Donetsk, Novorossiya, Peace Talks, Ukraine Civil War

Shirokino Retreat: Gambit, Blunder or Outright Betrayal? (Updated)

By Karl Pomeroy
Quemado Institute
July 2, 2015
Last edit July 16, 2015

[For July 3,4,5,7,8,10 & 16 updates, see sections at end of post.]

It is difficult to put into words my shock and disappointment over the Novorossiya Armed Forces (NAF) retreat from Shirokino. This strategic Azov Sea town, lying midway between Kiev-held Mariupol and Donetsk-held Novoazovsk, formed the western boundary of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) coastline, marking a well-defined limit the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) could not easily breach. Now, according to the latest reports, the UAF have taken the town, which was left empty by the flight of the militia.

The DPR could hardly afford to lose a kilometer of its coastline. The shore was only about 30 kilometers long, stretching from Shirokino east to Kholodny on the Russian border. The next town east of Shirokino is Bezzimenne, lying 8 km closer to Russia. Novorossiya may have thrown away a full quarter of its Azov shore.

What could motivate this self-imposed defeat? Civilians were no longer in danger; the last residents had been evacuated earlier last week. So why would the DPR leadership execute such a blunder? DPR Contact Group envoy and deputy Chairman of the Peoples’ Council Denis Pushilin explains it this way in the publication Novorossia Today: “As a manifestation of good will and peaceful intentions, the authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic made a decision to consider the village of Shirokino of the Novoazovsk district a demilitarized zone on a unilateral basis…. In order to stabilize the situation in Shirokino, we suggest creating a demilitarized zone in the area of this settlement. The OSCE monitoring mission should be entitled to control over the situation, and the OSCE MM will be the guarantor of peace and quiet.”

Recall that Saddam Hussein, “as a manifestation of good will and peaceful intentions,” eliminated his so-called weapons of mass destruction, only to be further accused, hunted down and executed (actually “assassinated”, as the West had no right to convict him). American leaders and their European allies harbor contempt for any “good will and peaceful intentions” shown by their chosen enemies. Western officials do not respect kindness; it makes them look bad in comparison. What they want are rivals who put up a good fight.  This is a fine point Vladimir Putin has missed, and Quemado Institute has challenged him on this in two previous articles (Putin at St. Petersburg: Still Soft on Kiev, and I Urge Putin to Strengthen His Stance on Donbass!). I had thought the DPR leadership to be smarter than Putin. Is there more to this story than meets the eye?

And now the Ukrainian punisher battalions will “stabilize the situation in Shirokino”, while shelling nearby Sakhanka from their newly acquired position. As reported by TASS News Agency: “DPR Defence Ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin said on Thursday, ‘At the time of the shelling of the village of Sakhanka there were no DPR armed forces units in Shirokino.” This confirms the UAF are exploiting their new Shirokino position to further diminish DPR territory, as Sakhanka lies inland another 5 km east, as measured parallel to the coast.

Meanwhile the OSCE will be happy to be a “guarantor” of Kiev’s possession of Shirokino. The OSCE monitoring mission is not entitled to “control over the situation”, as Pushilin falsely asserts. They were never entitled to “control” anything, only to “monitor”. Nor have they ever been a “guarantor of peace and quiet” along the contact line. Their failure to monitor the ceasefire has proven them incapable of even the smallest peace mission.

Reliable TWITTER source John Delacour tweeted about 13:00 UTC July 2: “#Donbass #Mariupol: DNR forces have withdrawn from Shirokino (01h00) after declaring it a demilitarised zone. Ukrops now in possession.” This is further confirmation the UAF has stepped into the vacuum. Others on TWITTER ask “Why? Is the NAF now going to withdraw from Donetsk?” There is a palpable mood of helplessness and incomprehension.

TASS goes on to quote Pushilin further: “He noted that the DPR strictly fulfilled its obligations in the framework of the Minsk peace process, but the artillery bombardments of the republic from the Ukrainian side did not abate, with the most difficult situation in this respect evolving precisely in Shirokino. The DPR envoy expressed hope that the goodwill gesture made by the republic’s authorities would entail appropriate response from the officials in Kiev. ‘This will be the first real step to launch a peaceful dialogue between the independent republics and the Ukrainian leaders.'”

