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Ukranian Crisis

This is a discussion on Ukranian Crisis within the Geo-strategic Issues forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Any thoughts on what's going to happen here, will the country peacefully split in two, or will there be another ...


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Old February 27th, 2014   #1
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Ukranian Crisis

Any thoughts on what's going to happen here, will the country peacefully split in two, or will there be another Balkans style civil war? What are the implications if Russia gets involved? It's looking fairly similar to what happened in Georgia right now, Russian military exercises near the border which escalated into a protection force for the local ethnic Russian community. IMO it would be fairy easy for Crimea to break away, the province is 70% Russian, most of whome are also Russian citizens and this area was Russian until 1954.

A friend of mine from Odessa said prior to 1991 he was happily Russian, after 1991 nobody asked me what I wanted and I'm now Ukranian by decree not by choice.
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Old February 27th, 2014   #2
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Originally Posted by KiwiRob View Post
Any thoughts on what's going to happen here, will the country peacefully split in two, or will there be another Balkans style civil war? What are the implications if Russia gets involved? It's looking fairly similar to what happened in Georgia right now, Russian military exercises near the border which escalated into a protection force for the local ethnic Russian community. IMO it would be fairy easy for Crimea to break away, the province is 70% Russian, most of whome are also Russian citizens and this area was Russian until 1954.

A friend of mine from Odessa said prior to 1991 he was happily Russian, after 1991 nobody asked me what I wanted and I'm now Ukranian by decree not by choice.
Aside from political matters considering the split, I can say what may happen from the economic stand point. If the eastern and southern Ukraine were to break away, they would likely enter the trade union with Russia. The military-industrial complex in the eastern and southern Ukraine would see investment and orders from Russia, and there would be a significant benefit for workers and the economy as a whole in the breakaway regions. Western and Central Ukraine would on the other hand not see their standards of life increase, unless there was significant foreign investment and subsidies amounting to increases in the agricultural industry capital and technology there.

Last edited by SolarWind; February 27th, 2014 at 10:50 PM.
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Old February 28th, 2014   #3
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Russian troops have moved into several airports in Crimea. They appear to be Black Sea Fleet marines. There's videos here. In the Simferopol airport they seem to be cooperating with the Crimean militias formed to defend against the right wing elements. There have been no fire fights, and the Russian troops are said to be behaving politely, but decline to explain their presence. According to the spokesperson for the Crimean militia, they're there to make sure that masses of radical right wingers are not flown in. The airports remain functional, and flights have not been delayed or disrupted in any way.

However in the Bel'bek international airport the situation is different. The airport is completely shut down, about ~300 presumably Russian military are present there, with checkpoints and vehicles on all access points. Rumors are that Russian military fighter jets have landed there. The military occasionally sends out patrols that patrol the nearby area.

Mind you the troops are not wearing any national insignia, or what unit they belong to. However their uniforms and equipment are a perfect match for current Russian military.

Also the Perekop access point to Crimea is under control of (presumably armed) Crimean militia members, to prevent radical elements from the rest of Ukraine entering. This is likely in response to promises to send "a train of friendship" to help deal with "Crimean separatism". The militia here is working together with the Berkut MVD unit, which is armed with AKs, in flak and kevlar and live ammo. There is a massive check point that doesn't allow anyone with weapons to pass through. A Russian flag flies above the checkpoint, and a large tent has been set up to allow those not on duty to rest.

Аэ€оп Сим„е€ополя кон‚€оли€ƒŽ‚ о‚€яд‹ самообо€он‹ - Ÿе€в‹й по с€о‡н‹м новос‚ям €” LIFE | NEWS

Also the Crimean council of ministers has been seized by unknown armed men. They did not state any demands, no shots were fired, and when approached by the police, (very peacefully I might add, watch the video) they politely stated that they would get in touch with their superior, and afterwards said that negotiations would begin at 9 o'clock.

http://www.segodnya.ua/regions/krym/...ma-499188.html

Finally two military helicopters were spotted flying towards the AVMF base for the Black Sea Fleet. They were seen over Simferopol, the same city where the airport is open but under Russian military control.

