Monday, May 30, 2022

The Battle For the Donbass v.2

 The Battle for the Donbass




     The war in Ukraine has reached another decisive moment. Russia and the Lugansk and Donetsk republics are poised to deliver a crushing defeat to Ukrainian forces in the Donbass. Ukraine has already suffered a major psychological defeat with the surrender of the Azov Battalion at the Azovstal steel plant. In truth the battle for Mariupul ended long ago and Azov had no chance to break the siege of Azovstal but the fate of the Azov battalion had become an international cause with millions of ignorant people glorifying this gang of Nazi war criminals. The farce ended as the comedian Zelensky announced that they had been evacuated in a joint special operation of Ukraine’s military and intelligence while the western press politely lied saying that their military mission had ended. But no amount of lies could conceal the fact that they had surrendered and been shipped off to POW camps where they face possible trials for war crimes.


    For months the fighting has dragged on in the Donbass with Russian allied forces making slow progress in terms of territorial gains but inflicting heavy casualties on Ukrainian forces with rockets and artillery fire. Ukraine has had 8 years to turn the entire area into a massive World War 1-style fortress of trenches, strongpoints, and bunkers. Thus progress was initially slow. However in recent weeks Russian forces have captured key parts of the Ukrainians defensive lines and Ukrainian defenses have been collapsing. In some areas the Ukrainians are retreating while in others they are on the verge of being encircled and destroyed.


   For months western media have been claiming that Ukraine is winning the war. Russia and its allies have suffered some setbacks that have been blown out of proportion or misinterpreted. First Russia abandoned the siege of Kiev. With only 60,000 troops in the North Russia never really intended to take Kiev. Some say it was a diversion others that it was meant to force Zelensky to the bargaining table, or that they were sent in the hopes that Ukraine would collapse early in the war. In any case once it became clear that it would be a long war they withdrew some to rest; others to be sent to the Donbass for phase 2 of the war. This gave a tremendous morale boost to Kiev and the West who pretended that they had inflicted a decisive defeat on Russian forces. Ukrainian forces certainly carried out successful ambushes and harassment of Russian forces, but Ukraine regained their territory because Russian forces withdrew not because Ukraine defeated Russia in battle. Nonetheless the West and Ukraine pretended to have won a great victory and began to brag that they would not only retake Lugansk, Donetsk and Crimea but also march in and invade and dismember Russia itself. Supporters of Russia could only be consoled with the hopes that the withdrawal would lead to a later victory in the Donbass. 


   Ukraine has the second largest army in Europe and no shortage of brave and talented fanatics that with the help of the CIA and other NATO countries’ intelligence agencies are willing to carry out daring attacks on Russian targets. Supplied with US intelligence, Ukraine was able to sink the Moskva most likely with a missile and drones. Thankfully most of the crew survived but it was a major blow to Russian morale. The US is planning to send more anti-ship missiles to Ukraine and openly brags about the role it played in the attack on the Moskva, the sort of dangerous games that could lead to a nuclear war. Using helicopters and drones Ukraine was able to blow up fuel storage tankers within Russia itself. More recently however Russia has been successfully preventing these helicopter and drone attacks although Ukrainian saboteurs are probably still operating in Russia. Ukraine has also been firing artillery across the border shelling Russian civilians and a number of mysterious fires have been breaking out at sites related to Russia’s defense industry and logistics. Ukraine also continues to target civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk firing artillery and rockets packed with cluster munitions at civilian targets.  Only when the battle of the Donbass is won will the people of Donetsk and Lugansk finally see an end to the nearly decade of hell they have suffered at the hands of the Ukrainian military.


