Kyiv, 11 April 2014, – Dmytro Tymchuk, Director of the Center for Military and Political Research and coordinator of the Information Resistance Group, spoke at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center about the build-up of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border, most probable scenarios for Putin’s next steps and separatist movement in the east of Ukraine as today’s main threat to Ukraine’s integrity.
According to the latest information available to the Information Resistance Group, approximately 2000 Russian troops have been withdrawn from Crimea over the last 24 hours. Most of them are Russian special forces (Spetsnaz) and airborne forces (VDV). As of the morning of April 11, around 20,000 Russian troops remain in Crimea.
At the same time, some serious movement has been observed around the Kerch Strait and in Novorossiysk, where approximately 50 oil tankers have gathered. It is widely known that Crimea is running out of fuel. However, according to Dmytro, it is unlikely that the oil is being mobilized in preparation for an attack. “Kremlin is not considering Crimea as a foothold for a full-scale assault,” said Mr. Tymchuk.
Today, the “Crimean scenario” in the east of Ukraine is not possible either, as there is a huge difference between the situation in early March in Crimea and today’s situation in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv. “The Crimean events began in the midst of complete disorganization of the government and demoralization of the law enforcers and the army,” says Dmytro Tymchuk, “They didn’t support Maidan, as opposed to the west of Ukraine, and didn’t understand how legitimate the new government in Kyiv was. This allowed the element of surprise to be used in Crimea. In the east, a period from March 17 to 21 was the ‘boiling point’ and a good time for Putin to invade, but he missed it.”
Mr. Tymchuk believes that separatist movement in the east of Ukraine poses a much greater threat today. “Putin has plans to create a critical situation in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv and to have separatist seize local government buildings, proclaim a republic, ask Russian troops for protection and request a referendum,” Mr. Tymchuk said, “However, they haven’t had any success so far, and the law enforcement authorities have finally took over the initiative and are regaining control in the east little by little. I am 90% sure that if the invasion happens, it will not be a full-fledged military operation, but rather an infiltration of separate Russian units disguised as ‘little green men’ to reinforce the separatists. According to our information, 24 hours ago Kremlin made a decision to refrain from invading until separatists have achieved ‘success’ in the said regions. We also know that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and Main Intelligence Inspectorate (GRU) have stepped up their effort to develop the scenario and are now working with the separatist leaders, sending them clear instructions for further actions. Their task is to create great resonance by engaging the locals, get them to take to the streets, and stage a mob scene. This is why it is important today to monitor the separatists’ activities and, judging by the operations recently conducted by the Ukrainian security services, we are succeeding in that.”
Mass sabotage by the local police officers is another critical factor, according to Mr. Tymchuk. Some officers are refusing to do their job of arresting the perpetrators and protecting local citizens. However, he says that this problem is being resolved gradually by replacing these people with patriotically-minded officers.
Dmytro Tymchuk’s general observation is that owing to the economic and military sanctions against Russia on the part of the USA and EU, unanimous support of Ukraine at the UN, PACE and OSCE, the current situation is a lot more favorable to us than it was during the Crimean invasion. “We do not know how far Putin will go, but we can see quite well that Kremlin does not have a clear plan,” said Mr. Tymchuk, “The scenario keeps getting adjusted, and you can sense the GRU and FSB’s involvement. Nevertheless, time is on our side: the morale of the troops mobilized to the border keeps declining, the separatist rampage in the east is more or less controlled by the Security Service of Ukraine and, fortunately, the ideas of federalization are not as widely supported in Eastern Ukraine as he expected. Everything points to the fact that Putin has lost the lucky moment to openly invade Ukraine.”
Dmytro Tymchuk is the Director of the Center for Military and Political Research and coordinator of the Information Resistance Group.