How Ukrainians voted for the preservation of the Soviet Union in 1991, but still ended up in an independent state later that year / by Alexander Nepogodin

Rally on Kaluzhskaya Square in Moscow, timed to the anniversary of the All-Union referendum on March 17, 1991 on the preservation of the USSR. © Sputnik

The seeds of the current political split in Ukraine were sown thirty years ago

Back in early 1991, few thought the disappearance of the Soviet Union from the political map was likely. The results of a huge national referendum held in March indicated as much. Ukraine’s vote exceeded 70%, and public discussion of the joint future for all the socialist republics mainly focused on various forms of a federation.

Even the proponents of Ukrainian independence did not really believe this was within reach. But, by August things started to unravel and, after a failed coup d’état in Moscow, Kiev proclaimed sovereignty.

Both the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and its peers began to believe the collapse of the country was inevitable and had to be accepted as such. It was then that both Donbass and Crimea began to demand greater autonomy from the central government and more protection of their interests. In this article, RT revisits the six months between the USSR’s landmark referendum and the independence vote in Ukraine that somehow turned out to be enough for the republic’s population to change their minds, and explores the reasons why this outcome both put an end to the world’s largest ever country and sparked off the separatist movement. 

Looking for a Compromise

After 1988, a series of conflicts broke out one after another in different parts of the Soviet Union, creating a lot of tension: in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Transnistria, among others. In politics, at just about the same time, the “parade of sovereignties” began with the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration of November 16, 1988 that proclaimed the supremacy of Tallinn’s laws over those of the USSR. This was followed by a number of other republics, including the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic declaring sovereignty in 1989 and 1990, which in the end played a crucial role it taking the Soviet Union down.

The ensuing struggle between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR Boris Yeltsin led to the formation of an alternative center of power that ultimately was able to challenge the Kremlin.

RTUSSR President Mikhail Gorbachev meeting Minsk community at the Palace of Culture of the Minsk Tractor Plant named after V. Lenin. M. Gorbachev in Minsk. © Sputnik / Yuri Ivanov

The situation was spiraling and changes appeared irreversible. Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare independence: This was enacted on March 11, 1990 by the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR. It became finally clear that all these years, the very existence of the USSR was based on a silent agreement between the republics’ elites. The agreement, however, was seriously shaken by a severe economic crisis triggered by a sudden removal of state monopoly mechanisms, as well as by the rise of separatist movements, plus ethnic conflicts and by a long-overdue need for political change.

In an effort to contain the situation, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev proposed a New Union Treaty that would significantly expand the freedoms and rights of all the Union’s republics. In December 1990, the IV Congress of People’s Deputies, the equivalent of a parliament, voted to hold a referendum on the preservation of the USSR as a renewed confederation of equal sovereign republics and to pen a New Union Treaty. The idea of a confederation was proposed by the “architect of perestroika” Alexander Yakovlev. The proposal was put to a popular vote.

The 1991 Soviet Union referendum remains the only example of actual democracy in the history of the USSR. The ballot was set for March 17, 1991. Citizens had to answer “Yes” or “No” to the question: “Do you consider it necessary to preserve the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics, where human rights and freedoms will be guaranteed to all nationalities?”

A lot of criticism was voiced regarding the vague wording, which allowed the results to be interpreted very broadly. But for most Soviet citizens, the question presented a simple choice between the two options: they had to say whether they are for or against the existence of the Soviet Union. In the course of the preparation for the referendum, it became clear that the USSR as it was no longer existed, as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Moldova and Armenia had declared they would not hold an all-out referendum on their territory. There, votes were held in some designated areas: polling stations worked in a number of organizations, enterprises and military bases.

Some of those republics that agreed to run the referendum made changes. In the Ukrainian SSR, a supplemental question was added to the main one: “Do you agree that Ukraine should be part of the Union of Soviet Sovereign States on the basis of Ukraine’s Sovereignty Declaration?”The republic’s population was en masse not bothered by the inherent conflict within the wording, between the preservation of the USSR and the republic becoming its part as a “sovereign state” based on the 1990 Sovereignty Declaration. That can be easily explained by the fact that nothing really changed after sovereignty was enacted, except some attempts to introduce a new currency.

A total of 113.5 million people, or 76.4% of USSR citizens voted for the preservation of the Soviet Union. The referendum showed that despite the growing disagreements, Soviet people wanted to continue living in one big state. 70% of the Ukrainian SSR’s population were in favor, and 80% said yes to the republic joining the union of sovereign states on the basis of the Sovereignty Declaration. In Ukraine’s western parts, around Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk and Ternopol, however, the majority of the population voted against the preservation of the USSR.

