The world was shocked by the Ukrainian President’s sensational May 1 admission that Ukraine had “lost control” of eastern Ukraine. Pundits and the press declared “game over.” Ukraine has lost the war for the eastern half of its country. I was puzzled: Why would a head of state admit defeat in the midst of war?
Today, we may have an answer: The Ukrainian government wanted to lull the Russia’s covert operators in their command and control center of Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine into a sense of false confidence. Although supposedly infiltrated from top to bottom, the Ukrainian military and intelligence services caught Slovyansk by surprise, at least in terms of the magnitude and ferocity of the attack.
Slovyansk is the Russian command and control center for the whole of Eastern Ukraine, headed by a high-ranking colonel of special ops forces. It is the epicenter of kidnapping, political murders, and intimidation. The international observer hostages are held in Slovyansk.
In the early morning today (May 2), Ukrainian military and national guard forces attacked and took the fortified roadblocks leading into Slovyansk, completely encircling the city. Reports from the scene from the late afternoon by experienced reporters indicate that Ukrainian troops are poised on bridges, leading into the city center. Unconfirmed reports say that the OSCE international-observer hostages have been moved to another location.
The Russian reaction has been violent. Russia demanded and got an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council, in which it demanded condemnation of Ukrainian action and the introduction of “peacekeeping forces” (presumably from Russia) into eastern Ukraine. The Russian ambassador called on Kiev and its Western “enablers…to not commit a fatal error” and stop the offensive, which he described as “criminal misadventures.”
The Western response to Russia’s complaint was scornful:
The French ambassador intoned that: “Russia…has released bands of thugs on Ukraine…and is suddenly discovering this mixture might escape its control.” The British Ambassador retorted that “Russia’s synthetic indignation convinces no one,” and U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia was “trying to insult the intelligence of the world community” by calling another urgent council meeting.