War

Claim: Russian Military Column Crossed Border, Ukraine Destroyed It

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World Econ Forum

Reporters from The Guardian and The Telegraph say they saw "23 Russian armoured personnel carriers, supported by fuel trucks and other military logistics vehicles, crossing into Ukrainian territory" Thursday after nightfall. Russia denies it, but now Ukraine says that it must have existed, because they destroyed part of it.

According to the website of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the "given information" from the British papers "was trustworthy and confirmed because the majority of that machines had been eliminated by the Ukrainian artillery at night." Poroshenko discussed the event with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

From Reuters:

Separately, a Ukrainian military spokesman said Ukrainian forces had tracked the Russian armored column as soon as it crossed onto Ukrainian soil.

"Appropriate actions were undertaken and a part of it no longer exists," military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told journalists.

NATO accused the Kremlin on Friday of escalating the conflict in Ukraine, following reports of the overnight crossing.

"If confirmed, they are further evidence that Russia is doing the very opposite of what it's saying. Russia has been escalating the conflict, even as it calls for de-escalation," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said.

Update: Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul tweeted that "If Ukrainian forces did indeed destroy regular Russian military forces in Eastern Ukraine, then this war has escalated in a major way," and that similarly the "Russian-Georgian war started in August 2008 [as] a Kremlin 'response' to an attack on Russian soldiers in South Ossetia." End of update.

Secretary of State John Kerry was hopeful earlier this week that peace would come soon to eastern Ukraine, which has been a warzone for over four months. The Obama administration's handling of the situation has very low approval, even among Democrats.

This week, Russia has been trying to send what it claims to be 280 trucks worth of "humanitarian aid" across the Ukrainian border. For days, no one knew what was inside the vehicles, which have military guards. Today, the Russians allowed press to view the interiors of some trucks and, strangely, "a lot of them [are] mostly empty," notes the Financial Times' Courtney Weaver who snapped photographs.

The trucks are trying to get into the rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, which are now surrounded by Ukrainian government forces.

The rebel hierarchy appears to be collapsing. A chief military commander Igor Girkin, a.k.a. "Strelkov" ("The Shooter"), quit yesterday. He was a colonel and intelligence officer for Russia before taking up arms for the "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk. Girkin is perhaps most notorious for taking responsibility for the downing of the Malaysian passenger plane before finding out that it was not a Ukrainian military plane. Russian media reported earlier this week that he was badly injured in Donetsk, but other separatists denied is as just a rumor.

The Moscow Times notes that two self-appointed political leaders have also resigned in the last week. 

E.U. officials today suggested that if the situation stabilizes, the E.U. would consider ending sanctions against Russia. But if Ukraine's claim about defensive artillery strikes against invasive Russian fores proves true, stability may be a long way off. 

Read more Reason coverage of Ukraine here

NEXT: Reports of Shooting War at Ukrainian-Russian Border

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  1. WW2 had the Phony War, Russia-Ukraine seems to have the Phony Peace.

    1. I don’t think they are fooling anyone.

    2. The Phoney Peace could also apply to the endlessly broken cease fires between Israel and Hamas, the rise of Islamists in Libya, or the seemingly ending two year stint where we weren’t engaged in bombing and ground operations in Iraq.

      The world under Obama. False hope, phoney peace, and no change left in your pockets.

  2. E.U. officials today suggested that if the situation stabilizes, the E.U. would consider ending sanctions against Russia.

    And Putin get Crimea consequence free, and the other lucky nations in the “near abroad” have been taught the lesson – disobey Moscow and suffer.

    1. Without WW3 Crimea will stay with Russia.

      1. I think the Tatars might have something to say about that.

    2. Union with Russia received 95% support in the plebiscite that was held in the Crimea. What “consequence” should there be for people determining for themselves what sort of political arrangement they prefer?

