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Taras Bartka, Colonel of Armed Forces of Ukraine, 19.05.2022 
 

The experience and misuse of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in combat operations on the front line in eastern Ukraine revealed several problems, which led to serious consequences with significant losses of personnel, equipment, weapons and property as well as reputational losses. This is due to the low combat capability of units when not used for their intended purpose. Analysis of the causes of low combat capability in the misuse of the XXX TRO brigade demonstrates a problem similar for all the brigades of the TDF (Territorial Defense Forces) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

 

The example of the XXX Brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which were involved in the forces of OTG (operational-tactical group)"YYY" on April 28 which received the combat mission to secure certain areas of the frontline, identified the following shortcomings. 

 

1. On a wave of patriotism, in the first days of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine and the announced mobilization, a large number of motivated people came to the DTROs (district territorial recruitment offices; former military enlistment offices), but they were not registered neither was information about them or about their health recorded. Given the specifics of the service provided by current legislation, DTROs sent discharged non-military servicemen, the elderly, with health problems (limited fitness, unfit in peacetime, and even the disabled III and II groups, who for patriotic reasons hid their actual state of health) to the TDF; 

 

2. Many volunteers who arrived at the DTROs immediately volunteered for service in the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. For various reasons they were not ready to serve in combat brigades of the UGF (Ukrainian Ground Forces) and other types of the Armed Forces of Ukraine; 

 

3. From the beginning of mobilization, there was minimal organizational support for the  TDF units (as they allegedly did not need support in the first place), from the deployment of newly formed battalions – to the logistical supply of equipment, weapons, food, vehicles, communication means, etc.), led to a delay in the start of combat coordination of these units.  

 

The first days and even weeks of support were provided on a volunteer basis. According to the instructions of the local CMAs (civil-military administrations), vehicles or other property were allocated for the needs of the battalions on the principle of "it is not a pity to give or get rid of." Enlisted volunteers bought and restored freelance equipment at their own cost and brought their vehicles, and then used them as regular ones, according to the official staff list no battalion was provided with even 50% of the specified requirement for XXX brigade. 

All inquiries from non-government organizations that helped provide for the Armed Forces of Ukraine were answered with notices that they focus their efforts primarily on providing for those units that are already performing combat missions. As a result, at the time of departure, the TDF units were not provided with everything deemed necessary for an active battalion. 

 

Despite this, the command and local CMAs reported the status as "the full provision of everything required is delivered". All attempts to convey an objective situational report resulted in pressure from above and a ban on talking about problems, so as to mislead the enemy. As a result, the Higher Command of the TDF, CMAs, relatives of servicemen and the local population were misled;

   

4. At the same time, the existing proving grounds of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were occupied by combat brigades that were deployed there. This resulted in the units of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine being unable to use the proving grounds.  

 

The bad experience of the missile strike on the Yavoriv Proving Ground showed the impossibility of a concentration of troops there. The TDF battalions, when possible, decided for themselves on the methods of conducting exercises and combat training, not always finding an understanding with the local CMAs. Besides, the exercises were carried out in small groups - only within a part of a department, or a part of a platoon - and not in the correct places, i.e.on proving grounds of the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the National Guard, end even in the territories of private hunting clubs… There was no full brigade or even battalion training at all.   

 

5. The full completion of combat coordination was affected by the fact of sending of up to 70% of members of combat units (in some battalions) to serve in the defence of important critical infrastructure, strategic facilities, service at checkpoints in various areas of ​​responsibility such as cities, on bases from the first days of formation, which meant there was an impossibility of completing requisite combat training of all battalion personnel particularly new recruits; 

 

6. At the request of orders from the Command of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, battalion commanders were directed not to report the actual state of affairs to the brigades' HQs, only the desired assessment expectation. Objective reports were returned to battalions with the requirement to report as ready for the assigned tasks regardless of their actual readiness state because they did not meet the deadline brigade HQ expected;

  

7. The combat readiness of some battalions was also affected in some instances by the decision to remove the best-trained soldiers and officers, including combatants, to a consolidated unit and to send them to the combat zone, however without removing them from the battalion duty roster. That is to say, the battalions were officially staffed, but in reality were never available. No one shared the real situation in the combat zones so nobody knew how and where to use TDF units properly.  

