Retired Swiss Military-Intelligence Officer: 'Is it Possible to Actually Know What Has Been And is G
Posted by Keith-264 on April 14, 2022, 8:03 pm
Retired Swiss Military-Intelligence Officer: 'Is it Possible to Actually Know What Has Been And is Going on in Ukraine?'
The Unz Review
[...] Just recently I came across perhaps the clearest and most reasonable account of what has been going on in Ukraine. Its importance comes due to the fact that its author, Jacques Baud, a retired colonel in the Swiss intelligence service, was variously a highly placed, major participant in NATO training operations in Ukraine. Over the years, he also had extensive dealings with his Russian counterparts. His long essay first appeared (in French) at the respected Centre Franηais de Recherche sur le Renseignement. A literal translation appeared at The Postil (April 1, 2022). I have gone back to the original French and edited the article down some and rendered it, I hope, in more idiomatic English. I do not think in editing it I have damaged Baud's fascinating account. For in a real sense, what he has done is "to let the cat out of the bag." Boyd D. Cathay
The Military Situation In The Ukraine
by Jacques Baud
Part One: The Road To War
For years, from Mali to Afghanistan, I have worked for peace and risked my life for it. It is therefore not a question of justifying war, but of understanding what led us to it.
Let's try to examine the roots of the Ukrainian conflict. It starts with those who for the last eight years have been talking about "separatists" or "independentists" from Donbass. This is a misnomer. The referendums conducted by the two self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in May 2014, were not referendums of "independence" (независимость, as some unscrupulous journalists have claimed, but referendums of "self-determination" or "autonomy" (самостоятельность. The qualifier "pro-Russian" suggests that Russia was a party to the conflict, which was not the case, and the term "Russian speakers" would have been more honest. Moreover, these referendums were conducted against the advice of Vladimir Putin.
In fact, these Republics were not seeking to separate from Ukraine, but to have a status of autonomy, guaranteeing them the use of the Russian language as an official language because the first legislative act of the new government resulting from the American-sponsored overthrow of [the democratically-elected] President Yanukovych, was the abolition, on February 23, 2014, of the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law of 2012 that made Russian an official language in Ukraine. A bit like if German putschists decided that French and Italian would no longer be official languages in Switzerland.
This decision caused a storm in the Russian-speaking population. The result was fierce repression against the Russian-speaking regions (Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk) which was carried out beginning in February 2014 and led to a militarization of the situation and some horrific massacres of the Russian population (in Odessa and Mariupol, the most notable).
At this stage, too rigid and engrossed in a doctrinaire approach to operations, the Ukrainian general staff subdued the enemy but without managing to actually prevail. The war waged by the autonomists consisted in highly mobile operations conducted with light means. With a more flexible and less doctrinaire approach, the rebels were able to exploit the inertia of Ukrainian forces to repeatedly "trap" them.
In 2014, when I was at NATO, I was responsible for the fight against the proliferation of small arms, and we were trying to detect Russian arms deliveries to the rebels, to see if Moscow was involved. The information we received then came almost entirely from Polish intelligence services and did not "fit" with the information coming from the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] and despite rather crude allegations, there were no deliveries of weapons and military equipment from Russia.
The rebels were armed thanks to the defection of Russian-speaking Ukrainian units that went over to the rebel side. As Ukrainian failures continued, tank, artillery and anti-aircraft battalions swelled the ranks of the autonomists. This is what pushed the Ukrainians to commit to the Minsk Agreements.
Comment: That is astonishing. Even we assumed they were getting at least some Russian weapons. After all, Western media harped on about 'the Russian invasion of Ukraine' from Day One of Kiev's 'anti-terror operation' in the Donbass. It just goes to show that, if you really want freedom, you've got to really fight for it, and on your own for the most part...