      1. Rare for someone to pick so apt a username. Obviously the conditions of the plebiscite were entirely inappropriate to render a fair verdict on the question, and certainly the treatment of those who secession puts the lie to the idea that this was a libertarian referendum or that Crimea’s rulership is now more in keeping with liberal values.

    3. Boy, those sanctions sure have put a stop to Putin’s shenanigans in the Crimea, haven’t they?

  3. Egad. Europe probably should reconsider relying so much on the U.S. for defense. Maybe they wouldn’t roll into the Ukraine in force, anyway, but they damned well should consider shoring up everything else in the eastern EU.

    1. But then would have to incur much higher defense spending, and then their funding for social programs would suffer, causing massive unrest among the free shit brigade.

      1. Well, it’s either that or hoping the Russians will give them more free stuff, I guess. I doubt the Russians would try to invade Western Europe, anyway. They just want to exert undue influence. I suppose. Really, who knows?

        1. Considering NATO now includes almost all the Euro counties not directly in the old Soviet Union, I suspect Vlad will stop where he’s at.

          The NATO spokeswoman’s name was a reminder to me that Romania is now in NATO, along with Poland and the Baltic States.

          1. One would think, but I suppose he’ll consider going further if the U.S. and Europe continue looking wussy. I have a feeling getting control of Ukraine would be enough for now, though as I type that I start thinking about Hitler for some reason.

            1. Once he solidifies his warm water port in Crimea, all bets are off for the rest of the continent. It’s brilliant strategy really. Secure the port from which you can launch your naval forces, and then conquer France (which involves meandering onto the shore amidst a parade of white flags). Then you put Germany in that awkward position of a two front war again. They don’t have the greatest track record on those.

              1. Time for Turkey to blockade the Black Sea. Fun times.

                1. If it comes down to having to choose between Putin and Erdogan, I’m pulling for Putin all the way.

                  Fuck that ISIS funding Islamist Erdogan and his efforts to ruin the secular Turkey built by Kemal Attaturk.

                  1. Attaturk was pretty awful in other ways. The Turkey he built was fascistic and awful to the Kurds. Turkey’s role in helping ISIS is unclear but they seem to be regretting it now-they’re BFF’s with Iraqi Kurdistan.

                    1. and awful to the Greeks and the Armenians and Jews and basically all the kaffirs

      2. But then would have to incur much higher defense spending,

        Hardly. The only recognizably growing demographic in Western Europe is disaffected young Muslim kids fascinated with Islamism. And that demo has shown that it is capable of fighting asymmetrical wars using rudimentary tools and weapons caches left behind from the remnants of the last American incursion. That will be Eurabia’s new defense forces. Pity it won’t be of much use against the forces of the Caliphate a decade henceforth.

        1. There is no evidence of creeping Islamism in Europe. Muslim birth rates are falling too.

          1. *There is no evidence of creeping Islamism in Europe.*

            Riiiiiiight. That’s why so many Europeans *aren’t* getting their heads hacked off in the street right before their assailants traipse on off to the Levant to fight for ISIS.

          2. What do you mean by “creeping Islamism”?

            Many of the best Islamists are cultivated in Europe. Just look at the 9/11 hijack leader Mohammad Atta.

    2. *Egad. Europe probably should reconsider relying so much on the U.S. for defense. *

      Yeah, maybe Europe could rely on the same people for defense as they do for labor. I’m sure all those Muslim “youths” all over Europe are just dying to go off and fight for Europe in Ukraine.

  4. Shnikes.

    I hope the Ukrainians are better prepared than the Georgians were. They don’t even have terrain on their side.

  5. It looks to me like Ukraine is getting some top notch satellite tracking, and likely some help with the state of the art artillery they must be using to have been able to find and destroy that Russian column.

    1. My thoughts exactly. And that is far from comforting as I imagine the Russians will not take too fondly to this assistance given to Ukraine to destroy their column.

      Time to reconsider my Trans-Siberian trip.

