Special Operations: Deceptions And Shadow Warriors

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August 18, 2022: Ukrainian tactics are constantly evolving in the war against the Russians. In part that’s because the Ukrainians quickly adapt to new opportunities. At the time that gives them an opportunity to further confuse the Russians, who aren’t quite sure what the latest Ukrainian tactic is or exactly how it works. A recent example was the unexpected attack on a Russian airbase in Crimea, 300 kilometers away from the front lines. Commercial satellite photos soon revealed the before and after of the attack and revealed it was not, as the Russians claimed, some sloppy handling of aircraft bombs but large explosions in nine of the parking spaces for each aircraft. All nine warplanes were destroyed. But by what? Initially the Ukrainians, but an official seen leaded that it was the work of Ukrainian special forces. Despite this, the Russians preferred to believe it was some kind of missile or UAV attack, local Ukrainian partisans or something else. This tactic is frequently used when the opportunity presents itself. New weapons, like GMLRS guided rockets launched from a HIMARS vehicle, leave identifiable debris after they explode. Other guided explosive objects are more difficult to identify and these aircraft may have been destroyed by partisans who got onto the base and quickly attached small explosive devices to the aircraft and detonated them with a timer or remotely as they fled. The local partisans needed help in obtaining such specialized explosives and that’s what Ukrainian special forces are for. This was a tactic first used by British commandos in World War II, who developed a special explosive device that destroyed the aircraft after the British were away from the base. Whatever the cause, it led to Russia moving the remaining aircraft out of Crimea and back to Russia. That, plus the growing attacks and threats of violence against Russian civilians living in occupied territory, led to many more Russians in Crimea returning to Russia.

The “Russians Go Home” atmosphere is worse in the other occupied territories. Russia held a fake election in Crimea years ago and officially annexed it. International law, the UN and most of the world do not recognize these annexations. There is an increasingly violent guerrilla war in these occupied territories between the illegal Russian civilians and the native Ukrainians. The Russification program in these territories is not only opposed but also documented with cellphone videos. Ukraine doesn’t have to convince the rest of the world that these Russian fake election tactics are illegal and are using all means at their disposal to drive Russian soldiers and civilians out. This includes the efforts of Ukrainian military intel to discover, document and expose Russian disinformation efforts. Ukrainians, having been subject to Russian disinformation and occupation of Ukraine for centuries, use that experience to detect and discredit Russian disinformation efforts. Ukrainians have also taken advantage of the poor morale and performance of Russian troops in Ukraine to come up with ways to make Russians even more fearful and uncertain about how the Ukrainians are beating them.

These tactics are one of the reasons why a recent Ukrainian opinion poll showed 98 percent of Ukrainian s believe their forces are winning the war, and 64 percent believe Ukraine will take back all the Ukrainian territory currently occupied by Russia. Efforts to free Ukraine from Russian occupation have succeeded several times in the past century. Russians always came back with larger forces and more brutal tactics to suppress Ukrainian independence. This time the Ukrainian had powerful allies and this support from NATO and non-NATO nations has made a critical difference. Opinion polls also show most Ukrainians want to join NATO and the European Union as soon as possible after the Russians are expelled. Mentally most Ukrainians have also done that since the 1990s. Russian political and military attitudes are still stuck in the Cold War past, which accounts for the clumsy and disorganized Russian reaction to what they encountered in Ukraine. Since the 1990s millions of Russians have given up on Russia and emigrated to the West. Those who remained in Russia were less likely to push for meaningful reform and the impact of that was very visible inside Ukraine.

 


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