Also 7 APCs (probably BTR-80) were seen in the village Gvardeyskoe. They have since returned to a Russian military base.

http://www.segodnya.ua/regions/krym/...ty-499183.html
http://www.segodnya.ua/regions/krym/...ti-499159.html
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Old February 28th, 2014   #4
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Here's my analysis. It seems that the front line is manned by the Crimean militia, and Ukrainian MVD fighters from Berkut. There are barricades, and massive checkpoints. They will fight the uglier fight, at least in the beginning, to keep the matter as a Ukrainian internal one. Russia has taken control of the airports to prevent the new authorities from flying in forces (of any kind) past the checkpoints.

I'm not sure why one is shut down entirely. Maybe the AVMF Su-24s have been deployed there. It's also possible that Russian airforce assets have been rebased there, I doubt Ukraine has adequate control of their airspace right now, but I think it's unlikely. More likely they're preparing so that it's possible do so.

One of the photos posted in the comments here shows a PKP with a Shakhin thermal optic, a brand new piece of equipment very rare in the Russian military. It's possible they're a Marine recon unit, or a VMF spetznaz unit (though far less likely).

Денис Мокрушин - Наши в Крыму
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Old February 28th, 2014   #5
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And another little update.

The Ukrainian MVD has accused the Russian military of invading Ukraine, and then declared that they would not deal with it, it's something for diplomats.

NEWSru.com :: " "

The Press-Service of the Black Sea Fleet has denied that their service members are involved in these actions, but the Press-Service is hardly the place where a confirmation would originate.

Lenta.ru:

Additional sources seem to be stating that the military in question is the Crimean Self-Defense Force. This is probably nonsense in some form or other because the uniform, equipment, and actions, closely match the Russian military. But given the lack of flags or symbols it's possible that Russian military involvement will remain unofficial.

NEWSru.com :: ,

Also it appears that elements of the 31st Para-Assault Brigade will be deploying to Crimea to "provide security for Russian strategic objects". The same source states that SpN GRU elements have already been deployed there. However I'd wait on better sources.

http://73online.ru/readnews/28031

There also seems to be a rumor that elements of the 2nd SpN GRU Brigade have been deployed to Crimea, but no real information so far.

A nice set of images of these "polite people" as they have been dubbed on the Russian internet/

http://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/1440088.html

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Old February 28th, 2014   #6
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So it could end up as a nice quiet peaceful annexation of Crimea by Russia. I believe it'll only turn messy if Ukraine makes it messy; the local population appear pretty happy with what's happening. From my trips to Crimea most of the locals never wanted to be part of Ukraine in the first instance and were pretty pissed when they ended up Ukrainian in 1990. Hopefully Europe and the US will butt out, I don't believe they have any business in this.
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Old February 28th, 2014   #7
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What is Berkut's relation to the new leaders? Who's side are the military and other power structures likely to take? Are they likely to cooperate with Russia?
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Old February 28th, 2014   #8
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What is Berkut's relation to the new leaders? Who's side are the military and other power structures likely to take? Are they likely to cooperate with Russia?
No doubt many diplomats in NATO are asking the same questions. The potential for disaster looms large if anyone screws up here.
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Old February 28th, 2014   #9
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The Ukrainian governmental system is pretty much in ruin, the nation is divided and the situation is delicate at best.

It does not take a genius to guess that those troops are being controlled by Russia, given the huge interests Putin has in the region as getting the Ukraine into the Eurasian Economic Union has been a hot topic for ages now. (As one of the possible reasons)

However question is how will this play out? Because i cannot escape the idea that this looks like a Georgia part 2 story. Which also has been reported by CNN and other media outlets.

