Who and why is writing off Ukraine?

Jan 29th, 2015 | By | Category: News

Ukrainian soldier on the front.

I am not military expert and I never pretended to be one. It is however at least short sighted, if not ignorant, to observe war situation only from the military perspective.

There are many other important areas, like diplomacy or economy, that can have just as strong impact on the final outcome of the conflict. Just remember all the wars won by a military and demographically inferior but economically superior nations. And it is just as important that population understands and shares the cause of fighting. Even we at Maidan Monitoring actively fight aggression, by creating and nourishing civil society. Because wherever open society takes roots, so-called “Russian world” (euphemism for blend of Russian chauvinism and Soviet totalitarianism) is forever rooted out.

There is a lot of criticism from military experts, most notably foreign (like these ones from The XX Committee), that Ukraine has not done enough to suppress Russian military aggression. They point out that few thousand terrorists and as many Russian militants should not present challenge for a nation of 40 million. The problem here is that Putin has much greater pool of militants. He has learnt so far that full scale war against Ukraine is an escalation too far, but he is also ready to invest as much as necessary to prevent the destruction of Russia sponsored rogue states in Donbas. Had he not ordered last moment intervention last year, Donbas terrorists would be already destructed. All this clearly leads to conclusion that he draw a red line that Ukraine is momentarily not able to cross, at whatever cost it is ready to pay.

We can indeed draw comparisons to Croatian example, as often put forward by foreign analysts themselves. But one must first note that Croatian war of independence developed roughly in three distinctive phases. In the first hectic phase lasting for about a year, semi-organised Croatian forces struggled just to stop Serbian military advancement. In the second latent phase lasting for three and half years, Croatia was strengthening its military and intelligence, but also waiting for Serbia to wear out in terms of economy and motivation. Only in the third resolute phase liberation of most of occupied territory took place within two swift military operations Flash and Storm. (Remaining occupied territory was reintegrated by successful diplomatic mediation.) Ukraine is obviously momentarily within the second latent phase.

In fact, in the first hectic phase Ukraine did fairly well in military terms. The success of Putin’s minimalistic “Novorossiya” plan, aimed at secession of eight Ukrainian oblasts, was very limited, as only halves of two oblasts were occupied. And if Putin haven’t succeeded in his aims in most critical year of 2014, it is far more unlikely he will succeed now or in the future. The Ukrainian relative success, however, did not come as a result of good governmental management, quite contrary, incompetent state apparatus failed miserably. It was incredible self organisation of ordinary people, often without any military background, who prevented military disaster. This proves high level of motivation and resourcefulness of ordinary Ukrainian citizens. It is volunteers that are nucleus of future Ukraine successes.

Therefore, Ukrainian leadership does deserve and need criticism, but primarily in other, strategic segments, where volunteers cannot replace state apparatus. Government should do better primarily in terms of increasing competence of state apparatus, economic reforms and fight against corruption. Successful Ukraine means less military victims, since more prosperous living conditions compared to those in Russia and occupied territories might win many people without the use of bullets. So far, Ukrainian government delivered pitiful little.

But expert predictions of catastrophic military scenarios are not only unrealistic, in this moment they are even harmful. As a mean of intimidation and demoralisation of Ukrainian populace they play directly into Putin’s hands. If there is something that can be and should be done is to warn Western governments that Ukrainian fight is also their fight. According to what they showed so far, Ukrainian solders deserve latest military hardware, which is by decision of Western governments beyond their grasp. We have all witnessed that this didn’t stopped Putin to send the latest of his armoury to the terrorist. In military terms, the turn is now on the West.

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