They Can Kill Givi, or Even Zakharchenko, But They'll Never Kill Us All
The internal security of the fledgling republics is porous, pro-Kiev and well compensated spies/smugglers are operating out of Donetsk and Lugansk, and the absence of tit for tat killings of Ukrainian battalion commanders in UAF-held cities behind the lines like Mariupol or Slavyansk has emboldened Kiev to keep targeting the LDNR leadership. Particularly during a period when Moscow is seeking to restrain its satellites as much as possible and has taken the line that Kiev's goal through such assassinations and preparations for an offensive is to spoil any detente between the Trump Administration and the Kremlin.
Nonetheless, killing commanders in Mossad-style hits and behaving as if the Moscow-imposed restraints on the republics is equal to weakness or impunity (when Ukrainian troops are notorious for taking bribes not to fully inspect cargoes for hidden weapons at checkpoints, and hence smuggling thermobaric RPGs or IEDs into Mariupol or Slavyansk/Kramatorsk to assassinate Ukrainian commanders with would be child's play) is one thing. Achieving any real battlefield successes to break the stalemate imposed by Russia's LDNR proxies without prohibitive casualties is something else for Kiev's forces -- an unreachable goal.
The Likelihood of Retaliation and Killing of Ukrainian Neo-Nazi and Security Service Commanders is Rising With Every Successful 'Hit' in Donetsk and Lugansk
If Kiev's sabotage and reconnaissance groups do succeed in taking out their purported next targets -- the heads of the republics Igor Plotnisky and Alexandr Zakharchenko -- then not even Mr. Poroshenko's aides, neo-Nazi battalion leaders, or SBU regional chiefs in Kiev, Odessa, Mariupol or Kharkov (the latter two cities 40 miles from the Russian border) would be safe from direct retaliation in the form of an RPG or heavy sniper bullet through their windshields.
Just as Ukrainian nationalists love to boast of how many sympathizers they have behind the LDNR's lines, there's likely no shortage of Ukrainians who remember the mass murder at the Odessa Trades Union Building or the kidnapping and torture of 'suspected separatist' relatives thirsty for revenge and only needing the implements to be put in their hands by the GRU or the Novorossiya underground. A partisan movement rumored to still exist under the noses of the CIA supported Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), particularly in Odessa, Kharkov and Mariupol -- cities close to Russia or the Russian-backed exclave of Transnistria (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic). Or does Kiev really think the Nazi LARPers of Azov can competently (and honestly) run enough (non-bribe taking) checkpoints to prevent their own commanders from being taken out by the same methods used against Givi? Of course, revenge won't bring anyone back -- not those murdered in the Odessa Trades Union building, and not Motorola or Givi.
Sexy 'Counterinsurgency' Tactics vs. the Banal Reality of Kiev's Failed War
Notwithstanding the 'advice' of one Army Major in the Small Wars Journal who imagines that the economically moribund, kleptocratic and Stepan Bandera/UPA cult promoting regime in Kiev can actually win the hearts and minds of the people its been shelling or blockading for nearly three years, the war was mostly lost for Kiev after its humiliating defeats at Donetsk Airport and Debaltsevo. With the rapidly modernizing and superior to the UAF Russian Army ready just across the border, Kiev and its backers' dreams of an 'Operation Storm' 1995 Croatia style breakthrough followed by encirclement of the republics are likely to remain just that, fantasies. The best Kiev can hope for is to continue what it's largely been doing since 2014-15 -- scorching the earth and making life as unbearable for civilians left in the LDNR (particularly pensioners with no family and no where to go in Russia or non-combat zone Ukraine) as possible, to punish them for wanting to be part of the Russian world on their ancestors land, rather than the 'patriots of Ukraine's' failed vision of a country.
However, it's precisely the drunken or punitive shelling of towns and cities by the UAF, and the 'separatists shelled their own people' idiocy of Ukraine's propaganda that bar any successful execution of a Small Wars Journal published bit of counterinsurgency 'hearts and minds' advice. Nor does Kiev have even a tiny fraction of the funds that would be required to repair some of the damage nearly three years of fighting did to what had been Ukraine's most industrialized and urbanized region, much less create new industries in the former Soviet rust belt.
The Bigger Picture: Negotiations Between Trump and Russia Are Ongoing, Rumors Fly That Porky is On the Way Out From Bankova Street
The line laid down by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week during his important meetings in Budapest with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been repeated in recent days by the Russian Foreign Ministry and media. The latest round of escalation in the Donbass, particularly the heavy shelling and rocket fire around the industrial or 'promzone' between the UAF held city of Avdiivka and DNR-controlled Donetsk, is due to Kiev needing more money from its 'western partners'. Ukraine is awaiting the next tranche of International Monetary Fund (IMF) money in order to pay civil servants and soldiers salaries, its population is about to be subject to more IMF mandated austerity in the form of protest-fueling electric and gas utility rate hikes, and President Petro Poroshenko's support continues to sink toward single digit approval ratings in public opinion polls.
