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Russian Army Spetsnaz Units Arrested Operating In Ukraine 623

Posted by timothy
from the news-that-matters dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from The Examiner: "The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) confirmed March 16 the arrest of a group of Russians in the Zaporizhzhia (Zaporozhye) region of Ukraine. The men were armed with firearms, explosives and unspecified 'special technical means'. This follows the March 14 arrest ... of several Russians dressed black uniforms with no insignia, armed with AKS-74 assault rifles and in possession of numerous ID cards under various names. One of which was an ID card of Military Intelligence Directorate of the Russian armed forces; commonly known as 'Spetsnaz'. ... Spetsnaz commandos operating in eastern Ukraine would have the missions encompassing general ground reconnaissance of Ukrainian army units ... missions they may perform preparatory to a Russian invasion would be planting explosives at key communications choke points to hinder movement of Ukrainian forces; seizing control of roads, rail heads, bridges and ports for use by arriving Russian combat troops; and possibly capturing or assassinating Ukrainian generals or politicians in key positions ... Spetsnaz also infiltrate themselves into local populations ... Once in place they begin 'stirring the pot' of ethnic and political strife with the goal of creating violent clashes usually involving firearms and destabilizing local authority." The submitter adds links to more at Forbes, The Daily Beast, and The New Republic.
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Russian Army Spetsnaz Units Arrested Operating In Ukraine

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  • clearly (Score:5, Funny)

    by superwiz (655733) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @10:59AM (#46515783) Journal
    These clearly are local volunteer defense units. Russia is only trying to protect its citizens in Crimea. It's not setting for a larger invasion and take over of Ukraine. And I, personally, think that $1700 is a very reasonable asking price for such a historic landmark as Brooklyn Bridge.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:02AM (#46515811) Homepage

    This being a propaganda war more of the first degree, among these guys' objectives was, likely, the staging of violent incidents to give Russian media more video clips of Ukraine's "nazis" persecuting "innocent civilians".

    Russia keeps trying to portray Ukraine's new government as the sort of Serbs persecuting Albanians in Kosovo (or Bosniaks in Bosnia) — so as to give itself the same justification West used for intervention against Milosevic.

    Because Ukraine, despite daily provocations, refuses to engage in ethnic cleansings, "convincing" spetznas operations may be in order...

    • by dj245 (732906)
      Putin's actions are almost cartoon villianny. Maybe he was bunkmates with Boris Badenov [wikipedia.org] when he was in the KGB.

      Putin can call the US hippocrites all he wants, but at least when the US invades someplace we don't plant evidence to justify it.

      And if we do, we don't get caught redhanded over and over again.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Putin's actions are almost cartoon villianny. Maybe he was bunkmates with Boris Badenov [wikipedia.org] when he was in the KGB.

        Putin can call the US hippocrites all he wants, but at least when the US invades someplace we don't plant evidence to justify it.

        And if we do, we don't get caught redhanded over and over again.

        When the US need evidence?. They only need to say that you have weapons of mass destruction. And that's enough.

      • by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @05:04PM (#46519525)
        Errr....

        I know that many Americans are quite myopic about the US, mostly due to their media, but this is a bit much.

        If you think Bush and his evil cartoon sidekick Cheney (who looked exactly like The Penguin!) are not the same then you are WAAAAYYY off base:

        - The unilateral invading of countries while claiming "support" from small island nations depending on financial aid.
        - The "Mission Accomplished" sign
        - The "fancy dress" outfits Bush would wear with a straight face: e.g. "The Cowboy" & "Air-force Pilot"
        - The corporate rorts (e.g. the company Cheney was a CEO of) and millions in money that went missing in Iraq
        - The tortured prisoners and gulag that is Guantanamo
        - Cheney shooting someone IN THE FACE
        - Palestine and Israel anyone?!

        Bush was a complete joke around the world. And while I know many Americans thought he was a joke too, he was a two term president there.

        If you think that the US's foreign policy is not directly related to why Putin thinks he can get away with this you are simply mistaken. That is why he uses the word hypocrite and that is why he scoffs every time the US tries to tell him off.

        Not to mention the fact that the UN security council is an even bigger joke which he has veto powers at which all the super powers have used around the world constantly to shoot down any attempt at doing anything productive in any major conflict.
        None of the super powers are bastions of goodness and almost all are the complete opposite.

        Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely....
      • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:28PM (#46521687)

        Putin can call the US hippocrites all he wants, but at least when the US invades someplace we don't plant evidence to justify it.

        Yes, the US simply pretends the evidence exists, even when there's proof to the contrary (there are still some Americans who think there actually were chemical weapons in Iraq).