But just after signing the Minsk 1 Agreements, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko launched a massive "anti-terrorist operation" (ATO/Антитерористична операція against the Donbass. Poorly advised by NATO officers, the Ukrainians suffered a crushing defeat in Debaltsevo, which forced them to engage in the Minsk 2 Agreements.
It is essential to recall here that Minsk 1 (September 2014) and Minsk 2 (February 2015) Agreements did not provide for the separation or independence of the Republics, but their autonomy within the framework of Ukraine. Those who have read the Agreements (there are very few who actually have) will note that it is written that the status of the Republics was to be negotiated between Kiev and the representatives of the Republics, for an internal solution within Ukraine.
That is why, since 2014, Russia has systematically demanded the implementation of the Minsk Agreements while refusing to be a party to the negotiations, because it was an internal matter of Ukraine. On the other side, the West led by France systematically tried to replace Minsk Agreements with the "Normandy format," which put Russians and Ukrainians face-to-face. However, let us remember that there were never any Russian troops in the Donbass before 23-24 February 2022. Moreover, OSCE observers have never observed the slightest trace of Russian units operating in the Donbass before then. For example, the U.S. intelligence map published by the Washington Post on December 3, 2021 does not show Russian troops in the Donbass.
In October 2015, Vasyl Hrytsak, director of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), confessed that only 56 Russian fighters had been observed in the Donbass. This was exactly comparable to the Swiss who went to fight in Bosnia on weekends, in the 1990s, or the French who go to fight in Ukraine today.
The Ukrainian army was then in a deplorable state. In October 2018, after four years of war, the chief Ukrainian military prosecutor, Anatoly Matios, stated that Ukraine had lost 2,700 men in the Donbass: 891 from illnesses, 318 from road accidents, 177 from other accidents, 175 from poisonings (alcohol, drugs), 172 from careless handling of weapons, 101 from breaches of security regulations, 228 from murders and 615 from suicides.
In fact, the Ukrainian army was undermined by the corruption of its cadres and no longer enjoyed the support of the population. According to a British Home Office report, in the March/April 2014 recall of reservists, 70 percent did not show up for the first session, 80 percent for the second, 90 percent for the third, and 95 percent for the fourth. In October/November 2017, 70% of conscripts did not show up for the "Fall 2017" recall campaign. This is not counting suicides and desertions (often over to the autonomists), which reached up to 30 percent of the workforce in the ATO area. Young Ukrainians refused to go and fight in the Donbass and preferred emigration, which also explains, at least partially, the demographic deficit of the country.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense then turned to NATO to help make its armed forces more "attractive." Having already worked on similar projects within the framework of the United Nations, I was asked by NATO to participate in a program to restore the image of the Ukrainian armed forces. But this is a long-term process and the Ukrainians wanted to move quickly.
So, to compensate for the lack of soldiers, the Ukrainian government resorted to paramilitary militias. In 2020, they constituted about 40 percent of the Ukrainian forces and numbered about 102,000 men, according to Reuters. They were armed, financed and trained by the United States, Great Britain, Canada and France. There were more than 19 nationalities.
These militias had been operating in the Donbass since 2014, with Western support. Even if one can argue about the term "Nazi," the fact remains that these militias are violent, convey a nauseating ideology and are virulently anti-Semitic...[and] are composed of fanatical and brutal individuals. The best known of these is the Azov Regiment, whose emblem is reminiscent of the 2nd SS Das Reich Panzer Division, which is revered in the Ukraine for liberating Kharkov from the Soviets in 1943, before carrying out the 1944 Oradour-sur-Glane massacre in France.
The characterization of the Ukrainian paramilitaries as "Nazis" or "neo-Nazis" is considered Russian propaganda. But that's not the view of the Times of Israel, or the West Point Academy's Center for Counterterrorism. In 2014, Newsweek magazine seemed to associate them more with... the Islamic State. Take your pick!
So, the West supported and continued to arm militias that have been guilty of numerous crimes against civilian populations since 2014: rape, torture and massacres...