Really? I challenge Denis Pushilin to answer the following question: If the bombardments from the Ukrainian side did not abate, is it the DPR’s obligation to withdraw under Minsk? No, it’s the UAF’s the obligation to withdraw. This is so obvious he can’t believe what he’s saying. Moreover, I do not believe Pushilin when he claims to hope that “the goodwill gesture” will entail an “appropriate response from Kiev.” Of course, the response from Kiev was actually very appropriate: they gladly seized the ruined town to use it a base for bombarding Sakhanka.

I have often accused Western leaders of disingenuousness. I’ve accused Igor Strelkov of betrayal, and Vladimir Putin of cowardice. But I have never accused a DPR leader of lying. Today I must make an exception. Denis Pushilin appears to be lying. There is more to this mystery than he is letting on.

My suspicions lie with the Kremlin. It was the Kremlin that aborted the liberation of Mariupol, the Kremlin that betrayed Novorossiya, the Kremlin that forced the NAF to halt its successful offensive, and pressured the DPR/LPR leadership into signing the  Minsk 2.0 Agreements. Minsk 2.0 served DPR/LPR purposes as long as they handled it expertly, and they had seemed to do just that for almost five months. But their expertise appears to have vanished overnight.

I hope this interpretation is wrong. I hope Novorossiya’s retreat from Shirokino proves a gambit in disguise, a stratagem so subtle I have simply missed its meaning. Then again, the news is scarce, and often contradictory.

Updates will follow if there is a significant change in the picture. I hope to see DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko offer a brilliant answer to the enigma of this voluntary sacrifice of strategic coastland.

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Friday July 3, 2015 – Update on SHIROKINO
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There are reports that the neo-Nazi “volunteer” Azov Battalion has taken over Shirokino and is bombarding Sakhanka from that position.

I quote a chilling enemy report of July 3 from Ukrainian Crusade: “Andriy Biletsky on withdrawing of the enemy’s forces from Shyrokyne town: The enemy withdrew its forces from Shyrokyne. Shyrokyne іs Ukraine!!! This happened not because someone signed Minsk-2,3,4, but because since the beginning of the Azovian winter offensive, the enemy lost in killed, wounded and captured in Shyrokyne more than 800 militants, as evidenced by data of communications interception. And this is the merit of our guys from ‘Azov,’ ‘Donbas,’ the 37th battalion of the Armed Forces and many others – the merit that is yet to be appreciated.”

Comment: It is doubtful militia casualties numbered anywhere near 800. The UAF routinely suppresses the number of its own dead, now believed to be as high as 50,000. indeed, on February 8, 2015, German intelligence reported about 50,000 military and civilian deaths on both sides throughout the entire conflict, noting that the majority of these were UAF troops. That number greatly increased with the taking of Debaltsevo in mid-February. Why the above passage is so chilling is that the enemy is now declaring Shirokino as part of Ukraine, even though it lies on the DPR side of the contact line. Will the DPR militia retake it? It appears they will have to, and this is what we are expecting.

A further enemy report from Ukrainian Crusade states: “From Donbass terrorists have left Shirokino town. Yesterday, July 2, Russian side announced the decision of terrorists to withdraw its forces from Shyrokyne town during the daily briefing for members of the Supervisory monitoring mission of the OSCE in the Joint Coordination and Cease-fire Monitoring Centre. As of 08:00 all the terrorist units have left the town according to the Russian representative of a common monitoring mission. ‘The cynicism of the situation lies in the fact that terrorists deliberately decided to return completely destroyed Shyrokyne town under full control of the Ukrainian forces just before the next round of negotiations in Minsk,’ says Major General Andriy Taran. All of 1400 Shirokino residents have already left the town, 80% of residential buildings are destroyed during the battles according to OSCE.”

Note: The Voice of Sevastopol Thursday Situation Report, usually a thorough rundown of military activity, gives no account of an NAF retreat from Shirokino. They do mention a heavy battle in Shirokino on the night of July 1-2 that did not abate until 3:00 AM.