 

8. Upon receipt of the order to send battalions of the XXX brigade to the combat zone, the purpose of the exercise was not issued to the personnel. The provided information on serving at checkpoints, clearing of liberated territories, protection of facilities and other tasks assigned by the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, for which minimal training of personnel had been given, was provided orally; 

 

9. Upon arrival in the combat zone, and coming under the command of OTG  "YYY", the ХХХ brigade received a combat order to occupy the frontiers on the first (zero) line, and the order was immediately sent to the command of subordinate battalions. The tasks were set, both for mechanized combat brigades and assault brigades, without taking into account the lack of appropriate weapons for defence or assault operations, appropriate training and at least some experience. The command of OTG "YYY" was either misled about the combat capability of the mentioned units or did not take into account the possible consequences of using them (the option of a malicious decision is not considered); 

 

10. On active duty in the area of ​​responsibility according to combat orders, personnel, in the absence of communication and interaction with adjacent units, without cover, from the first hours came under artillery strikes of various calibres, MLRS shellings, and enemy aircraft strikes. 

 

Short of a means of firepower and artillery counterattack, and primarily (!) communication, battalion personnel became the target of enemy firepower without being able to convey the real situation. Intelligence data were not provided to unit commanders, and data from commanders to commanders was transmitted late, and inaccurately.  

 

There were no opportunities to build fortifications or even basic trenches, as any works and changes in the landscape led to accurate targeting for enemy drones, as repeatedly warned but not conveyed by adjacent units that were already in the area of ​​responsibility. Attempts to fortify and use camouflage at night resulted in accurate mortar hits, as enemy drones have thermal imaging cameras and fully control the front line.  

 

At the same time, the Ukrainians’ regular means of destruction (mortars of smaller calibre than regular ones) were received during the combat mission and the training of personnel for other weapons was not carried out. Sapper blades without covers were obtained just before the occupation of the frontiers. Anti-tank and anti-aircraft means were not provided before the start of the tasks (except for the regular number of RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) which most units had not been trained to use at the required level). Forms and maps of minefields had not been verified, which has led to irreversible losses during the occupation of the positions; 

 

11. With the start of attempts of the enemy battalion-tactical groups to storm the positions, the personnel of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, were not prepared to conduct combat operations against OTGs with armoured vehicles and artillery, under cover of aircraft, in the absence of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, communications in the system of - company - battalion - brigade, having lost control, left operational "positions" and began a disorganised withdrawal. 

 

In the absence of interaction with adjacent units (as noted above), the units came under crossfire, including "their own". The unjustified requirement to place company and battalion command and control posts in the line of contact led to their destruction and loss. After the repulse of the assault by mechanized and assault units of other types of  Armed Forces of Ukraine, the destruction of the above crossings, the personnel managed to partially return to their "positions" with the task of maintaining defence; 

 

12. During ongoing hostilities for a further 10 days, irreparable losses and injuries mainly from artillery, and airstrikes, led to the demoralization of personnel, and complete despair of the competence of the command from battalion to brigade inclusively. Orders to directly attack the enemy's OTGs only with the available passenger vehicles with small arms only increased the losses. There have been rumours of a "betrayal in the command and an attempt to exterminate patriots in favour of Putin as a part of the so-called 'denazification' of Ukraine." Attempts by company commanders and battalion commanders to convey the actual situation to the brigade command have led to accusations of cowardice, treason and refusal to carry out orders.

 

13. The lack of understanding of the real situation by the brigade command and the failure to report to the High Command of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces and OTG "YYY" caused a distorted perception of the ability and combat effective capability of TDF units. 

