of the necessary tools and skills to do this. They are then reused by the militia, becoming weapons in its increasingly sophisticated army.

An unknown but probably very large percentage of the large number of heavy weapons the militia now possesses have probably come to it in this way, with no less a person than President Poroshenko admitting in September 2014 that the Ukrainian military had as of that point lost 65% of its armoured vehicles (see my discussion here).  It is likely that a good percentage of these vehicles are now in militia service.

The fighting in Ukraine most of the time now has something of the static quality of trench warfare.  Whenever the Ukrainians have however attempted large-scale offensives the result has however almost invariably been “cauldrons”, which are the result of the Ukrainians’ own tactics.

A list of the most important of “cauldrons” (there have been other smaller ones) would include the following:

(1) The “southern cauldron”

Arguably the most important and decisive of them all, though one which has been entirely unreported by the Western media.  This arose in July 2014 as a result of a Ukrainian attempt to outflank the militia and cut it off from the Russian border.  The result was that a large Ukrainian armoured column itself got cut off and found itself pinned down against the border.  The Ukrainians tried to resupply this force by dropping supplies by air, but to little effect, and lost several aircraft in the process, for which they blamed the Russian air force.  Without going into the details of this contentious topic, I would here merely say that MH17 was shot down during this fighting.

This “cauldron”  finally collapsed in early August, providing the Ukrainian militia with many of the heavy weapons (including armour) they used in the counter-offensive they launched in late August.

(2) Ilovaisk

This arose in mid August 2014 as a result of a Ukrainian attempt to split the two militia strongholds of Donetsk and Lugansk from each other.  A large Ukrainian force advanced into the town of Ilovaisk only to be rapidly surrounded there.  Ukrainian losses in this “cauldron” were exceptionally heavy, but were limited by Russian President Putin’s call to the militia to allow the Ukrainians to retreat.

The Ukrainians have consistently blamed their defeat in Ilovaisk on the intervention of the Russian army, and this has become an article of faith in Ukraine and amongst the Ukrainian regime’s supporters in the West.  Ilovaisk is also often cited as the decisive battle which caused the defeat of Ukraine’s military campaign in the Donbass in the summer of 2014, which up to that point was supposedly going well.

Neither of these claims should be allowed to go uncontested, though in the West both invariably are.

The reality is that by the time of the battle of Ilovaisk the Ukrainian offensive launched to suppress the Donbass on 1st July 2014 was already in serious trouble, with the defeat in the “southern cauldron” having already happened, and with Ukrainian troops elsewhere becoming increasingly bogged down and unable to make progress against the strongly defended militia positions in Donetsk and Lugansk.

Far from being an unexpected defeat brought about by Russian intervention in a hitherto successful campaign, the advance on Ilovaisk looks more like a desperate last throw to rescue a campaign that was already failing.

As for claims of Russian military intervention in the battle, the supposed ‘proofs’ of this are nothing like as clearcut as is usually said.

The excessive emphasis given by the Ukrainians and their Western supporters to the Ukrainian defeat in Ilovaisk, and the blame for it which they put on the Russians, is arguably explained by a wish to conceal the extent of the Ukrainians’ previous unreported failure in the summer campaign.  In that incidentally it has been largely successful, creating a false narrative of a decisive defeat in August brought about by Russia, which supposedly threw into reverse a previously successful campaign.

(3) Donetsk airport

The temporary ceasefire agreed between the Ukrainians and the militia in Minsk in September 2014 left the Ukrainians in control of a part of Donetsk airport.

The Ukrainian defeat in August 2014 left the Ukrainian troops holding the airport in an untenable position.  However despite this, and despite suggestions by some in Ukraine that the Ukrainian troops in the airport should be withdrawn to more defensible positions and militia claims that the September 2014 Minsk Protocol required control of the airport to be transferred to them, the Ukrainian leadership ordered its troops in the airport to dig in, and reinforced them with some of Ukraine’s best Special Forces troops, whose prowess was talked up by the Ukrainian media, which called them “cyborgs”.

