Can somebody explain to me the reason why there is fighting in eastern Ukraine?

Aug 2010
Welsh Marches
"Funny, that how the Russian aggression against Ukraine at a supposed prospect of Ukraine MAYBE in the future seeking alliances as a guarantee against Russian aggression has precipitated an undeclared but de-facto war between the two." That is well-stated. But there does seems to be a real division within Ukraine between those who want to be closer to Russia and those who want to be closer to the West, so Russia is propping up those who take the most extreme position on one side of that dispute, and is quite effectively keeping the country (which is politically corrupt as well as politically divided) as a whole in a kind of limbo. Altogether an unholy mess which Russia has interest in keeping in that state.


Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
"Funny, that how the Russian aggression against Ukraine at a supposed prospect of Ukraine MAYBE in the future seeking alliances as a guarantee against Russian aggression has precipitated an undeclared but de-facto war between the two." That is well-stated. But there does seems to be a real division within Ukraine between those who want to be closer to Russia and those who want to be closer to the West, so Russia is propping up those who take the most extreme position on one side of that dispute, and is quite effectively keeping the country (which is politically corrupt as well as politically divided) as a whole in a kind of limbo. Altogether an unholy mess which Russia has interest in keeping in that state.
Moscow's method of maintaining Ukraine as a client, by maintaining a set of Ukranian politicians as clients, failed in 2014.

Very shocking to it. Most of all since the matter things came unstuck over was something as staggeringly unsexy as a trade association agreements with the EU (the most preliminary of preliminary steps that, again, MIGHT lead to a later process of EU membership application). The bit the Moscow clearly discounted was that there was after all in Ukraine an independent formation of public opinion – an considerable public opinion really wanted that trade association agreement. Since prez Yanokovich was seen as axing it in return for a Moscow cash-handout and some gas prices reduction, he ended up with the problem of being seen putting Moscow over Ukranian public opinion. So there was a reaction. Imagine that, a public Ukranian opinion leading to actual political outcomes. At first peaceful demonstrations, but then Yanukovich tried to beat public opinion into outright submission. And then that didn't work. And again shock and consternation in Moscow. Which clearly culminated in complete bafflement and denial (favouring conspiracy theories) when the state apparatus of violence Yanukovich was employing against the demonstrators, realized this wasn't working, they were on the losing side, and took the consequences and in the space of about 24 hours simply dissolved, leaving Yanukovich naked an unprotected from this Ukranian public opinion that by right, according to Moscow, should get no recognition. Which was when he hightailed it out of Ukraine asap, before public opinion caught up with him.

The playing up of Ukranian divisions is a political tool as well. There are certainly divisions in Ukraine. It bears the mark of having been divided by three multinational empires for most of its history. Otoh, show me a nation with no internal divisions? Question is rather why Ukraine should be a special case to be maintained as a Russian client state?

And regardless, given the Russian de facto war against Ukraine now, that's doing wonders for bringing the Ukranians of all hues together. As could be expected.

Not that Moscow expected it. It's play for creating a completely new national project, Novorossiya, at no run up, and mostly by sending money, guns, and agents of disruption, if anything is revelatory of how Moscow doesn't actually regard Ukraine as really real. The rapid failure of the project is a bit of a tell for how badly Moscow is getting things wrong about Ukraine. It's very quiet about that NOW, but it's worth remembering for the implications about how the Russian government reagrds Ukraine. (Russians and Ukranians are the same people – which of course NEVER means Russians are Ukranians, but all Ukranians migt really be Russians. Just like the 19th c. when the "Little Russians" were essentially stupid country bumpkins who couldn't speak Russian properly, but a bit of massaging by education would swiftly lead to a situation when Ukranians would get smart and just realize they were really Russians.)

Which is all really funny, considering how close the two are supposed to be.
Nov 2015
I have a general understanding of the earlier situation with Crimea, but the situation in Ukraine is more confusing to me. As far as I'm aware it's not a direct conflict between Ukraine and Russia, but instead some groups that are separatists that want to join Russia? And I assume that Russia is encouraging and aiding these separatists?

Am I sort of on-the-ball here, or am I completely wrong? I'm not intent on starting a debate over who is in the right or wrong here, I just want a general understanding of why the conflict started, and what exactly it's about, and who is involved.
If we talk about the military side of the conflict, it began when the commandos of Girkin opened fire on the officers of the SBU on the highway near Slavyansk on April 13, 2014.

Girkin is a retired colonel of the GRU - the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of Russia. Prior to that, he actively participated in the events in the Crimea during the landing of the 50,000 Russian troops there at the end of February 2014. He headed there a sabotage detachment, participated in the seizure of the Supreme Council of Crimea, etc.

Earlier he participated in the war in Chechnya and in Bosnia.

The group under his leadership seized and murdered the deputy of the city council of Gorlovka, Vladimir Rybak, and two other Ukrainians when he moved to Donbass.

From May 16 to September 14, 2014 Girkin was the “Minister of Defense” of the so-called DNR. At this time, the Russian Buk shot down a Malaysian airbus over the territory under his control.
Now he lives in Moscow.