 

CONCLUSIONS: 

 

1) Units of battalions of the XXX brigade proved to be incapable in conditions of misuse, in a situation over and above their capabilities and training; 

 

2) The command of the XXX Brigade partially lost control and failed to rectify the critical situation in the conditions of combat actions during the 10 days of active engagement with the enemy. There are great doubts about the ability to further rectify the situation, given the accusations of cowardice aimed at this battalion personnel; 

 

3) The Brigade Command and above consists of officers with combat experience in the use of trained and fully provisioned assault troops and mechanized brigades, which does not correlate with the existing forces and tasks that the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are facing; 

 

SUGGESTIONS: 

 

1. Immediately withdraw the personnel of the battalions of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the front line and assign them the tasks suitable to them; 

 

2. Use the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine only as intended, and inform the public about the rapid resolution of the growing scandal, especially in wartime; 

 

3. Replace the Command in some brigades due to the complete loss of confidence of personnel in command personnel; 

 

4. Carry out personnel work on dismissal of unfit personnel, dismiss at the request of a large number of families and others who voluntarily joined the Territorial Defense Forces in the wake of patriotism, or transfer such a category of servicemen to their permanent locations; 

 

5. Maximise opportunities and time to complete the preparation of anti-tank and anti-aircraft units in combat conditions; 

 

6. Organize cooperation with the new Command from soldier to brigadier to restore confidence in commanders and restore faith in our Victory; 

 

7. Withdrawal from the combat zone shortly is impractical until these problems are corrected and will only harm both the personnel and the authority of the higher command. 

 

This analysis, conclusions and suggestions are made by omitting the legal aspect and consequences of the use of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Legal assessment is added below in Annex 1. 

 

Commander of the XX Battalion of the XXX Brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 

Colonel Taras Bartka

 

*********** Annex 1 *********** 

 

The legal basis for the use of Territorial Defense Forces is the Constitution of Ukraine, the Law of Ukraine "On Fundamentals of National Resistance" (hereinafter - the Law) and other regulations adopted under the Law of Ukraine "On Fundamentals of National Resistance". 

 

Part 3 of Article 3 of the Law defines the following tasks of territorial defence: 

 

1) swift responding and taking necessary actions to defend the territory and protect the population in a certain area until the deployment of a group of troops (forces) or/or a group of joint forces designed to conduct military (combat) operations to repel armed aggression against Ukraine within such territory; 

 

2) taking part in strengthening the protection and defence of the state border; 

 

3) taking part in the protection of the population, territories, environment and property from emergencies, eliminating the consequences of military (combat) operations; 

 

4) taking part in the preparation of citizens of Ukraine for national resistance; 

 

5) taking part in providing conditions for the safe functioning of public authorities, other state bodies, local self-government bodies and military administration bodies; 

 

6) taking part in the protection and defence of important facilities and communications, other critical infrastructure facilities identified by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, and facilities of regional, district, rural, township, urban significance, district councils in cities, villages, townships, disfunction and decommissioning of which pose a threat to the lives of the population; 

 

7) providing conditions for strategic (operational) deployment of troops (forces) or their regrouping; 

 

8) taking part in actions to temporarily prohibit or restrict the movement of vehicles and pedestrians near and within the zones/areas of emergencies and/or the conduct of military (combat) operations; 

 

9) taking part in ensuring public safety measures and order in settlements; 

 

10) taking part in the introduction and implementation of the legal regime of martial law in the event of its imposition on the entire territory of Ukraine or in some of its localities; 

 

11) taking part in the fight against sabotage and reconnaissance forces, other armed formations of the aggressor (enemy) and paramilitary or armed formations not provided by the laws of Ukraine; 

 

12) taking part in information activities aimed at increasing the level of defence capabilities of the state and counteracting the information operations of the aggressor (enemy). 

 

According to the abovementioned tasks, the list of which is exhaustive and not subject to expansion, the main standard arms of the territorial defence units are small arms, as well as hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers and mortars of 82mm calibre. 