        Whilst I agree that something needs to be done in regards to the Crimea, meeting the Russians with force is a huge mistake. From the Russian perspective, a US led invasion (they dont care if it's lead by the UK, Germany or even Belize, as long as the US i involved their propagandists will say it's US led) will be used to rally the people behind Putin against the imperialists. This only servs to solidify Putin's position and silences his dissenters by presenting an external threat.

        Also Russia wont be a pushover like Iraq was, you wont be facing dilapidated T54's, Russia has T90's and on paper, they may not be a match for a Abrams or Challenger 2, they've got a lot more of them. Same with Airpower. Given that the Ukraine is right next door to Russia and they'll be able to mobilise their entire force much faster than the NATO allies could, it is likely to be a route.

        However, if economic pressure was applied, it would affect Putin's popularity. Despite the perceptions of those who have a hard on for sending others off to war, economic sanctions are quite effective especially when there is already dissent. The US and USSR used them to topple quiet a few governments (Yugoslavia in 1968, Chile in 1973), economic sanctions imposed by the Commonwealth of Nations had a huge part in ending Apartheid in South Africa and the US and Canada used economic sanctions to enforce nuclear non-proliferation treaties in the 70's and 80's.

        But we don't need to topple Putin's government, we just have to make it more expensive to stay then to go, Russia is very dependent on exports into the EU for a large portion of their GDP where as the EU doesn't depends exclusively on Russian Imports. By applying economic pressure, instead of galvanising the people behind Putin, we push them to blame Putin. It'll take time, but it wont cost millions of lives.

  • Over-hyped (Score:5, Informative)

    by FlaSheridn (414319) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:08AM (#46515851) Homepage

    The summary is over-hyping this story, which is a day or two old, and not given anything like this much play in the mainstream media. The link to Forbes is actually just to a third-party renting space on the Forbes site, and the New Republic piece is opinion, not news coverage. Not that I am in any way denying or condoning Putin’s invasion, but overreacting doesn’t help.

    • Re:Over-hyped (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:33AM (#46516105)

      ...which is a day or two old, and not given anything like this much play in the mainstream media.

      That isn't the same as not being true. You might notice that Linux kernel releases don't get much play in the mainstream media either.

      You may also notice that Russian units started moving into Crimea weeks ago and that is still in the news.

      .. The link to Forbes is actually just to a third-party renting space on the Forbes site..

      We come back to the question, "Is what it reports true?"

      New Republic piece is opinion, not news coverage

      Sometimes called "analysis."

      Not that I am in any way denying or condoning Putin’s invasion, but overreacting doesn’t help.

      Minimalizing or ignoring Russia's actions got us to where we are now. And hey, what's a little covert action with Russian troops massing on your border while Russian airborne divisions conduct mass tactical airborne drop exercises (rehearsals)?

  • by sinij (911942) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:09AM (#46515859) Journal
    Ukrainian people are seeking democracy. They ousted Yanukovich during Orange Revolution (2008) for rigging elections, they ousted Yanukovich (2014) during Maidan Protests for attempting to amend the constitution, sacking and stacking judicial branch, and pillaging treasury to build his palaces. Twice Ukrainian people rose, twice they succeed. It is very clear Ukrainian people are not interested going back to being Soviet Ukraine.

    As a result of this struggle, Putin sees Ukrainian protests as a direct threat to his dictatorship, least Maidan escalate into 'Russian Spring'. As such, he is willing to risk sanctions, isolation from West, and a shooting war in order to destabilize Ukraine at all costs. That why Crimea annexation, that why Soviet-era propaganda trying to paint Ukrainian protesters as radicals/nazis, that why he is sending covert ops into the rest of Ukraine.

    What is more interesting, is that Russian KGB learned a great deal how to use Internet to misdirect and confuse otherwise very clear issue. Reading the comments sections of all major new sources you can clearly see paid shills spewing Kremlin's talking points and/or trying to derail the conversation.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:19AM (#46515953)

      The thing is that even though Russia may not be the old USSR with command of virtually every single continent except for North America (like they had until the late 1980s), they have a very, VERY good propaganda machine. They can tell people to go to hell, and the people told will be gladly packing their suitcases one minute later.

      The problem right now is that Russia has nobody interested in stopping them. Both US parties are hell-bent at attacking each other. Even with that in mind, both the US and Europe have way too many Chamberlains and no Churchills. With the way things stand now, tanks could be rolling through Poland and sitting at Germany's eastern border before people acknowledge the Russian threat.

