East Ukraine – Fundraising, and a beginning of railroad warfare.

While the peace negotiations continue and there don’t seem to be Strelkov SITREPs, several amusing things have happened:

 

1. Strelkov has posted several various addresses and messages (including a Youtube video distributed via Sputnik & Pogrom’s Youtube channel) thanking donors for supplying him equipment. Here is one of these posts,  thanking people for donating for his men:

x10 Pulsar HD38S night vision devices and their EPS3 external power supply,
x10 Pulsar Expert LRF 8×40 binoculars
x6 Wood Ghillie sniper suits
x27 earpieces for radios
x3 backpacks
x2 sets of ACU/ABU sniper facepaint
x8 sniper sleeping mats
x200 USSR-made helmets
x200 Beryozka camouflage suits
x500 rifle magazines

Now I understand that this stuff easily got through the Ukraine-Russia border, the border is partly under DPR control… but Slaviansk is supposedly under siege. The quality of the Ukrainian siege is illustrated by the fact that you can get two hundred helmets through.

Sputnik & Pogrom’s donation also got through.

 

This is the donation. Note how compact and hard to smuggle this is. Strelkov politely informs us the donation also included a UAV.

Clearly whoever is ‘preventing’ the rebels from getting weapons and volunteers is not doing the world’s best job.

2. The rebels have decided to engage in rail warfare.

Yesterday a freight train was blown up in Donezk Oblast. The freight train belonged to the Russian state railroad company but one assumes the people laying the explosives didn’t know this.

Today, in Lugansk Oblast, some bright individuals blew up several railroad segments, with no trains on them.

I suspect that these people did not have the help of a military advisor, and derive their knowledge of guerilla warfare from Soviet war movies. No real damage can be inflicted by merely blowing up rail, unless it is a bridge or some major intersection.  When a train is blown up on its rails, the derailed wagons add to the disruption, and not only does this take hours or even days to clear up, but other trains that should have used the line are meaningfully delayed. In the case of blowing up rails rather than trains, the damage is fleeting at best. The rails in Lugansk Oblast are expected to be relaid without disruption to the rail schedule.

As I wrote the above, I learned that tonight, an additional rail attack occured in Zaporozhie Oblast, where a railroad bridge had been blown up.  This does not bode well: conceivably it would be easy for the rebels to launch sabotage teams beyond the borders of the two ‘republics’ , and damage the Ukrainian railroad network, which would further disrupt the country’s ailing economy. Such a thing would have immense military utility for the rebels: it would make the Ukrainian military’s’ resupply very difficult, would impact civilian morale, and of course would make it necessary to withdraw forces from the front lines in an attempt to secure the railroads. The economic cost, however, both to Western and Eastern Ukraine, would be immense.

P.S.  I have done some brief research (via Wikipedia) and discovered Ukraine has more freight rail usage (in tonne-kilometers) than Germany. It is 7th in freight-rail usage in tonne-kilometers. In pure tonnage of freight carried it is 6th. There’s also extensive passenger-rail usage.

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