With three helicopters shot down in eastern Ukraine, two by hand-held anti-aircraft missiles, it is clear the Ukrainian Army is outgunned. The professional Russian provocateurs who organized the takeover of public buildings in several east Ukrainian cities have even stolen armored vehicles away from the poorly trained Ukrainian Army. And the Ukrainian Army has been attacked by mortar. Where do regular self-appointed militia get mortars, let alone training to operate a mortar with accuracy?
And now they’ve staged a sketchy election with unknown voters with a vague choice. All ballots were under control of gun-toting thugs who wanted a yes vote on the question of “Do you support the Act of Independence of the People’s Republic of Donetsk?” CNN crews saw people voting twice.
Officials in Kiev said children were allowed to vote. They even posted video of a car they captured with pre-marked ballots.
CNN also reported, “Russian police officers oversaw voting at a Moscow polling station erected for expat Ukrainians to vote in the Donetsk and Luhansk referendums.”
A Pew Research Center poll found 70 percent of the populace of eastern Ukraine want the country to remain unified.
“The Kremlin issued a statement saying only that it ‘respects the will of the population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,’ and that the crisis should be resolved through dialogue between representatives of the easterners and the national government in Kiev,” the New York Times reported Monday.
A presidential election will take place May 25.
Meanwhile Russia is billing Ukraine for gas it has yet to deliver in June. The cost of gas has gone up from $2 billion to $20 billion. Clearly the Kremlin is trying to keep Ukraine poor by trying to extort all the money the U.S. and International Monetary Fund are trying to pump into the economy, that was left a wreck by its former president who hastily departed the country.
There will be some sort of negotiation between western and eastern Ukraine, Russia and the European powers and America. We suggest following a model that follows the United States, where each state makes its own laws but conforms them to a federal constitution and only the federal government can set foreign policy.
More importantly, NATO needs to send more than a few jets, naval vessels and 150 paratroopers each to Poland and the Baltic states. Send a tank brigade and a complete wing of A-10 Warthog tank killer planes to Poland and the Baltics. And send some help to the Ukrainian Army in addition to field rations. Send tarps, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, tents, body armor, night vision goggles, field binoculars, small arms and anti-tank weapons. Arrange for contractors to train the Ukrainian Army in coordinated movement, including operating mortars, grenade launchers and antitank weapons. Start with the small stuff. They have to master basic tactics before they can even think about using tanks and aircraft. It’s an army that needs the confidence and courage that comes with training and adequate equipment.