The "orcs" in Ukraine. The Russian choice of employing paramilitaries and mercenaries

(To NC)
14/03/22

The final offensive for the conquest of Kiev always seems to be on the verge of being launched and, nevertheless, the "preparation" which aims to wear down the defensive organization prepared by the Ukrainian forces is incessant. It is very likely that the Russians still have strong mental reservations not so much on the fact that they want to occupy the capital and give a signal of preponderance beyond the objectives already achieved in other parts of the country, as on the toll of blood to pay to the resistance - because it is a question of "resistance", in spite of certain parlor sophisms of some intellectuals talk show televisions - to be able to say that you have control of the city.

The opposite of the Ukrainians with the regular forces and the militias of volunteers deployed along the urban sectors organized in defense is pure resistance, it is a defensive maneuver structured in its most essential doctrinal lines, supported by a good dose of anger and desperation, or perhaps it is better think, of hope. In fact, the ability to conduct a counter-offensive that brings the fighting to Russian or Belarusian territory does not appear on the horizon, so what is it if not a strenuous action aimed at containing the enemy advance? In the defense of their country, the Ukrainian armed forces are trying to take full advantage of theimpasse that the Russians undergo compared to a forecast of faster progression on Ukrainian territory.

In recent days it has often been talked about the fact that Putin has not fielded the best of the resources at his disposal and that the setback, in addition to the impact of weather conditions, together with the training level of many of the soldiers in the field , also depends on this aspect. The writer is a firm supporter of this hypothesis and to better explain it we want to give the following example.

The armored units of the 90th Guards Armored Division penetrated by the north route (the one coming from Belarus) and currently located north-east of Kiev, they are mainly armed with T-72 tanks, the best version of which is the T-72B3. The chariot units of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Division of the Guards Taman, active in the Zaporižžja region, have the same type of tanks. In particular, the 1st Guards Regiment "Chertkovsky", spearhead of the division, waiting to receive the fearsome (and very expensive) T-14 Armata, is equipped precisely with the T-72B3s. The reason for the choice to equip this tank with many armored units lies in the fact that it was conceived as an economical alternative to the T-90 tank which in its various versions, is currently the most modern Russian tank, until the Russian armed forces the next generation T-14 tanks will not be awarded.

The T-72B3 is a relatively simple upgrade of the T-72B tank, with some parameters brought to the level of the T-90A. Basically, the Kremlin has opted to employ in the theaters where it is operating a tank that offers good performance as it is similar to that of a later model, but more expensive (the T-90A) and more versatile than the T-80. , another chariot, however, protagonist of the invasion. The same reasoning, in principle, was applied in the choice of all land and air vehicles to be used in Ukraine. Among other things, the effectiveness of the anti-tank systems Javelin it is precisely one of the factors that contribute to hesitating for the conquest by land of the largest inhabited centers. Therefore tanks and mechanized infantry are very likely to be the last to enter Kiev.

Hence the need to be able to count on fierce and ruthless forces, which invest like the armies of the orcs of the Lord of the Rings Tolkien's alliance of Hobbit fighting for their homeland. So who are these orcs? To get an idea, look at the diagram of the command and control organization structured by the Russian forces employed in the Syrian campaign.1

The interwoven links emerge - at this point one would think created in a Machiavellian perspective of subsequent exploitation, which today takes shape - with the Hezbollah and Pasdaran Iranians and with Assad-backed Sunni militiamen, such as the group Liwa al-Quds. Without prejudice to Tehran's sympathy for Moscow, at least so far, there has been no mention of a dispatch of Iranian paramilitaries to Ukraine. Instead, there is a lot of talk about the 16.000 Syrian militiamen whom Putin defines as "volunteers" while the media vulgate indicates as "mercenaries". In this case too, the war of information goes hand in hand with that on the battlefields.

There is a substantial difference between "volunteers", who adhere to a cause on the basis of an ideological or religious belief, if you prefer, and "mercenaries", who have no cause to fight for, if not that of earning in the pay of the 'one or the other flag.

In the case of the Syrians (photo) it must be said that these are forces loyal to Assad and certainly not ex-ISIS members, as suggested by some television commentators on the wave of emotion. They are the tribute offered by Assad to the faithful ally who has supported him up to now and, therefore, it would be mainly elements of Liwa al-Quds or from the National Defense Force, an organization trained by the Syrian army that divides its members into the categories of fighters, sharpshooters and personnel of theintelligence.