The New Russia Press Thursday Situation Report states: “UPDATE 19:00: In Shyrokyne and Sakhanka the fights continue , Infantry and artillery fights are in progress — Militia Source — Confirmed.” Again, curiously, no mention is made of an NAF retreat.

TWITTER Update: Sergey Bobkov tweets at 17:15 UTC July 3: “I am sure everybody is aware by now, but NAF pulled out of Shirokino, effectively abandoning their positions to Ukrainians. Unbelievable.” Another reliable source tweeted in reply: “They’re only 2 km from where they were.” If correct, this is the most relevant piece of information Quemado Insitute has found so far. As long as the NAF holds, they have not sacrificed much in the way of territory.

Shirokino at bottom just right of center. Click to enlarge.

Shirokino at bottom just right of center. Click to enlarge.

An interesting satellite photo posted on TWITTER by an unknown source. The photo shows shelling in region of Shirokino, and depicts the village (bottom, just right of center) as a notch of territory now in Ukrainian hands.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

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This image, which was posted on TWITTER by an unfamiliar source, shows an OSCE report verifying the withdrawal of DPR forces from Shirokino. If authentic, could this verification be used as a tool to prove DPR Minsk compliance for political leverage in upcoming international dialogues? And if so, might this be what motivated the militia to withdraw? It seems a weak excuse for territorial sacrifice. Note: this report has since been verified by the Donetsk News Agency.

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French Publication: Ukrainian Forces Not in Shirokino
Uncertain Who Controls village
July 3, 2015

slavjul3hI quote a passage in an autotranslated report from the French publication NationsPresse entitled Ukraine/Donbass: Confused Situation on Shirokino (July 3): “Last night, unconfirmed, were reports back on Shirokino militia groups (information confirmed this afternoon by a tweet from Pushilin), while massive shelling on Sakhanka were reported since the official withdrawal of the coastal village FAN [sic]. If the reasons for leaving Shirokino were to reduce the intensity of fighting in the area, this is clearly a failure as the Kiev forces are now concentrated against Sakhanka (a few kilometers northeast) forcing the Republican forces to respond to 120 mortars and even by using self-propelled artilllery 152. A clash took place on the village at 4:20 PM (local time). At present, it is impossible to know for sure who controls Shirokino. In any event, the Ukrainian forces were not in the village. From an operational point of view, abandonment or no, Shirokino does not change fundamentally, but from the perspective of propaganda, the junta will try to exploit this local phenomenon to mobilize public opinion.” [Italics mine]

Another article from Donetsk:

As long as Kiev Does Not Complete Weapons
Withdrawal from Shirokino, It’s Too Soon
to Talk about Demilitarizing Other Territories

Donetsk News Agency
Edited autotranslation by Quemado Institute
July 3, 2015

Denis Pushilin

Denis Pushilin

Kiev has to show, by an example of the process of demilitarization in Shirokino, its commitment to the peace process. This was stated by the head of DPR delegation to the Contact Group, Vice-Speaker of the DPR People’s Council Dennis Pushilin. “The actions of Ukraine in Shirokino will signal who really wants peace. In more detail, the topic of demilitarization will be raised at the meeting of the Contact Group on July 7,” he said. The politician noted that today in this village, which in recent months has been one of the hottest spots on the demarcation line, there is not a single DPR volunteer. At the same time no responsive action was taken by Kiev. “We are waiting for them (UAF) [to take] a reciprocal action,” said Pushilin. “It is too earl to talk about the demilitarization of other settlements until the case is completed Shirokino,” he concluded. Earlier, on July 1, Pushilin said that Donetsk People’s Republic unilaterally declared Shirokino a demilitarized zone.

What??

A further cryptic report from the same source:

A Chance to solve the Border Issue through
DPR Political Means Continues – Pushilin

Donetsk News Agency
July 3, 2105

Denis Pushilin

Denis Pushilin

The Donetsk People’s Republic hopes to resolve the issue of its state border by political means. This was stated by the head of DPR delegation to the peace talks Denis Pushilin. “At the moment Kiev does not fulfill even the minimum requirements of the Minsk Agreement,” said the DPR representative. “I do not want to get ahead, to disclose our plan of action, but there is a chance to resolve the conflict through political means, including the issue of borders.” The head of the DPR Alexander Zakharchenko said that due to the unconstructive position of Kiev and the failure of the items of the Minsk arrangements, the Republic has unilaterally started the implementation of peace agreements. Earlier, the authorities have repeatedly demonstrated the DPR commitment to peaceful dialogue, but the initiatives are often blocked by Kiev.

