Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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Behind Closed Doors: Ukraine's Panicked Meeting Ahead Of Crimean Seizure

President Vladimir Putin eventually admitted that the 'little green men' who appeared during the seizure of Crimea were indeed Russian troops.
President Vladimir Putin eventually admitted that the 'little green men' who appeared during the seizure of Crimea were indeed Russian troops.
By Anna Shamanska

Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council has published a previously top-secret transcript of a closed-door meeting it held on February 28, 2014 -- just a few days before Moscow’s seizure of Crimea.
The 37-page document shows the new authorities -- in power for less than a week -- in a state of near panic as they address how an unprepared Ukrainian army would deal with Russian aggression that appears to have caught them off guard. 
The Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense says it released the document on February 22 to show the circumstances Ukraine faced as the annexation was beginning and what countermeasures the government had discussed taking.
"Lately there has been a lot of insinuation and speculation about this," committee head Serhiy Pashynskyy said at the meeting, referring to the conflict with Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions. "Maybe in two more years we will tell how the war in the east began."
RFE/RL's Current Time television published the most important excerpts from the meeting:
'Demoralized' Servicemen
Ukrainian servicemen in Crimea were "demoralized," and many had not accepted the new government that came to power after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country. This according to Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, chairman of Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), who argued at the meeting that the troops were not prepared to carry out Kyiv’s orders.
He also said that many in the military had already betrayed their oath to Ukraine, a charge backed by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who said 67 Ukrainian riot policemen had defected to the Russian side.
Members of the council acknowledged that the Ukrainian military was debilitated, despite the fact that there were 15,000 Ukrainian troops in Crimea. "The majority among the military are contracted locally --service means money to them," said acting Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh. "A maximum of 1,500-2,000 troops are ready to execute an order involving the use of weapons."
It was revealed that only 5,000 servicemen in Ukraine were available to carry out combat missions. "We can send them to Crimea, but it won’t solve the problem of Crimea," said Tenyukh. "We will simply get them killed there."
58,000 Russian Troops
Council members discussed staggering numbers of Russian troops present on Ukrainian territory or just along the Russian border.
"In the directions of Kyiv, Donetsk, and Kharkiv there is already a concentration of 38,000 people," said the acting defense minister. "If they came in the morning from Chernihiv Oblast, by evening they would be in Kyiv."
The council also said Russia was moving assault units of the armed forces and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) special forces to Crimea. According to Tenyukh, at the time of the council meeting there were 20,000 Russian troops on the peninsula.
(Russia, at the time, was publicly denying that the soldiers, nicknamed "little green men," where theirs. Moscow claimed they were "local volunteers." Russian President Vladimir Putin later admitted that they were, indeed, Russian troops.)
The acting defense minister also recounted a brief conversation between the Ukrainian Navy commander and the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in which the latter said that "they will go to the end."
"All forces are in full combat readiness," the Russian commander was quoted as saying. "If you do not resist there will be no blood and everything will end peacefully."
Crimeans Supported Russia
The Crimean Peninsula's population massively supported Russian actions in Crimea, according to the SBU head Nalyvaychenko. "The disinformation and defamation campaign, and building pressure on public sentiment with the help of Russian and Crimean media, is incredibly strong," Nalyvaychenko said.
The acting president and parliamentary speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, emphasized that it was important for Kyiv to address Crimeans to explain that the Ukrainian government was not the enemy. "We must dispel the myth that it was Crimeans who rebelled against Ukraine," he said. "It wasn't Crimeans. This is purely a military operation against a sovereign state."
Proposed New Status For Crimea 
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk suggested a political solution to the crisis that would entail changing the status of the Crimean Autonomous Republic in Ukraine to give it even greater powers to run its own affairs. He suggested adopting a law that would allow the peninsula to form its own financial system.
"I would call it conditionally independent," said Yatsenyuk. "For instance, [we could] leave at the disposal of the autonomy a value-added tax, leave [them] a part of the excise tax, and [let them] make decisions about so-called language, national, cultural, and ethnic issues."
However, he admitted that this plan would not work, and that Russia would not support such a scenario because it was "not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict."
Martial Law Mulled
Acting President Turchynov called for the introduction of martial law in Ukraine. Responding to criticism that the move would increase panic in society, Turchynov countered that "even greater panic will ensue when Russian tanks roll on [Kyiv’s main street] Khreshchatyk." His argument fell flat.
"If we introduce martial law, see what happens." Yatsenyuk said. "It’s part of their plan. Besides troops, Chechens will go there, if they are not there already. An ethnic conflict will start there."
Turchynov decided to call a vote on the introduction of martial law anyway.
"Who is for? he asked. "Fine, only Turchynov is for. The decision is not made."
Call From Russia
The council meeting was interrupted toward the end. Russian State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin had apparently telephoned demanding to speak with Turchynov immediately.
"What can I say," Turchynov told the meeting upon his return. "Naryshkin passed on threats from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. They don’t rule out, as he said, making hard decisions concerning Ukraine for persecuting Russians and Russian speakers. Perhaps they are hinting at a decision to send troops not only to Crimea."