 

In pursuance of the above tasks, it is envisaged that the personnel of the Territorial Defense Forces units undergo only initial and basic general military training, which involves the acquisition of basic knowledge, skills and abilities on the handling and use of weapons, action on the battlefield (movement and orientation on the ground). ), provision of home medical care, as well as primary psychological assistance (self-help), handling of improvised explosive devices and the formation of stable moral and psychological qualities necessary for the protection of Ukraine (paragraph 4 of the Procedure for organizing and conducting general military training Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of December 29, 2021, № 1443). After all, the Law does not provide for the use of territorial defence units in the performance of combat missions that require more specific skills and training. 

 

It is also important to note that to perform the tasks provided by the Law, the unit of the Territorial Defense Forces must be fully provided with regular weapons, regular equipment, relevant engineering equipment, etc. In our case we can say that: 

 

• the battalion is currently not equipped with regular equipment (there is XX% of the need); 

 

• such weapons as hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers (specify brands), and SPG-9 were received only after redeployment to the combat zone, and therefore the necessary training and practical firing of personnel was not carried out; 

 

• training of mortar battery personnel was carried out only theoretically, and it is NOT possible to properly train artillerymen during 3 days of practice shootings; 

 

• it was also not possible to conduct combat coordination at the platoon-company level, as one-third of the most motivated servicemen of the unit, who had previous experience in combat operations, were sent to another area to carry out combat orders during the combat coordination training process. Thus, the personnel was deprived of the opportunity to use the experience of "combat" comrades; 

 

• combat coordination in the battalion was not  planned, and therefore it is impossible to talk about the effective interaction of infantry units with the mortar battery because it didn’t exist; 

 

• during the training, the personnel were not able to practice on certified shooting ranges, and therefore such important skills as throwing grenades, running alongside a tank, etc. were not possible. In addition, there was no corresponding ammunition for grenade launches. 

 

All these shortcomings, which are not dependent on the battalion's leadership, have been repeatedly reported to the brigade's leadership. 

 

Using a unit for a purpose not specified by the law will certainly lead to tragic and irreversible consequences. 

 

It is important to note that as of today, the President of Ukraine has not signed any amendments to the Law. Therefore, according to the rule of Article 20 of the Law, units of the Territorial Defense Forces may be involved in the implementation of territorial defence tasks outside their territorial defence zone only by decision of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But even in this case, the tasks of territorial defence have to be carried out outside the areas of military (combat) operations. Combat statutes and requirements of other laws of Ukraine are applied insofar as they do not contradict the Law of Ukraine "On National Resistance".

David Sheppard, The Financial Times, 04.11.2021

Европу охопила газова криза. Ціни злетіли майже вп’ятеро вище, ніж торік, що сильно загрожує відновленню економіки після пандемії у Великій Британії та Евросоюзі. Запаси газу є настільки низькими, що зима, навіть трохи холодніша, ніж зазвичай, може призвести до суттєвого скорочення постачання газу для промисловості, а домогосподарства вже переплачують за газ.

 

Европа є одним із континентів, які найбільше залежать від газу — він використовується для постачання п’ятої частини її енергоносіїв — але більшість поставок надходить із-за меж Евросоюзу, зокрема, з Московії. Деякі европейські політики та галузеві аналітики звинувачують Владіміра Путіна в обмеженні поставок і запасів газу до Европи в останні місяці як у засобі тиску на цей континент, з метою щоби Европа врешті затвердила новий газопровід.

 

Президент Московії каже, що ці звинувачення є «політично вмотивованим шарлатанством», але більшість аналітиків вважають, що навмисно низькі поставки газу з Московії є основним фактором. Европа також переймається змінами на газовому ринку та конкуренцією з боку інших континентів, і водночас молиться про м’яку зиму.

ДОМІНАЦІЯ МОСКОВІЇ

Після розпаду Радянського Союзу більшість газу Московії до Европи надходила через існуючу ГТС (газотранспортну систему) в Україні [збудовану ще в 1950-1960-х роках для викачування українського газу до Московії -- прим. Radio Lemberg].

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У 1990-2000-х роках "Газпром", державний монополіст-експортер Московії, почав диверсифікувати свою газову мережу, щоби зменшити свою залежність від сусідів [від України -- прим. Radio Lemberg], прокладаючи новий газогін "Ямал" через Білорусь та Польщу.