Comment: I hope this is not the Invisible Hand Of Putin at work, forcing Minsk 2.0 and his pet project of “Ukrainian Territorial Integrity” onto Donbass regardless of the human consequences. Perhaps significantly, we have not seen a statement from Alexander Zakharchenko.

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Saturday July 4, 2015 – Update on SHIROKINO
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I first present several breaking articles from the Donetsk News Agency (DAN). My short commentary follows at the end.

DPR Shirokino Plan:
The Defense Ministry Revealed Details of DPR
Demilitarization of the Village of Shirokino

Donetsk News Agency
Edited autotranslation
July 4, 2015

slavjul4u“The plan is the supposed demilitarization of Shirokino, [requiring] withdrawal of troops of the parties to a distance of 2.5 kilometers from the actual line of contact, and tanks and mortars and 100 mortars and up to 85 millimeters to 15 kilometers,” the department [DPR Defense Ministry] informed Donetsk News Agency. Thus, according to the source, a demilitarized zone of at least 5 kilometers would be created in the village, with a width of the safety zone at least 30 kilometers. Currently, representatives of Ukraine are to discuss the details with the DPR, STSKK [Center for Monitoring and Coordination] and the OSCE.

Related Article:
Deputy Head of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission
Alexand Hug Visited Shirokino, Discussed
Demilitarization of the Village

Donetsk News Agency
Edited autotranslation
July 4, 2015

Alexander Hug

Alexander Hug

The Deputy Head of the International Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the OSCE in Ukraine, Alexander Hug, as well as the leadership of the Joint Center for Monitoring and Coordination of the ceasefire (STSKK) visited Shirokino today and discussed there the process of demilitarization of the area, according to the DPR Ministry of Defense. “Today, there was a working meeting with heads of STSKK [and] Deputy SMM OSCE Alexander Hug” said the agency. “The parties discussed the necessary measures for the withdrawal of all troops and armed groups on both sides of the demarcation line.” Earlier, on July 1, the official DPR representative in the negotiations of the Contact Group for the peaceful settlement Pushilin Denis said that the People’s Republic unilaterally declared Shirokino a demilitarized zone. Shirokino village, located between Mariupol and occupied and controlled by the authorities of the DPR [district of] Novoazovsk, is one of the most tense areas near the line of contact.

In a further report, the Donetsk News Agency quotes Alexander Hug, Deputy Head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, as saying today that Shirokino has never been quiet for the entire time of the OSCE inspection, but that now the fighting has stopped.

Related Article:
Task Before STSKK Is to Consolidate Actions in
Donetsk on Demilitarization – OSCE

Donetsk News Agency
Edited autotranslation
July 4, 2015

The OSCE urges the Joint Center for Monitoring and Coordination of the cease-fire in Donbass to consolidate the gains of the DPR on issues of demilitarization of the village of Shirokino. This was stated today to journalists by the deputy head of the OSCE mission in Ukraine, Alexander Hug. “At the moment, the taks of the employees of STSKK is to consolidate the move, which was adopted by the DPR (unilateral demilitarization Shirokino),” he said. According to him, “the lessons we drew from Shirokino, will be used by the OSCE all along the line of contact.” Hug said that currently to maintain calm in Shirokino is the obligation of each party to the conflict. Recall that the DPR authorities announced a unilateral demilitarization Shirokino July 1st. To date, all DPR militias have left the village. During the inspection of the OSCE observers, both earlier and today, this fact was confirmed.

