PART ONE: ON THE ROAD TO WAR
For years, from Mali to Afghanistan, I worked for peace and risked my life for it. It is therefore not a question of justifying the war, but of understanding what led us to it. I note that the “experts” who take turns on the television sets analyze the situation based on dubious information, most often hypotheses turned into facts, and therefore we no longer manage to understand what is happening. That’s how you create panic.
The problem is not so much who is right in this conflict, but how our leaders make their decisions.
Let’s try to examine the roots of the conflict. It starts with those who for the past eight years have been talking to us about “separatists” or “independence” from the Donbass. It’s wrong. The referendums conducted by the two self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in May 2014 were not ” independence ” (независимость) referendums , as some unscrupulous journalists claimed , but ” self-determination ” or ” autonomy (самостоятельность). The term “pro-Russian” suggests that Russia was a party to the conflict, which was not the case, and the term “Russian speakers” would have been more honest. Moreover, these referendums were conducted against the advice of Vladimir Putin.
In fact, these republics did not seek to separate from Ukraine, but to have a statute of autonomy guaranteeing them the use of the Russian language as an official language. Because the first legislative act of the new government resulting from the overthrow of President Yanukovych, was the abolition, on February 23, 2014, of the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law of 2012 which made Russian an official language. A bit as if putschists decided that French and Italian would no longer be official languages in Switzerland.
This decision causes a storm in the Russian-speaking population. This resulted in fierce repression against the Russian-speaking regions (Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk) which began in February 2014 and led to a militarization of the situation and a few massacres (in Odessa and Mariupol, for the most important). At the end of summer 2014, only the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk remained.
At this stage, too rigid and stuck in a doctrinaire approach to the operational art, the Ukrainian staffs suffered the enemy without succeeding in imposing themselves. Examination of the course of the fighting in 2014-2016 in the Donbass shows that the Ukrainian general staff systematically and mechanically applied the same operational plans. However, the war waged by the autonomists was then very close to what we observed in the Sahel: very mobile operations carried out with light means. With a more flexible and less doctrinaire approach, the rebels were able to exploit the inertia of the Ukrainian forces to “trap” them repeatedly.