Small Wars Journal

Ukraine’s Hybrid War

Ukraine’s Hybrid War by Wesley Clark and Jack Keane - Washington Times

Four years ago this week, Moscow launched its hybrid war against Ukraine and seized Crimea. Six weeks later, it began its not-so covert military operation in Donbas. One of the great, if unheralded stories of this war has been the largely successful effort of Ukraine to defend itself against this hybrid war in the east.

Ukraine has been on the front lines of a new generation of warfare where Russia blurs the lines between peace and war. Moscow’s aggression began with the seizure and then annexation of Crimea in February and March, and then the not so-covert war in Donbas in April.

While the Kremlin has claimed that this was an uprising of Donbas’ ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers against the government in Kyiv, the truth is that this has been a war led, financed and armed from Moscow. Thousands of regular Russian troops stopped Kyiv from retaking the entire Donbas in the late summer of 2014 and thousands of Russian troops remain in the occupied territories today. Moscow controls the military activity of the so-called separatist forces.

We have watched carefully the evolution of Ukraine’s armed forces since the war began and it is impressive…

Read on.

Comments

One could be forgiven in thinking that the article was written by Outlaw 09.  However, it was written by two retired U.S. generals, Clark and Keane, who are among the circle of 'political generals' which ignored Omar Bradley's sage advice.  They were also feted by a Ukrainian oligarch - Viktor Pinchuk - who has basically paid for this piece.  Overall, it might have well been written by  Alexandra Chalupa...

 

Let's take a closer look, shall we?  

 

Selected Excerpt: “One of the great, if unheralded stories of this war has been the largely successful effort of Ukraine to defend itself against this hybrid war in the east...We have watched carefully the evolution of Ukraine’s armed forces since the war began and it is impressive…We were impressed by their competence, dedication and energy...Ukraine’s army has largely fought Kremlin forces to a stalemate…most of this is due to the exigencies of wartime and Ukraine’s creative response...Ukrainian officers have adapted well to battlefield developments and proved ingenious at countering Moscow’s clear advantages in tanks, artillery, cyber and electronic warfare.”

 

On the contrary, Russia successfully carved off Crimea without losing a single serviceman, and has kept a dirty war going in Donbas without rolling in as it did in Chechnya in 1999 or Georgia in 2008, and without airpower as in Syria (2015 to present).  In fact, Russia may have more forces deployed to its Syrian adventure than to Donbas.  As Shelby Foote said of the United States in the Civil War, Russia has fought in Donbas with one hand tied behind its back.  Given that most insurgent forces in Donbas are Ukrainian citizens (even if reliant on Russian support), and that millions of Ukrainians have fled to Russia and Poland, I do not see any "successful effort" here.  

 

Selected Excerpt: "Ukraine’s fight against Kremlin aggression and the old corrupt order is one fight. Strong anti-corruption measures would not only improve life in Ukraine, but strengthen Ukrainian society against Kremlin blandishments, subversion and worse. Such measures would also make Ukraine a more attractive partner for NATO and the EU."

 

Ukraine has its own corrupt pro-EU oligarchs, such as Pinchuk, as well as its own ultra-nationalists who are anti-Russian in addition to being anti-Semitic and racist.  There is an internal struggle and an external one, but with the "Azov National Corps" patrolling the streets of Kiev along with the municipal police, the struggle is clearly far from won...

 

Selected Excerpt: "Ukraine certainly deserves more Western support — evident in the Trump administration’s wise decision on defensive weapons supply — and the Ukrainian people deserve less corrupt governance. These outcomes will be more quickly achieved together."

 

It does deserve more Western support in terms of establishing a liberal democratic society with good governance, but not weapons, or membership in the EU or NATO for now.