My comment on “DPR Unilateral Demilitarization”: That this “demilitarization” plan is to be carried out along the entire contact line runs the risk of substantial erosion of DPR territory. The OSCE lacks sufficient resources to monitor the entire line 24/7. I also doubt they have the commitment to carry out such an enormous task, partly in light of unconfirmed rumors that they hang around the luxurious Park Hotel, their presumed place of residence, drinking and partying, and partly because OSCE monitors have shown less than perfect integrity in reporting Ukrainian shelling of Donbass civilians.  DPR authorities have made numerous complaints about the OSCE, and even sent a letter of appeal urging the organization to carry out its function. What has brought on this sudden burst of faith in the OSCE?

That things are “quiet” today in Shirokino is little cause for confidence. It may be just the opposite. The Ukrainian army and neo-Nazi battalions may realize that if they simply stay quiet, the NAF will vacate the entire contact line. Once that is done, the UAF will be poised to capture the whole border zone in one fell swoop. Who is to stop them?

Nobody.

Oddly, I have not yet run across a definitive statement  from Alexander Zakharchenko. Is it possible he does not approve of this plan?

Something doesn’t make sense. If Moscow is behind this move, I urge Alexander Zakharchenko and his government to defy pressure from the Kremlin, to ignore Putin if necessary, as they did during the May 11, 2014 referendum, and to maintain an unbreachable border for the Donetsk People’s Republic.

Ominously, Vladimir Suchan, a reliable TWITTER source, renowned political analyst, and expert on Donbass, tweets the following at about 15:00 UTC today: “DPR reports of the plan to expand (most likely unilaterally again) demilitarization of Shirokino so that DPR abandons the east heights too.” This does not bode well.

In a further nonsensical July 4 announcement from Donetsk News Agency, “DPR Police together with representatives of the Ukrainian police will patrol along the demilitarized zone near the village of Shirokino. According to the agreement, it is planned that the protection of law and order in the demilitarized zone will be [carried out by] representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and by patrolling of DPR law enforcement,” according to the Defense Ministry.

Well, maybe DPR law enforcement can patrol Shirokino, but they certainly can’t patrol the entire contact line, if comes to that.

What is going on? Something is seriously wrong here.

This sounds so out of sync with everything Zakharchenko stands for, it occurs to me he might resign, an unparalleled tragedy were it to happen.  I have no evidence he will, of course. But why isn’t he speaking out?

Aha! In a further unnerving development, the Donetsk News Agency states: Kiev refused the participation of representatives of Donetsk in a joint group of the Center of control and coordination of the ceasefire and stabilization of the demarcation line (STSKK) in the village of Shirokino, despite the agreements reached earlier. It is said in a statement of the STSKK received by DAN. “Despite the agreements reached on the issue of placing the post Monitoring Group, STSKK representatives from the Ukrainian side unilaterally expressed opposition to the participation of representatives of Donetsk in the STSKK Joint Monitoring Group in the village of Shirokino.” Today in Shirokino, a working meeting with the leadership of the heads of STSKK the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the OSCE was held on the issue of demilitarization of the village. For continuous monitoring, the participants discussed the deployment of a post Monitoring Group, composed of representatives of Kiev, Russia, Donetsk, and the STSKK, with the participation of the OSCE. According to representatives of STSKK, excluding representatives of DPR from the Monitoring Group in Shirokino by the Ukrainian side “intentionally breaks the unilateral peace initiative, which is not conducive to the promotion of the negotiation process.” In this regard, the Russian representative office of the Center for joint monitoring and coordination of the ceasefire and stabilize the demarcation line calls on his Ukrainian colleagues to support the peace initiatives of Donetsk to stabilize the situation at the boundary line of the conflicting parties to further promote peace initiatives. “We have a lot of work on the organization of security in the Shirokino,” STSKK quoted the words of Lieutenant General Alexander Romanchuk, head of the Russian representative in the joint center. [Emphasis mine.]

So it appears the Russians are behind this ploy of DPR sabotage! On a brighter note, if Kiev refuses DPR monitoring of its “demilitarized” positions, perhaps the whole nefarious scheme will disintegrate.

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Sunday July 5, 2015 – Update on SHIROKINO
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Shirokino Demilitarization
Russkaya Vesna Offers A Contrasting Outlook

Shirokino is at bottom left corner. Click to enlarge.

Shirokino is at bottom left corner. Click to enlarge.