It did seem at the time that Gorbachev had received the green light to go on with the reforms and get the New Union Treaty signed. However, due to the failed coup d’état attempt by the State Committee for the State of Emergency (GKChP), undertaken between August 18 and 21, 1991, to “stop the policies leading to the liquidation of the Soviet Union,” the New Union Treaty was not signed as scheduled. These events gave impetus to the disintegration process. In a matter of days, between August 20 and 31, 1991, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan declared their independence.

Separatism Inside Out

Thus, the results of the Soviet Union referendum ceased to have any significance five months after it was held. The union’s republics moved on and held independence referendums, one by one. Eventually, on December 1, 1991, Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union. The leadership of the Ukrainian SSR, which until then was still a Soviet republic and part of the Communist Party’s system, had spent those few months since the August 1991 attempted coup d’état waiting for the right moment.

Another factor that played a role was the fact that Gorbachev had Vladimir Ivashko moved from Kiev to Moscow as his new deputy. Ivashko was at the time chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR and head of the Ukrainian Communist Party. Gorbachev’s idea was to strengthen the ties between the leaderships this way and secure more support for himself in his fight against Yeltsin. However, the move backfired: Ivashko, who was a native of Kharkov in Eastern Ukraine, was replaced in the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR by Leonid Kravchuk, a Western Ukrainian, and this only accelerated the disintegration processes.

RTSupporters of presidential candidat Leonid Kravchuk hold his effigy during a pro-independence rally, on November 30, 1991 in Kiev, held before the vote for a referendum and the first presidential elections shedulded for December 1, 1991. © SERGEI SUPINSKI / AFP

When the State Committee for the State of Emergency made its official public announcement of attempting to change the country’s political course on August 19, Kravchuk addressed the people of Ukraine on television with an appeal to “focus on solving the most important problems of the daily life of the republic” and to maintain peace and order. In a conversation with the then Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces of the USSR General Varennikov, Kravchuk gave an assurance that he would be able to independently maintain order in the republic. 

With Yeltsin declaring himself Gorbachev’s “deputy” during the coup and acting like a de facto leader of the USSR calling for a “strong Russia,” Ukraine’s leaders realized that the time had come for decisive action. Events in Moscow triggered a lot of activity in Kiev. An emergency meeting of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR was set for August 24. Deputies Levko Lukyanenko and Leonty Sanduliak wrote a draft Declaration of Independence overnight, but at the meeting it was decided the document was in need of major adjustments. A commission was set up to do this. Among its members were Alexander Moroz, the future head of the Socialist Party of Ukraine for many years to come, and Dmitry Pavlichko, who claimed that he had fought in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA is recognized as an extremist organization and banned in Russia) and was tasked to join the Komsomol and the Communist Party as an undercover agent for the WW2 Nazi collaborators in order to help sabotage the regime from the inside.

The final draft was a botched job anyway. Moroz later recounted how he’d proposed to remove any words of recognition of Yeltsin’s role from the text of the Declaration of Independence right in Kravchuk’s office: “After our meeting with Kravchuk, I said: let’s remove any wording about Yeltsin’s role in this process, because as time will pass, it will become just awkward. This is a historical document. Everyone agreed, we crossed it out and went to present it for the vote.”

The support was almost unanimous. Even the Communists voted for independence. “[The Communists] voted for Ukraine’s independence because they understood that the imperial games of power in Moscow could end badly for Ukraine, and because the precedent was already set by Vilnius and Tbilisi … It all boiled down to who would take power, Gorbachev or Yeltsin,” Moroz, who would become chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, said later.

Confidence Vote

Nevertheless, most Ukrainians didn’t want to break up the country, severing economic and political ties with Russia – the two republics had close connections, including the familial ones. At the March referendum that was held in the USSR the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians voted for keeping the Soviet Union. That’s why Kravchuk and his government needed to rally people’s support ahead of the referendum on Ukrainian independence to undermine the legitimacy of the USSR vote.

There was another factor that contributed to the success of this scenario – Yeltsin, concerned with staying in power, benefited from Ukraine’s declared independence and the referendum. It made signing the renewed Union Treaty impossible, which would inevitably strip Gorbachev of his power and throw him out of the equation in the eyes of the Communist party elites, as well as regular Soviet people.  

The plan of the Ukrainian authorities was successful. Almost 85% of registered Ukrainians voted in the referendum held on December 1, 1991. Only one question was asked – about the declaration of independence. The overwhelming majority (90%) said ‘yes’ to gaining independence. The numbers spoke for themselves. 83.9% of Donetsk residents voted ‘yes,’ 83.9% in Lugansk, 86.3% in Kharkov, and 85.4% in Odessa. Crimea had the lowest score in that respect, only 54.2% of people supported the independence scenario. 