      I do say their intel is quite good. Six months of Snowden's handler owning the world press and weakening ties between the US and Europe (something the Russians tried for DECADES), an olympics, and now a military action. Russians are playing chess while the rest of the world is playing Pogs.

      • by bussdriver (620565) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @12:18PM (#46516641)

        The USA messed up it's abusive relationship with Europe; it's not Snowden's fault he reported the USA for beating the wife.

      • by swb (14022)

        With the way things stand now, tanks could be rolling through Poland and sitting at Germany's eastern border before people acknowledge the Russian threat.

        They'd have to get the tanks to start and actually run for more than a few km before breaking down, wouldn't they?

        IIRC, the invasion of Georgia a couple of years ago had more than a few moments where it bordered self-parody with a lot of mechanical breakdowns. Uncle Ivan's once mighty war machine hasn't fared well over the past decades .

    • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @12:15PM (#46516599)

      Doesn't look like that to me, to be honest.
      They have voted for Kuchma for two times. Then they have ousted Yanukovich in 2008 and voted for Yushenko, but gave Yushenko only 5% of their votes in 2012, chosing Yanukovich instead (in free and fair elections by the way).
      Then they ousted Yanukovich again without waiting for real elections.

      I personally think, Ukrainians don't really know what they want and they don't really want democracy when they have Maidan. They have inherited the best agriculture and the best industry from the USSR and what have they done with it? Absolutely nothing. For fuck's sake, even Belarus has twice the GDP per capita PPP. Even worse, Kosovo of all countries is better off.

      • by fnj (64210)

        No country knows what "it wants" because all countries are made up of many individuals, and individuals have a rich mix of viewpoints, and change radically over the course of their lives.

        The U.S. voted for Reagan twice, Reagan's VP once, then turned around and voted for Clinton twice and then impeached Clinton. Then another ostensible conservative twice, followed by a radical socialist twice. It used to be a failed fool of a president like Carter got ignominiously tossed out ASAP, but for the last generatio

  • Clearly while these troops probably were or are active Russian units, I expect they were either AWOL and/or certainly acting without orders. ... ... or at least thats what I expect we'll hear pretty soon.

  • Geneva Convention (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rob Riggs (6418) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:19AM (#46515963) Homepage Journal
    If true, under the Geneva Convention these soldiers would be considered unlawful combatants and subject to Ukranian law.
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      Not sure they can be unlawful combatants unless there is actually combat taking place.

      • by Rob Riggs (6418)

        Not sure they can be unlawful combatants unless there is actually combat taking place.

        Ah, yes. It was vacationing Russians that took over the Crimean peninsula. They saved some money by parachuting in rather than taking a commercial flight to Sevastopal. (The checked bag fees are brutal!) And I hear combat gear is the newest fashion statement out of the Moscow fashion district this year.

  • The russian military spying agency is handing out ID cards to their agents?

    • by EvilSS (557649)

      The russian military spying agency is handing out ID cards to their agents?

      Um, yes? Did you think they just know each other and it's all informal? Now, should the soldier have been carrying it with him at that time? Probably not.

  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:24AM (#46516015)

    PM Neville Chamberlain and the League of Nations said "Naughty naughty" to Putin.

  • I'm guessing in the next edition of SOCOM I won't be able to play the role of a spetnaz operative.
  • Is Putin really trying to engineer a phony Hitleresque provocation? The sanctions need to get upped big time. I doubt Russia would mobilize for war behind that gluttonous kleptocrat.

  • by chaim79 (898507) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:47AM (#46516277) Homepage

    I think right now this situation is so complex and muddied that no-one is in the right, and no-one has all the information.

    Accusations have gone back and forth like crazy but I still haven't seen any of them from either side backed up by evidence beyond "it's obvious", which, in this situation, I highly doubt.

    As for these supposed Russian commandos... I really doubt they are what the report says they are. Whenever you send agents (either Spies or Commandos) into the field you strip them of anything that would identify them as spies/commandos, having ID cards for "Spetsnaz" sounds like a plant to me.

    "We found the enemy's agents doing bad things so we have reason to attack!" when they are nothing more than your own agents planted to make them look like the enemy.

    I also find it interesting that this bit of 'news' hasn't shown up on any even remotely neutral news sources. I frequent the BBC and have been watching their coverage of this Cluster F*** closely, and while they have agreed with USA in many of their stances and statements concerning this, they have no mention of this bit of news... makes me very suspicious of it's authenticity.

    All that being said, I really think Russia is going to far and should back off, let things settle, allow the "newly independent Crimea" to exist for a while to prove it's not a Russian puppet but actually something it's people want.