  6. The Obama administration’s handling of the situation has very low approval, even among Democrats.

    What exactly has been Obama’s handling of the Ukraine vs. Russia playoffs? Speaking I’d rather have our president bumbling and feinting at diplomacy while issuing stern, thoroughly discreditable admonitions against Putin than committing troops or air support. We don’t need more competence among our interventions and humanitarians.

    1. Speaking *grumble*

    2. What exactly has been Obama’s handling of the Ukraine vs. Russia playoffs?

      I doubt he’s filled out his bracket yet.

  7. Hopefully the weather control device will be finished before the Russkies get the Iron Curtain online. They probably already have a decent ring of Tesla towers up and it’s a bitch to drive tanks through that mess. Somebody needs to get in there and stop Yuri before the red menace spreads too far.

    1. I almost forgot about the Tesla towers on C&C: Red Alert

      1. I didn’t build that many of them, the ground defenses were pretty well covered by the constant stream of apocalypse tanks pouring out of my base.

        (I still remember being dubbed ‘King of the Apocys’ by the three allied players that had ganged up on me. I lost, but that was just the numbers game)

        1. Apocalypse tanks were the only Soviet (non-special) units I really liked.

          Though there is a certain appeal to quantity over quality.

    2. Without a good backup of Flak, air strikes can disable or damage the tesla towers enough to get the armored spearhead through.

      1. Hopefully before the Kirovs start rumbling through.

        1. If it’s Kirovs you’re worried about you’ve got years to plan.

      2. With a good blackup of flag, there’s no need for tanks at all. Especially on water maps. Every single naval map ever:

        1) Small battles over who naval control

        2) Allied player wins with dolphins

        3) Dolphins destroy any new enemy shipyards

        4) Allied player creates aircraft carriers

        5) Carpet bomb enemy base to rubble

    3. That damn Psychic Beacon, though…

    4. Some veteran prism tanks could clear out those towers pretty easily, as long as they’re not being boosted by Tesla infantry.

      Or just send Tanya in to blow up a few power plants.

      1. *Air raid siren sound as nuclear missiles launch*

  8. Periodically, I drive past the “boneyard” south of Tucson, where mothballed planes are kept. (Seriously, Google Earth it; its way cool).

    They have a fleet of Warthogs there, built specifically to take out Russian armor.

    What shame some of those Warthogs aren’t in Ukraine right now.

    1. How much would it cost to un-mothball those A-10s?

      1. Free if you’re in local law enforcement.

        Because I bet some place like the Cities of Tehachapi or Bellvue or Saratoga could really use a fucking A-10.

  9. If the Ukrainians had actually destroyed anything, it’s difficult to imagine why the Russians wouldn’t be claiming they’d destroyed a peaceful aid column and trying to milk that for all possible propaganda value.

    Unless they don’t want to escalate the situation openly, because they’re planning an imminent large-scale surprise attack.

    I can second guess anything.

    1. Because of two reasons – the wreckage would clearly be armored vehicles, and the aid column is currently at the border post being inspected by the Ukranians.

  10. I don’t see how this isn’t the causus belli that Russia was waiting for.

    Either they say Ukraine destroyed a peaceful aid column, or they claim that Ukrainian forces attacked a Russian column inside Russian territory.

    Either way, Russia now has a pretext to invade.

    1. Sounds like the strike happened on the Ukrainian side. Even sending empty trucks across the border without permission could justify the attack, especially when the country sending the vehicles recently annexed part of your country.

      I think the Russians are being idiots with this whole business. They’re going to scare the Europeans into a very anti-Russian stance, which Russia can’t survive economically. And they aren’t a serious threat militarily to Europe unless they want to use whatever nukes they have left.

      1. AS long as the Green movement dominates European politics, the Europeans will be Russia’s bitch; the Russians can simply turn the tap off, and the Europeans will get back to their stone-age roots.