RTParticipants in the ‘First Crimea-wide gathering of Cossack people’ are on Lenin Square in Simferopol on the fourth anniversary of the Crimean referendum on joining the Russian Federation. © Sputnik / Maks Vetrov

To this day, Ukrainian politicians use those numbers as proof that this was a time when the people came together in their nation-building ambitions. In reality, the overwhelming support of Ukraine’s independence even in the “pro-Russian” regions came as a surprise to many at the time. There were several reasons for the massive ‘yes’ vote, however.  

First off, people were promised that all ties with Russia would stay intact and there would be no boundaries, cultural or otherwise, between the two states. The authorities also ensured the citizens that the Russian language would be protected. Kravchuk himself said this on a number of occasions. Nobody expected that there would be immediate borders dividing Russia and Ukraine. Subjectively, citizens of the two republics didn’t want a breakup, but they wanted strong power, which the Kremlin couldn’t demonstrate, so Ukrainians thought that there would be more order if the republic gained sovereignty. Many hoped that nothing would really change in the grand scheme of things, while Ukraine’s independence would result in its prosperity. Propaganda promised economic growth comparable to that of Germany and France. After all, before the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was the European leader in steelmaking, coal and ironstone mining, as well as sugar production.

People were completely disoriented after the “parade of sovereignties” and August Coup. Another important factor is that the referendum was held at the same time as the presidential campaign, which Kravchuk won. Many didn’t necessarily vote for independence, they voted for the “boss,” which was the usual MO for the Soviet people. These were the same people who said yes to keeping the Soviet Union earlier, in 1991. And nine months later they chose Kravchuk and Ukraine’s independence. 

The referendum on Ukraine’s independence killed the scenario of an updated Soviet Union. The USSR soon disappeared from the map. In his comments on the referendum results, Yeltsin clearly stated that “without Ukraine, the union treaty would make no sense.” At that point, 13 out of the 15 republics had already declared independence and held similar referendums (Russia and Kazakhstan were the only ones that hadn’t done it). The events in Ukraine weren’t shocking, but they put an end to the dream of another union. Ukraine was the second most important republic and without it Gorbachev or Yeltsin had no union to rule over.

Cost of Independence

Nevertheless, even after the results of the December 5 referendum were announced Yeltsin met privately with Gorbachev to discuss the prospects of the Soviet Union. On the same day, during his inauguration, Kravchuk promised that Ukraine wouldn’t join any political unions, but would build bilateral relations with the former Soviet republics. He said that his country would be independent in its foreign policy and institute its own army and currency. The New Union Treaty was never signed, and on December 8, 1991, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine put their signatures under the famous Belovezh Accords, instituting the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). This was the final nail in the Soviet Union’s coffin.

Later Leonid Kuchma, the second President of Ukraine, admitted that the Ukrainians had been misled ahead of the referendum: “We weren’t completely honest with the people when we said that Ukraine had been feeding Russia. In our estimates, we just used global prices on everything we manufactured, but we didn’t take into account the cost of products supplied by Russia for free. In 1989, our Economy Institute published a report about the Russia-Ukraine pay balance, and it ended up being negative for Ukraine. Ukraine paid for oil and gas less than for tea or water. The country was forced to sober up when Russia switched to the global prices in trade. This resulted in hyperinflation, the scale of which couldn’t compare to any other former Soviet republics.”

Already in the beginning of the 1990s local authorities began to realize that it wasn’t just the issue of economic growth that was presented in a misleading way. During the independence campaign, it was clearly stated that Ukraine would respect the rights of Russian and Russian-speaking citizens, that everyone would be equal and there would be no discrimination. In the end of 1991, Kravchuk promised that forced “Ukrainianization” would not be allowed, and his government would “take decisive action” against any ethnic discrimination. 

In 1990, after the Ukrainian legislators declared sovereignty, the Crimean parliament scheduled a referendum on the peninsula’s legal status and re-establishing the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. It took place on January 20, and 94% of Crimeans voted for creating an autonomy within the USSR.  

However, Crimea didn’t turn into a conflict zone in 1991. The Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic even passed legislation granting the peninsula its autonomous status, but within Ukraine. Russia didn’t do anything about it because it was busy dealing with its own problems and the fight between Gorbachev and Yeltsin. The government of Crimea was also satisfied, since it got the right to its own constitution, president and guarantees for ethnic Russians. 

