Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 12.01.2021
The story unfolding in the United States with the insurrection at the Capitol is one that’s been told before. The Russian Federation is at war with Ukraine, and its invasion began in 2014 with organized mobs seizing public buildings in Ukrainian cities. Whether they know it or not, Americans have become players in a familiar play.
Here’s the script of Putin at war. The time is the early months of 2014. The place is Ukraine. The conclusion, which is not yet written, will happen in 2021 in the United States.
The cast of characters:
VATNIKS: A vatnik is person completely indoctrinated by Russian disinformation. A vatnik is a zombie, believing the oligarchs who steal are benefactors and the foreign invaders who take the land are liberators. Vatniks make up the greatest number of people in the Russian Federation’s provocations against Ukraine but they are the least important. They’re there to make active measures seem to be something other than what they are. The equivalent of a vatnik in the United States is a “deplorable” or a MAGAt.
TITUSHKI: Titushki are violent, organized mobs, directed to break up any form of public expression the pro-Russian oligarchy doesn’t like. They’re usually under the protection of the police. Titushki were used extensively by the Yanukovych Clan to break up the Revolution of Dignity. They were unsuccessful in Kyiv but in Donetsk they overwhelmed the pro-Ukraine majority. The closest equivalent in the United States are the Proud Boys and other fascist paramilitary organizations friendly to the Trump regime.
AGENTS PROVOCATEURS: These are direct Russian agents, seeded in the mob, covered by the noise of the vatniks, directing the violence of the titushki. They are the fewest in number and the most dangerous. They were in the United States at the Capitol insurrection, shouting «Смелее! Смелее!» – “Be bold! Go for it!”
SPETSNAZ: Special operations troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation were used prominently when Putin invaded Ukraine. They removed their insignia and were known as “little green men.” The equivalent in the United States are the unidentified federal officers who violently confronted American citizens in Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
Setting the stage:
The Revolution of Dignity of the Ukrainian people started on 21 November 2013 to protest Yanukovych’s withdrawal from the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. It grew into a mass movement of millions of people striving for a better life, for an end to corruption, for democracy, and for Ukraine to pursue a path to Euro-Atlantic integration.
Yanukovych sent the Berkut riot police, Internal Ministry troops, and titushki to beat and kill Ukrainians. He ordered snipers to carry out the Maidan Massacre – over 100 people were killed, becoming known as the “Heaven’s Hundred.” On the night of 21 February 2014, Yanukovych fled his palace at Mezhyhirya north of Kyiv and flew in a helicopter to Kharkiv.
At Kharkiv, Yanukovych tried to set up a provisional government, conspiring with the traitors Hennadiy Kernes and Mykhailo Dobkin. Kernes later became infamous as part of the mafia circle that included Pavlo Fuchs and Rudy Giuliani. Yanokovych’s attempt to lead a counter-revolution failed and the Russians exfiltrated him from Crimea, taking him in a boat to Rostov. Although convicted in absentia in Ukraine for treason, Yanukovych remains in the Russian Federation under the protection of the dictator Putin.
Giving up on Yanukovych, Putin activated his plan to invade Ukraine. At all costs, he felt he had to stop the Revolution of Dignity. Russian propaganda had always presented Ukrainians as “brother Slavs.” But if Russians were to see that Ukrainians were living freely and independently in a democratic society then they might get the idea that they also could live that way. Putin couldn’t have that.
The Russian Federation invaded Ukraine using maskirovka, which is masked warfare. Organized mobs made up of the cast of characters outlined above were sent to attack public buildings throughout the south and east of Ukraine. Simferopol, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Zaporizhia and other cities were hit. Kyiv was untouched because the Maidan encampment remained in place, protecting the Revolution of Dignity in the capital.
By starting off using organized mobs, the Russian Federation succeeded in capturing Simferopol, Donetsk and Luhansk but was defeated everywhere else. And in those three cities it took direct military intervention – invasion – for the Russian Federation to end up occupying Crimea and (some of) Donbas.
At Simferopol, the mob the Russians sent was overwhelmed by pro-Ukraine demonstrators who were mostly Crimean Tatars. After this failure, Putin sent in the Spetsnaz to seize the regional parliament building and the airport in Simferopol. He was forced to send troops openly across the Kerch Strait to invade Ukraine which meant the whole world could see what he was doing. The Putin regime has taken out its revenge on the Crimean Tatars in the almost seven years since, and the brutal persecution they’ve suffered has been as horrendous as it was under the Stalin regime. Ukraine failed to liberate Simferopol and the rest of Crimea from the foreign invaders because Russian forces blockaded Ukrainian forces, the new government in Kyiv was only days old, and the peninsula was saturated with armed men terrorizing the local population.
At Donetsk the Russians sent a mob to seize the oblast (region) administration building and at Luhansk they sent one to seize the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) building. These hybrid warfare attacks were successful. Local security officials were bribed to look away or were part of the attack. The pro-Ukraine majority of citizens in these cities were intimidated with violence – over one and a half million of them were forced to flee as refugees (“internally displaced persons”) by the Russian Federation attacks. But here as well Putin was forced to send in the military, because his so-called “Novorossiya” project had no support. Fierce battles were fought: the Battle of Luhansk Airport, the Battle of Ilovaisk, the Battle of Donetsk Airport, the Battle of Debaltseve. By 2015 the war in Europe had become trench warfare not unlike the First World War.
In all the other cities of Ukraine, the Russian invasion tactic of using organized mobs failed. The biggest factor in defeating the pro-Russian mobs of vatniks, titushki and agents provocateurs was countering them with huge numbers of non-violent, pro-Ukrainian, active citizens. At Zaporizhia, hundreds of Russian Federation-directed goons were “kettled” by thousands of loyal Ukrainians. No one was hurt, and after hours of negotiations (if I recall correctly by priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church) everyone went home. The important result was that the administrative buildings of Zaporizhia were not taken over and that city remains to this day within free Ukraine, outside the Russian Federation-occupied zone.
The after scene:
Under the Trump regime, Americans have now seen all aspects of maskirovka the Russian Federation uses in its war against Ukraine. At the attack on the state building in Lansing, Michigan, titushki were deployed disguised as pro-Trump militia members. The insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol were mostly vatniks disguised as pro-Trump “patriots” but amongst them were malign agents provocateurs.
The attack on the Capitol succeeded because security had been weakened, in some cases deliberately. Just as in the attack on the Donetsk administration building in 2014, in Washington in 2021 some police just let the mob in. The insurrectionists were driven out because they were not reinforced by more pro-Trump allies, and further pro-USA forces arrived to save the day. This is what happened at Kharkiv in 2014, when Putin and his quisling Ukrainian allies weren’t able to reinforce the occupiers of the administration building but pro-Ukraine forces arrived from Kyiv to rescue the city.
The Russian Federation invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014. The war is ongoing. The Russian Federation occupies the south part of Ukraine, which is Crimea, and the east part of Ukraine, which is some territory in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. A key tactic of the early stages of Putin’s war was to use organized mobs to seize public buildings. Americans are confronted now with the same tactic of masked warfare. They saw it at Lansing last year, they saw it in Washington, D.C. last week, and they’ll see it in many more cities in the days ahead. How Ukrainians succeeded and how they failed to stop organized mobs in 2014 should be the topic of conversation if democracy is to be saved.