This is very typical of the approach taken by the Ukrainian leadership throughout the conflict.  It persistently refuses to give up a centimetre of territory however indefensible it has become, an attitude that has repeatedly doomed Ukrainian troops to heavy defeats and heavy losses.

The result was that throughout the autumn and early winter of 2014 and 2015, despite the supposed ceasefire, fighting in Donetsk airport continued unabated until Ukrainian resistance finally collapsed in January 2015 after hundreds of Ukraine’s best troops had been killed, with hundreds of others captured.

As in the battle of Ilovaisk the Ukrainians have blamed their defeat at Donetsk airport on military action by the Russians, with President Poroshenko making the fantastic claim that no less than 9,000 Russian troops were involved (presumably defeating the “cyborgs” needed that many).

In reality the Ukrainian defeat at Donetsk airport was the result of the Ukrainian leadership’s insistence that the Ukrainian troops hold an indefensible position long after that fact had become obvious.

(4) Debaltsevo

Debaltsevo is an important town and railway junction which was captured by the Ukrainian army during the summer 2014 campaign.  The ceasefire in September 2014 left it in Ukrainian hands but surrounded on three sides by militia controlled territory.

In January 2015, following a Ukrainian offensive coinciding with the battle of Donetsk airport, a militia counter attack caused the Ukrainian troops – supposedly the ‘heart’ of the Ukrainian army and numbering according to some reports as many as 8,000 men (some reports put the number much higher) – to become trapped there.

The Debaltsevo “cauldron” caused panic amongst Ukraine’s supporters in the West, with concern that the best part of the Ukrainian army would be destroyed there.  This led to a frantic round of negotiations spearheaded by Angela Merkel, who flew to Moscow for private talks with Russian President Putin leading to further talks in Minsk which eventually resulted in the February 2015 Minsk Agreement.

During the negotiations in Minsk Merkel and French President Hollande, who also participated in the talks, discovered the same intransigent refusal by the Ukrainian leadership to face reality and retreat from an untenable position in Debaltsevo that has been a consistent feature of the whole Ukrainian war.

Not only did Ukrainian President Poroshenko refuse their pleas to order his troops to retreat from Debaltsevo, but he refused even to admit that they were trapped there.  This is how I described his behaviour in an article I wrote at the time for Sputnik

The denial reached farcical levels during the negotiations in Minsk. Half the 16 hours of negotiations were reportedly taken up with attempts to get Ukraine’s President Poroshenko to admit the obvious, that his troops in Debaltseve were encircled. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko refused to do so, refusing to order his troops to retreat and rejecting all offers from others to arrange this.

There is no logic behind this denial of reality. No military objective was achieved by continuing to defend Debaltseve when its capture by the militia was just days away.  As commander in chief President Poroshenko owed it to his men to agree the terms of their withdrawal when it was clear their further sacrifice was in vain. At an earlier stage in the war militia commander Strelkov withdrew his men from Slaviansk when it had become clear Slaviansk was undefendable and that no purpose was served sacrificing the lives of his men defending it. That is the basic duty owed by every commander to his men.

President Poroshenko failed in that duty.

The result is scores of Ukrainian soldiers (thousands by some counts) who might be alive are now dead.

In the event the Ukrainian troops did eventually retreat from Debaltsevo after suffering heavy losses and in great confusion, and apparently without waiting for orders from Poroshenko, after which Poroshenko preposterously claimed a “victory”.

As I have written previously, reports of the fighting in Avdeevka suggest that nothing has been learned from these repeated disasters.

The Ukrainian leadership continues to order its men to take and hold indefensible territory.  The Ukrainian ‘infiltration tactics’ near Avdeevka have not resulted in any significant change in the overall military situation.  What they have achieved is to expose the Ukrainian troops to heavy artillery fire by the militia, which has caused them to suffer heavy losses whilst threatening them with encirclement in another “cauldron”.

