On Jan. 28 the hacker group Cyber Berkut published a collection of documents taken from the computer of Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor, Anatoly Matios. The papers contain information about catastrophic situation inside the Ukrainian armed forces, such as extremely low morale, arms smuggling, and attempts by Ukrainian commanders to force their soldiers to fight the pro-Russian militia.
On Jan. 25, 2015, Lieutenant General Sergei Popko, the head of the “anti-terror operation” in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, ordered that any transmission of information about the actual losses in the zone of that operation be restricted. In addition, the personnel involved in the operation were ordered to prepare to evacuate from Kramatorsk and to set up barrier squads staffed with soldiers from volunteer battalions in order to prevent the mass desertion of Ukrainian troops from the zone of the anti-terror operation.
The document confirms that in battles in the Donbass the Ukrainian armed forces actually lost tens or hundreds of times more men than stated in the officially released figures. Ukrainian officials and operation commanders persist in denying this undeniable fact, although in the Dnipropetrovsk region bordering Novorossia they are busy expanding the existing cemetery, and the administration of the president of Ukraine is preparing to allocate at least another 80 hectares of formerly agricultural land to make room for fresh graves. (Interestingly, this amount of space will accommodate approximately 260,000 graves, a number that suspiciously matches the number of soldiers and officers that Ukrainian officials plan to call up during the next mobilization).
In this context it is no wonder that the Ukrainian mobilization is running aground. According to information provided by Yuriy Biryukov, an adviser to Poroshenko, the situation is most dire in western Ukraine, where men who receive draft notices flee the country en masse, and local authorities oblige the fugitives by providing them with transportation and establishing new bus routes to take them abroad. Thus, in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, 37% of the men who have received their conscription notices have decamped for foreign destinations.
Paradoxically, many are fleeing to Russia, which, if one believes the claims of President Poroshenko, the Ukrainian ministers, and parliament, is the “aggressor state.”
Ukrainian citizens who are unable to elude their draft summons and who have been forced to fight their compatriots are surrendering to the pro-Russian militia or simply deserting. The documents published by CyberBerkut include a telegram containing more than a hundred names of soldiers and junior officers who have taken flight from their assigned military units within the Ukrainian armed forces.
Another document indicates there is no control over the weapons being used in the zone of the punitive operation. A letter dated Dec. 25, 2014 states that “in total, more than 12,600 crimes as defined by Articles 263 (the illegal handling of weapons, ammunition, or explosives) and 264 (the theft or appropriation of military weapons, ammunition, explosives, or other substances or vehicles) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine have been recorded.”
The causes of these crimes are listed as: the failure to keep proper account of weapons and ammunition, plus the military commanders’ lack of effective control over their movements. As a countermeasure, the prosecutor proposes that military personnel surrender their weapons upon leaving the combat zone during a service rotation. This means that prior to Dec. 25 of last year, soldiers in the Ukrainian armed forces and militants in the “volunteer battalions” were under no obligation to turn in their weapons to anyone. Not surprisingly, in recent months the black market for weapons in Ukraine has ballooned to many times its previous size, although it is still unable to meet the huge demand for weapons from the terrorized general population.
Incidents such as the one described below, taken from a letter from the military commissar for the city of Dzerzhinsk, in the Donetsk region (which is under the control of the Ukrainian army) are merely a logical consequence of this state of affairs. He writes to the city’s military prosecutor, stating that on Jan. 17, 2015 unidentified Ukrainian army soldiers stopped a car carrying three civilian residents of that city, and then shot one of them.
This war against its own people, which Kiev simply cannot win, given the mood of the population and soldiers, has already resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 civilians, has flooded Ukraine with weapons, and has practically done away with the rule of law as such. But Kiev clearly has no intention of quitting – sufficient graves have been prepared and the die-hard nationalist militants are herding the soldiers of the Ukrainian armed forces to the slaughterhouse.