The Donbas Story
This Needs to be Told Right. Part 2.
Review, Preview, and Reintroduction.
Here is part two of my account of the Donbas war. Read part one here. The Donbas is a heavily industrialized area in south east Ukraine. It is within the area of Southern Ukraine traditionally called Novorossiya. The people of this area migrated from Northern Russia in the past two centuries.
In 2014 the Novorossiyans objected to a coup d’etat in Ukraine by neoNazi groups backed by western deep state operatives. They asked the government of Russia to take them over, as it had done in Crimea. Russia was unable to do this at the time.
The Ukrainian government began attacking the rebelling provinces in South Ukraine/Novorossiya. However, the Ukrainian army was almost totally ineffective due to decades of corruption and mismanagement. People in the Donbas provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk were able to set up an effective militia force and an independent government.
Through the most vicious measures, the Nazi government in Kiev was able to suppress resistance to their rule in most of Southern Ukraine. The Russian government offered little support to the Donbas republics, but volunteers, money, and equipment flowed in from private sources in Russia and some other countries. With this, the Donbas militia not only defeated the Ukrainian army but went on the attack.
The standard western account of this has always been ridiculous. The Russian army invaded Ukraine by way of Donbas, the mighty Ukrainian army held them off, and finally the Russians called for a cease fire. In some western accounts, some sort of pro Russian “Warlords” figured in this story.
Since the early, ‘heroic’ period of Donbas history, in 2014 to 2015, the republics have had their problems. They have received some support from Russia. Ukraine has never really honoured its ceasefire but has not been able to attack and destroy Donbas.
Instead Donbas has endured military encirclement, economic blockade, and constant bombardment from the Ukrainian forces. There has also been a campaign of sabotage and assassinations, which seem to be directed by some oligarchs who are offended by Donbas for some reason. There have been problems of right wing extremists and crooked business people trying to take control of army and government, but a reasonably democratic society has been developed.
After years of this stalemate, the Ukraine fascists were emboldened to prepare an all out attack to destroy Donbas. This motivated Russia to finally intervene with a special operation to remove the Ukraine forces from the Novorossiya area. Conditions are now coming into place for a determination of the final status of Donbas and the Novorossiya area.
There are two realistic possibilities. The area might be absorbed into Russia. Or, an independent state of Novorossiya may be created if the people demand it.
I have found the Donbas story to be compelling and have followed it for all these years. I do not believe it has been well told in the English speaking world so I am offering this effort. This piece will not really fill the gap; I am not an academic or a formal journalist.
The Long, Hot Summer
The summer of 2014 was a hot and dry one in most of the northern hemisphere, including Ukraine. It began there with the first serious armed clashes between the Ukraine army and the Donbass militias. It also started with some vicious efforts by the Kiev neoNazi conspirators to terrify into submission the other Southern provinces.
The position of the coup regime in May of 2014 was shaky. It did not have sufficient police or military forces it could rely on. What it had were gangs of armed thugs who would only be effective against civilians who did not know how to, or did not want to, fight back.
The Ukraine conflicts are a good demonstration of the failure of pacifism as a viable philosophy. The best way in the world to get yourself injured or killed is to get in the face of armed thugs looking to exert control through fear, and needing victims to make examples of. This was shown by the misfortunes of some individuals on Maidan square, who thought they were going to teach Ghandian non violent resistance to the Banderites.
Some people in Odessa, a mainly Russian speaking city in the Southwest of Ukraine, had not learned by this example. They held a demonstration against the takeover of their local government by operatives from Kiev. Maidan thugs were shipped down from Kiev to deal with them.
The Odessans were attacked, driven into a building which seems to have been prepared for them, which was set on fire. Most of these people burned to death, succumbed to some kind of gas, jumped to their deaths from windows, or were beaten to death as they fled the building. Extreme sadism was exhibited by their attackers.
The popularly elected mayor of Kharkov had also sought to go ahead with an independent administration and had asked nationalists in Russia for help. He survived an assassination attempt but was badly wounded and fled to Russia. It seems that a group seeking to form a nationalist militia in that city were strongly discouraged by Russian agents, but many went to the Donbas to fight.
There is one image which most sticks in my mind about the struggle of that summer. It is of some type of armoured vehicle of the Ukrainian forces which was destroyed by the Donbas militias. It was very gruesome; the crew had clearly burned to death as they tried to get out of the burning vehicle.
