Rus­sian com­mand-con­trol struc­ture in Don­bas out­lined in Ukraine re­port

Kyiv Post - - News - BY OLEG SUKHOV AND ADAM NATHAN [email protected], ADAMNATHAN­[email protected] Kyiv Post staff writer Oleg Sukhov can be reached at [email protected], while free­lance jour­nal­ist Adam Nathan can be reached at adamnathan­[email protected] com.

The Ukrainian author­i­ties have pro­vided a de­tailed re­port about the vast scale of Rus­sia’s ag­gres­sion in or­der to make a strong case for more sub­stan­tial mil­i­tary aid, a Ukrainian mem­ber of par­lia­ment told the Kyiv Post.

An­driy Le­vus, a law­maker and for­mer ex-deputy chief of the Se­cu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU), out­lined the scope and ex­tent of the Krem­lin’s com­mand and con­trol struc­ture of Rus­sian-sep­a­ratist forces.

He also talked about his trip to the United States last month, when he sub­mit­ted ex-SBU chief Va­len­tyn Na­ly­vaichenko’s re­port on Rus­sian ag­gres­sion to U.S. author­i­ties and pre­sented another re­port on the Krem­lin’s in­flu­ence on the Ukrainian econ­omy.

Part of the re­port on Rus­sian ag­gres­sion – a 30-page pre­sen­ta­tion – was leaked last week to news agency Bloomberg. Le­vus said the en­tire re­port could not be pub­lished to pro­tect sources of in­tel­li­gence and agents who ob­tained it.

The full re­port is about three times larger than the part that was leaked, Le­vus said, adding that it was based on open sources, data gath­ered by agents within the Rus­sian-sep­a­ratist forces, and in­tel­li­gence data.

The un­pub­lished part of the re­port in­cludes a more de­tailed sur­vey of Rus­sian troops, photos, se­rial num­bers and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion data for Rus­sian equip­ment, as well as in­for­ma­tion on Rus­sia’s plans. It also in­cludes in­for­ma­tion on the Rus­sian reg­u­lar army’s A girl looks at a Rus­sian-made Grad mul­ti­ple-rocket launcher at an ex­hi­bi­tion of ev­i­dence of Rus­sian ag­gres­sion on Mykhailivs­ka Square in Kyiv on Feb. 22. (Volodymyr Petrov) role dur­ing the Mas­sacre of Ilo­vaisk last year and the Rus­sian takeover of De­balt­seve in Jan­uary-Fe­bru­ary this year, spec­i­fy­ing which Rus­sian units took part and who gove or­ders.

Le­vus, who is a mem­ber of the Peo­ple’s Front fac­tion and heads par­lia­ment’s sub­com­mit­tee for na­tional se­cu­rity, said that he had talked to U.S. mem­bers of Congress, in­clud­ing sen­a­tors. The goal of the Ukrainian del­e­ga­tion was to prove that the war in Don­bas was “Rus­sian ag­gres­sion, not an in­ter­nal con­flict,” he said.

“We of­ten hear the words ‘Ukrainian cri­sis’ and ‘in­ter­nal con­flict,’” Le­vus said. “Po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions are of­ten made based on these con­cepts.”

He said he had gained the im­pres- sion that many de­ci­sion mak­ers in the U.S. did not know the ac­tual scale of Rus­sian ag­gres­sion, and that their per­cep­tions were in­flu­enced by the Euro­pean press, which he said down­plays the Krem­lin’s role in the con­flict.

Some of the in­for­ma­tion pre­sented by the SBU will be even­tu­ally used in crim­i­nal cases and in­ter­na­tional law­suits against Rus­sia and its prox­ies over the Krem­lin’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea and in­va­sion of Don­bas, Le­vus said. The cases and law­suits con­cern the de­struc­tion of eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture, the theft of Ukrainian busi­nesses, ter­ror­ism, war crimes and crimes against civil­ians.

Com­ment­ing on the six Rus­sian com­man­ders al­legedly in charge of Krem­lin-sep­a­ratist forces that are men­tioned in the re­port, Le­vus said some of them were ac­tive gen­er­als. Oth­ers are for­mally re­tired but de facto still re­port to Rus­sia’s de­fense min­is­ter, since they have not been stripped of their mil­i­tary rank and are on standby for duty, he said.

There is also a Rus­sian gen­eral su­per­vis­ing sep­a­ratist troops who is not men­tioned in the pre­sen­ta­tion pub­lished by Bloomberg – Alexan­der Lentsov, Le­vus said. Lentsov is a mem­ber of the Joint Cen­ter for Con­trol and Co­or­di­na­tion ( JCCC), a group of Rus­sian and Ukrainian of­fi­cers that mon­i­tors the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Feb. 12 Minsk ceasefire deal.

Le­vus ac­cused Lentsov of us­ing the in­for­ma­tion on Ukrainian po­si­tions he ob­tained dur­ing meet­ings with Ukrainian gen­er­als to help Rus­sian-sep­a­ratist forces dur­ing the bat­tle of De­balt­seve in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary. Lentsov was not avail­able for com­ment.

“Olek­sandr Raz­maznin, a Ukrainian gen­eral and mem­ber of the JCCC, says that the JCCC binds the Ukrainian army hand and foot and trans­fers in­tel­li­gence data to mil­i­tants,” Le­vus said.

Out­lin­ing the “struc­ture of Rus­sian oc­cu­pa­tion,” Le­vus said the about 9,000 Rus­sian reg­u­lar troops in Don­bas were sep­a­rated into bat­tal­ion-sized tac­ti­cal units at­tached to sev­eral sec­tors.

These units con­sist en­tirely of Rus­sian ser­vice­men. Dur­ing mil­i­tary ac­tion, they may change their uni­forms and dis­guise them­selves as sep­a­ratists, Le­vus said.

Apart from Rus­sian reg­u­lar army troops, “each sep­a­ratist brigade has a Rus­sian in­struc­tor as its chief of staff, or a deputy com­man­der who de facto makes all tac­ti­cal de­ci­sions dur­ing mil­i­tary ac­tion,” he said.

In each sep­a­ratist brigade, there is also a unit of Rus­sian reg­u­lar troops en­forc­ing dis­ci­pline and obe­di­ence to the Rus­sian Gen­eral Staff’s or­ders, Le­vus said. Such units are used to train sep­a­ratists and purge their ranks of dis­loyal el­e­ments.

Le­vus com­pared such Rus­sian units to the “bar­rier troops” used by the Soviet Union to shoot re­treat­ing sol­diers dur­ing World War II, as well as to the Bol­she­vik com­mis­sars, who made sure troops toed the party line.

While sep­a­ratist troops are used more of­ten as “cannon fod­der” on the front­line, Rus­sian reg­u­lar troops are mostly used for ar­tillery sup­port, the op­er­a­tion of ar­mored ve­hi­cles and sabotage oper­a­tions, Le­vus said.

The Rus­sian army’s head­quar­ters moves around the Don­bas depend­ing on the lo­ca­tion of cur­rent hotspots, ac­cord­ing to Le­vus. For in­stance, dur­ing the siege of De­balt­seve, it was trans­ferred to the north of Donetsk, he said.

Over the past two months, Rus­sia has moved in a large amount of Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence equip­ment and more drones to Ukraine, which proves that it is gear­ing up for an ex­pan­sion of the front­line, Le­vus said. He said he thought the next es­ca­la­tion might come this fall.

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