Judging by the photographs I have seen on Twitter in the past day, it is no longer a secret that armed servicemen from the so-called Battalion Vostok (“East”) are present on the ground in Donetsk and its environs. Vostok became (in)famous for fighting and looting during the Russo-Georgian war of 2008. It is so named because fighters for the unit have been recruited from the North Caucasus, which is considered culturally “Eastern” in Russia.
Some of the Vostok soldiers have combat experience from the Chechen wars – does not matter which side – which should give a boost to the amateurish forces of LuganDa. Pretty smart and totally brazen, this Kremlin idea, keeping alive the the civil war in Donbass. Technically, the Ukrainian air force (assuming it still exists) could carpet-bomb Donbass into total submission – it should work in the steppe, in contrast to the mountains of Caucasus – but only technically, of course.
In the meantime, the two LifeNews reporters (remember the cynical #SaveOurGuys campaign?) mistaken for insurgents in Donbass have been released. They say they were subjected to rough treatment by the Ukrainian special services and at some point feared for their lives. But the moment one of the newsmen, still blindfolded and bound, heard Chechen spoken, he rejoiced. They were flown to Grozny and, later, to Moscow.
Who would have thought that possible ten years ago?