The Russian publication Russkaya Vesna offers a perspective on the Novorossiya Armed Forces (NAF) retreat from the Azov Sea village of Shirokino that differs significantly from my own. It is clear that they have access to on-the-ground information I could not possibly be aware of. In this regard, their commentary is valuable for a detailed knowledge of the military situation that has prevailed there. For those capable of understanding this somewhat cryptic and lengthy analysis, an autotranslation is available at Adam Baum under Why militia DNI left Shirokino (July 5).

Russkaya Vesna argues that Shirokino had little tactical military value, as it was in a remote location difficult to reach. This may be true. However, I also feel that its tactical value is of little importance. The article does not mention the fact that Shirokino formed an unambiguous endpoint to DPR territory on the Azov coast. Without Shirokino, the coastal boundary is ill-defined, meaning the DPR could lose still more coastal land through gradual UAF advances. But the most ominous feature of the NAF retreat is that the DPR, OSCE and JCCC have decided to attempt a similar demilitarization along the entire contact line. That plan constututes an overwhelming risk of territorial loss. In this regard, Shirokino is a symbolic test case for a scenario much more dire.

Tuesday July 7, 2015 – Brief Update on SHIROKINO
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The unilateral demilitarization of Shirokino, and the DPR-OSCE-JCCC plans to demilitarize the entire contact line, have apparently crashed on the shoals at Minsk, Balarus today. According the latest reports, (see News from Novorossiya under July 7) the Contact Group meeting lasted only 1.5 hours and did not touch upon the topic. I assume the upshot of the whole risky affair is that the “Shirokino Good Will Scheme” ended up a fiasco. Recall that the NAF abandoned Shirokino as a “good-will gesture” intended to lend credence to the DPR’s quest for Kiev ceasefire compliance, thereby laying the political groundwork for the meeting today in Minsk. This desperate public relations stunt seems to have failed. The good news is, perhaps this means there will be no further talk of unilateral demilitarization along the contact line. I sincerely hope the project, predictably doomed from the start, will be dropped. Ceasefire and demilitarization are constructive goals, of course, but not on a unilateral basis.

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Wednesday July 8, 2015 – Update on SHIROKINO
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The following report has finally appeared at the enemy news platform Unian. It looks as if the NAF withdrawal from Shirokino may be a gambit after all. As described by Zakharchenko, the DPR militia now occupy more advantageous hill territory 1.5 km from Shirokino. The UAF will not be able to use the village as a bridgehead. Moreover, from brief reports on the July 7 Minsk Contact Group meeting, it seems the political intent of the Shirokino withdrawal may have come to naught, as the topic was supposedly not discussed in the 1.5-hour conference. I hope this means the DPR will abandon the risky project of unilateral withdrawal along the length of the contact line. We have found few details on the impact, if any, of the Minsk meeting.

Shirokino

Shirokino

DPR Leader: Withdrawal from Shyrokyne [Shirokino] Serves as Trap for Ukrainian Troops / Unian / July 8, 2015 / Leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) [… Alexander] Zakharchenko claims that the village of Shyrokyne, which is located near the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol, serves as a trap for Ukrainian troops now, after DPR militants withdrew to nearby fortified positions, according to Mariupol local news portal 0629.ua. Asked about whether there were fears that the territory of Shyrokyne would become a bridgehead for Ukrainian armed forces after the withdrawal of the DPR troops, Zakharchenko said that it is now a trap rather than a bridgehead, 0629.ua reported, referring to his interview with the separatist-controlled media outlet PRT. “The terrain in Shyrokyne is lowland, where there are two dominating heights. One side of the village is controlled by Ukraine, the other one is under our control. We withdrew to a commanding point. Therefore, this can serve as a trap [for Ukrainian troops] rather than a bridgehead. There are no fears, as the terrain is sophisticated from one side, the positions are well-prepared, so these 1.5 kilometers play no tactical role but politically they are decisive,” Zakharchenko said. Thus, the portal wrote, Zakharchenko confirmed that the withdrawal of the DPR troops from Shyrokyne to the nearby dominating heights had been a political move pending the Minsk meeting on the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis on July 7. As UNIAN reported earlier, Russian-backed militants withdrew from the village of Shyrokyne early in July. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine confirmed their withdrawal.