However, Crimea was not the only region striving for autonomy – other Ukrainian territories also wanted political independence. The International Movement of Donbass lobbied for autonomous status for the Donetsk region, and it even had a scenario in which the Donetsk–Krivoy Rog Republic would be re-established. This was formed in 1918 as part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and included the Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk and Donetsk regions.

Ukrainian authorities were able to avert the crisis at the time by passing a law that criminalized activities aimed at undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity – this could now cost a perpetrator up to 10 years in prison. The government also promised that the Russian language would be equal to Ukrainian in its state-language status, but this never happened; the legislation never went through, even though, according to Kravchuk, independent Ukraine “was going to be a state for Ukrainians, Russians and other ethnic groups.”

In the following years, Kravchuk, Kuchma and their successors in office greatly disappointed the Russian-speaking communities of southeastern Ukraine – especially in Donbass and Crimea. After a prolonged political crisis, failed promises to Russian-speaking Ukrainians and two major Western-backed street uprisings (the 2004 Orange Revolution and the 2014 Euromaidan), 22 years and 364 days after the first referendum, the Crimean Autonomous Republic held its last referendum, during which it chose to be reunited with Russia. The Donbass had fought for autonomy since 1991, and now it decided to follow its own way as well, different from that of Ukraine.

Alexander Nepogodin, аn Odessa-born political journalist, expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union.

RT, August 10, 2022,

American weapons will ensure more deaths in Ukraine, but won’t change the conflict’s eventual outcome / by Scott Ritter

FILE PHOTO. High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). © Tony Overman/The Olympian via AP

The US is willing to sacrifice countless lives to weaken Russia

The US is doing everything possible to extend the suffering of the Ukrainian people by creating conditions that appear to mandate an expansion of Russia’s military effort, and the subsequent destruction of the Ukrainian nation.

US President Joe Biden has approved the transfer of at least four M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine. In a “guest essay” published in The New York Times, Biden declared that “[The United States has] moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table. That’s why I’ve decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

At least four of the HIMARS systems will be transferred to Kiev, part of a $700 million dollar military aid package sourced from the $8 billion authorized by Congress for direct drawdown from existing US military stocks. As configured for Ukraine, the M142 will be able to fire a pod of six 227mm artillery GPS-guided rockets, with a range of 43.5 miles (70 kilometers). What is known is that Biden will not be supplying Ukraine with the more advanced ATACMS short-range missile, with a range of 300 kilometers.

Ukrainian forces will be trained on the HIMARS systems prior to their being dispatched to Ukraine. According to the Pentagon, the estimated training time is three weeks. Previously, Ukrainian soldiers were trained on US M777A2 155mm artillery systems at a US Army training facility in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Given the need for an artillery range capable of accommodating the operational parameters of the HIMARS, it is likely that the Grafenwoehr facility will be used again.

With a $40 billion plan, the US is setting itself up for an expensive failure in Ukraine

Prior to the decision regarding HIMARS being announced, the president ppeared to be shying away from sending advanced artillery rockets to Ukraine. “We’re not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that strike into Russia,” he had announced, on May 30, in response to a reporter’s question. Biden, however, appears to have been speaking about the ATACMS missile. He clarified his position the next day, in his essay. “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”

The fact is, the HIMARS system, if deployed close to the Russian frontier, would give Ukraine the ability to strike nearby Russian cities, such as the strategic logistics hub in Belgorod. Biden’s apparent reversal was in large part due to guarantees from Kiev. “The Ukrainians have given us assurances that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared a day after Biden’s essay was published“There is a strong trust bond between Ukraine and the United States.”

The Russian Presidential spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, decried the HIMARS decision as “deliberately and diligently pouring fuel on the fire,” while scoffing at the notion of Ukrainian assurances regarding the weapons systems’ future use. “In order to trust [someone], you need to have experience with situations when such promises were kept,” Peskov said. “Regretfully, there is no such experience whatsoever.”

According to President Biden, the purpose behind his decision to arm Ukraine with billions of dollars’ worth of advanced weaponry was motivated by pure intent. “America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.” Recognizing the difficult situation Ukraine has found itself in militarily, he seems to understand the pressures being placed upon Kiev to negotiate an end to the fighting. “I will not,” Biden declared, “pressure the Ukrainian government…to make any territorial concessions. It would be wrong and contrary to well-settled principles to do so.”

Biden was making specific reference to the fact that any potential agreement with Russia to stop the fighting would, at a minimum, need to recognize Crimea as Russian and the Donbass republics as independent, as well as understand the probability that Kherson and other Russian-majority territories currently under Moscow’s control would probably undertake referenda regarding whether they would remain a part of Ukraine going forward.

Biden’s posture flies in the face of historical and practical reality. Russia will never give up Crimea, nor will it pressure the newly independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk to rescind their hard-won liberation. Any other questions of territorial status are directly related to battlefield realities, and everything indicates that not only will Ukraine be unable to reverse Russia’s territorial gains but will more than likely lose additional swaths of territory, in the weeks to come. as the fighting continues.

Biden, by providing advanced weapons to Ukraine, is seeking to accomplish the impossible–a negotiated Ukrainian victory. This is reflected in his fanciful depiction of the current state of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. “Ukraine’s talks with Russia are not stalled because Ukraine has turned its back on diplomacy,” Biden states. “They are stalled because Russia continues to wage a war to take control of as much of Ukraine as it can. The United States will continue to work to strengthen Ukraine and support its efforts to achieve a negotiated end to the conflict.”

Biden’s words, like the American policy they ostensibly describe, are inherently contradictory and reek of hypocrisy. After declaring that “We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia,” Biden goes on to articulate a case for just that. “It is in our vital national interests to ensure a peaceful and stable Europe and to make it clear that might does not make right. If Russia does not pay a heavy price for its actions, it will send a message to other would-be aggressors that they too can seize territory and subjugate other countries.”

Donetsk under massive rocket fire – RT correspondent

The ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict is one that should never have been fought and once started, should have been brought to a quick conclusion. The blame for both the initiation of the conflict, and the fact that is it still ongoing today, does not lie, as Biden suggests, with Russia.

A quick history lesson: The special military operation is a direct result of America’s ongoing efforts to use NATO expansion, including the desired incorporation of Ukraine, as a means of weakening Russia while undermining the viability of the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin so that he could be replaced with a modern-day clone of Boris Yeltsin—a Russian ‘leader’ in name only, who would once again cast the country prostrate at the feet of a domineering West.

The decade of the 1990s was good for those in the West seeking to punish Russians for the perceived Cold War sins of the Soviet Union. But it was a horrible time for the Russian people. Neither President Putin nor wider society appear to be willing to allow the US and NATO to reverse the hands of time and repeat that era of darkness. Any student of modern Russian history would know this. Unfortunately, Western leaders are informed not by Russian historians but by Russophobe propagandists, and the result is a conflict in Ukraine.

The special military operation, however, was not triggered by NATO’s expansion, but rather by the policies of Ukraine, promoted and facilitated by NATO, which subjected the ethnic-Russian population of Donbass to the eight-year horror of genocidal, ethnic-driven hatred inflicted on them at the hands of the most vile, odious ideology imaginable – the neo-Nazi extremism of the Ukrainian political far right, embodied in the form of the Azov Regiment and other organizations of its ilk.

Despite the existence of a negotiated framework for peace – the 2015 Minsk Accords – brokered as part of the Normandy Format mechanism that included France, Germany, and Ukraine, with Russia observing, the US and its NATO allies (including France and Germany) not only failed to pressure successive Ukrainian presidential administrations to fulfil their obligations under the accords, but actively conspired against any process that would have led to the peaceful conclusion of the Donbass conflict in a manner which not only ended the killing, but also ensured that the Donbass region would remain an integral part of the Ukrainian nation.

The result was an eight-year conflict which killed over 14,000 people, most of them ethnic Russians.

Russia’s military operation was initiated for the purpose of bringing the conflict in Donbass, and the suffering of the local population, Ukrainian and Russian alike, to an end. That it has taken this long is the direct result of miscalculations on the part of the Russian military in the initial phases of the operation, the unexpected resilience and determination of the Ukrainian armed forces, and the fact that the Ukrainians had eight years to construct some of the most complex defensive positions in modern history along the line of conflict in the Donbass regions. In the end, however, Russia’s determination to see the mission through to its completion, combined with the professionalism and competence of its military forces, are producing the very victory that is unfolding on the ground in eastern Ukraine today, and which Biden seeks to reverse through the provision of advanced weapons systems such as HIMARS.

An important reality which cannot be overlooked in the ongoing military struggle is that the Ukrainian military has been functioning as a de facto extension of NATO for some time now. Since 2015 the US and its NATO allies have been training Ukrainian officers and soldiers to NATO standards in terms of organization, tactics, communications, and leadership. While most of the Ukraine military’s pre-conflict inventory was composed of Soviet-era equipment, much of this had been upgraded so that it met or exceeded the capabilities of most NATO members. In short, if Ukraine had been a formal member of NATO, it would have possessed the third largest military in the organization, after the United States and Turkey, with greater capabilities and competency than most of its other would-be NATO partners.

In the years leading up to Russia’s special military operation, Ukraine was supplied with hundreds of millions of dollars of modern military equipment, including Javelin anti-tank weapons. These weapons, and the Ukrainian military, failed to defeat the Russians. Indeed, by the end of Phase One of Russia’s operation, announced on March 25, Russia had inflicted significant harm on the Ukrainian military, making a Russian victory in Phase Two–the liberation of the Donbass–all but inevitable.

The provision of tens of billions of dollars of military aid by the US, NATO, and the European Union has not been able to reverse this tide. What these weapons, when combined with the simultaneous provision of real-time intelligence about Russian force dispositions and an untouchable strategic depth in the form of military bases in Germany, Poland, and other NATO countries from where Ukraine can receive training and equipment without fear or Russian attack, have been able to allow is the ability for Ukraine to reconstitute many of the military formations that Russia had destroyed or degraded during Phase One.

Some of these units will be equipped with HIMARS.

The “HIMARS Effect” will not have any meaningful impact on the battlefield in Ukraine–Russia’s military superiority is assured across the board, regardless of the numbers and quality of the weapons the US and its allies provide Ukraine. However, the goal of the US in Ukraine, according to President Biden, is to inflict a heavy price on Russia for its actions. HIMARS, when employed, will inevitably kill and wound Russian soldiers, and damage and destroy Russian military equipment. The same is true for all the lethal weapons Ukraine has been provided by the West.

Russia is, in fact, paying a heavy price in Ukraine, not because of any aggressive act of territorial acquisition carried out by the Russian military, but rather as a direct result of the policies undertaken by both NATO and Ukraine to threaten the legitimate national security interests of the Russian nation, and the lives of the ethnic Russian population of the Donbass and other eastern Ukrainian territories. All HIMARS contributes to this process is an expanded death count without a change in the outcome. In this, the HIMARS Effect perfectly encapsulates Biden’s Ukraine policy as a whole, where he is willing to sacrifice the lives and viability of the Ukrainian people and nation for the purpose of inflicting harm on Russia with no hope of altering the outcome of events on the ground.

It is a policy of death, pure and simple, and as such epitomizes the role played by America in the world today.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. 

RT, June 7, 2022,

Russia – Preparing the final battle for Donbass / by Latin American Summary

Last Tuesday, after a meeting in which the Russian delegation stated that progress had been made -although it later had to rectify itself to make it clear that Russia does not intend to negotiate on Crimea and reaffirm that the Donbass issue is also closed- Vladimir Medinsky announced a drastic reduction in Russian military activity in the Kyiv and Chernigov regions. Days earlier, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu had confirmed that the Russian Federation will now focus on the operation to recover the territories of the former Donetsk and Lugansk regions still under Ukrainian control.

With the operation to regain control of Mariupol on track and it being a matter of time before the city comes under the control of the DPR (it will be more difficult to end the resistance of the soldiers of the Ukrainian Army and the Azov battalion entrenched in the huge territory of the factory Azovstal with ammunition to make the place a second Donetsk airport), Russia, the DPR and the LPR now plan to advance on the most populated and fortified areas of Donbass. There are some of the best units of the Ukrainian Army, which also have the experience of eight years of war.

With Donbass as the absolute priority, especially considering that the security of its population was one of the main arguments to justify the intervention in Ukraine, the Russian Federation seeks to regroup its troops to focus on that area, even if that requires withdrawing from others, like the Kyiv region, where progress was impossible and the outcome uncertain. Without a sufficient number of troops for an assault on the city -at this time there has been no real attempt to take the city-, the stay of the Russian troops in that area only made sense to prevent the movement of the Ukrainian troops in that region towards Donbass and other fronts such as the southern front in Kherson. Without this need – Ukraine no longer has any reserves to send to Donbass from Kiev -, their presence there could only cause casualties with no prospect of any military success. The current regrouping of troops portends that the decisive battle of the Russian intervention in Ukraine, the battle for Donbass, is imminent.

The transfer of troops

There have been clashes with the Ukrainian Army in Borodyanka. It seems that the withdrawal of troops from Kyiv is taking place in the direction of the border with Belarus, from where the troops are being transferred to Kharkov and Izium for the next operation against the main grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donbass.

What can be said about the withdrawal of troops from Kyiv?

If the upcoming operation on the left bank of the Dnieper ends with the defeat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, then there will be talk of a well-thought-out plan by the General Staff. After all, according to official statements, the threat on Kyiv was necessary only to retain Ukrainian forces in this first phase and an assault on Kyiv was not planned. Now it is announced that, according to Shoigu, the goal of the second phase is the defeat of the main forces of the Ukrainian Army in Donbass.

If they are defeated now (that is, if those red arrows to the Donetsk-Pavlograd highway it showed in the first half of March fill with color), then it will all really come across as a well-executed plan. But if the task of defeating the Ukrainian Army on the left bank does not get solved, it is unlikely that things can be said to be going according to plan.

So it only remains to wait for the start of the operation and observe the implementation of the objectives that the General Staff has outlined. Hopefully our questions will get answers this month.

The battle for Donbass

Russian troops, such as those of the DPR and the LPR, are advancing to gather from the north, east and west in order to soon close a huge pocket in which the group of some 50,000 Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers now in Donbass is trapped. . These are the best-trained units in the Ukrainian Army, which have been fighting the war since 2014, well-trained and well-reinforced. But the only way to solve other military and political tasks in Ukraine is to defeat the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donbass. How will the offense play out?

All the objectives of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the direction of Kyiv and Chernigov have been completed, and now the goal of regrouping the troops is, first of all, to complete the operation for the complete liberation of Donbass. This is what Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Wednesday. With the first phase of the special operation, it has been possible to force the enemy to concentrate forces around Kyiv and Chernigov. As a result, the Donbass group has been left without the possibility of receiving reserves from central and western Ukraine, according to the minister.

On the same day, DPR leader Denis Pushilin told Rossiya 1 that there are reasons to believe that now the operation to liberate Donbass will go much faster. The leader of the Republic mentioned several directions in which the PRD troops will continue to carry out the offensive, according to the official website of the Republic. The Donbass defenders are advancing towards Avdeevka, actually a northern suburb of Donetsk, and towards Marinka, west of the capital. Pushilin also mentioned two other targets, located 30-40 kilometers from Donetsk. They are Novobajmutovka, to the north, near the road to Kramatorsk, and Novomikhailovka, located southeast of the DPR capital.

Pushilin also appreciated the situation in Mariupol, which is being captured by DPR forces, the Russian Army and units of the Russian National Guard. According to the leader of the Republic, isolated groups of the nationalist battalions continue to resist, but are being defeated. It must be remembered that the Azov groups have already been expelled from the residential areas and about 7000 may be surrounded in the industrial zone of the Azovstal factory.

According to a source told Vzglyad , at a meeting in Mariupol, Ramzan Kadyrov and the commander of the 8th Army, Lieutenant General Andrey Mordvichev (who had long been declared dead by Ukrainian propaganda), are said to have discussed the timing of sweeping Azovstal. It was raised about a week. But having isolated the territory of the plant to the east of the Kalmius River has made it possible to free up forces to transfer them to other directions.

The RPD squeezes from the front line

From Pushilin’s words it can be concluded that after the completion of the Mariupol operation, the DPR troops will concentrate on moving the front line (the former contact line) away from Donetsk, Gorlovka, Yasinovataya and other cities of the agglomeration. central Donetsk, which continues to suffer bombardment by the Ukrainian Army. Specifically, on Wednesday the Ukrainian artillery attacked Donetsk twice with Grads, a total of 25 shells.

In all areas of the offensive, the enemy has “important fortifications, but we are still advancing,” Pushilin said. “It is not yet possible to speak of a date: everything depends on many factors. But it is a fact that the operation is accelerating”, he insisted. According to the leader of the DPR, about 55-60% of the territory of the Republic according to its administrative borders has been liberated. It must be remembered that, until February 24, the DPR controlled about a quarter of the territory.

Greater successes have been (although the lower concentration of troops must be taken into account) in the Lugansk area. At the moment, the RPL controls at least 90% of the territory of Lugansk and has practically reached the administrative borders of the territory that declared itself independent in 2014. The only exception is the urban agglomeration of Severodonetsk-Lisichansk-Rubezhnoe to the west of Lugansk. , next to the border with the DPR. The active battle continues in that zone.

At the same time, since the beginning of the week, clashes between Russian and Ukrainian troops have continued south and southeast of Izium (Kharkov region, 44 km as the crow flies from Slavyansk and 55 km from Kramatorsk). Battles have also occurred south of Gulyai-Pole and Novomikhailovka.

It is to these areas that reinforcements are being directed and those Russian, DPR and RPL troops that are being liberated in Mariupol as the city is captured. Troops from Kherson and Nikolaev are also being transferred there. The deployment has been possible after the defeat of the units of the 28th Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which tried to attack in the direction of Kherson, which was completed on Monday.

According to analysts, it is estimated that the dispatch of an attack force is being prepared for the coming days that must converge from the south and north to finally surround the largest group of Ukrainian Army troops in Donbass to proceed with their subsequent destruction. . “We are talking about defeating a group of 40-50,000 people,” military analyst Boris Rozhin, Colonel Cassad , explained to Vzglyad . “In fact, for the Russian army, it is the largest such operation since the Great Patriotic War. And it has its own difficulties. Although the enemy suffers casualties, it defends itself. So everyone is waiting for the second phase to start, which is aimed at an offensive operation to surround this group.”

“The main group is divided into two. A smaller part is surrounded in Mariupol and has already been partially liquidated,” Rozhin added. “There is a larger group defending itself in the Donetsk area, Gorlovka, and another group defending itself in Severodonetsk and Lisichansk. The task is to surround it and destroy it.”

Offensive from the north: why Slavyansk will not be attacked frontally

“A group of Russian troops will be deployed in the Izium area [where it all started in 2014, from there the “ anti- terrorist operation ” was launched – Ed] to ensure the offensive in the direction of Kamenka and other localities to surround the grouping of Ukrainian troops in Slavyansk-Kramatorsk and Lisichansk-Severodonetsk”, explained military expert Andrey Prokarev. It can already be said that after the defeat of the Ukrainian grouping at Izium, the Russian troops began a slow but gradual advance south towards Slavyansk and southwest to Barvenkovo. This creates the conditions to move from north to south to close the pocket. The resistance in this zone is serious, but the front is gradually changing. Now Russian troops are fortified south of the Seversky Donets and continue to build up forces there.

The Svyatogorsk monastery, conveniently situated on the riverbank and converted into a defensive position by the Ukrainian Army and Nationalist battalions, is also in a semicircle. In a straight line, it is 10 km to Slavyansk, but according to experts, there will most likely be no frontal assault on the fortified Slavyansk-Kramatorsk agglomeration. “There are fortified areas on the contact line that are marked as important points: Avdeevka, Slavyansk, Severodonetsk, Lisichansk and Krasnoarmeisk,” said Alexey Leonov, editor-in-chief of Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine .

According to Prokaev, the Russian troops will have to protect the flanks to avoid being hit there during the offensive. “We are facing experienced units of the Ukrainian Army in Donbass, they have been fighting since 2014, they have headquarters, depots, fortifications. In addition, the remaining bridges will be blown up and that factor must also be taken into account during the Russian offensive, ”he pointed out.

Offensive from the south: the key role of Gulyai-Pole

The Russian troops “are waiting for the end of the Mariupol operation to transfer additional forces in the direction of Zaporozhie”, believes Rozhin. For its part, the Ukrainian General Staff has decided to reinforce the southern flank of the Donbass group at the expense of the assault units of the 95th Yitomir Brigade and the 25th Dnipro Brigade.

The General Staff intended to recapture Volnovakha, recently liberated by DPR forces, and “unblock” Mariupol. But Kyiv’s calculations failed. The two aforementioned amphibious brigades left the Gulyai-Pole area towards Ugledar and gradually retreat north towards Novomikhailovka and Kurajovo, dooming themselves to end up in another pocket.

An advance on Novomikhailovka and Gulyai-Pole would destroy the entire Ukrainian Armed Forces front and thus free up the units and reinforcements being deployed there. Experts believe that if the Russian troops occupy Novomikhailovka, there will be an advance of the front with access to Kurakhvo, 50 kilometers from Donetsk. DPR troops are also slowly advancing through Marinka. The battle is now taking place in the main open areas that dominate the steppe as far as Kurajovo. All this threatens the Ukrainian grouping west of Donetsk with being encircled.

“The goal is to reach the rear of this group, to advance in converging directions from the north and south,” Rozhin explained. “In the end, it is necessary to cut the Donetsk-Pavlograd highway, along which the main supply road of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donbass runs.” Pavlograd is a city in the east of the Dnipropetrovsk region, 150 kilometers northwest of Donetsk.

As previously reported, Russian aircraft and sea-launched Kalibr missiles destroyed a key infrastructure for the Ukrainian Armed Forces: the Pavlograd railway junction, which Ukrainian troops are vigorously trying to recapture. Russian troops “can advance through Slavyansk, Barvenkovo ​​or through Lugovoy in the direction of Pavlograd,” Rozhin said. “Of course, no one is going to say exactly what plan the command will choose,” he added.

“The troops that now have to wipe out the group of 50,000 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will act on the principle of divide and sell. The large enemy groups will be cut into different pockets of resistance and then destroyed”, the expert thinks. To do this, all kinds of weapons will be used: artillery, mortar, precision weapons and aviation.

Resumen Latinoamericano, April 2, 2022,