What options are on the table at this point for Ukraine, Russia, EU and US?
And if proven that these troops are under Russian control, then what is next?
Because the media reports that the Interim Government of Ukraine is considering this as a foreign invasion, and thats sounds to me like a perfect scenario for a armed conflict of some sort.

Anyway lets hope this all blows over....
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Old February 28th, 2014   #10
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The Ukrainian governmental system is pretty much in ruin, the nation is divided and the situation is delicate at best.

It does not take a genius to guess that those troops are being controlled by Russia, given the huge interests Putin has in the region as getting the Ukraine into the Eurasian Economic Union has been a hot topic for ages now. (As one of the possible reasons)

However question is how will this play out? Because i cannot escape the idea that this looks like a Georgia part 2 story. Which also has been reported by CNN and other media outlets.

What options are on the table at this point for Ukraine, Russia, EU and US?
And if proven that these troops are under Russian control, then what is next?
Because the media reports that the Interim Government of Ukraine is considering this as a foreign invasion, and thats sounds to me like a perfect scenario for a armed conflict of some sort.

Anyway lets hope this all blows over....
I don't think NATO and its new Eastern members are too anxious to get involved in this unless Putin's land grab becomes absolutely outrageous. Europe doesn't have the money or material to be seriously involved. The US doesn't have the money either really and I will leave it to others to discuss if the US has the leadership to do anything. After spending well over a trillion dollars on two wars with questionable results, selling a major intervention to the American public will be a tough sell.
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Old February 28th, 2014   #11
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What is Berkut's relation to the new leaders? Who's side are the military and other power structures likely to take? Are they likely to cooperate with Russia?
Likely? As far as they can tell elements of Berkut are ready to fight on the side of the Crimean militias, with Russian support.

Some additional info, apparently a Ukrainian military unit was based at Belbek, flying some of the few flyable MiG-29s in the Ukrainian airforce. When Russian troops showed up the security forces of the airbase allowed themselves to be disarmed.

There is another nice closeup of the "unknown" troops is in this video. If you look at photoreports from Russian military units, it becomes extremely obvious who you're looking at.

Контроль аэропорта Симферополя бойцами - YouTube
Also the Crimean telecommunications company has been captured by armed men, but details are missing on who they could be. Another telecommunications company, "Yalta", was taken under "security" by 30 armed men, but the company seems to be operating as normal. The TV company ATR has several APCs parked next to it, and expects to be under similar circumstances soon. The APCs seem to imply that Russia is behind these moves, but they could be a coincidence.

Also the airspace above Crimea is closed from Feb. 28th to 18:30 March 1st. Crimean news sources are reporting that this is related to Russian Il-76s landing at Gvardeyskoe.

And the Provisional President of Ukraine has accused Russia of attempting annexation.

http://newsru.com/world/28feb2014/telekom.html

And the Russian consul at Simferopol is preparing to hand out Russian passports to members of the Ukrainian Berkut. Now that traveling to Crimean is basically impossible, this amounts to Russian citizenship for those members of Berkut who have sided with the Crimean militias. The Governor of Astrkhan' region has offered to support Berkut members who want to move there. And the Russian MVD has said that it's prepared to offer jobs to Ukrainian ex-police, who obtain Russian citizenship (though I suspect reality will be a little different). Though this certainly will help move the Crimean MVD assets to siding with Russia.

http://newsru.com/world/28feb2014/passport.html

Also Russia has declined to negotiate with Ukraine on the situation in Crimea, stating that it's an internal Ukrainian situation that occurred in response to certain political processes occurring in Ukraine. They also stated that movement of the Russian military in Crimea is in response to this situation, and is being done to protect Russian military assets inside Crimea.