There still may be cause for concern: Reliable TWITTER source and Donbass political expert Vladimir Suchan tweeted at 16:00 UTC July 8: “What Denis Pushilin described as ‘positive experience’ with demilitarization of Shirokino has become triumphant plunder of the village by the junta.” This implies the UAF are still in Shirokino. Viktor Kovalenko tweeted at 17:00 UTC July 8: “Ukraine’s armed forces maintain positions in Shyrokyne [Shirokino] village near Mariupol city. No order to leave, said deputy chief of Sector M.”

UAF Still Occupies Shirokino: Enemy Report July 8. Ukraine channel 112.ua reports (edited autotranslation): “ATO forces did not receive order to withdraw from Shirokino – Sector “M”. All units remain in their positions. Soldiers of the ATO are in their positions in Shirokino. This was state by the deputy head of Sector M Viktor Shidlyuh on the air ‘Channel 5’. According Shidlyuha, there was no order to leave the position in Shirokino. ‘As far as I know, there is no such order. All our units are in their positions and continue to perform their duties,’ said Victor Shidlyuh. At the same time, he said that the Russian side is interested in Ukrainian troops leaving their position in this village because the ATO soldiers have taken advantageous positions. ‘I would advise not to use random data, and use the information from official sources, which is the press officer of the sector M, [where] detailed information on this issue can be clarified,’ he added.”

Note: The mutual demilitarization plan appears to have failed in Shirokino. This is not necessarily bad news. It may mean the DPR, OSCE and JCCC will drop the plan to demilitarize along the entire contact line.

Friday July 10, 2015 – Update on SHIROKINO
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UAF Donbass Battalion Defies Orders to Leave Shirokino. According to the former commander of the Donbass special purpose battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine Semen Semenchenko, verbal orders to vacate Shirokino came from Federov, the Commander of sector M. “The soldiers of the battalion were outraged by such actions of the military command,” said Semenchenko. “They believe the order to retreat from the Ukrainian territory is a crime and refuse to carry it out.” See censor.net report Donbas Battalion received verbal order to withdraw from Shyrokyne within demilitarization process, – Semenchenko (July 10).

I also quote a report from Sputnik published on the globalsecurity.org website: Right Sector Refuses to Leave Shirokino Despite Demilitarization Offer (July 10, 2015) “Ukrainian volunteer battalions have reportedly refused to leave the village of Shirokino in eastern Ukraine, which had been declared a demilitarized zone. Representatives of Ukrainian volunteer battalions have expressed disagreement with the demilitarization of the village of Shirokino in eastern Ukraine, saying that they will not withdraw from the area, according to a daily report by the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The report also referred to the Right Sector, a radical Ukrainian political movement, citing its unwillingness to comply with a possible governmental order to pull out of Shirokino. For their part, representatives of the National Guard Donbas volunteer battalion said that they had not received orders to withdraw, according to the report.”

Thursday July 16, 2015 – Update on SHIROKINO
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Heights near Shirokino (--empr.media)

Heights near Shirokino (–empr.media)