    Some of these daring Ukrainian attacks however have bordered on the pointless and suicidal like the ill fated attempt to retake Snake Island in time to ruin Moscow’s victory day parade. An early psy-op involved the claim that Ukraine’s Snake Island defenders had told the Russians to “fuck off” and then heroically fought to the last man. In reality they surrendered but Ukrainians prefer the legend to the reality. Zelensky personally ordered a series of raids to retake the island. Instead of scoring a symbolic victory Ukrainian forces and their NATO advisers were slaughtered trying to take the island. Near Kharkov Ukrainian forces launched a counter attack Russian forces withdrew to avoid them and Ukraine moved their small force up to the Russian border. Ukraine recaptured some villages and the Kraken battalion terrorized the locals who might be kidnapped or killed if they had accepted humanitarian aid from Russia. Ukraine already controls a large stretch of its border with Russia. Hence their offensive was pointless except as a means to distract Russia from advancing in the Donbass. However the media played up the episode as if Ukraine was now ready to advance to the gates of Moscow in a transparent attempt to distract the world’s attention from the impending disaster Ukraine was facing in the Donbass. 


   Ukraine is excellent at propaganda and psychological warfare with its CIA advisers, its Western PR firms, and the decades of training in media warfare that Ukrainians have received from the US NED. The NED is the National Endowment For Democracy. The CIA front manipulates elections, turns foreign political parties into American puppets, and stages coups and color revolutions. The NED has funded NGOs to train Ukrainians in journalism and social media activism for over 20 years. Thus Ukraine excels at propaganda. Even if the Ukrainian regime’s propaganda were terrible, this would not matter. Western corporate media unquestioningly repeat whatever claims Ukrainian government officials make, while dismissing Russian statements. Mainstream media dishonesty, already terrible to start, has reached a new low in this war. Fertile ground has been provided for false flag attacks and other forms of black propaganda. For example when Russian forces abandoned the siege of Kiev and withdrew Ukrainian forces staged the Bucha massacre in their wake. Ukrainian forces slaughtered a bunch of civilians they accused of being traitors and then blamed the Russians. Then while people were busy trying to debunk the Bucha massacre, Ukraine fired a missile at the Kramatorsk railway station and again blamed Russia. Next President Biden and US intelligence basically invited Ukraine to stage a chemical weapons attack and to blame Russia; falsely claiming that they had intelligence a Russian chemical attack was imminent. Biden warned that any such attack would be a red line that could provoke direct US involvement.  The administration later admitted that the story was a fabrication. There is a danger that the whole world could be dragged into a nuclear war over some false flag chemical, nuclear or biological attack in Ukraine. The whole world would be turned to atomic ash before the truth could ever be exposed. Thankfully one can reasonably doubt that the US want to get directly involved in Ukraine in a conventional war with Russia where both sides would suffer heavy casualties, let alone a nuclear war in which the world would be destroyed. Still with America fighting a proxy war against Russia, while busily provoking a war with China, it would be unwise to underestimate the insanity of the US ruling class.


   Russia has suffered some setbacks. Ukraine and the US are winning the propaganda war. However propaganda can only carry you so far before the realities on the battlefield expose your claims as absurd lies. The Western triumphalist narrative on Ukraine is about to come crashing down at least temporarily. Russia is winning the battle of the Donbass. This is a simplified account as the fighting covers dozens of tiny villages with long names that can be spelled completely differently depending on which system of transliteration you use, or whether it is the Russian or Ukrainian spelling. To follow the war closely you need to follow the action daily on the various war maps available on social media via various amateur military analysts. 