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jim from: USA
February 23, 2016 19:47
This is beginning to sound like "the rest of the story". Could it be that the people of Crimea were getting fed up with the corruption in Kiev and wanted to return to Russia. Key word being "return".
In Response

by: Anatoly from: Russia
February 24, 2016 00:20
Great president Putin freed the world by exterminating dissidents. We must all support our brave president who is not American to hide behind green men words, but speaks the truth. We don't need freedom, we have Putin to help us every day. When I don't have anything to eat because of Putin, I eat Putin.

I'm true Russian, like Jim.
In Response

by: James Canchela
February 24, 2016 02:40
Did you even read the article?
In Response

by: F
February 24, 2016 05:06
There is a big difference between 'sound like ' the story or 'the story'. Remember the Crimean people few days ago voted against the proRussian leaders in Ukrainian election. Which clearly meant they had no desire to change their country. Did they ask Russian army to come in ? If they did where is the proof ? No proof therefore it was a false flag. Crimean people simply had no voice because voice does not stand in front of tank. Every country has corruption including Russia. So that piece of propaganda is a very hard sell. And what is happening in Crimea now ? The whole island is being ruled by an unelected smuggler and the place is being sold to Russian oligarchs. So no change and thigs are getting worse.
In Response

by: Fane
February 27, 2016 10:12
A lot of "returns" for Russia in the past 300 years.

by: Al Efesby
February 23, 2016 22:18
So, it sounds like whole Crimea population wanted to be with Russia. Why West rejected the referendum then and placed sanctions? Democracy is democracy, be it in Crimea or Kosovo, or anywhere else.
In Response

by: George
February 24, 2016 00:15
Just like democracy in Syria supported by Russian guns
In Response

by: jation from: croatia
February 24, 2016 16:45
You mean democracy in Kosovo supported by American guns?
In Response

by: Marvin McCardle from: San Tan Valley
February 24, 2016 02:26
This was and still is a military coup on Russia's part. It is a act of war and cannot be looked upon as anything else. Russia invaded a sovereign nation and it broke the treaty signed by them and Ukraine and the UK and the USA. Remember that ?
In Response

by: James Canchela
February 24, 2016 02:43
Would you please bother to read the article before making comments.
In Response

by: Genet from: Germany
February 24, 2016 03:43
Well articulated !El Ef
The people of crimea has voted to return back to Russia ! No doubt Except the double standard of the so called our western democracies !
Crimea has gone not to return ! The empty cry of the long arms of pseudo democracies Media like RFE will continue ! AS an encient proverb put it Dogs are barking the camel has continue its Journey !
In Response

by: H from: Donbass
February 24, 2016 05:09
Kosovo was in a state of war and serbs were massacring Muslims. Crimea was not. So no comparison.The primary reason Russia supports serbs because of their xenophobia and racism against ethnic Muslims and their pan slav agenda. Their OWN policy in Chechnya clearly shows it.

by: SuperG from: Tennessee
February 24, 2016 04:45
Great writing. As we have seen the Ukrainians were able to rise up and eventually obtain a stalemate. Putin found out that there were very few pure Russian speakers or sympathizers outside of Crimea and most Ukrainians did not want to be part of a Russian buffer zone to NATO. The problem for Ukraine now is internal. Reforms are not coming and Putin could yet win because of a Russia’s social contagion – Soviet Kleptocracy.

by: Vid Beldavs from: Latvia
February 25, 2016 16:20
I see a scenario where the whole process was engineered from the start by Moscow. Yanukovych had negotiated the agreement with the EU, was satisfied with the terms and had the backing not only of his party, but of the vast majority of the Ukrainian people The vote in the parliament earlier in the year had been 318 for EU out of a total of 449 that included abstentions. Polls were running well into the 70% for the EU association. When Putin forced Yanukovych to switch at the lost moment for Russia massive demonstrations were assured. Pressure on Yanukovych included a threat of total cutoff of agricultural imports from Ukraine plus the $3 billion bribe and no doubt other measures. After Yanukovych caved the firm measures recommended by Russia resulted in resistance, but unlike Syria, not armed resistance. The sniper shootings spelled the end for Yanukovych. The night before he was spirited out of Kiev the security forces disappeared from the central city. Why? Who ordered this? Was there an expectation of chaos justifying the use of the Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border? If armed chaos had erupted many in the EU might have even welcomed Russia marching into Kiev and restoring order. Former separatist leader Igor Girkin (Col Strelkov) has commented that despite numerous provocations the people of Ukraine simply did not want to fight. He made the war in the East unavoidable. Strelkov had earlier been involved in the takeover of Crimea, for which Putin personally claims credit in fact due its success Putin is on record as saying he commanded the operation. But, was much more expected that did not succeed because the people of Ukraine simply did not want to fight, there was in reality an absence of the hostility to feed ethnic conflict and civil war.

by: Steve
February 26, 2016 05:36
It is easy to forget how the situation was engineered by Russia, anti-Ukrainian propaganda had been a facet of Crimean life for almost 20 years, in almost every media opportunity, and that anti-Ukrainian propaganda was massive during Euromaidan, the Crimeans were told that fascists from Kyiv were coming to kill them for speaking Russian. Now the tide is slowly turning, as they see Ukraine (albeit too slowly) beginning to reform and being offered opportunities, like visa-free travel etc... Ukraine will win with persistence, reform and by punishing those guilty of stealing from her. Slava Ukraina!

About This Blog

Using regional media and the reporting of Current Time's wide network of correspondents, Anna Shamanska will tell stories about people and society you are unlikely to read anywhere else.   

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