Interestingly, at the time when Girkin commanded the troops of the so-called DNR, Boroday was its prime minister (from May 16 to September 17, 2014). Also a citizen of Russia. Back in 2002, the Russian Agency of Political News reported that Boroday is the Major General of the FSB

Pro-Russian sentiments among the residents of Donbass really were. Moreover, such sentiments were constantly fueled by the local elite. And this lasted from the late 1990s until 2014.

It was a subtle game. The elite paid little to their laborers and indicated the Kiev authorities as the cause of all local ills. When I was at a big conference in Donetsk in 2003 with the participation of the governor and directors of the largest factories in the region, I did not find a single central Ukrainian newspaper sold in the city. Only local ones in which Kiev authorities swore at every moment. And Russian newspapers who praised the success of Russia.

However, the Donetsk elite absolutely did not support the separatists in 2014. Moreover, almost all of them left the war zone to Ukraine, including the main Donetsk oligarch Akhmetov. I can say that all Donetsk companies with whom I had a business for a dozen of years also moved to the part of Ukraine that was not occupied by Russia. I did not see a single representative of the Donetsk elite among those who “solved all the problems there” until 2014 - among the leadership of the DPR and the LPR. No one. Instead, there is some random rag-tag.

Statistics now looks like this:

More than 3 million residents of Donbass moved to Ukraine from regions occupied by Russia . And no more than 300 thousand residents of Donbass who fled to Russia remained to live there.
Pro-Russian sentiments among the residents of Donbass came from their their conviction that life in Russia is much better, and there they pay many times more there than to the workers in Ukraine.

Alas - after Russia's invasion of Crimea and the occupation of Donbass by Russia Russia's GDP decreased by $ 1 trillion per year (!!!) - from $ 2.3 trillion in 2013 to 1.3 trillion in 2015. The living standards of Russians dropped noticeably. And Russia has ceased to be as attractive to those residents as before 2014. And as I heard, those Donbass residents who returned to the Donbass from Russia after fleeing in 2014 or moved to Ukraine, speak of life of the Russians much less joyfully than when they saw it only on Russian television.

What happened in the Donbass in 2014 and later?

Russia has implemented a large Ukrainian project, the beginning of which I have been looking at since the time of Yeltsin.

In the final of this project, Yanukovych had to create all the prerequisites for Ukraine to become absolutely pro-Russian. He virtually eliminated the Ukrainian army and sharply weakened the SBU. At the time of Russia's invasion of the Crimea in the Ukrainian army, as our military told me, the number of combat-ready troops was 8-10 thousand

In the spring of 2014, pro-Russian protests began in the Donbas. Significant participation in them was taken by Russian citizens who were regularly delivered by buses from Russia. No more than 10 thousand people attended the most numerous events of the sort.

Then Russian special forces joined the work, reinforced by residents recruited from the local army veterans.

Here is a characteristic scene. The seizure of the local police office by the Russian special forces in Kramatorsk April 13, 2014.

In connection with the penetration of Russian special forces in the Donbass, the Kiev authorities announce the beginning of the anti-terrorist operation — ATO. Since the Ukrainian army was very weak at the time, the battalions of Ukrainian volunteers took an active part in it. Very many of Ukrainians were engaged in providing them, and ordinary Ukrainians gave money, food and medicine for this. In all Kiev supermarkets there were large baskets, where residents of the city put food, which was then sent to Ukrainian soldiers.

A number of Ukrainian oligarchs who did not want to see Russia in Ukraine allocated a fair amount of money to finance these battalions.

Russia began an active transfer of its Chechens, “Cossacks” and many thousands of Russian volunteers to the Donbass.

As Vladimyr Efimov - one of the recruiters of these Russian volunteers said in an interview with a local newspaper in Yekaterinburg, these volunteers were first taken to the Donbass in Red Cross vehicles. And then they began to deliver them there in the trucks of the Russian "humanitarian aid"

Как в Екатеринбурге нанимают наёмников для ДНР/ЛНР - Откровенное интервью

It must be said that even during the operation to seize the Crimea Putin in an interview on Russian TV said frankly that Russian soldiers would hide behind the backs of Ukrainian women and children.

Here is an interview

Last edited:
Nov 2015
As many factories and mines in the Donbas closed down, hundreds of thousands of their workers were left without work and without means of support. For many of them service in the then-created “DPR Army” proved to be the only way to earn money and feed their families. Weapons, ammunition, money, uniforms, supplies, medicines and military instructors of this army were provided by Russia.
She transferred there a large number of multiple launch rocket system "Grad", barreled artillery and later began a massive transfer of tanks to the Donbass.

Nevertheless, the Ukrainian battalions launched a successful offensive in the summer of 2014. They liberated Slavyansk (which was defended by Girkin then), Kramatorsk and Mariupol with its population of half a million inhabitants.

In August 2014, Donetsk and Luhansk were half surrounded by Ukrainian troops. The offensive continued. According to the forecasts of the Ukrainian military, until the end of the war remained 1-2 months. Back in May 2014, Moscow issued an order to fully classify data on the losses of the regular Russian army in operations abroad.