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Довготривала напруженість між Московією й Україною загострилася в 2014 році, коли Москва анексувала Кримський півострів. Московія продовжила будувати газогони в обхід України — крок, який, як вважають у Києві та багато його союзників, має на меті послабити Україну, позбавивши її доходів від транзиту газу. Водночас це також допомогло посилити залежність Европи від Московії.

Один з маршрутів - через Туреччину. Від 2003 року Московія експортує газ до Европи газогоном «Блакитний потік» під Чорним морем. А в 2020 році введено в експлуатацію газогін «Турецький потік», що зміцнило зв’язки Кремля з президентом Туреччини -- Реджепом Таїпом Ердоганом.

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Інший й основний маршрут в обхід України — через Балтійське море. У 2011 році «Газпром» запустив «Північний потік-1» — найдовший підводний газогін у світі. Сьогодні на нього припадає близько 40% всього природного газу, що експортується з Московії до Евросоюзу.

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Паралельний газогін «Північний потік-2» побудувано вже цілим консорціумом на чолі з «Газпромом». Будівництво було складним, бо США ввели санкції проти компаній, залучених до проекту, аж поки угода [адміністрації Джозефа Байдена  -- прим. radio Lemberg] з Німеччиною не дозволила завершити будівництво газопроводу цього року.

 

Але «Північний потік-2» досі чекає, поки регулятори в Німеччині дозволять йому працювати. Аналітики й трейдери підозрюють, що Московія навмисно притримує газ для Европи, щоби домогтися швидшого схвалення, але Путін це заперечує. Міжнародна енергетична аґенція заявила, що Московія точно є здатною постачати на 15% більше газу, щоби допомогти послабити кризу.

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Тим часом є велике питання щодо восьми контрольованих Москвою газосховищ в Европі, які мають забезпечувати постачання газу в періоди пікового попиту. Московію підозрюють у тому, що вона навмисно підтримує низький рівень запасу газу в газосховищах в Европі, щоби отримати зелене світло для "Північного потоку-2". А ще Путін заявив, що більше газу буде надходити, коли Московія заповнить свої власні об'єкти.

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ЗИМА БЛИЗЕНЬКО

Такі відносини з Московією – не єдина причина, чому Европа надіється, що ця зима буде м’якою. 

Відкрите в 1959 році газове родовище Ґронінґен є найбільшим в Европі, що зробило Нідерланди одним з небагатьох великих виробників газу в Евросоюзі. Але видобуток газу з цього родовища все частіше спричиняв землетруси. У 2012 році підземні поштовхи магнітудою 3,6 пошкодили тисячі будинків, що призвело до рішення обмежити його виробництво. А наступного, 2022 року, це родовище взагалі закриють.

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Також є занепокоєння щодо поставок газу з Північної Африки. Алжир забезпечує близько двох третин річного імпорту газу Іспанії та Португалії, але тривала напруженість між Алжиром і Марокко, особливо через спірну Західну Сахару, є суттєвою загрозою для регулярного постачання газу [Алжир є головним покупцем зброї Московії в цьому регіоні, а його військова хунта має тісні зв'язки з Кремлем -- прим.Radio Lemberg].

 

1 листопада Алжир припинив постачання газогоном "Маґреб", яким експортувався газ на Піренейський півострів через Марокко. Хоча прямий газогін Алжир-Іспанія "Медґаз" має бути розширено, Іспанія стоїть перед серйозною проблемою -- як зупинити подальше зростання цін на газ цієї зими?

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Обмеження в постачанні газу також викликають занепокоєння у Великій Британії, яка тепер використовує все більше газу замість вугілля для виробництва електроенергії. Раніше Британія була чистим експортером газу, але її запаси в Північному морі значно скоротилися. Приблизно половина потреби Великої Британії в газі тепер задовольняється за рахунок імпорту.

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Більшість газу до Британії надходить або газогонами з Норвегії — найбільшого виробника газу на континенті після Московії — або у вигляді поставок скрапленого природного газу (СПГ/LNG), переважно з Катару, а останнім часом зі США та Московії. Велика Британія також імпортує невелику частину свого газу через газогони з Нідерландів та Бельгії.