        1. Russian bellicosity may be the very thing that drives the Europeans to finally frack.

          1. I think Russia is pushing things enough to wake up part of Europe, especially Germany.

            1. This whole thing is basically turning Eastern Europe against Russia. Next economic cycle will hammer Russia, which is already seeing tons of money run away, while turning western Europe against the green farce. Then Russia’s game is up and done.

      2. Oh, indeed, I think Putin has made, is making, a catestrophic blunder. The kind of catestrophic blunder that results in a lot of dead people on all sides. Anyone foolish enough to think that Russia is going to ressurect the Soviet Union is in for a very painful awakening. Unfortunately, Russia seems to be full of such fools at the moment.

      3. Have you actually looked at any of the reporting from Eastern Ukraine. The humanitarian crisis is not “made up”. Kiev has murdered over 2,000 innocent civilians and counting, and entire cities are without water and electricity. If there were a massive number of Americans living across the border in Mexico, and they suffered a similar attack from the Mexican government, do you think there would be any chance in hell the US wouldn’t react? The inability of Americans to put themselves in to the shoes of anybody else is truly striking at times.

        1. If there were a massive number of Americans living across the border in Mexico, the US would have annexed it a century ago. Hell, we did it twice in the glorious land grab days of the early 1800’s, even when hardly any white peeps were living there. And in the event that did happen, it would be no more justifiable than it is when the Russians do it.

        2. Your analogy breaks down in that the Americans living in Mexico would have to be Mexican citizens of American descent. I don’t think the US government would be justified in intervening in that case.

          1. But what if they were American citizens that we left behind after having controlled Mexico via a puppet government for several decades?

            What THEN?

            1. Then we must come to their aid. Quick, to the Mormon colonies!

  11. The smart thing to do at this point is to give Putin a way out. Putin’s whole existence depends on 1) keeping the oligarchs happy and 2) making average Russians feel proud of their country again.

    The course he’s on now is 1) making the oligarchs unhappy, but he can’t leave without being able to 2) declare some kind of victory to vindicate himself and assuage the national pride of the Russian street.

    If Obama were a competent president, there would have been some kind of spectacle of a summit in which the United States would publicly be forced to do something innocuous, like pledge to respect Russia’s borders. Then Putin could go home and take credit in the Russian press for bringing America to its knees.

    We’ve done all this before. The USSR didn’t sit back and watch itself dissolve without some ego massaging back then either. We had competent presidents who knew how to do that kind of thing then, however. Unfortunately, Barack Obama is an incompetent president.

    1. You’re assuming Putin wants a way out.
      You’re assuming he knows what a catestrophic error he is in the process of making.
      I see no signs that he does.

      1. He knows all of that stuff.

        But his power from day one has always been about stoking the pride of the Russian people.

        He cannot leave without some kind of win.

        It’s the same kind of thing that happened in Chechnya. He would rather do Chechnya again in Ukraine than walk away with a loss.

        Again, his whole source of power depends on average Russians thinking of him as a strong man that makes the West tremble with fear. If he loses that perception among average Russians, then what happens with the West and Ukraine is going to be the least of his problems.

        He just needs to save face. This is not a new problem. Statesmanship is all about dealing with leaders like Putin in Putin’s situation. It’s just that Obama is completely asleep at the wheel.

        My read is that every time Obama deals with Putin, Putin makes a fool out of him, and so Obama is afraid to engage with Putin publicly at all. …which is, like I said, totally incompetent leadership.

        1. Then how do you explain why he cut off food imports from Europe?

          1. Why did he cut off his nose to spite his face?

            It was seen as means of retaliation. He played like he was giving the West a taste of their own medicine. Fighting back from a position of strength!

            It’s like a lower level version of the position Saddam Hussein was in before we invaded Iraq. Sure, if he refused to capitulate completely to demands to let weapons inspectors have their way, he risked enraging the United States. On the other hand, if he was seen as capitulating and, therefore, weak by his enemy neighbors and/or by rebellious elements within his own country? They were definitely, definitely, definitely going to move on him from within.

