Saturday, September 13, 2014

Leaders talk peace, some Ukrainians contemplate guerrilla war

Soldiers of Ukrainian self-defence battalion Azov take a break at a check-point on a road in Mariupol, after fighting against pro-Russian separatists near the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupo. Ukraine has said regular Russian troops have joined with separatist forces in the area. (Anatoly Maltsev/EPA)

By Anthony Faiola September 12 at 3:17 PM, WashPost

MARIUPOL, UKRAINE — Their leaders back in Kiev may be offering peace. But here on the front lines, the battle-scarred patriots staring down pro-Russian rebels talk of giving Russian President Vladimir Putin just the opposite — a Ukrainian version of Chechnya’s guerrilla war.

“Every man in this battalion is ready to change tactics to liberate our homes,” said Apis, the nom de guerre of a 40-year-old division commander in Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, one of several paramilitary units fighting the separatists.

Staring out at the no man’s land dividing his ragtag group from the rebels, he added, “This peace will not last. Putin thinks he is a monarch, that we must all kneel before him. We will never kneel, but we can become guerrillas and send him body bags with Russian soldiers.”

Pro-Russian separatists first occupied government buildings, then solidified control of large swaths of territory in the east, sparking a bloody battle with Ukrainian forces that by mid-August had rebels on their back heels. Then, NATO and Kiev say, came an infusion of Russian support that almost immediately reversed the course of battle.

(More here.)

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