Will Ukraine Take Donbass by the Force of Arms?
Regarding the situation in Ukraine and Donbas, I talked to a war correspondent now residing in Donbas that prefred to remain anonimous.
Is Kiev currently preparing an offensive on Donbas?
Reports stating that it has to be a Ukrainian offensive are given regularly, but there isn’t any offensive. They attack in small groups without any support, bleeding at the same time. It looks like Kiev wanted to get rid of them.
Donetsk and The Ukraine army do not have the strength to on the offensive. They can, at most, take a village. Kiev, to hold power, must end the conflict in Donbas. It cannot do this peacefully, because it would have to agree on the confederacy. Second thing: It would have to give away the entire area of Donetsk and Lugansk. In an act of last hope, Ukrainian troops may try to create a massive offensive.
Are people who live there aware of that kind of scenario?
A lot of people have returned, some of them do not have a clue what was going on, what is war. They have not experienced it, they are not living it. People who lived here during the war are aware that something else might happen, but they do not care to much about this.
The army would be happy to go on the offensive, but there is no strength. The Donbas army consists of about forty thousand soldiers. However, a volunteer with a rifle and a soldier are not the same. Kiev officially now has seventy thousand people plus there is still a regular Ukrainian army, which works, but does not take part in combat operations.
In total, you have to count that there is 110 – 120 thousand Ukrainian soldiers. The entire Ukrainian army according to various estimates and sources is from 240 to 270 thousand people. It would be a huge mistake not to think that The Ukraine couldn’t put half a million people to arms. They will be soldiers, who will shoot off-target, but they will shoot. If Novorossiya wanted to attack there is no chance that 40,000 people could take on the entrenched 170,000 soldiers fighting on the side of Kiev. Their front would be full of holes. Any army could enter Donetsk in broad daylight.
If The Ukraine put everything on one hand and Novorossiya was left to itself then it would have no chance of survival. The fire power and numerical superiority of Kiev would decide the victory. The Ukrainian side would have huge losses, but it would not take them into consideration.
What would have to happen if there was such an offensive?
Two conditions would have to be fulfilled. The first is the unofficial green light from the West, especially the US. They’d have to be sure that within a few days Russia wouldn’t react, because it would be busy with something else. The second condition would be that there was no other choice.
If Kiev was in the situation of being trapped so much that it would only remain to pass the power and flee from the Ukraine, or put everything on one hand and pacify the Donbas. It might work or may not succeed. Or finally, you may find that Ukraine will go to hell and there will not be anyone to carry out such an offensive.
So are we waiting for another Maidan?
It’s about twisting off what Maidan did and at the same time introducing the situation of reform which Maidan introduced. You can’t unscrew everything and say everything will be fine – corruption, bureaucracy, theft come back again. People do not go for it.
Konrad Stachnio is an independent Poland based journalist, he hosted a number of radio and TV programs for the Polish edition of Prison Planet, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.