A message was chalked on the hull of the vehicle, probably by the Donbas soldier who had so carefully framed the picture. The translation was; “For Odessa, Fuckers!” Most of the Donbas defenders were not as cold blooded as that, but it shows what they believed they were up against, and their attitude to it.
There was little doubt from anyone following the events that failure of the Donbasians to repel the “anti-terrorist operation” against them would have led to mass murder, and the depopulation of Donbas. Once a whole population is labelled as “terrorists” anything can be done to them. This is what these people faced.
Against this, to defend their homes, families, language and way of life, coal miners and foundry workers learned in weeks to be effective soldiers. Volunteers, many with military training, flooded in. Aid came in; money, weapons, and food to stave off the danger of starvation in the Donbass.
By the end of that summer, the Ukrainian forces had been utterly defeated and calling for a ceasefire to buy themselves some time. The Donbas revolt is an event as praiseworthy as any in human history where ordinary people rose up against the rule of evil and secured their freedom. This is why the narrative spinners of western media hate this history so much and make such effort to discredit it.
Who fought, with what, why and how.
The first organized fighting was in May in the city of Slavyansk in the north of Donetsk province. This cut the main highway down which Maidan forces moved to Donetsk city, giving the militia more time to prepare. This was done by a group of ‘Panslavic’ adventurers who had formed in Crimea.
The Kiev forces then established a base in Mariupol, southeast of the urban belt. From there they moved north and east, with the idea of getting between the Donbas cities and the Russian border. Donbas is essentially an arc of continuous urbanization running along one road and rail line to the Russian border.
The Donbas commanders realized that to thwart this they had to occupy the Saur Mogila and thus cut the road the Nazis had to use to supply this move. Saur Mogila is a huge tumulus, or burial mound, built for the glorification of some long forgotten megalomaniac nomad warlord. The place was also the site of an intense battle during world war two and a large memorial had been built there, which improved its defensibility.
Donbas suffered severe casualties holding Saur Mogila against frantic Maidanist attacks. It sealed the enemy forces inside the ‘South Cauldron’, within which what discipline they had broke down completely. After a few weeks most of them had surrendered.
More Ukrainian forces arrived in the area. The defence of Slaviansk had to be abandoned. The Ukrainian command decided to try again to drive south of the urban belt to cut off the main cities from each other and the border.
This resulted in the ‘Ilovaisk Caldron’. Donbas militias again encircled Ukrainian forces, then chewed them up as they tried to escape. This opened the way for some Donbas forces to drive south and take Novoazovsk, on the sea of Azov.
These forces were preparing to go west and take the big port of Mariupol when the first Minsk ceasefire was called. The Ukraine forces were collapsing and desperate to gain some time, so they agreed to a ceasefire they had no intention of complying with. This ended the first stage of the Donbas war.
As the fight went on, the Donbas militias become bigger, better armed, and better equipped. They captured much of their gear from the Ukrainians. They bought much of it from corrupt Ukrainian officers or hungry Ukrainian soldiers.
Much of it came over the Russian border as what was ironically termed ‘Voentorg’, meaning roughly what we would call ‘army surplus’ in Canada. The transactions seem not to have been always strictly legal. There was huge support for the Donbas republics among the Russian public, with donations pouring in to buy Voentorg for the militia and relief supplies for the Donbas civilians.
In many cases old factories were started up to produce weapons and ammunition. Much old equipment from the cold war was sitting around in warehouses and could be refurbished and put into service. By various means, the Donbas militias had acquired a formidable artillery force by August.
Food was a much bigger problem for Donbas. By August, the Russian government felt compelled to direct its emergency response organization to run relief convoys into the new republics. The first convoy was held up at the border for a week by Ukrainian customs officials, who had been allowed to remain at their posts after the Ukraine army had been chased away from the border area.
Finally the trucks drove past the border crossings and delivered their goods to the Donbas cities. Many more convoys followed until economic conditions stabilized in Donbas. This was the only “Russian invasion” of Ukraine until this year.
A problem which developed in the Donbas militias was that, while the ‘volunteers’ who came from outside Ukraine often brought needed skills and experience, they often had ideological agendas which did not align with the desires of Donbas residents. Newly elected civil governments had trouble bringing these people under control. They had to ask the Russian government for help.