Finally it appears that 10 Russian helicopters have violated Ukrainian airspace. 3 had appropriate paperwork filed, the other 7 did not. Also at least 5 Il-76's have landed at Gvardeyskoe, also without permission from Ukraine.

http://newsru.com/world/01mar2014/nota.html
http://newsru.com/russia/28feb2014/midukr.html

The Crimean Tatars, meanwhile, don't seem to be liking the new government of Crimea. The head of the Tatar medjlis (no, I don't know what that is... ) stated that they would not support a government formed under the barrel of a gun.

Meanwhile the Crimean parliament is being guarded by armed men, who are speculated to be Ukrainian force-wielders that were discontent with the new government in Kiev. The deputies stated that these men are here by their request and will stay as long as they deputies wish.

http://newsru.com/world/28feb2014/tatar.html

Last edited by Feanor; February 28th, 2014 at 04:05 PM.
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Old February 28th, 2014   #12
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I wanted to ask about Sevastopol Naval Base, a lot of news agencies are emphasizing Sevastopol as a key strategic base for Russia.

I know it is a very important base for Russian Navy but what happens if ( and it is a big if ) they lose access that base? Strategically would it be so bad to use a different base in Black Sea, such as Sochi or Novorossiysk. TV reporters speak in a way that if Russians dont have Sevastopol, they lose their access to Black Sea.
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Old February 28th, 2014   #13
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I wanted to ask about Sevastopol Naval Base, a lot of news agencies are emphasizing Sevastopol as a key strategic base for Russia.

I know it is a very important base for Russian Navy but what happens if ( and it is a big if ) they lose access that base? Strategically would it be so bad to use a different base in Black Sea, such as Sochi or Novorossiysk. TV reporters speak in a way that if Russians dont have Sevastopol, they lose their access to Black Sea.
My understanding is that there was some kind of agreement between the Ukraine and Russia (setup quite sometime age) for Russia to maintain its naval base at Sevastopol. Unless everything goes to $hit, I can't see any new Ukraine govt trying to change this.
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Old February 28th, 2014   #14
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I wanted to ask about Sevastopol Naval Base, a lot of news agencies are emphasizing Sevastopol as a key strategic base for Russia.

I know it is a very important base for Russian Navy but what happens if ( and it is a big if ) they lose access that base? Strategically would it be so bad to use a different base in Black Sea, such as Sochi or Novorossiysk. TV reporters speak in a way that if Russians dont have Sevastopol, they lose their access to Black Sea.
Novorossiysk is being built as an alternate basing point for the Black Sea Fleet. Construction is far along, and it would be possible to re-base some assets there right now, but the majority would have no home there. Also the scale and scope of the construction there doesn't seem to be sufficient to replace Sevastopol entirely.

Also here's a video of the "polite people" in the Crimean Council of Ministers. The video is from a security camera and has no sound. Their interactions with the police inside seem to be surprisingly calm. The police eventually leave, but come back several times to pick up their stuff. The men in this video do not appear to be regular Russian military.

Their clothing, and equipment in a few cases looks like Russian miltiary, but many of them are wearing civilian attire. The weapons definitely indicate professional military, but they're in many cases customized beyond what even Russian units like SOBR is allowed to do. The PK series machineguns have optics on them and there are at least two (maybe 3). I can't tell if they're PKM or PKP (the latter would suggest Russian military). There is at least one guy with a single-use shoulder-fired rocket (like RPG-22). They carry a tripod-mounted crew-serv. at two points that looks like an AGS-17. Their bearing, equipment, and actions, seem to indicate professional military or paramilitary of some sort. This could be the Crimean militias, with potentially some Russian help. This could be Ukrainian ex-military or ex-law enforcement (like Berkut) that joined the Crimeans. So far information is lacking.

”енис œок€ƒˆин - ’ежлив‹е лŽди. ’изи‚ в Сове‚ œинис‚€ов š€‹ма

Also here's a video of helicopters flying towards the shut down Belbek military airfield. I count 10 and at least a few are Hinds.There's speculation about whether they're Ukrainian or Russian, but the numbers match up with the Ukrainian claim of 10 Russian helos.