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Чого не вистачає Великій Британії порівняно з Европою, так це здатності зберігати газ перед зимою — ось таким є її спадок залежності від постійних поставок газу з Північного моря. Найбільшим сховищем у Великій Британії було підводне газосховище в Роу/Rough, на яке припадало 70% загальної ємності, але воно було визнано нежиттєздатним і його закрили в 2017 році. Це рішення, частково засноване на переконанні, що ринок СПГ/LNG стає щораз важливішим, тепер додає великого занепокоєння Великій Британії.

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У той час як розгалужена мережа трубопроводів Европи є основним джерелом газу, цей континент все більше залежить від СПГ/LNG — суперохолодженого газу у стані рідини, щоби його можна було стистути в об'ємі та доставляти по всьому світу на танкерах. 

Европа є лише частиною щораз більшого глобального ринку збуту газу, і власне дуже конкурує з Азією, яка має зовсім небагато власного газу.

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Споживання газу Китаєм подвоїлося за останнє десятиріччя і, як очікується, прискориться ще більше, бо Китай намагається обмежити використання вугілля у своїй швидкозростальній економіці. Японія та Південна Корея також намагаються скоротити споживання вугілля, намагаючись обмежити викиди. 

Австралія є основним постачальником СПГ/LNG в Азію, але цей мегаконтинент також отримує газ з Катару, США та Московії.

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Покупці газу в Азії часто є державними структурами, які готові заплатити майже будь-яку ціну, потрібну для досягнення урядових цілей щодо постачання газу, а це ще більше обмежує постачання газу для Европи.

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З початком зими европейські лідери сподіваються, що погода буде м’якою — або що Московія забезпечить потрібний обсяг газу. 

 

Путін порадив "Газпрому" почати закачування газу в европейські сховища після того, як Московія завершить поповнення власних запасів, що може початися 8 листопада [нагадуємо, що цю статтю опубліковано 4 листопада -- прим. Radio Lemberg]

Але доки ринок не переконається, що поставки будуть достатніми, ціни газу залишаться дуже нестабільними, а залежність Европи від енергоносіїв з інших країн вимагатиме пильної уваги [сьогодні, 21 грудня, ціна газу сягла рекордних 2000 доларів за тисячу кубометрів газу -- прим. Radio Lemberg].

***

Visual Storytelling Team: Claire Buchan, Sam Joiner, Chris Campbell, Cale Tilford, Niko Kommenda and Caroline Nevitt. Additional work by David Blood.

 

Notes: FT research based on Entsog; SciGRID; University of Groningen and Wood Mackenzie data. Crimea is annexed by Russia but this is not recognised by the international community.

Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 12.02.2021
 
The Russian Federation tries out its hybrid warfare against Ukraine before deploying it against the United States. Disinformation attacks are honed against Ukrainians first because they’re a tougher target, inured to centuries of Russian imperialist aggression. Americans are a secondary target, more vulnerable because they have less experience of the depravity of Chekist violence. 

This is the way it was with the Russian response to two great democratic events in the life of Ukraine and the USA: the EuroMaidan revolution and the 2020 Presidential election. Kremlin information warfare mounted a massive disinformation campaign against these seminal moments. In Ukraine, Putin at war said that “Maidan was a coup!” In the USA, the campaign was “Stop the steal!”
 
Disinformation lies at the heart of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity and on America’s 2020 election. 

The Revolution of Dignity of 2013-14 was a genuine expression of the will of the Ukrainian people. But Russian information warfare outlets falsely called Maidan (as it was also know) a “coup.” Putin launched a massive disinformation campaign using the slogan “Maidan was a coup!” to justify his invasion of Ukraine. The early months of the invasion by the Muscovites were characterized by organized mobs seizing Ukrainian public buildings. The false front for these mobs were that they were made up of “anti-Maidan” protesters.