The integration of these paramilitary forces into the Ukrainian National Guard was not at all accompanied by a "denazification," as some claim.
Among the many examples, that of the Azov Regiment's insignia is instructive:
nazi symbols evolution ukraine
In 2022, very schematically, the Ukrainian armed forces fighting the Russian offensive were organized as:
The Army, subordinated to the Ministry of Defense. It is organized into 3 army corps and composed of maneuver formations (tanks, heavy artillery, missiles, etc.).
The National Guard, which depends on the Ministry of the Interior and is organized into 5 territorial commands.
The National Guard is therefore a territorial defense force that is not part of the Ukrainian army. It includes paramilitary militias, called "volunteer battalions" (добровольчі батальйоні, also known by the evocative name of "reprisal battalions," and composed of infantry. Primarily trained for urban combat, they now defend cities such as Kharkov, Mariupol, Odessa, Kiev, etc.
Part Two: The War
As a former head of analysis of Warsaw Pact forces in the Swiss strategic intelligence service, I observe with sadness but not astonishment that our services are no longer able to understand the military situation in Ukraine. The self-proclaimed "experts" who parade on our TV screens tirelessly relay the same information modulated by the claim that Russia and Vladimir Putin is irrational. Let's take a step back.
1. The Outbreak Of War
Since November 2021, the Americans have been constantly threatening a Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, the Ukrainians at first did not seem to agree. Why not?
We have to go back to March 24, 2021. On that day, Volodymyr Zelensky issued a decree for the recapture of the Crimea, and began to deploy his forces to the south of the country. At the same time, several NATO exercises were conducted between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, accompanied by a significant increase in reconnaissance flights along the Russian border. Russia then conducted several exercises to test the operational readiness of its troops and to show that it was following the evolution of the situation.
Things calmed down until October-November with the end of the ZAPAD 21 exercises, whose troop movements were interpreted as a reinforcement for an offensive against Ukraine. However, even the Ukrainian authorities refuted the idea of Russian preparations for a war, and Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukrainian Minister of Defense, states that there had been no change on its border since the spring.
In violation of the Minsk Agreements, Ukraine was conducting air operations in Donbass using drones, including at least one strike against a fuel depot in Donetsk in October 2021. The American press noted this, but not the Europeans; and no one condemned these violations.
In February 2022, events came to a head. On February 7, during his visit to Moscow, Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed to Vladimir Putin his commitment to the Minsk Agreements, a commitment he would repeat after his meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky the next day. But on February 11, in Berlin, after nine hours of work, the meeting of political advisors to the leaders of the "Normandy format" ended without any concrete result: the Ukrainians still refused to apply the Minsk Agreements, apparently under pressure from the United States. Vladimir Putin noted that Macron had made empty promises and that the West was not ready to enforce the agreements, the same opposition to a settlement it had exhibited for eight years.
Ukrainian preparations in the contact zone continued. The Russian Parliament became alarmed; and on February 15 it asked Vladimir Putin to recognize the independence of the Republics, which he initially refused to do.
On 17 February, President Joe Biden announced that Russia would attack Ukraine in the next few days. How did he know this? It is a mystery. But since the 16th, the artillery shelling of the population of Donbass had increased dramatically, as the daily reports of the OSCE observers show. Naturally, neither the media, nor the European Union, nor NATO, nor any Western government reacted or intervened. It would be said later that this was Russian disinformation. In fact, it seems that the European Union and some countries have deliberately kept silent about the massacre of the Donbass population, knowing that this would provoke a Russian intervention.
At the same time, there were reports of sabotage in the Donbass. On 18 January, Donbass fighters intercepted saboteurs, who spoke Polish and were equipped with Western equipment and who were seeking to create chemical incidents in Gorlivka. They could have been CIA mercenaries, led or "advised" by Americans and composed of Ukrainian or European fighters, to carry out sabotage actions in the Donbass Republics.
