By Colonel Cassad
October 26, 2015
|Flag Day in Donetsk, Oct. 25.|
About the removal of weapons and shelling
Our side removed a lot more weaponry than the junta. On both sides, of course, there are challenges to the agreement, but our side is stricter than the junta about removal of equipment, and tanks and heavy artillery of the junta are still hidden near the front line. In general, the withdrawal is carried out partially, and on both sides there are elements of deliberate sabotage. As usual, the junta is well ahead of the people’s republics in these matters.
Complete silence could not be established. Almost every day there are small clashes and shelling. Most of them, as usual, are on the fronts of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR). The sore spots are the same — the airport area, Spartak, Avdeyevka and areas north of Shirokino, etc. On both sides there are orders not to respond to fire, which nevertheless are being violated at the level of small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. But on the whole, the fighting is low intensity in nature and doesn’t change things significantly. The Voentorg [military supply from Russia] is working normally. There were no significant changes in connection with Minsk or the fighting in Syria.
|As Kiev held bogus local elections, the Ukrainian trident was removed
from a building in downtown Donetsk, Oct. 25.
About recruitment and volunteers
The army continues to recruit people, there has been and is no mobilization [draft]. Recruitment of volunteers for the war with Syria has indeed taken place. Only a few go, because most do not believe that the war in the Donbass is over, and many still fear a resumption of high-intensity fighting, the more so because the junta has repeatedly stated that it is not averse to repeating the “Oluya” operation. Here you can expect that the flow into Syria will be those who went to fight in the Donbass for money; those who came for ideological reasons will remain there.
Procurement is still uneven. There are both well-supplied areas, and those with a so-so situation (not as much as last year, when the army was scantily clad before the winter campaign, but complaints about the lack of warm shoes and winter clothes are recorded). The mood is different – on one hand, the amount of aid from Russia is encouraging, but the incomprehensible situation with the elections and the uncertain future of Donbass causes pessimistic assessments. The official propaganda obviously mollifies no one. The severe socio-economic situation and corruption in the rear do not aid optimism.
|Flag Day celebration in Donetsk.|
About the economy
Russia continues to pump money and resources into the country. The region is de facto subsidized from the Russian budget. In addition to money, various equipment (not military) is allocated for the national economy. One problem is the looting and targeted use of aid.
The republics are already firmly sitting in the ruble zone; the hryvnia still exists, but 90-95 percent of the actual traffic is in Russian rubles, which is how salaries and pensions are paid. With social obligations, there as problems relating to late payments, and promises that in November they will increase by 10-15 percent.
Taxes as before partially go to the local budgets and are partially funneled to Ukraine. A partial fight against the oligarchy (Kurchenko, Poroshenko, Lozhkina and Kolomoisky) is of course beautiful, if you forget that Akhmetov and Ephraim are not touched.
Links (in Russian):
It should be remembered that part of the economy of the DNR and Lugansk People’s Republic (LC) is in the “gray market,” so official and real prices do not always coincide. A fight against speculators has been officially declared, but victory remains distant. Smuggling flourishes, essentially as a substitute for normal economic relations interrupted by the blockade of Donbass. At the checkpoints in front-line areas, bribery is booming. The humanitarian situation is certainly easier than last year, when the republics were in a state of humanitarian catastrophe, and this winter will certainly be easier than the last, when the republics were on the brink of starvation. ….
On passports and elections
Rumors still spread about the issuing of passports, but there are no practical steps to implement this at the moment. Since this idea was discussed in relation to the local elections in the DNR and LC, and these have been postponed until the spring of 2016, it is unlikely that in 2015 we will see specifics on the documentation of the population of the unrecognized republics. And judging by Plotnitsky’s statements about the legalization of local passports in Russia, the idea of giving away Russian, not local passports, also went nowhere.
Because it’s evident that the Minsk agreements will not be met in 2015, attempts to revive the political points of the Minsk accords will continue in November. But as the junta is not going to comply, and agreement on the elections fails, it’s all going to take a very long time. The LC today again stated that if necessary, it will hold elections without Ukraine. However, there are contradictory statements issued all the time, so it’s best to wait for real cases, not loud statements. The question of the border, postponed in any case until April-May 2016, is hardly relevant. During November, we can expect several consultations in Minsk, and closer to the end of the year, regular consultations of the “Normandy Quartet.”
Translated by Greg Butterfield