Enemy Report: Mariupol Opposes Demilitarization of Shyrokyno / Quemado Institute (from empr.media) / Edited autotranslation / July 15, 2015 / [Editor’s note: This article is presented from the enemy (Ukrainian Armed Forces) point of view, but is interesting for its perspective.] / Already we are preparing the withdrawal of forces from ATO “extreme positions outposts” to “basic defense position.” This was decided at the General Staff of Ukraine. Our thoughts, our anxiety and fear are not heard. And our serious concerns are due to the failure of military operations in Ilovaisk, Saur-Mogila, Debaltseve and the Donetsk airport. Representatives of the Coordination Council of patriotic organizations of Mariupol express their protest against the plans of the General Staff and the sector “M” on the withdrawal of forces from ATO dominant and strategic height “Lighthouse” in Shyrokyno village. At the meeting of representatives of the Council, held on 12 July 2015 at the headquarters of the sector “M”, General Fedorovym, sector commander “M”, made incorrect statements to the volunteer battalions, in particular – that the men of Azov and the Donbass are the bandits and looters, who cannot fight. He explained that he initiated the amendments to the Minsk agreements in March this year, saving the village Shyrokyno. But it’s been three months and the village is completely destroyed. We, ordinary residents of Mariupol and knowing the area, understand that the height of “Lighthouse” is the key to the city of Mariupol. And if the ATO is forced even a meter from these strategically important heights, it means to expose a city of half a million nebezpekuobstriliv [sic]. None of us residents does not guarantee that will be the condition of the Minsk agreements [sic]. By the Minsk Agreements the village of Shyrokyno is Ukrainian territory. We do not understand the decision of the General Staff of Ukraine! We have dealt at all levels. The brother of Deputy Chief of General Staff General Vorobyov is a member of the State Duma. Around us are traitors and treason. The Russian side did not guarantee and does not recognize its military presence on our land, urging the world community that Ukraine is in a civil war. The terrorists left the village of Shyrokyno, but the requirement for us to leave and take a strategic height is putting the city [sic]. We by the Minsk agreements are the line of demarcation and on its territory. The village is completely destroyed, it is impossible to live there. And the presence of representatives of the OBSN [OSCE] does not guarantee peace and tranquility, but rather exposes the city to mortal danger. We do not believe the terrorists and their promises. They do not perform according to arrangements and every day our ATO forces are fired at in the “Lighthouse”. We therefore urge the people to the protest. Caution The protest in Mariupol! Mariupol! Alert! Despite the populist promises not to withdraw from a height “Lighthouse” our fighters, the government still diverts troops from Shyrokyno, leaving a strategic height – exactly the height from which, on January 24 2015, the “East” neighborhood was fired upon! Do not allow a repeat of the attack! Do not give in turn East Shyrokyno 2!

We call all take to the streets and prevent the troops from executing the criminal orders to retreat! On this depends the life of everyone in Mariupol! We must save our city! Obligations to prevent the conversion of Mariupol to the ashes of thousands of deaths and destroyed houses! All in protest! Attend the protest in East neighborhood, near the monument of civilians on Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 17:00. All to protect the city and the world at it!

Quemado Institute Comments: The author of this urgent call to protest is pretending to believe, or possibly does believe, that the demilitarization of Shirokino will lead to another “attack on Mariupol” similar to that of January 2015,. They are assuming, no doubt falsely, that the Mariupol attack was carried out by the Novorossiya Armed Forces. Many observers at the time, however, attributed the Mariupol attack to misdirected Ukrainian Army weapons. What the article does show, however, is how adamant are the neo-Nazi battalions about hanging on to what they allege is Ukrainian territory, and how paranoid they are, or pretend to be, about (nonexistent) “Russian aggression”. The article gives a window into the defiant and criminal thinking of these battalion members.

For July 19 & 20 updates see our new post: DPR Forces Withdraw Along Contact Line:Shirokino Blunder Revisited?

Continuing updates on Shirokino will also appear on our News from Novorossiya page.

Also see our publication Novorossiya Daily Sun.

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NEWS FROM NOVOROSSIYA

FRIDAY JULY 10 HEADLINE STORY:

Vladimir Putin, Ufa, Russia July 10, 2015

Vladimir Putin, Ufa, Russia July 10, 2015

Putin on Minsk: Higher Chance of Success than Failure.

See
NEWS FROM NOVOROSSIYA

10th Special Forces Base, Colorado (--defense.org)

10th Special Forces Base, Colorado (–defense.org)

2,500 Azov Battalion Troops to Train in US

See
NEWS FROM NOVOROSSIYA

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Discussion

One thought on “Shirokino Retreat: Gambit, Blunder or Outright Betrayal? (Updated)

  1. I am from Vancouver,Canada and the majority of people here supports NOVOROSSIYA.Most people here knows that the Poroshenko Gov’t in Kiev has committed war crimes in Donetsk and Lugansk.The ICC in the Hague should be charging the Kiev gov’t with war crimes in Donetsk and Lugansk.There is lots of evidence to prove this case.The Canadian gov’t should be condemned world wide for its support of the war criminal,Poroshenko and for training neo-Nazi troops.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Stan Squires | July 9, 2015, 6:30 pm

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