By Dmitry Orlov and posted with the author's permission.
Last Thursday I reposed my "top ten signs that Russia has invaded the Ukraine" from 8 years ago when the Ukrainian regime change and civil war first started and the West continuously made claims that Russia had invaded. Well, last Thursday Russia did indeed invade.
Russia had the full legal right to invade the Ukraine from several perspectives: to defend its allies in Donetsk and Lugansk; to defend itself against Ukrainian WMDs, which the Ukrainian president threatened to start producing at the Munich Security Conference; and to stop NATO from continuing its advance toward Russian borders in violation of its previous commitment of "not an inch to the east." Russia exercised its right of self-defense under article 51 of part 7 of the UN Charter. The Ukraine had forfeited its right to territorial integrity under the 1970 UN Declaration by refusing to honor the rights of its Russian-speaking population. It also refused to renew its Friendship Treaty with Russia and therefore no longer had a defined border with Russia that Russia was obligated to honor.
From a strictly legalistic perspective, claims that "Russia violated the Ukraine's territorial integrity" or that this is "an act of Russian aggression" is just pure twaddle. From a moral perspective, the fact that the entire international community idly stood by and ineffectually discussed politics for eight years during which the civilian population of Donetsk and Lugansk was continuously shelled by the Ukrainian "anti-terrorist operation" is utterly shameful.
People who are now speaking out against Russia's military action in the Ukraine need to answer a simple question: Where have you been for the last eight years while the carnage in Donetsk and Lugansk was going on, while people were being burned alive in Odessa, while the Ukrainian government organized terrorist operations on Russian territory and while the entire Ukrainian population has been forced to kowtow to Americans and to speak Ukrainian, most often against its will? If your answer is "I didn't know" then you have forfeited your right to an informed opinion on what's happening there now. Please keep that in mind and act accordingly.
Now I will go through the 10 predictions I made 8 years ago and see how well they held up in light of events that have unfolded for the past three days. A reasonable expectation would be that I got them completely wrong; if not, then that's something of a minor miracle. Please keep that in mind also.
1. Ukrainian artillery fell silent almost immediately. They are no longer shelling residential districts of Donetsk and Lugansk. This is because their locations had been pinpointed prior to the operation, and by Thursday afternoon they were completely wiped out using air attacks, artillery and ground-based rocket fire, as the first order of business. Local residents are overjoyed that their horrible ordeal is finally at an end.
Not quite true. Donetsk and Lugansk is still being shelled sporadically, although most of the firing has been suppressed and as more and more territory is being liberated from the Ukrainian forces by the Donbass militia (with Russian forces playing a supporting role). At the same time, new possibilities for civilian carnage are resulting from the fact that the Ukraine's Nazi battalions, under guidance from their US/NATO minders, are hiding heavy weapons in residential districts and using civilians as human shields.
2. The look of military activity on the ground in Donetsk and Lugansk has changed dramatically. Whereas before it involved small groups of resistance fighters, the Russians operate in battalions of 400 men and dozens of armored vehicles, followed by convoys of support vehicles (tanker trucks, communications, field kitchens, field hospitals and so on). The flow of vehicles in and out is non-stop, plainly visible on air reconnaissance and satellite photos. Add to that the relentless radio chatter, all in Russian, which anyone who wants to can intercept, and the operation becomes impossible to hide.
This is obviously the case. No sane person would now say that there are no Russian forces in the Ukraine. They made their presence about as obvious as they possibly could and the sight of endless columns of Russian military vehicles rolling unhindered through the Ukrainian countryside appears to be effecting a sea change in the mindset of the Ukraine's population. Throughout history, it has always been quick to switch allegiances as circumstances and battle lines shifted, and this time will probably be no exception.
3. The Ukrainian military has promptly vanished. Soldiers and officers alike have taken off their uniforms, abandoned their weapons, and are doing their best to blend in with the locals. Nobody thought the odds of the Ukrainian army against the Russians were any good. Ukraine's only military victory against Russia was at the battle of Konotop in 1659, but at the time Ukraine was allied with the mighty Khanate of Crimea, and, you may have noticed, Crimea is not on Ukraine's side this time around.