In fact, as early as February 16, Joe Biden knew that the Ukrainians had begun intense shelling the civilian population of Donbass, forcing Vladimir Putin to make a difficult choice: to help Donbass militarily and create an international problem, or to stand by and watch the Russian-speaking people of Donbass being crushed.
If he decided to intervene, Putin could invoke the international obligation of "Responsibility To Protect" (R2P). But he knew that whatever its nature or scale, the intervention would trigger a storm of sanctions. Therefore, whether Russian intervention were limited to the Donbass or went further to put pressure on the West over the status of the Ukraine, the price to pay would be the same. This is what he explained in his speech on February 21. On that day, he agreed to the request of the Duma and recognized the independence of the two Donbass Republics and, at the same time, he signed friendship and assistance treaties with them.
The Ukrainian artillery bombardment of the Donbass population continued, and, on 23 February, the two Republics asked for military assistance from Russia. On 24 February, Vladimir Putin invoked Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which provides for mutual military assistance in the framework of a defensive alliance.
In order to make the Russian intervention seem totally illegal in the eyes of the public, Western powers deliberately hid the fact that the war actually started on February 16. The Ukrainian army was preparing to attack the Donbass as early as 2021, as some Russian and European intelligence services were well aware.
In his speech of February 24, Vladimir Putin stated the two objectives of his operation: "demilitarize" and "denazify" the Ukraine. So, it was not a question of taking over Ukraine, nor even, presumably, of occupying it; and certainly not of destroying it.
From then on, our knowledge of the course of the operation is limited: the Russians have excellent security for their operations (OPSEC) and the details of their planning are not known. But fairly quickly, the course of the operation allows us to understand how the strategic objectives were translated on the operational level.
ground destruction of Ukrainian aviation, air defense systems and reconnaissance assets;
neutralization of command and intelligence structures (C3I), as well as the main logistical routes in the depth of the territory;
encirclement of the bulk of the Ukrainian army massed in the southeast of the country.
destruction or neutralization of volunteer battalions operating in the cities of Odessa, Kharkov, and Mariupol, as well as in various facilities in the territory.
The Russian offensive was carried out in a very "classic" manner. Initially as the Israelis had done in 1967 with the destruction on the ground of the air force in the very first hours. Then, we witnessed a simultaneous progression along several axes according to the principle of "flowing water": advance everywhere where resistance was weak and leave the cities (very demanding in terms of troops) for later. In the north, the Chernobyl power plant was occupied immediately to prevent acts of sabotage. The images of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers guarding the plant together are of course not shown.
The idea that Russia is trying to take over Kiev, the capital, to eliminate Zelensky, comes typically from the West. But Vladimir Putin never intended to shoot or topple Zelensky. Instead, Russia seeks to keep him in power by pushing him to negotiate, by surrounding Kiev. The Russians want to obtain the neutrality of Ukraine.
Many Western commentators were surprised that the Russians continued to seek a negotiated solution while conducting military operations. The explanation lies in the Russian strategic outlook since the Soviet era. For the West, war begins when politics ends. However, the Russian approach follows a Clausewitzian inspiration: war is the continuity of politics and one can move fluidly from one to the other, even during combat. This allows one to create pressure on the adversary and push him to negotiate.
From an operational point of view, the Russian offensive was an example of previous military action and planning: in six days, the Russians seized a territory as large as the United Kingdom, with a speed of advance greater than what the Wehrmacht had achieved in 1940.
The bulk of the Ukrainian army was deployed in the south of the country in preparation for a major operation against the Donbass. This is why Russian forces were able to encircle it from the beginning of March in the "cauldron" between Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk, with a thrust from the East through Kharkov and another from the South from Crimea. Troops from the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) Republics are complementing the Russian forces with a push from the East. Ctd....
Clio the cat, ? July 1997 - 1 May 2016
Kira the cat, ? ? 2010 - 3 August 2018
Jasper the Ruffian cat ? ? ? - 4 November 2021