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Secrets of politeness: How Russian army baffled US intelligence

Author: Ayre от 10.05.2015, 00:00
(голосов: 2)

One year ago US intelligence completely missed massive deployment of Russian military personnel in Crimea, which resulted in several high-ranking US generals loosing their jobs. A military expert explains the reasons for the success of the military operation.


“Russia's rather tough actions in Crimea one year ago were based on the possibility that events would unfold the same way as it is happening now in Donbass region; Russia was acting preemptively”, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in the Andrey Kondrashov's documentary “Crimea. A road back home.”, shown on “Russia One” channel.


According to Putin, the goal of Moscow was to give the residents of the peninsula a chance to “express their opinion” about their future during the public referendum rather than “annexation of the peninsula”.


Unusual confession and brilliant cards.


According to Russia Today, even before the documentary was officially premiered, American TV channel CNN called the interview of Russian President for the documentary about Crimea's come back “an unusual confession”.


In particular, they were surprised that matter of returning the peninsula was already resolved in February. On March 16, 2014, the referendum about the status of the peninsula was held in Crimea; over 96% participants of the referendum voted in favor of region join Russia. 


On March 21 the president of Russia signed a law to ratify the agreement of Crimea and Sevastopol joining Russia, as well as a decree creating Crimean Federal District.


“Crimea joining Russia has become one of the brightest military operations in the history of Russian Army, the major goal of which not only was to take under control a large territory but also to conduct this operation without any blood shed”, -- military expert Victor Baranets shared his opinion with TV channel “Zvezda”. “This (operation) goes beyond all previous operations, doctrines, and strategies. This is clear. And if we are talking about a hybrid war, what has happened can be considered as its brilliant epitome.”


Igor Kasatonov, a former commander of Russian Black Sea Fleet, shares this opinion as well. According to the admiral, “In Crimea NATO intelligence missed everything that was possible and impossible. One of the reason lies in the strict radio silence during the period of groups concentrations, as well as in skillful use of the base in Sevastopol and the military transport arsenal that brought Armed Forces to Crimea”, general stressed.

In the US it is considered that the Russian Armed Forces skillfully used military tactics of XXI century. This assessment of actions of the Russian Army has given by the retired general James Stavridis, a former commander of NATO forces in Europe.

According to him, the key to successful campaign in Crimea was skillfully combined techniques of cyberwar, active information support, and good training of Special Task Forces. All of this has allowed Russia to seize the initiative from the West. Stavridis also drew attention to the fact that the actions of the Russian Army have change significantly since the days of the campaign in Chechnya in 2000.

“The approach of Russian land forces to solve their task has changed significantly. They played their cards brilliantly”, Western media quotes the general.

Empty trains in Ural and eyewash disguise.


Victor Baranets thinks that the uniqueness of the operation to support the population of Crimea at the time of referendum is largely connected to the anticipation of the right moment. In the film “Crimea. A road back home” Vladimir Putin explicitly acknowledges that the goal of Moscow was to give the residents of the peninsula a chance to “express their opinion” about their future during the public   referendum as well as to prevent possible bloodshed, rather than “annexation” of the peninsula.


These fears were not unfounded, if we recall events of the coup d'etat in Kiev during which hundreds of citizens were killed, and if we take a look at Donetsk and Lugansk where thousands of civilians were killed by the artillery and missile strikes of the Ukrainian Army.

“The Supreme Commander, Joint Staff, correctly guessed the moment when redeployment of a large mass of Russian troops would allow to completely mislead foreign intelligence”, Baranets says.
“If you recall, a major exercises of Russian Airborn Forces in Arctics were scheduled for March. Even paratroopers were deployed there. At the same time a large number of military echelons was sent across Ural. Only at the time of their arrival foreigners discovered that the trains were empty! Both these operations have become an excellent example of strategic cover up of the true goal of regrouping of Russian troops”.

Information agency “Medusa” quotes Oleg Teryushin, a sergeant of 31st Paratroops Brigade from Ulyanovsk, about how, in fact, the operation of redeployment of troops to Crimea was taking place.