One of my most salient memories of the conflict was a translated video in which the newly elected civil leader of Donetsk People’s Republic introduced the new head of the armed forces to the public on local television. This person stated that he was a member of the Russian security service (FSB) on loan to the Donetsk government. His job was to bring the various militia groups into a unified structure under control of the civilian government.
The head of the most powerful of these militia groups, who had quite capably functioned as de facto commander in chief in Donetsk, sat beside him looking glum. He seems to have had the idea that Donbas would be the base from which to build a new “Panslavic” state. However, he endorsed the new arrangement. Soon after this he returned to Russia and to obscurity.
The late August ceasefire gave the Donbas forces a pause in which to reorganize. Soon most of the old ‘warlords’ had integrated their forces into the new command structure or had left Donbas. Key positions were now held by Donbas natives.
The governments of the two republics established a joint command. They hired ‘Wagner group’ and other private military contractors whom the Russian government approved, to train and advise their forces. The ‘heroic phase’ of the Donbas revolt was done.
On the opposite side, the Ukraine army was made up mostly of teenaged conscripts with a few weeks of training. They were mostly not very interested in fighting their own people, or in dying for the lunatics in Kiev. The Ukraine army seemed incapable of keeping its soldiers fed.
Thus, the desertion rate in the Ukraine army was very high. As well, in the earlier stages of the conflict, whole units would surrender without a fight, give their weapons to the rebels, and often join them. This became less common once the NeoNazi militia battalions were trained and deployed.
As is usual with thugs and creeps, these battalions were not much good in a fight against a capable opponent. They were used to block any retreat or surrender attempt by Ukraine regulars. They also terrorized civilians, looted them for supplies, suppressed any rebellion, and raped, tortured and murdered with impunity.
The Ukraine army did have some competent professional officers. However, their decisions were often inexplicable and disastrous. It was as if they were trying to lose.
As a legacy of the cold war, there were vast quantities of obsolete military equipment laying around all over Ukraine. This was available to both sides. Usually, both sides used the same types of equipment.
Such was the situation for Donbas, its forces, and its people at the time of the first truce and first Minsk agreement.
The weirdest thing about the Donbas war in 2014 was the destruction of Air Malaysia flight 17 over Donbas, on July 17. What is weird is that it was obvious from the first hour what had happened. Yet a ridiculous narrative was created around it and never challenged.
Even the Russians partly went along with it, particularly the bit about the ‘BUK’ type anti aircraft rocket. They seemed to be trying to prove they never gave the rocket to the Donbasians.
Yet the most unfortunate thing the Russians did was to force Donbas to hand over the plane’s black box to the west’s ‘investigators’. The box has disappeared. Thus, the evidence was destroyed that would have clinched what actually happened.
The main suspects in a crime do not lead the investigation into it. However, Russia was at the time still in a mode of appeasing the west. But they were also buying time for their own arms development, and for the west’s decline.
The airliner was shot down by a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter plane. This was some sort of bungled ‘false flag operation’ intended to create an excuse to bring NATO into the war. The Ukrainian pilot, air traffic controllers, and other people who would have had information on exactly what happened, have all vanished without trace.
Hundreds of people on the ground saw a smaller plane repeatedly approach the airliner, which then broke up and fell. Luggage, plane parts, and people parts, all began raining down on their little patch of Donbas. None of them saw a rocket contrail, which would have been impossible to miss.
The way that an anti aircraft rocket destroys a plane is that gets close to it, on one side or the other. It then detonates its warhead, spreading metal pellets all over the aircraft, causing fatal damage. In a BUK rocket, these pellets are square.
A modern fighter plane takes down a large aircraft first by using its rockets to destroy the engines on both sides. Then it uses its machine guns to destroy the cockpit, first on one side and then the other. The front section of the plane will then usually fall off.
Both the airliner’s engines had been hit by some kind of rocket. The front section was riddled with round projectiles of the calibre of a Su-25’s machine guns. They struck from both sides.
As with everything else about the Donbas struggles, it is very clear what has happened. It is harder to determine who exactly was responsible and their motives. It is very hard to transmit truth through the storms thrown up by the western disinformation machine.
End part two.