In Dmitriy Kovalevich, Paul Atkin, Russia, Ukraine

Soledar © AP Photo / Libkos

By Paul Atkin,

Published on Urban ramblings, Feb 10, 2023:

Second post from Paul Atkin on his “Urban ramblings” blog, in which he writes how important Dmitriy Kovalevich’s monthly updates are for providing a strikingly different insight into the war in Ukraine from the received opinion/agreed narrative that the Western press sticks to.

This is a set of very revealing excerpts that might come as a shock to anyone just used to listening to the BBC or reading The Guardian. The whole report can (and should) be read on the New Cold War site here.
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Read first post here: Ukraine Dissident Digest

The first month of 2023 in Ukraine was marked by the defeat of Ukrainian troops near Soledar, the ‘meat grinder’ village in the Donbass region…Ukraine suffered heavy losses in fighting around the city in January. It is continuing with the capture and forced conscription of young men on the streets of its towns and cities to compensate for its large military losses in Bakhmut.

Aleksey Arestovich, an adviser to the office of the Ukrainian president, said in January that many Ukrainian soldiers could not withstand the Russian onslaught against Soledar and fled. According to him, during the entire defense of the city there were “a substantial number” of refuseniks who declared they “cannot fight any longer in this terrible war”. Arestovich said, “We have people who refused to dig trenches, and when they were led into ready-made trenches, they just stood still. Many said the enemy (Russian soldiers) were too close and it was better to move several miles back from the front lines.”

The battle for Soledar also showed the eroding motivation of military personnel in Ukraine. Many of those being forcibly mobilized are showing no desire to fight. In mid-January, the Ukrainian media published a video in which Sgt. Igor Bondarenko, deputy platoon commander of the 60th brigade, berates his subordinate Ukrainian soldiers who had taken refuge in a residential building and were unwilling to fight. The video was filmed for the purpose of reporting to a higher command, which demands that military recruits be driven into battle by all necessary means.

The German magazine Der Spiegel, referring to German intelligence information, reported at the end of January that in and around Bakhmut alone, Ukraine was seeing hundreds of its soldiers killed every day. The Ukrainian Telegram channel ‘XUA-photo of the war’ has broadcast terrible film footage demonstrating the extent of deaths among the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the area. It comments, “Of course, the full scale of this tragedy needs to be documented in the future. On the front lines of Bakhmut-Soledar, the Ukrainian military command has displayed complete failure. There are huge numbers of deaths among the manpower of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin told a meeting of NATO-country war ministers at the U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany at the end of January that a crucial moment in the fighting in Ukraine had arrived and Russia was gathering strength.

Russian military experts are once again noticing that Western media and politicians are constantly talking about “crucial moments” and “imminent turning points” in Ukraine...and…They see the West actively pressuring Kyiv to send more military recruits to the slaughter in order to achieve a ‘tipping point’ as quickly as possible. In contrast, Russian tactics involved orderly entries or exits from selected territories designed to wear down the Ukrainian army and economy while maintaining main forces in reserve in case of a major conflict with NATO in the future.

Against the backdrop of its serious losses, military conscription has intensified throughout Ukraine. Sometimes, it resembles the straightforward kidnapping of men of military age. Military commissars are increasingly trying to hand out summonses in the most unlikely and inappropriate places (albeit fully permitted legally), such as entrances to shops, in parking lots or at gas stations. Sometimes they resort to roadblocks.

Other subscribers from Odessa comment that men are brought to the military enlistment offices by ambulances and ‘Nova Poshta’ (delivery service) vehicles. Military commissars often go about their work in civilian clothes. Not everyone surrenders without a fight. “Near Kulikovo field (a neighborhood in central Odessa) in the courtyard of a nine-story building, two unknown people put up serious physical resistance to two “messengers of death” (as military conscription officers are called), as a result of which the young civilian men prevailed and the losing ‘military’ side lost their package of documents and money,” writes ‘Typical Odessa’.

The director of the Institute for the Study of the Consequences of Military Actions in Ukraine, Russian political scientist Kirill Molchanov, calls Ukraine a “kamikaze state”. He emphasizes that there exists another Ukraine, which is represented by refugees and residents in the south of Ukraine who are attending protest rallies organized by the wives and mothers of servicemen. According to him, these are the people who voted for Zelensky in 2019 because of his promise to end the nationalist dictatorship and the war in Donbass of his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko. (Poroshenko was elected in May 2014 as the suppression of opposition to the coup of February 2014 was already well advanced.) Molchanov argues that, “In order to get away from the Western-imposed role of Ukraine as a kamikaze state, a platform is needed to find consensus and develop a common vision for Ukrainians who disagree with Kyiv’s current course.”

The former commander of Polish Land Forces, reserve Colonel-General Waldemar Skrzypczak, …argued… for the mobilization of those Ukrainians residing in Western countries who managed to escape military service in Ukraine. When asked by a journalist that Ukrainians in the West probably do not want to fight, the general replied that their opinions do not matter. “Ah, so now we are going to ask them if they want to be soldiers or not? It is necessary to mobilize, draft into the army – and that’s all,” said the Polish general …and… the head of the IMF told the assembled faithful in Davos in January that the conflict in Ukraine is global, not regional. For the sake of this, hundreds of Ukrainians are dying every day in and around Bakhmut, and such losses are being replaced by forceful kidnappings on the streets of Ukraine.

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