MOSCOW, April 17 (Ria Novosti) – Ukrainian troops will never obey the regime’s orders to shoot their fellow countrymen, a retired senior official at Russia’s Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti Thursday.
“A lawless regime, a coup d’état and widespread thuggery, all of this makes soldiers and officers angry. When this illegal regime orders them to fight against their own people, the troops – who are Ukrainians too – make the right decision,” said Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov, the former head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s military cooperation department.
Some 60 personnel of Ukrainian armored vehicles sent to quench the protest in the rebellious Southeast reportedly switched sides Wednesday to join federalists in the Donetsk region.
Ivashov said he now hoped that one of the newly-appointed commanders would eventually show some determination and tell the army to stop its offensive, adding the conflict had now passed the turning point.
He suggested that a “strong general” could soon come on the scene, who would refuse to obey Kiev’s orders. “There might be sporadic skirmishes, but mid-career soldiers and officers won’t join in.”
The Maidan euphoria is over, the general said, and the regime is now looking suspiciously at the army, which is beginning to emerge in this volatile situation as a threat to Kiev’s rule.
“Today the authorities in Kiev are actually starting to fear a military putsch that would restore order in the country,” Ivashov told RIA Novosti.
“The Ukrainian army will not follow Kiev’s orders, it will switch over to the side of the people. This factor will influence all further developments in Ukraine’s southeast that is in the grip of anti-Kiev protests,” says Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of National Defense magazine and a member of the defense ministry’s public assembly.
Korotchenko believes that Ukraine is now standing at a historic crossroad, meaning that it will be forced to shoot at civilians, something the military will likely be reluctant to do. “The first news of the Ukrainian Army joining the anti-Kiev opposition shows that the military is about to make its political choice, and it will be against Turchinov and Yatsenyuk,” the pundit said.
He said the Ukrainian Defense Ministry would now attempt to rein in the troops. “The precedent for joining the people and refusing to follow orders has been created, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry will now try to get as much control of the army as it can handle,” he explained.
Korotchenko also said the ministry had failed to manage the supply of military food, whereas black markets in Ukraine now offer food packages for sale that Washington sent to Ukraine as foreign aid.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian authorities announced a military crackdown on pro-federalization activists in eastern regions of the country. The operation, involving army troops, targeted the cities of Kramatorsk and Slaviansk in the Donetsk region.