Meanwhile, according to former Ukrainian parliamentarian Oleg Tsarev, there are serious negotiations underway in Washington not only with Moscow, but also discussing the removal of Poroshenko and his possible replacement by the Hillary Clinton of Ukraine, Yulia Timoshenko. This is consistent with the information also provided by sources to Rostov based academician Eduard Popov, who also believes Poroshenko is on his way out and may be impeached or perhaps will resign in return for being free to take his ill-gotten loot into exile in Canada or Europe. Hence Poroshenko's desperation to make himself less dispensable and draw more IMF, EU or US Congressionally appropriated funds to Ukraine by escalating hostilities in the Donbass:
Meanwhile in Washington, Trump permitted his UN Ambassador Nikki Haley to condemn Russia for the latest round of fighting, but afterward Haley met in private with Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin. Mr. Churkin, for his part, echoed his boss Putin's line that Poroshenko and the Ukrainian authorities are cynically escalating hostilities in Donbass in violation of their commitments under the February 12, 2015 Minsk 2 ceasefire agreement in order to disrupt any improvement in U.S.-Russia relations.
As for Trump, his telephone conversation with Poroshenko was brief, perfunctory even, and resulted in no announced commitments. Trump's Vice President Mike Pence has said in recent interviews 'we're watching Russia' but left the door open for cooperation on counter-terrorism against ISIS in Syria. Speaking directly to Fox News Bill O'Reilly, who called Vladimir Putin 'a killer', Trump shrugged and asked O'Reilly whether he realized there were plenty of killers the U.S. had to deal with, and how many people had died as a result of the wrong-headed war in Iraq. O'Reilly and the political class whose party line on Putin he represented were flabbergasted (despite their failure to ever present actual proof Putin has ordered the killing of his political opponents or journalists, only the allegation repeated over and over). The headlines, from the (Langley linked) Washington Post, "Trump Abandons Ukraine", expressed the state of panic stretching from Kiev to the (G)NGO of the Atlantic Council in Washington:
The Failed Ukrainian Meddling in the U.S. Election Against Trump: Ukrainians Back Off Claims of Millions in Secret Payments to Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort
While President Trump allegedly told former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko the infamously corrupt 'gas princess' that he would not lift sanctions on Russia imposed over Moscow's actions in Crimea or support for the Donbass republics, this is small comfort to a Kiev government that desperately needs cash and perhaps, if Poroshenko can be persuaded to accept new elections, fresh faces in positions of leadership. It is not a coincidence, that after Poroshenko's ambassador to Washington worked with Democratic party operative if not unregistered foreign lobbyist Andrea Chalupa to attack candidate Donald Trump and smear him and his campaign manager Paul Manafort as Russian agents, that The Donald has given Porky if not Timoshenko a cold shoulder.
Russia's First Channel, citing Politico and other sources, has the story, which was partly covered by Vineyard of the Saker editor 'Scott'. Longtime RogueMoney readers will not be surprised to see Lowdown Dirty Psyops posts star, ex-US Naval War College troll and former NSA analyst John R. Schindler involved in the PR campaign to smear National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn as a Russian agent:
Not Just Trump: Europeans Including the Germans Getting Tired of Funding Kiev Kleptocracy's Endless War in the Donbass
The weariness with which many Europeans including even Angela Merkel's Germans are now viewing the Donbass conflict was revealed by the German Ambassador to Kiev, Ernst Reichel. Who said last week to howls of outrage from the Verkhovna Rada and Ukrainian media that the presence of Russian troops in the LDNR should hardly present an obstacle to elections being held in the republics according to Ukrainian law, as the Minsk 2 agreement calls for. After all, Reichel said, Soviet troops were still on the soil of East Germany when the East Germans voted overwhelmingly to reunify with West Germany in 1990. The Ambassador was summoned to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry to 'explain' if not recant his remarks. PolitRussia's Ruslan Ostashko summed it up this way:
On Thursday Harley Schlanger of LaRouchePAC, an American based in Berlin, recounted to RogueMoney Radio his recent visit to the European Parliament and EU Council in Brussels. Schlanger says he met with Italian MEPs who are assembling a left-right-center coalition to move their country out of the euro. Compared to the earth-shaking economic consequences of an Italexit from the eurozone, having Italian or French corporations simply ignore if not openly defy Brussels sanctions against Russia (including the Crimea) is small pasta. The changes coming with the Dutch and French elections this spring and summer promise to shake if not shatter the EU/Atlanticist facade of post-Western unity against 'Russian aggression in Ukraine'.