Again, not entirely true. It turns out that there is a hardened Nazi embedded with each and every detachment of Ukrainian forces whose job is to shoot those who try to surrender. Nevertheless, some unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered, signed a promise to no longer fight against the Russian army, and have been given some food and sent home. In all, the Ukrainian military is turning out to be no different from other NATO-organized, NATO-trained forces, be they in Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq or elsewhere. All of them immediately turn out to be completely useless as soon as a real military force arrives on the scene, be it the Russians, the Taliban or the Islamic Caliphate. Also notable is the fact that the large quantities of weapons recently supplied to the Ukraine by the US have been shown to be completely useless. The Javelin anti-tank missiles, which helped line the pockets of some of the Pentagon's top brass, have been worse than useless: by the time they can be set up to fire there is generally nobody left alive to fire them, so the soldiers don't even bother with them.
4. There are Russian checkpoints everywhere. Local civilians are allowed through, but anyone associated with a government, foreign or domestic, is detained for questioning. A filtration system has been set up to return demobilized Ukrainian army draftees to their native regions, while the volunteers and the officers are shunted to pretrial detention centers, to determine whether they had ordered war crimes to be committed.
Not true at all. The Russian troops are not engaging with the civilians in any way, scrupulously avoiding residential districts and doing their best to see that the delivery of electricity, water and other essentials is not disrupted. As far as denazification, I am still not sure what the plan is, but my hunch at the moment is that this will be left up to the Ukrainians themselves. There is a good chance that once they realize what the Nazis and their Western masters have been doing to their country, they will do their best to round up the Nazis and hang them on streetlights. The Nazis will see this coming (some already do) and will run away to Poland or Slovenia or points further west.
5. Most of Ukraine's border crossings are by now under Russian control. Some have been reinforced with air defense and artillery systems and tank battalions, to dissuade NATO forces from attempting to stage an invasion. Civilians and humanitarian goods are allowed through. Businessmen are allowed through once they fill out the required forms (which are in Russian).
The Ukrainian border guards along the Russian border have abandoned their posts. Some of them walked over to the Russian side and surrendered. The Russian and Belorussian borders are under control from the Russian and Belorussian sides. The western border crossings are crowded from all the people flying to flee.
6. Russia has imposed a no-fly zone over all of Ukraine. All civilian flights have been cancelled. There is quite a crowd of US State Department staffers, CIA and Mossad agents, and Western NGO people stuck at Borispol airport in Kiev. Some are nervously calling everyone they know on their satellite phones. Western politicians are demanding that they be evacuated immediately, but Russian authorities want to hold onto them until their possible complicity in war crimes has been determined.
Flight radar shows zero flights over all of the Ukraine. In fact, air traffic has been disrupted over much of Europe, with many airspaces closed and lots of new restrictions on traffic. Many vacationers, especially those from the Ukraine, are stuck wherever they are. The ones in Egypt are lucky: the Egyptian government is paying for their hotel stays while they are stuck there. The Westerners, on the other hand, having learned their lesson from the fiasco in Afghanistan, fled the Ukraine ahead of time. Since there is a long list of places for them to get the hell out of before their luck runs out, it's good that they are getting the knack of it.
7. The usual Ukrainian talking heads, such as president Poroshenko, PM Yatsenyuk and others, are no longer available to be interviewed by Western media. Nobody quite knows where they are. There are rumors that they have already fled the country. Crowds have stormed their abandoned residences, and were amazed to discover that they were all outfitted with solid gold toilets. Nor are the Ukrainian oligarchs anywhere to be found, except for the warlord Igor Kolomoisky, who was found in his residence, abandoned by his henchmen, dead from a heart attack. (Contributed by the Saker.)
The number one Ukrainian talking head, the president-cum-comedian Zelensky, is hiding in a bunker in Lvov, Führer-like, surrounded by his Nazi henchmen. His jumbled missives to the faithful appear to have been prerecorded. At the same time, the information war is proceeding apace, with numerous new fake news items arriving daily, too many to keep track of. The real fun will start when the TV channels in Kiev get denazified and Ukrainians stir from their eight-year stupor, figure a few things out for themselves and become extremely angry at those who have been lying to them for eight long years.
