Ispan wrote:Chechen paramilitary are one thing, regulars are an entirely different one.
They are regulars, as I said - officially speaking they are MVD servicemen; they are subordinated to the Interior Ministry.
In practice - they are subordinated to Kadyrov of course, who is subordinated only directly to the President I suspect.
Either way it's evidence enough.
I think Khepesh here will agree that Ukrainian tankers poor tactics and leadership are to blame. Remember what happened to Russian tankers in Grozny in 1994.
Those columns were destroyed by ambushes deep inside Grozny city rather than along country roads (where it's considerably harder to pull it off); and the level of destruction was less than the carnage we saw here.
But point taken.
Encirclement and destroying the encircled enemy is easy enough. Savages have managed to wipe out civilized armies in this way repeated times.
Name me when?
The Ukrainian lines were broken apart in the aftermath of these grand encirclements - as they simply surrounded so many troops and the Ukrainians had everything at the front, with few reserves to plug the gaps. If not for Minsk 1/2 the rebels (supported by the Russian forces), could have ploughed ahead Blitzkrieg-style into Ukrainian territory at that stage. But only contingent on further Russian assistance, as I said.
Granted, these fantastic results were achieved as much by Ukrainian incompetence as anything else; getting their troops surrounded in the first place, refusing to pull them back while there was still time, and basically having no reserves/backup plan for the coming catastrophe.
That there were Russian commanders and advisors coordinating these operations, very likely. But saying that the South Cauldron and the pockets leading to Ilovaysk were the work of the Russian army... I don't think so.
Illovaisk no, that was very much a rebel-executed op. Don't remember much about the South Cauldron to give an opinion.
But Russian advisers/staff drawing up the plans is the sort of stuff I meant too; not just direct fighting.
Artillery fire from across the border? Plausible but there is no proof. Anyway, I remembered very vividly when following the war day by day how the Novorussian meager forces grew little by little with each capture. I remember the first battery of D-30 guns they captured and the first Grad they used. If the Novorussians had Russian support, it would not have taken so long to wipe out the cauldrons, Lugansk airport.. etc
I didn't mention that, I agree with your assessment on it - plausible but no proof. And the rebels increased their artillery stocks to a formidable amount by the time the Ukr 72nd brigade and elements of the 79th and 24th were encircled by the border and pounded relentlessly in early August 2014.
Militia could have perfectly trashed the Ukrops on their own. They had help, but they did the fighting. For a variety of reasons I do not believe in the "North Wind".
The Militia was doing well considering its resources, it was waging a fighting retreat; but a retreat it nonetheless was, right up from May/June (the height of its initial take-over) till August pretty much. It was giving ground up until certain events when it unleashed hell on advancing Ukrainian forces; trapping them against borders, trapping them in cities, trapping them within whole districts - and it all involved lots of accurate artillery fire, detonating Ukr armour columns, videos of massive rebel mechanized columns travelling to and fro, some skilled military planning and so on.
The problem with "North Wind" is that if the Kremlin had decided on Russian intervention, they used very scant resources and achieved too little. Mariupol could have been taken and the Debaltsevo salient would have not formed. Minsk agreements should have never been signed unless the Kremlin is desperate to avoid a repetition of the Korean War.
The real problem is with making assumptions based on information we don't have.
Russia used scant resources but who says they didn't achieve what they wanted?
Why do you think Mariupol was ever an objective? Do you think Russia needed this war, or encouraged it?
From the start, it looked to me like something no-one asked for, a bad situation brought on by Ukrainian political repression and ultra-nationalism, that Russia played no part in, and escalated into war by stupid Ukrainian decisions.
When the West rushed to propose Minsk 1, and then Minsk 2, in the wake of Ukrainian defeats - perhaps that was exactly the outcome Russia was looking for. For all we know.
As for the Debaltsevo bulge and other battles there, I am familiar with the problems of an improvised army trying to go on the offensive for the first time. If there were Russian "tourists" fighting with the NAF, they fought poorly, or the Ukranians had the support of Western forces. All the tales of NATO advisors and mercenaries fighting with the Ukranian army are as credible as the "North Wind", again for a variety of reasons. There may have been a couple battallions worth of Polish mercenaries, but that is all.
There were Russian tourists there; as to their precise nature, whether Russian servicemen that volunteered to fight or servicemen that didn't volunteer to fight but were told to anyway - well that's up in the air, there are materials in the press in support of both possibilities.
Then of course there were your standard volunteers from Russia, ex-military and just ordinary civilians - but none of them having any affiliation with the Russian government.
That sort of thing won't happen without the involvement of Russian SF, air defence specialists and officers/command staff, that's pretty clear.
We have been through this before. Special forces are just commandoes, light infantry. A few raids would have had no appreciable impact in what was battles with tanks and artillery involving thousands of troops.[/quote]
A Spetsnaz squad armed with the Krasnopol laser-sighting complex can illuminate a few targets at once and then illuminate the rest in quick succession once the first guided 152mm shells fired by artillery on standby start landing on the roofs of Ukrainian T-62s, trucks and BMPs. The whole thing shouldn't take longer than a few minutes, maybe even less.