  • Nunya (Score:4, Interesting)

    by some old guy (674482) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:53AM (#46516349)

    Putin's neo-Stalinism aside, it may be sad to sit helplessly on the sidelines but the US has no territorial, economic, or security interest in Ukraine whatsoever. It's none of America's damn business.

    Somewhere, sometime, the US has got to get over this notion of being the world's comic-book superhero.

    Now is a good time to start. Picking a fight with a bully that has a huge nuclear arsenal is a bad idea.

    • by N1AK (864906)
      The exact same thing could be said about Japan in the period between WW1 and WW2, about Germany pre-WW2 and it wasn't true then. If you allow the precedent to be set that if you're big enough then military force is the easiest way to get what you want then it encourages it. If we can't discourage Russia from annexing Crimea then why should China be discouraged from annexing Taiwan? Why would Japan feel confident in maintaining a small military and no nukes if American promises mean so little? Will NK become
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fnj (64210)

      Pretty much the entire world is laughing at the absurd bluster of the US and EU in this matter. They certainly are not "picking a fight" in any real sense. They are just making a comical noise.

      So I think it's happening, what you and I want to happen vis-a-vis policeman of the world. I would say it's actually been mostly keystone kops of the world, except characterizing it thus seems insensitive to a lot of dead victims.

    • We have no interest in the Ukraine. This is true. We do, however, have interest the resurgence of Russia as an international antagonist. If we can stop Ukraine from entering into the Russian fold, we can put a kink in the establishment of the Eurasian Union (tentatively with Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan), which would otherwise negatively impact our economic clout.

      Fact is, in an almost totally globalized economy, almost everyone has an interest (either direct or indirect) with every event in the world, w

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @12:02PM (#46516445)

    It turns out that Russian airborne units were holding large exercises around the time of the Crimea vote.

    Russian Paratroopers Hold Massive Drills as Crimea Vote Nears [en.ria.ru]

    MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) – An airborne division based in central Russia began large-scale exercises Tuesday against the backdrop of an ongoing political and security crisis in Ukraine.

    The Defense Ministry said units of the 98th Guards Airborne Division, based in Ivanovo, a city east of Moscow, were put on high alert and moved to unspecified locations to “check readiness” in simulated combat conditions.

    Four thousand troops, 36 military transport aircraft and an unspecified number of combat vehicles are taking part in the exercises, which will run until March 14.

    The drills will include a massive simultaneous paradrop involving 3,500 servicemen, the ministry said.

    The drills come in the wake of a number of military exercises in Russia’s western regions in the past days, including air defense drills, combat readiness snap checks and a launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

    A mass tactical drop of 3,500 paratroopers is pretty big.

    It is also worth noting that Russian airborne [wikipedia.org] units are mechanized with air droppable infantry fighting vehicles [youtube.com] like the BMD 3 [wikipedia.org]. That makes them highly mobile after a drop, and they have significant additional firepower. It is a deadly combination. A World War 2 tank division would find them tough to chew on.

    Russian airborne troops with BMD 2 armoured fighting vehicles [youtube.com]

    A video broadcast on Internet shows Russian airborne with BMD-2 armoured infantry fighting vehicle in Veselaya Lopan 20km from the Ukraine border.

  • by kjs3 (601225) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @12:24PM (#46516715)
    Russian military operating on foreign soil out of uniform? Last time I checked, that was called a "spy". Treat them like what they are.
  • disinformation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by volvox_voxel (2752469) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @12:49PM (#46516997)

    I have relatives in Ukraine living in Odessa oblast, Novoukrainka, Kiev and in Lviv, and friends in Crimea. Those listening to Russian news, are saying that ultra-nationalists are shooting Russians in the street in Lviv. Panicked, we called our relatives, and found they are absolutely fine, and the streets are quiet. A percentage of the population believes whatever the Russian media tells them; a form of information bias. Unfortunately, Russian media has past Ukraine in a pretty negative light, and have now resorted to telling outright lies, in what looks like an attempt to soften up Russian sympathetic Ukrainians to invasion; dividing and conquering within with an information war..

    Hitler once said -- if you're going to tell a lie, don't tell a little one, tell a big one. Ukraine is a poor country. They just had to deal with the most corrupt leader they had ever experienced. Russia has somehow convinced it's citizens that ultra-nationalists have taken over the country. In reality closer ties with the EU require tolerance for minorities.

    The elections are due at the end of May. All Russia would have to do to insure that a Russian sympathetic government is elected is to continue with an information war. It was/is unnecessary to send in the army, other than to carve out pieces of Ukraine.

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