First Russia launched an offensive out of Izyum. Ukraine kept pouring forces into the meat grinder to stop the slow Russian advance. Ukrainian forces put up fierce resistance but the Russians are using the tactic of relying on their artillery and rockets to soften up targets for weeks and months before sending forces in with probing attacks.  If they are repelled, then Russian forces continue shelling. On a map it may look like Russian forces were making no progress but Ukraine was suffering heavy casualties and their morale is plummeting. In Popasnaya Russia pursued the same strategy. Popasnaya was a cornerstone of Ukraine’s defenses in Lugansk where the fighting to take the town lasted months. However once it fell Ukraine’s defenses began to collapse. Russia massed forces in the town with its commanding heights and is advancing in multiple directions out of Popasnaya. So far Russian successes have mostly been in the North of the Donbass near Lugansk. Ukrainian military are being encircled in Severodonetsk, are close to being encircled in Lisichansk, and are in danger of being encircled in Avdeevka. Ukraine has abandoned its stronghold Svetlodarsk Donetsk. Russia has captured the town of Lyman another major part of Ukraine’s defensive lines. Currently things are moving so fast that this article will be outdated before it can appear. Initially Russia’s victories were in the North of Donbass in Lugansk but now they are also making progress in the South in Donetsk where Russia will probably turn its attention once it has captured or destroyed Ukrainian forces in Lugansk. 


   A key symbolic victory will be the liberation of Slavyansk, once the heart of the rebellion against the Maidan coup. The rebels had been forced to abandon the town rather than be encircled. The defense of Slavyansk had given Donetsk and Lugansk time to prepare their defenses and inspired thousands of volunteers to join the struggle. Slavyansk’s battle hardened defenders would form the backbone of the Donetsk and Lugansk forces. Ukraine has transformed Slavyansk into another military stronghold. Things always take longer then expected in this war. Hence there is no telling how long the battle for the Donbass will last. Yet clearly things are not going well for Ukraine. 


   If Russia wins the battle for the Donbass, the West may decide to let Ukraine negotiate rather then risk losing the rest of Ukraine. If Ukraine won’t make a deal after losing, Russia may decide to take the rest of Ukraine’s coastline. That would mean occupying Nikolaev and Odessa, above all to prevent Ukraine from firing more missiles at Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Other likely targets for phase 3 would include Dnipetrovesk where Ukraine is already desperately trying to build up their defenses in central Ukraine or the city of Kharkov in the North. Back in 2014 Kharkov was to have been the capital of Novorossiya. However Ukraine crushed the rebellion there and turned the city into its main base for the war on Donbass. It will be difficult to capture. The city was designed during the Soviet Union to resist a full scale NATO invasion. Ironically this is another reason the war is taking so long. Having lost Ukraine to the Germans during World War 2 the Soviets rebuilt the entire country to resist a western invasion and even a nuclear war, adopting a strategy of fortress cities. In places like Azovstal Soviet construction has proven more effective then the latest defective American weapons sent to Ukraine, e.g. the Javelin anti-tank missile.


    Now to turn to the economic war against Russia, which predictably has turned into a major disaster for the West: Energy prices are skyrocketing, food prices are rising and there are shortages in the West. Meanwhile Russia is forcing the west to pay for energy in Rubles. As the US knows full well skyrocketing energy prices benefit the Russian economy. But perhaps there is method to this madness and the true target of this economic war are America’s “allies” in Europe and Asia. The regime represented by President Biden has pretty much destroyed the global economy and people are beginning to naively wonder why the US is sending 40 billion to Ukraine while there is a shortage of infant formula. Such wondering is naïve and ahistorical since the US has always had money for weapons and never money to improve the lives of people. In fact the US regime has spent trillions since 1945 to keep the rest of the planet poor. Actually much of the USD 40 billion is actually going to the US military industrial complex to replace all the weapons the US and its allies have already sent. Another huge chunk is going to NATO. Ukraine, with its economy destroyed by the neo-liberal reforms imposed after the 2014 coup is expected to repay that USD 40 billion.