According to the soldier, they were sent to Crimea to ensure the security during the referendum and “to show the power of the Russian troops” before the Ukrainian Army. “We were among the first who showed up on the Crimea Peninsula on February 24, 2014”, sergeant says. “Two days before that we were raised by the alarm in the barracks. We were formed into battalion tactical groups and then sent by aircrafts to Anapa. From Anapa we were transferred to Novorossijsk by KamAZ vehicles, then a big landing ship took us to Sevastopol.

Nobody except the command had any idea about the operation of returning Crimea to Russia. We were just put in the bilge compartments of the ship. In the morning we went to the deck and realized that we were somewhere in Sevastopol on the naval base of Black Sea Fleet.

As soon as we disembarked, we were given an order to take off all state symbolics and troops insignia so as not to flaunt our presence in the peninsula and not to cause panic.

All of us were given green balaclavas, dark glasses, knee and elbow pads. That's about it for the uniform. I think we were one of the first who began to be called “polite people”.

Patches with Russian flag and emblem of the troops were allowed to come back only after the referendum. At the day of referendum, March 16, a reinforced duty was announced. Early in the morning we arrived at the checkpoints and tied white ribbons on our sleeves to indicate that we were peacekeepers and we were not present here to unleash military aggresssion.”


Duplicated order from Kiev: how Russian intelligence confused Armed Forces of Ukraine

Stephen Blank, a former expert on the Russian military at the United States Army War College says: “It is much more sophisticated, and it reflects the evolution of the Russian military and of Russian training and thinking about operations and strategy over the years”.

For its intervention in Crimea, the Russians used a so-called snap military exercise to distract attention and hide their preparations. Then specially trained troops, without identifying patches, moved quickly to secure key installations. Once the operation was underway, the Russian force cut telephone cables, jammed communications and used cyber warfare to cut off the Ukrainian military forces on the peninsula.

“They disconnected the Ukrainian forces in Crimea from their command and control,” the NATO commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, says.


Victor Baranets reminds that it was, first of all, the peninsula self-defense forces -- Cossacks and militia -- who “was taking over the cities”, rather than Russian landing troops. According to military expert, it was them who blocked Ukrainian military units. Mikhail Sheremet, former head of Crimean self-defense groups, who became deputy head of the Council of Ministers of Crimea in April 2014, says that self-defense groups were numbering about 5000 people, including 1500 – in Simferopol.


Local residents remember that the militia was consisting of males “from 16 to 55”. Russian landing troops and the units of Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Special Forces were the “second line of defense”, a factor of support and confidence for the Crimean militia, Baranets remarks. Finally, the military expert gives a completely conspiracy version of events to neutralize Ukrainian troops in peninsula.

“When the order open fire arrived from Kiev the intelligence worked excellently”, Baranets says. “At that moment there were our people in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, who could make certain documents and send them do different units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces stationed at the peninsula. These documents contained mutually exclusive orders, which confused Ukrainian commanders. While they were clarifying “whether to shoot or not to shoot”, the matter of neutralizing units of Ukrainian Armed Forces was settled”.


However, the term “neutralizing” is not quite correct. Crimean militia and Russian military almost did not use weapons during taking over Ukrainian military units. All Ukrainian troops were offered to surrender, and if desired, take Russian oath and remain serving in their units. Military expert notes that certain role in achieving the success was played by high discipline of the Russian military.

“Each officer, each soldier had a mobile phone.”, Baranets says, “However, by using intercepted talks of Russian military Western intelligence still could not make any conclusions about the redeployment and the start of the military operation.

In the present conditions this was just fantastic! Just as well as the actions of ship troops of Black Sea Fleet which could secretly and quickly move considerable military forces of the Russian Army to the peninsula.”

The result of the operation to support peace in Crimean Peninsula is known: 96% of Crimeans supported joining Russia. These results were attempted to be attributed to “Russian propaganda” or “military pressure”.

However in February of this year a similar study of public opinion was conducted by the Ukrainian sociologists from the “GfK Ukraine” institute. This study was requested by the Ukrainian company Berta Communications (the head of the company is Taras Berezovets, a well-known in Ukraine political scientist) and was supported by the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives. The results of the study are as follows: 82% of Crimean residents completely support the peninsula joining Russia. 11% of respondents said “rather support”. Only 4% were against.

As for the actual “military” and “military and political” outcomes of the campaign, its result was the dismissal of eight high-ranking American generals which were, according to Victor Baranets, sent to reserve for alleged failure of US intelligence in Ukraine.



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