            Vicious dictators can be paranoid–but not irrationally so. In Saddam Hussein’s case, the whole world really was conspiring against him, and there were a lot of people in his own country that wanted to kill him, too!

            Putin is in that situation–just to a lesser degree.

            Still, if not for Putin being seen as a strong man that will stand up for Russia against the West, then he’s just another tyrant. The oligarchs only tolerate him because his strong man for Mother Russia schtick protects them from the Russian people. If that strong man that scares the Americans schtick doesn’t work with the Russian people anymore, then the oligarchs probably don’t have any further use for him either.

            Putin cannot take a strategic loss. His life may depend on never accepting a loss that can’t be trumpeted as a victory.

      2. Putin is like a crafty child. Clever in his tactics but no strategic thinking.

    2. It is quite simple to give Putin a way out since from the start his demand has been more than reasonable. All Russia wants is for Eastern and Western Ukraine to come together and hash out a new political arrangement to reflect the changing reality on the ground of the post-coup Ukraine. All the US really has to do is propose a conference and then stop being intrasigent and unreasonable. You can sort of sense the frustration Putin is dealing with in this whole affair. All he wants is a peaceful settlement, but he can’t get it because he has no one to negotiate with.

      1. What a cute euphemism for ‘become a Russian stooge state;.

        1. Actually the opposite is true. Russia has pushed for a federalized solution to the conflict. If such a scenario were to come to pass, Kiev would be free to be as balls to the wall pro-Western as they’d want. The conflict is in Kiev wanting the parts of the Ukraine uninterested in such a move to join them and being unwilling to allow self determination in the matter. This intransigence has already cost them the Crimea and it is the reason for the present conflict in the East.

      2. All Russia wants is for Eastern and Western Ukraine to come together and hash out a new political arrangement to reflect the changing reality on the ground of the post-coup Ukraine.

        And if all Russia had done was issue a press release to that effect, well, no problem.

        When you start talking about hashing out new arrangements after you have seized part of Ukraine, and while you are supporting insurgents seeking to overthrow/secede from what’s left, well, that’s a little different.

        1. Russia annexed the Crimea in response to the coup. I don’t think that was an unreasonable response and given what we have seen in Eastern Ukraine, Russia’s swift and decisive action probably saved countless lives.

          Russian support for the separatists is calculated to bring Kiev to the table, nothing more. Russia is the voice of reason in his conflict, and it is frankly appalling the way the American media is ignoring the humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ukraine. If Russia were doing what Kiev is doing right now we’d be accusing them (rightly) of war crimes and genocide.

    3. Do I (a) give Putin a way out, or (b) just laugh at him while he tries to extract himself from the tarpit he walked into?

      I’m thinking . . . (b).

      Something about getting more of what you reward might apply here.

  12. “Ukraine says that it must have existed, because they destroyed part of it.”

    OK, smart guy, the part that was destroyed doesn’t exist, does it?

    1. I thought about that, too. If it weren’t for the journalists corroborating its existence…?

      When Putin sends an imaginary columns into Ukraine, why shouldn’t the Ukrainians imaginarily destroy them?

      Maybe Baghdad Bob is doing the consulting on both sides!

      1. A puzzle worthy of a Zen master.

  13. A name like Zenon, and he can’t even get boring alt-text.

  14. I’d like to see some photographic proof. Assuming it happened, good job. If Russia tries to send in its ‘aid convoy’ it should run into some roadside bombs.

  15. “But if Ukraine’s claim about defensive artillery strikes against invasive Russian fores proves true, stability may be a long way off.”

    I would disagree, Ukraine showing Backbone and ability is likely to deter a full scale invasion. Like punching a playground bully in the nose he will back off.

  16. I must have missed the follow-up to this story. No mention has been made that there has been ZERO evidence to support the claims made by Ukrainian government.

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