   I’ve been reading a lot about Ukraine recently including “Ukraine in the Crossfire” by Chris Kaspar de Ploeg, which I definitely recommend. With “Bidenomics” destroying the global economy it is a good time to revisit the now mostly forgotten role then Vice President Joe Biden played in Ukraine. In other words some of the scandalous details of “Ukrainegate” Joe Biden played a key role in events in Ukraine. He spent more then 2-3 hours a week on the phone with then President Poroshenko, who was waging a brutal war on the Donbass that would kill at least 14,000 civilians. Biden publicly backed Poroshenko’s refusal to implement the Minsk protocols. Biden joked that he spoke to Poroshenko “more than my wife” Biden was the main proponent of “Ukrainian energy independence” which translates into a scheme for Ukraine to start fracking oil and natural gas. The main beneficiary was Igor Kolmoisky who gratefully put Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma holdings along with John Kerry’s former chief of staff David Leiter and Kerry’s former adviser Devon Archer. This is the same Igor Kolmoisky who was the patron of current Ukrainian president Zelensky. Kolmoisky was also the patron of the Neo-Nazi Dmitry Yarosh and what would become Right Sector as well as a key funder of the Azov Battalion. Thanks to the 2014 coup Komoisky was able to steal billions of dollars. He laundered the money in the US, buying and looting American factories and putting the American workers out of work. His protege Zelensky also stole nearly half a billion dollars and moved it offshore. Although this detail had been exposed in the Panama papers and the Western press has conveniently forgotten it, along with such information as the Nazi affiliation of the Azov battalion. Let us connect the dots: Joe Biden and Hunter Biden are tied to Igor Kolmoisky who has a leash on Zelensky and the Azov battalion. Joe Biden also had the corrupt Natalie Jaresko named Ukraine’s finance minister. A US citizen, who illegally became a dual Ukrainian citizen, before becoming the country’s finance, Ms Jaresko had already “mismanaged” a USAID investment scheme called WNISEF. WNISEF was intended to “foster investment” in Moldova and Ukraine. Her salary was capped at $150,000 but she managed to pay herself millions. Meanwhile she managed an investment portfolio that lost tens of millions of dollars. The late Robert Parry exposed the scandal. Joe Biden also backed the appointment of Yuriy Lutsenko as Ukraine’s prosecutor general despite Lutsenko’s complete lack of legal experience. Lutsenko then had two officials at NABU (Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau) arrested and beaten and cut off NABU’s access to the state’s crime database. To summarize, Biden was blatantly corrupt, openly encouraged corruption, and supported a crackdown on Ukraine’s pathetic attempt to rein in corruption. While Biden’s family and the oligarchs were getting richer, Biden was pushing hard for Ukraine to adopt austerity policies that would decimate Ukrainians’ already low standard of living. Now Biden is imposing neo-liberal shock therapy on the entire planet, creating runaway inflation and an economic depression at the same time. Doubtless Biden is merely serving the interests of the ultra-rich who by impoverishing the planet hope to widen their profit margins.


    The economic disaster is already dampening the obnoxious Ukraine-mania fad that swept the West at the start of the war. Russia’s impending military victory in the battle for the Donbass will destroy the fantasy that Ukraine can be used to destroy Russia. Unfortunately the war will most likely continue and the West will continue to flood Ukraine with weapons, advisers, intelligence officers and mercenaries. Russia is ready for a long war and has been holding most of its forces in reserve. Hopefully the American empire will suffer a disastrous defeat in Ukraine and the country will be fully denazified and demilitarized. 


Sources


My earlier article on the Russia-Ukraine War


https://libya360.wordpress.com/2022/03/24/the-russia-ukraine-war/



Zelensky stole hundreds of millions of dollars


https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/oct/03/revealed-anti-oligarch-ukrainian-president-offshore-connections-volodymyr-zelenskiy


Igor Kolmoisky’s offshore money laundering damages US economy


https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article258399503.html



Pepe Escobar on NATO vs Russia


https://libya360.wordpress.com/2022/05/24/nato-vs-russia-what-happens-next/


Christopher Black’s puts the Ukraine War in proper historical context


https://christopher-black.com/fascism-our-common-enemy/?fbclid=IwAR0A8cOZMjz1jwTNH1r5vQzxtOZYGlYQdxwK6eMW5W8xua5F7RRChUUv3R4&fs=e&s=cl


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