Realistically, just as peace in Ukraine is impossible whilst the present regime remains in power there, so a change in tactics is hardly likely whilst the same people remain in charge.  It is Ukrainians in the meantime who pay the price.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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Why Joe May be Courting Stacey

Joe Biden has a history on compulsory integration dating back to the 1970s that Sen. Jesse Helms called “enlightened.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


Of 895 slots in the freshman class of Stuyvesant High in New York City, seven were offered this year to black students, down from 10 last year and 13 the year before.

In the freshman class of 803 at The Bronx High School of Science, 12 students are black, down from last year’s 25.

Of 303 students admitted to Staten Island Technical High School, one is African-American.

According to The New York Times, similar patterns of admission apply at the other five most elite high schools in the city.

Whites and Asians are 30 percent of middle school students, but 83 percent of the freshman at Bronx High School of Science, 88 percent at Staten Island Technical and 90 percent at Stuyvesant.

What do these numbers tell us?

They reveal the racial composition of the cohort of scientists and technicians who will lead America in the 21st century. And they tell us which races will not be well represented in that vanguard.

They identify a fault line that runs through the Democratic Party, separating leftists who believe in equality of results for all races and ethnic groups, and those who believe in a meritocracy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed anger and frustration at the under-representation of blacks and Hispanics in the elite schools. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have ignored his pleas to change the way students are admitted.

Currently, the same test, of English and math, is given to middle school applicants. And admission to the elite eight is offered to those who get the highest scores.

Moreover, Asians, not whites, are predominant.

Though 15 percent of all middle school students, Asians make up two-thirds of the student body at Stuyvesant, with 80 times as many slots as their African-American classmates.

The egalitarian wing of the Democratic Party sees this as inherently unjust. And what gives this issue national import are these factors:

First, the recent scandal where rich parents paid huge bribes to criminal consultants to get their kids into elite colleges, by falsifying records of athletic achievement and cheating on Scholastic Aptitude Tests, has caused a wave of populist resentment.

Second, Harvard is being sued for systemic reverse racism, as black and Hispanic students are admitted with test scores hundreds of points below those that would disqualify Asians and whites.

Third, Joe Biden has a history on compulsory integration dating back to the 1970s that Sen. Jesse Helms called “enlightened.”

Here are Biden’s quotes, unearthed by The Washington Post, that reflect his beliefs about forced busing for racial balance in public schools:

“The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with.

“What it says is, ‘In order for your child with curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin to be able to learn anything, he needs to sit next to my blond-haired, blue-eyed son.’ That’s racist!

“Who the hell do we think we are, that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child?

“I am philosophically opposed to quota systems. They insure mediocrity.”

That was 44 years ago. While those views were the thinking of many Democrats, and perhaps of most Americans, in the mid-’70s, they will be problematic in the 2020 primaries, where African-Americans could be decisive in the contests that follow Iowa and New Hampshire.

Biden knows that just as Bernie Sanders, another white male, fell short in crucial South Carolina because of a lack of support among black voters, he, too, has a problem with that most loyal element in the Democratic coalition.

In 1991, Biden failed to rise to the defense of Anita Hill when she charged future Justice Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment. In the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was a law-and-order champion responsible for tough anti-crime legislation that is now regarded as discriminatory.

And he has a record on busing for racial balance that made him a de facto ally of Louise Day Hicks of the Boston busing case fame.

How, with a record like this, does Biden inoculate himself against attacks by rival candidates, especially candidates of color, in his run for the nomination?

One way would be to signal to his party that he has grown, he has changed, and his 2020 running mate will be a person of color. Perhaps he’ll run with a woman of color such as Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 governor’s race in Georgia.

An ancillary benefit would be that Abrams on the ticket would help him carry Georgia, a state Donald Trump probably cannot lose and win re-election.

Wrote Axios this morning:

“Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president.”


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

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