Ukraine: Rout and Perspectives

Ukraine: Rout and Perspectives

The military situation continues to evolve in favor of insurgents, as now described by multiple sources, from the West as well as from the side of the insurgents (insurgées.) The military situation can be described as follows:

(a) South of DONETSK, the forces of Kiev are evidently in a rout. A considerable number of Kiev’s units are not encircled. The encircled units will probably have no other choice than destruction or accepting the idea floated yesterday (August 28th) by Russian President Vladimir Putin to use an “humanitarian corridor” to go for Russia, after having been disarmed. A correspondent estimates at between 4,000 and 5,000 the number of troops encircled, with a considerable amount of materiel. Towards the shore of the Sea of Azov, the panic which seized the Kiev troops has lead the insurgents to move forward very quickly and to take control of Novoazovsk. Still, the lack of numbers of the insurgents limits the territorial gains and it is doubtful, at the present time, that they will have the strength to take Mariupol, except if the city were to be abandoned by Kiev’s forces. However, operations seem underway North of Volnobakha, on the road going from Donetsk to Mariupol.

Map 1

 AA-Nord 27 aout

(b) On the North part of the front, the insurgents have encircled several units which attacked Lugansk from the South and seem to have eliminated at least one of the « pockets. » The effect of this would be to reopen the big road going from Lugansk to the Russian border, over Krasniy Luch and Antracit. Several pockets have formed, with a total of 3,000 to 5,000 men. In all, there are probably 10,000 troops of Kiev (of the regular army and of the National Guard) who are encircled and who will have to surrender within a few days. The insurgents are presently carrying out offensive operations in the direction of Lisishansk, to the East, but at the height of Slavyansk.

Map 2

 AA-Sud 27 aout

All in all, between the encircled forces and the units which have been destroyed in combat during the past days, the Kiev forces are said to have lost between 12,000 to 15,000 troops, that is one third of the troops engaged in operations against the insurgents. Sizable amounts of military material have been seized. This is a major victory for the insurgents, the political consequences of which are considerable.

  1. It is evident that the insurrection will not be crushed militarily.  From this point of view, the insurrection has won. Kiev no longer has sufficient reserves at disposal to retake the offensive. At most, the forces of Kiev can hope to stabilize the front around a “half-square,” the Western flank of which would go from Mariupol to Slavyansk and the Northern flank from Slavyansk to the Russian border. Yet, in order to accomplish this, they will have to overcome the grave crisis in command and the crisis of credibility which they are undergoing presently.
  2. The question of a cease-fire arises, and the latter will probably be made possible by the gradual wearing out of the insurgent forces. If the latter are presently in the offensive, they will be compelled to stop due to the lack of troops and of means by the beginning of the month of September.
  3. If a cease-fire is in order, be it only for humanitarian reasons, the question arises of the political fate of the entity constituted by the insurgents (Novorossiya). After the combats of this summer, and the systematic attacks to which the civilian population has been subjected, the federal hypothesis has become obsolete. The constitution of one or more autonomous provinces, formally recognizing the Kiev government but in practice making their own laws and their own trading agreements, appears now as the most reasonable solution. This does not mean, alas, that it will be the one prevailing.
  4. There is cause for fear that we will settle in a situation of “neither peace nor war,” with constant incidents along the line of contact between the forces of Kiev and the insurgents. Such a situation would run the risk of a resumption of the offensive by Kiev or by the insurgents. One would then need to resort to forces of interposition which would be acceptable by both parties. Taking into account the engagement of the EU countries on the side of Kiev, it is hardly probable that these forces of interposition can be European. They will need to be found, under the authority of the United Nations, among the emerging countries (Brazil, China, India).
  5. Such an evolution would amount to a major political and symbolic defeat for the authorities of the European Union, who will be compelled to accept that non-European powers will come to maintain peace in Europe. This would be very symbolic of the progressive political effacement of the EU on the European continent.

Jacques Sapir

Ses travaux de chercheur se sont orientés dans trois dimensions, l’étude de l’économie russe et de la transition, l’analyse des crises financières et des recherches théoriques sur les institutions économiques et les interactions entre les comportements individuels. Il a poursuivi ses recherches à partir de 2000 sur les interactions entre les régimes de change, la structuration des systèmes financiers et les instabilités macroéconomiques. Depuis 2007 il s'est impliqué dans l’analyse de la crise financière actuelle, et en particulier dans la crise de la zone Euro.