Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 09.01.2019
The Russian Federation invaded Ukraine in Crimea in February 2014 and Donbas in April 2014. Both campaigns of Putin’s War began using Russian soldiers in disguise: either in uniform without identification – the “little green men” – or in plain clothes – “titushky” or paid thugs. Five years after Russian armed aggression against Ukraine began, Russian soldiers, agents, and Fifth Columnists are attempting to influence and dominate all of Ukraine, both the occupied and the free territories. They are in disguise and they are in plain sight. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is pervasive, insidious, and intractable.
Officers and soldiers of the regular Russian army have been fighting in eastern Ukraine since GRU agent Igor “Strelkov” Girkin led Spetsnaz units on an assault of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk in Donetsk region starting in April 2014. They used the “little green men” tactic of removing insignia in this phase of the war. By the time of the Battles of Ilovaisk and Luhansk Airport and Debaltseve, Russian troops crossing the border into eastern Ukraine to fight were adopting the insignia of the so-called “DPR” and “LPR” military formations that the Kremlin’s special services invented for “maskirovka” (masked warfare) purposes.
The army of occupation in Donbas is Russian. Part of Luhansk region and part of Donetsk region is not under the control of the Ukrainian government. The soldiers there are under the command and control of the Putin regime: they are paid, armed, supplied, fed, clothed, and led by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
As well as wearing fake patches and carrying fake flags of the so-called “DPR” and “LPR,” Russian soldiers going to the war zone now conceal their true allegiance with fake passports. Although unrecognized – even by the Russian Federation – the ersatz statelets issue passports printed for them by Russian special services. The Russian occupation administration issues passports of the unrecognized “Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics” to Russian regular soldiers and mercenaries when the cross the international border (which is completely controlled by the Russian Federation) into Ukraine.
At a news conference on January 8, the press secretary for the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Maksym Prauta, said that Russian regular soldiers on active service inside Ukraine are abandoning their Russian Federation identification documents and adopting the fake passports of the so-called “DPR” and “LPR” when go to the battlefront. Mr. Prauta said that commanders of the Russian occupation forces are stepping up their efforts at disguise as another rotation of Russian officers take up senior positions in the 1st Army Corps (Donetsk or so-called “DPR”) and 2nd Army Corps (Luhansk or so-called “LPR”).
“Moreover, to avoid information leaks about the presence of Russian military personnel and mercenaries (Russian citizens) in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, passports of the so-called 'republics' are being promptly issued to these categories of persons, primarily, to officers of the Russian armed forces,” said the Defence ministry spokesperson.
In the full-spectrum warfare which the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine, diversion reconnaissance groups (DRGs) of the Russian army play a big part. These small teams of Russian soldiers attempt to go across the front line in Donbas or to enter Ukraine through a normal border crossing. It’s the job of the Joint Forces Operation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to stop Russian DRG groups in Donbas. It’s the job of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine to stop them elsewhere.
Ukraine adopted a 30-day war state legal framework for 10 regions of the country adjacent to the Russian aggressor after the Ukrainian Navy was attacked on 25 November 2018. During that time, Ukraine barred entry to the country to male Russian citizens who are of military age. This initiative was believed to be so effective that Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin now is in favour of a permanent ban on the entry of male citizens of the Russian Federation aged 16 to 60 into Ukraine.
The price of standing against Russian imperialist aggression is eternal vigilance. Already used to looking out for the fakery of “little green men” and “pro-Russian separatists,” Ukrainians now must watch for fake passports of unrecognized statelets and sketchy tourists of military age coming over the border. This is the nature of the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine.