Tuesday, November 30, 2004

More on spetsnaz

This article Kyiv Post. Top stories quotes the Daily Kommersant, a Russian newspaper, on the presence of Russian spetsnaz in the country:

The Russian daily Kommersant published a report on Nov. 29 stating that up to 800 Russian special forces, or spetsnaz, began arriving in Kyiv early on the morning of Nov. 23 and changed into Ukrainian uniforms at a Ukrainian military base just outside the capital.

The report says that at 1:32 a.m. on Nov. 23 a Russian Antonov An-26 (serial number RA-26410) arrived at a Ukrainian military base near Irpen, located 10 km from the city center. The base is adjacent to a compound operated by the BARS government security agency, which has as many as 3,000 service personnel protecting the Presidential Administration in central Kyiv.

According to the Kommersant report, at 3:17 a.m. on Nov. 23, a second plane arrived, a Ukrainian-registered heavy lift Ilyushin Il-76. The occupants of both the Antonov and the Ilyushin boarded buses waiting on the tarmac and were transported to the base at Irpen. Kommersant also reported that up to 800 such spetsnaz forces of the Vityaz regiment have arrived in Ukraine from Russia on Russian military transport aircraft, many also having landed at Kyiv's Boryspil International Airport from Nov. 24-26.

The location of the troops is currently unknown.

There is more in the article.

This confirms the television reports at the time. Spetsnaz near Irpen. (In an earlier posting I had it Irpin.)

It can be amusing, if the consequences aren't dire, that is, to read that a certain person will not do a particular thing because it is not in his interest to do it. By interest, we usually mean long-term self interest and that has problems associated with it as a limitation on action. But what we really tend to mean is not that it is against some absolute interest found by some impartial, omniscient jury somewhere, but that it is against a person's interest as I conceive that interest to be. So we get statements like "Saddam won't develop WMD because he knows if he does that he will be subject to an overwhelming military response by the international community." But we know now that he was going to reconstitute his WMD program. There are lots of other statements like this made by serious people who use this too flexible rule of thumb to predict what a person might or might not do.

And "Putin won't send in the troops to Ukraine because..." is the same sort of thing. In the end, what we are really saying is that Putin will not do a certain thing because it is against his long-term interests as we conceive those interests to be. What those interests might actually be or what Putin considers those interests to be might be something entirely different. To him or to anyone else, the short-term interests might be more desirable and he might think he can weather the repercussions for some reason.

That said, this of course is not the smoking gun. It is interesting though that a Russian newspaper is now confirming what was reported here at the time. But we'll just have to see how this develops.


Anonymous said...

Alas, the paper making this claim belongs to Boris Berezovsky, who would gleefully write about Putin eating babies. You may as well go to the Donbass Daily Miner for a balanced view of Yushchenko.

On the Russian troops, we had - in addition to Yulka's article in the Pakistan Times, where she baldly stated that there were Russian troops here - this, from Rybachuk:


Then, this, from Delovaya Stolitsa (supporting Yushchenko):


Hmmm...those numbers, the location and the scenario all look rather similar, don't they?

Now, if it turns out that someone can prove that Russian spetnaz were here, I'll be among the first to condemn that action (of bringing the troops in, not of proving that they were here!) Similarly, I would expect to see potential members of the next Cabinet of Ministers strongly censured for voicing hysterical and DANGEROUS rumours, if it turns out to have been untrue and merely a act of political expediency.

You wrote: "But understanding what the consequences of this involvement of Russian troops might be, it would be much better to protest and let the Russians prove that it hasn't happened, than to sit around until the proof becomes incontrovertible. This would help maintain the sovereignty of a nation. Waiting might be too late."

How would you propose that Russia prove that troops were NOT here? Send a list of every Russian serviceman and his exact whereabouts on the days in question?

And what if, in an atmosphere on a knife's edge and made worse by allegations of Russian armed intervention, some Ukrainian patriot had taken into his hands to "deal" with a Russian or two? Who would be responsible?

By the way, an AN-26 can carry up to 40 troops. An IL-76 -- 125-140 (the latter number for paratroops.) That leaves a rather large number to get to 800. Why is there no concrete data on the other alleged flights?

The Boryspil story is also suspect, especially when one considers the original story, that 1000 (!) troops arrived on TWO planes. Find me an aircraft that can carry 500 troopers (even unarmed) and I'll take the story as read.

How is it that - with troops moving all over the shop, as well as tanks - that nobody thought to take a picture of them?

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