8. Some of the over 800,000 Ukrainian refugees are starting to stream back in from Russia. They were living in tent cities, many of them in the nearby Rostov region, but with the winter coming they are eager to get back home, now that the shelling is over. Along with them, construction crews, cement trucks and flatbeds stacked with pipe, cable and rebar are streaming in, to repair the damage from the shelling.
This is yet to start happening. It will be a slow process, given that the number of refugees now, eight years later, is in the millions and scattered over numerous Russian regions.
9. There is all sorts of intense diplomatic and military activity around the world, especially in Europe and the US. Military forces are on highest alert, diplomats are jetting around and holding conferences. President Obama just held a press conference to announce that "We don't have a strategy on Ukraine yet." His military advisers tell him that his usual strategy of "bomb a little and see what happens" is not likely to be helpful in this instance.
This is definitely the case. The goal for Western leaders now is to look purposeful and strong while doing nothing of consequence. They keep talking about cutting Russia off from SWIFT bank messaging system, but keep recoiling in horror when they realize what they will mean for their energy prices (which are already dangerously high). The Russian posture vis-à-vis Western sanctions seems to be "Bring them on; we are ready!" Apparently, eight years have been enough for Russia to thoroughly prepare for this event.
10. Kiev has surrendered. There are Russian tanks on the Maidan Square. Russian infantry is mopping up the remains of Ukraine's National Guard. A curfew has indeed been imposed. The operation to take Kiev resembled "Shock and Awe" in Baghdad: a few loud bangs and then a whimper.
Russian tanks are unlikely to enter the city center; they are concentrated on destroying military installations, demobilizing the Ukrainian military and destroying the Nazi battalions. There is indeed a curfew in effect in Kiev.
One more significant development worth mentioning: Russian forces are taking charge of the Ukraine's nuclear installations, including the one at Chernobyl, which is now under joint Russian/Ukrainian control. This will reduce the chance that the Ukrainian Nazis will try to blow up one of them on their merry way to hell. The Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors, and since it is virtually out of other sources of energy it has been running all of them flat out. Two of them went off-line recently because of technical issues. Russia is working very hard to make Chernobyl 2.0 less of a possibility.
I am not sure what grade I should give myself for my predictions. Russia's political and military planners have turned out to be quite a bit smarter than me, but this is not at all a surprise. After all, they have all of the intellectual resources of a huge, powerful country whereas I am just a guy with an office chair and a laptop.
Do I care to make some more predictions about the Ukraine? Sure, why not!
1. Donetsk and Lugansk regions will continue on their path of closer and closer integration into the Russian Federation. They are already part of the Russian currency space, their educational systems are integrated with Russia's (same standards and procedures), their defense systems are fully integrated and diplomatically they act as a well-synchronized unit.
2. An area further west, probably encompassing the entire basin of Dnieper River and the Black Sea littoral, from the Belorussian to the Romanian border, will be part of a Russian zone. The regions within this zone will be given political autonomy within a general security and economic framework linked to Russia. The rough outlines of this area can be determined from the following language map. The areas in red and orange-is Russian-speaking and is naturally part of the Russian zone. The only two exceptions will be a Carpatho-Russian enclave (in purple) which will need to be administered separately and a Hungarian enclave (in green) that might as well be absorbed into Hungary.
3. Further west will lie a zone that will be wrapped in fancy paper with ribbons and bows and presented as an extra-special present to the EU to love to cherish and to suffer migraines and aneurisms over. Roughly speaking, the yellow area is Ukrainian-speaking and is an all-you-can-eat (please don't choke) buffet for the West. It has relatively poor soil and high incidence of iodine deficiency and imbecility in the general population. It is also where Ukrainian nationalism comes from and where the current Ukrainian Nazi plague originated. The Russian stance should be (if I may be so bold as to recommend what the Russian government should do) along the lines of "If you like your Ukrainian Nazis, you can have your Ukrainian Nazis."