The 2020 Presidential election was a genuine expression of the will of the American people. Calling the 2020 U.S. election “stolen” is false. But “Stop the steal!” became a Russian-backed disinformation effort to instigate the 6 January 2021 insurrection in Washington, D.C.. The false front placed on the mob organized to attack the Capitol was that it was a defence of the “real winner” of the election, Trump.

“Maidan was a coup!” and “Stop the steal!” are not only Big Lies but stupid ones. They make no sense and are unsupported by facts, evidence or argument. Even though they were built on the weakest of foundations these active measures of Russian disinformation sustained the appalling violence against Ukrainian and American democracy that followed. The falsehood of Maidan as a “coup” diverted attention from the fact that the 20 February 2014 invasion of Ukraine was planned for a long time by the Russian Federation. The falsehood that the U.S. election as “stolen” was a pretext for the 6 January 2021 insurrection that was planned if Trump lost.

Extraordinary participation characterized EuroMaidan. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians lived in a city-within-a-city in the centre of Kyiv for three cold months from November 2013 to February 2014. Over several weekends they were joined by over a million people for protest rallies. Every city of Ukraine saw protests against the Yanukovych kleptocracy, including cities in Crimea and Donbas. The Revolution of Dignity was a genuine, spontaneous and massive expression of the will of the Ukrainian people. In no respect was it a coup.

Yanukovych chose to withdraw from the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. He chose to attack peaceful protesters. Yanukovych got his Party of Regions to pass illegal “dictatorship laws.” He ordered snipers to kill Ukrainians and then he fled Kyiv. Yanukovych abandoned his post as President by his own actions. There was no coup.

The initial phase of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine included busloads of Russians brought across the border to Ukrainian cities. Simferopol, Donetsk, Luhansk, Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipro and other cities were hit. Organized, violent mobs attacked public buildings, directed by Russian security service agents and special forces soldiers. Russian information warfare blasted the message that these people were “anti-Maidan” demonstrators.

The turn out in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election was greater than any before. Joe Biden won the popular vote and the Electoral College overwhelmingly. There were no voting irregularities that would have altered the result in any way. Election officials, experts, observers, the courts and journalists who aren’t compromised all assessed the election to be free and fair. Joe Biden won and Trump lost, fair and square.

Trump was asked if he would guarantee a peaceful transfer of power in the United States. He refused to do so. At no point did he concede the election to Joe Biden or acknowledge that the election was free and fair. He told officials in the state of Georgia to find votes for him. He told the insurrectionists that the rules don’t apply to them and they should fight. It was Trump and his Russian handlers who tried to steal the election but they failed.

The January 6th insurrection included busloads of Americans brought in to attack the Capitol. Organized online, the mobs were directed by agents provocateurs and fascist paramilitaries like the Proud Boys. They were helped from the inside, including the political leadership of the Pentagon and the FBI. Disinformation outlets like Fox News and lesser-known Internet portals presented the insurrectionists as “Stop the Steal!” demonstrators and they suppressed the truth of events.

Putin doesn’t understand democracy. He is little more than a sabotage and disruption agent from the KGB. Putin doesn’t believe people as a whole have real power. He cannot conceive that human beings can genuinely aspire to a better life and of their own free will act collectively to achieve it. Putin believes that power lies only in domination and submission. Because he fears and hates democracy, Putin does everything he can to delegitimize it.

Unfortunately, the big and stupid lie works. Appeasers of aggressor Russia latch onto the “Maidan was a coup!” lie and talk about Russian soldiers invading Ukraine as if they were “pro-Russian separatists.” Anti-democracy forces in the United States stand behind the “Stop the steal!” lie to justify their insurrection.

A lie is not just another point of view to the truth. It is a fundamental attack on the notion of truth altogether. We cannot give oxygen to the Big Lie in the name of balance. To win the war the Russian Federation started we must destroy their most potent weapon: disinformation.

The Revolution of Dignity of the Ukrainian people was not a coup. The U.S. election was not stolen. They were genuine, legitimate and thoroughly humane expressions of democracy.

 

Photo: Dr. Michael MacKay observing the 2014 presidential election in Ukraine

 

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