Finally, a mention for the Kurds of the YPG2 and the PYD3 who in Syria expressed their support for Russian air strikes against ISIS, the Front al-Nusra Front and the organization Ahrar al-Sham, also asking the Russians to supply armaments and direct cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State.4 Shortly after the Russian air strikes began, Salih Muslim, co-chair of the PYD, stated in an interview that he did not believe that America would oppose "because [Jabhat] al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham are no different from Daesh: they are all terrorist organizations and share the same radical mentality".5

On March 20, 2017 there was an episode, highly significant of the significance of the role, played in terms of "security" by the Russian forces. On that date, in fact, Russia set up a training base in the Afrin district for the YPG units, in order to fight terrorism in that area. On several occasions the Afrin area had been targeted by artillery bombardments from both Islamic rebel groups and the enemy of all time: Turkey. This is the reason why, the Russian troops would be stationed in Afrin; this choice would have been part of an agreement to protect the YPG, in particular from further Turkish attacks.6

This observation provides an opportunity to reflect on Turkey's role as a mediator for peace, in this chaos of diplomacy and bombing, where on the one hand Putin's Russia aspires to the restoration of Novorossiyaon the other hand, Erdogan's Turkey in Libya is fighting Russia for the never hidden ambitions of restoring a sort of “Ottoman empire”. This ambiguity on all fronts it certainly does not facilitate the diplomatic solution of the Ukrainian problem. The same can be said for the attempt made by Israel, which with Iran and Syria allies of a decidedly aggressive Russia, feels a little under pressure! However, at least we don't hear about Kurds in Ukraine.

These Middle Eastern "war hounds" - who actually make you regret the characters evoked by films like "The Four of the Wild Goose", figures like Bob Denard, Jean Schramme, "Mad Mike" Hoare - it is possible, however, that they find themselves flanked by militiamen (volunteers or mercenaries?) from the Central African Republic.

Why precisely from the heart of Africa? What do they have to do with Ukraine? Also in this case it is a "tribute" to Moscow, a consequence of Putin's expansionist policy in recent years, also on the Black Continent. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in fact, Russian influence on the African continent collapsed quite significant; here, therefore, that also the partnership relations in military matters close with Egypt, Sudan, Central African Republic and Angola7 they aim to restore the prestige in the eyes of the world and the predominant role of the past in foreign policy.

The cooperation established between Russia and the Central African Republic dates back to the agreement signed on 9 October 2017 in Sochi during the meeting between Central African President Faustine Archange Touaderà and Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov (photo). The agreement provides for Russian aid in the technological-military sector in compliance with and within the limits of UN resolution 2127 adopted by the United Nations Security Council in 2013, in an attempt to stem theescalation of violence that has raged in the Central African Republic for years. "Since 2003, the country has been tormented by an endless civil war, in which local armed groups dominate by relying on religious issues, animated by economic interests deriving from the rich mines of gold, diamonds and uranium. In 2013 France took on a military mission (the seventh since 1960) in Central African land, but in 2016 it began a progressive demobilization of its men, leaving the country in the grip of an almost total power vacuum. Precisely this emptiness would have prompted Touaderà to turn to Moscow, and today we find him flanked by a Russian security adviser."8

One last consideration: naturally the longer the war continues and the Russians must record an increasing number of casualties among their regular units, the more - if Moscow wants to persevere in its "special operations" campaign - the costs for hiring "Mercenaries" will represent an additional economic burden of no less importance; in addition to being paid, in fact, they must be adequately equipped and, in this respect, the Kremlin has never shown that it is excessively generous.

- Hobbit Ukrainians, therefore, at present must fear more the "ogres" of the armies of Sauron compared to other Russian soldiers who, in large part, are Hobbit like them.

The "orcs", the hordes that will have the task of doing the dirtiest and most violent work in the taking of cities, because there will be no one who will cry or wait for them at home, because they have not had a home for a long time and, for this reason, they have forgotten what piety and ethics are, even in a fight. And this who for eight years has been conducting military campaigns in the manner of hybrid warfare is well aware.

It may seem strange, but war also has its rules.

1 Image taken from: N. Cristadoro, Missiya Vypolnena (Mission Accomplished) - The Russian Armed Forces in the Syria Campaign (2015 - 2019), Il Maglio Editore, 2019. Author's work.

2 The People's Protection Unit (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Gel Parastina - YPG), is the militia of the Kurdish majority region in northern Syria and an armed force of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan). Since 2014, the YPG has been involved in the war against the Islamic State, becoming the main armed group supported by US aircraft attacks in Syria since September 2014. In January 2015, the YPG repulsed the onslaught of the ISIS to the city of Kobane and in June unified the cantons of Kobanê and Qamishli, cutting ISIS access to the border with Turkey north of its capital in Syria, Raqqa.

3 The Democratic Union Party (Kurdish: Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat - PYD) is a Kurdish political party active in the Northern Syria Federation. The PYD has as a paradigm in its political action the democratic confederalism theorized by Abdullah Öcalan and inspired by libertarian municipalism.

4 Gutman R., US Kurdish allies welcome Russian airstrikes in Syria, McClatchy DC Bureau, 02/10/2015 https://www.mcclatchydc.com.

5 Zaman A., PYD leader: Russia will stop Turkey from intervening in Syria, Al Monitor, 01/10/2015. https://www.al-monitor.com.

6 Yakovlev I., US and Russian military units patrol Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria, Al-Masdar News, 01/05/2017. https://www.almasdarnews.com.

7 Saldutti G., I Russian contractors in the Central African Republic, Defense Analysis, 22/03/2019. https://www.analisidifesa.it.

8 Saldutti G., ibid ..

Photo: web / MoD Russian Fed / Online Defense / Twitter