Russian commentators are speculating that some of those helos are Russian Mi-35M, due to the non-retractable landing gear, and the X-shaped tail-rotor. I'll be honest, I'm not so sure. Numbers of Mi-35M are small, and they're usually integrated with Mi-28N units, not Mi-24 units.

Here's a shot from the video where it appears that the Hind is flying with non-retractible landing gear, making it likely an Mi-35M.

http://cs409323.vk.me/v409323552/b174/HdQzprKsX_c.jpg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=2TVyPiHVZ1A

Also a Ukranian naval border control (Coast Guard) unit was blocked by Marines from the Russian 810th Marine Bde. The border guards also sighted 10 Russian helicopters traveling into Ukraine. The Marines have blockaded the checkpoint, and set up "snipers" (probably a DM or two with SVDs) around the area.

http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2420762

I would also like to mention, giant (GIANT) Russian military exercises are starting right now, involving over 100 000 troops from the Center and West MD (31st Para-Assault Bde that's supposedly headed to Crimea is in Center MD). In other words it will be very hard to track Russian troops movements with regards to their relevance to the situation in Crimea. This could be a major move, or it could be an implied threat. It could even be both. It could be cover for the smaller number of units being deployed to Crimea. It could even be a regular, planned, large scale exercise, that happened to coincide with this mess.

Also a Russian Black Sea Fleet missile boat is at the entrance to the Balaclava harbor. It's not doing anything from the looks of it. But it has closed down the Ukrainian naval border guards there, from leaving. And ~20 Russian military personnel were seen inside the Balaclava harbor (delivered there by a patrol boat), near the naval border guard unit.

http://lb.ua/news/2014/02/28/257564_...er_chf_rf.html
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BhjWArFIIAAnd88.jpg:large

Russian military have also captured GP AeroRukh which control airspace over Crimea. 10-15 were seen there. Metal barriers are set up, and people are instructed not to cross them. Crimean militias are also there.

http://www.trans-port.com.ua/index.php?newsid=51298

Over 80 Russian helicopters in West MD have left permanent basing locations and are being rebased to forward positions.

http://function.mil.ru/news_page/cou...1905878@egNews

And the Ukrainian Navy headquarters in Sevastopol are blocked by a couple of Ural trucks (probably Russian military). In the trucks are about 40 Russian military service-members.

http://rusplt.ru/news/lbua-v-sevasto...ms-100582.html

Photos of Russian military personnel inside Ukraine. To be honest I'm not even sure they have ammo on them...

http://vi.ill.in.ua/m/950x0/771282.jpg
http://vi.ill.in.ua/m/950x0/771283.jpg
http://vi.ill.in.ua/m/950x0/771284.jpg
http://vi.ill.in.ua/m/950x0/771280.jpg

But these ones do.

http://ufu.co.il/files/toi1m0srobfw6wce10e0.jpg

As do these. The optic is supposedly the Shakhin thermal sight.

http://cs607426.vk.me/v607426939/397d/T4YGljFvkCE.jpg

And a column of Tigr armored cars followed by Kamaz and Ural trucks, near Sevastopol at night. If all of those are full, this is at least a company+ element. The people filming are saying that the plates on the trucks are Russian. Later on they show a closeup of what appear to be Russian plates, on another army truck in another part of town.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRz-gIERXzw

Last edited by Feanor; February 28th, 2014 at 05:34 PM.
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Old February 28th, 2014   #15
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The Crimean Tatars, meanwhile, don't seem to be liking the new government of Crimea. The head of the Tatar medjlis (no, I don't know what that is... ) stated that they would not support a government formed under the barrel of a gun....
Medjlis should be the same as majlis, an Arabic word for a meeting place (derived from the same root as the Arabic word for 'to sit'), used for the place where a ruler would listen to petitions from the people & hand out judgements, or where an advisory council would meet, hence what went on there, or the body which met there. Now it can mean a parliament.
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