And in order to save the situation Russia struck an unexpected strong blow from its territory to the rear of the advancing Ukrainian grouping of troops near Ilovaisk using a significant number of tanks. The group was surrounded and suffered heavy losses.

After that, the war went into a protracted phase.

In the autumn and winter of 2014, Russia formed a full-fledged “expeditionary army” in the Donbas. It includes local mercenaries, Russian volunteers, Russian Cossacks, as well as officers and soldiers of regular Russian troops. The army was equipped with several hundred Russian tanks, the same number of Grads and more heavy multiple launch rocket systems, cannon artillery, mortars and high-level Russian systems of electronic reconnaissance, artillery fire control and electronic suppression.

Gradually there was a replacement in the army of that part of the officers that were from among the local residents by the officers of the regular Russian army. Today almost 100% of its entire officer corps are the officers of the regular Russian army. They wear no Russian insignia and use nicknames instead of their names.

Neanwhile the real names of the the four Russian generals who are heading the troops are known

This army is under the Russian command and on the 100% Russian supply with everything necessary. Her fighters receive a salary in Russian rubles.

In order to prevent the Ukrainians from launching a big offensive in the Donbas, , the Russians deployed a number of their divisions with heavy weapons along the Ukrainian border from the Russian side (in Rostov region). At the beginning of the Ukrainian offensive they will quickly move to the Donbass and will provide effective military resistance to the Ukrainian army.

And this is the only reason why Ukraine is forced to wage a long languid war with Russian forces in the region and does not launch a big offensive.

It remains to add that the threat of the use of large force of Russia was the main factor why Ukrainian soldiers did not receive an order to open fire on the Russian troops in the Crimea at the end of February 2014. As I have already said, on February 27-28, 2014 when the landing of the Russian 50-thousand troops in the Crimea began, another Russian operation began in the north. The troops of the Western Military District of Russia were raised in alarm. And they were urgently transferred right next to the northern border of Ukraine. The 150,000-strong grouping of Russian troops with heavy equipment reinforced by tactical aviation became a direct threat of a large Russian military invasion of Ukraine in case Ukraine puts up military resistance in the Crimea

This is the same rough military blackmail with the help of which the Russians annexed without a single shot in 1940 Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Bessarbia and Bukovina.

I can also say that all the events in the Crimea and the Donbas occurred against the background of a sluggish reaction of the West. And this reaction the Kremlin obviously was supposed to start an invasion of Ukraine. What to talk about - if the undeclared war of Russia in the Donbas in the West is still often called the “civil war in Ukraine” or the “war with local separatists”.

When Russia did not intervene directly with brute force as in the 2014 - conflicts in Ukraine were resolved peacefully. During the Maidan of 2004, when great passions were in full swing in Kiev and several thousand excited Donbass residents in the role of protestants against Maidan were brought there by trains, the whole confrontation ended with two broken noses in a fight on Vladimirskaya Gorka.

In 2014, Russia brought war to Ukraine
Nov 2015
The Russian media was pretty certain there was a concerted action by Western politicians to move Ukraine in the Western alliance
the Donbass situation started from local grievance which Poroshenko painted as a russian aggression ,
thus making a bad situation worse
at the time the footage was showing women protesting against Ukrainian soldiers...
I have already told here how the situation began. With the intervention of Russia in the Crimea and its annexation. And with the attack of Russian special forces on the Ukrainian warriors and from the seizure of local police stations by the Russian troops - with the arsenals of weapons in the stations.

You probably do not know Ukrainian history very well. Stepan Bandera did not kill the Jews and Poles. No one except the Russian propaganda which you retell here tried to blame Bandera for this. At the beginning of the German invasion of Russia the Germans kept him under house arrest from July 5, 1941. And on September 15, 1941 he was already delivered to a central German prison in Berlin. Further, from the beginning of 1942 to August 1944 Bandera was imprisoned in the prison of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
the situation began with protesters assaulting the Ukrainian parliament building in February 2014
in most civilized country the protested would have met ultimate force


Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
the situation began with protesters assaulting the Ukrainian parliament building in February 2014
in most civilized country the protested would have met ultimate force
They were. It just didn't work.

It's the problem with violent repression, once you engage the public with it, it either leads to sufficient intimidation to pacify it, or it doesn't. But if it doesn't, the public tends to be so large it is actually not workable, and very VERY dangerous in the long run, for the forces of repression. It is very hard to kill the public after all. There are always more of them. And when it ends up more angry than afraid it's very hard to defeat it.

Though of course some Russian commentary has always indicated if the police had just kept on killing sufficiently it would all have come right in the end. Something to gladden your heart?



Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
Could you give examples of civilized countries dealing "Ultimate Force" to tens of thousands of their citizens?
China could, at least in 1989. It's more sophisticated about how to avoid repeats these days. (Though we'll just have to see how it goes once China hits an unknowable but inevitable bump in its economic growth, since the CCP has based its legitimacy on the ability to continue to create prosperity for the public.)

Clearly Ukraine wasn't and isn't China.

Similar History Discussions