That's it, a whole column wiped out. Such systems have been available to Soviet Spetsnaz since the 80s.
Air defense? Just a few shoulder fired missiles taken from the Georgians in 2008. If Russia had really wanted to help the rebels, they would have provided an ample supply of antitank missiles and RPGs, not just a smattering of them, wich are more likely to have been provided by sympathetic officers in the armed forces
Well the rebels had plenty of tanks. The ones seen earlier in the conflict were blatantly taken from local stockpiles or the Ukrainians themselves. The ones later, I'm not so sure; if only because of the large numbers that they swelled to.
Air defence, yes. As in, whoever's sitting in those Pantsir-S systems that were photographed in Eastern Ukraine. Don't think it's a bunch of them local coal miners in there.
Intelligence support? Advisors? Instructors? Most certainly. Instructors need not cross the border. Zakharchenko at the time let slip that the offensive was conducted by troops trained in Russia, in 2014. You mention a similar history later on
Instructors don't. Advisers, officers, intel... they would all need to at the very least, pay regular visits and see things for themselves.
Yes, yes. All the same. There are Russian volunteers there, but they are only between 10-20% of the militias, and a lot are just normal guys without any previous training. Even the Ukranian generals admitted they were not fighting the Russian army but the Donbass people.
Yes that figure sounds about right.
But in time for the big battles there were also other sorts of volunteers there, it would seem.
And a small permanent presence of such volunteers too I would image, to man those Pantsir and EW systems, for liason and intel purposes, etc...
If there were a few thousands Russian soldiers involved there that would be impossible to conceal. The Ukrops would have found corpses, or captured prisoners. And people back home there would have notice people missing, particularly in military units.
I never started speculating on figures. The permanent presence I wouldn't think would be more than 100-200. But that could always swell when a big offensive or counter-offensive is being prepared or is taking place.
I think the numbers involved of actual RF soldiers are small, in the hundreds, and casualties can be concealed. Is likely the "tourists" are not fighting as infantry in the trenches, but are found at command levels, as artillery officers, and perhaps as tank crews. From what can be ascertained, is possible there was a limited involvement in the summer of 2014, some Russian tanks entered Ukraine to protect the aid convoys and had a fierce clash with Ukranian tank columns, but the cauldrons are the work of the militia.
Right, that's what I think too - so what are we arguing about?
That is because people have a romantic view of the guerrilla fighter as a guy with a Kalashnikov and an RPG fighting a regular army, but throghout all the wars after WWII there are plenty examples of guerrillas learning to use complex weapons such as artillery and tanks.. You can make competent artillerists out of civilians and I, and Khepesh agrees, believe the same thing can be done with armor crews.
A competent cadre of officers and sergeants can turn civilians into competent soldiers in a short time. That's the difference between the Novorussian rebels and the Ukranian troops.
My point is that a fully formed rebel column of tanks in the march does not means they are crewed by Russian regulars, though the leaders or advisors probably are.
I personally think it was a mix of local volunteers and Russian 'volunteers' for some of the more complicated and critical positions in that column.
Yes I agree with you on a lot of this; yes you can train people up, yes they do learn after a year of war - but at the same time, fielding a modern battallion++ exclusively out of local coal miners?
Na. You would need to have them be part of a proper military and military structure for that. The DNR/LNR wasn't at that stage, where it could start mobilizing and training masses of civilians into modern mechanized formations within the space of a few months. Russia would have had to help with resoures, training, logistics and organization for anything like that, and I believe with personnel too - the local rebels just wouldn't have had the specialists, the technical personnel, the experienced officers and commanders necessary for anything like that.
Also, there is another story. I am sure I read it in MPnet thread. Somebody posted that some rebel tanks crossed a village, and when one of the locals asked where they came from the tankes replied "from Crimea". One youth asked if he could join, and with a smile they said "sure, come onboard" and he joined them wearing slippers.
Yes I heard that too. I believe it was from fairly early on. And might not have been tanks, but those Venas or BMDs.
I think very plausible that a lot of the "Russian" troops in Donbass are former Ukranian army regulars that were stationed in Crimea. From one of my wife acquaintances, a policeman, I know there are a lot of Crimean volunteers fighting in Donbass, mostly of these military and some police.
Quite possible too, why not?
I think it is likely that these Crimean tankers, possibly even with their own Ukranian army tanks were the ones that formed the nucleus of the militias first armored forces. Technically they were Ukranian citizens, so Russia could maintain plausible deniability.
There is some degree of Russian military aid to the Novorussians, but I think it was and still is just a trickle. Enough to prevent defeat and turn the tables, but not enough to achieve a military victory. For whatever reason, the Kremlin keeps the Novorussians in a tight leash.
Yes I agree, Russia doesn't need the war to escalate, or to restart, but it will not allow the defeat of the DNR/LNR either and that's its policy in a nutshell. Russia is fine with the status quo.