A deeper look at the 12th Company — during more than a week of visiting its checkpoints, interviewing its fighters and observing them in action against a Ukrainian military advance here on Friday — shows that in its case neither portrayal captures the full story.
The rebels of the 12th Company appear to be Ukrainians but, like many in the region, have deep ties to and affinity for Russia. They are veterans of the Soviet, Ukrainian or Russian Armies, and some have families on the other side of the border. Theirs is a tangled mix of identities and loyalties.
Further complicating the picture, while the fighters share a passionate distrust of Ukraine’s government and the Western powers that support it, they disagree among themselves about their ultimate goals. They argue about whether Ukraine should redistribute power via greater federalization or whether the region should be annexed by Russia, and they harbor different views about which side might claim Kiev, the capital, and even about where the border of a divided Ukraine might lie.
Moreover, if Russia’s intelligence services had been helping them, they said, they would have new weapons, not the dated arms visible at their checkpoints and stored in the base where they sleep. During the fighting on Friday, two of the fighters carried hunting shotguns, and the heaviest visible weapon was a sole rocket-propelled grenade.
Much of their stock was identical to the weapons seen in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers and Interior Ministry special forces troops at government positions outside the city. These included 9-millimeter Makarov pistols, Kalashnikov assault rifles and a few Dragunov sniper rifles, RPK light machine guns and portable antitank rockets, including some with production stamps from the 1980s and early 1990s.
There was no clear Russian link in the 12th Company’s arsenal, but it was not possible to confirm the rebels’ descriptions of the sources of their money and equipment.
There were, however, indicators of local support.
Whatever the final shape, Yuri said later, Ukraine’s interim government must allow a vote or face civil war.
“Either a sea of blood and corpses, or a referendum,” he said. “There is no third way.”
UPD Комментарии, выбранные редакцией, тоже рекомендую посмотреть.
Я, честно говоря, в легком недоумении, сурковская пропаганда явно сильнее меня.
Сурковская пропаганда меня победила. Поэтому-то Обама и не читает американских газет.