Military expert Vladislav Seleznev: The experience of the Ukrainian army since February 2014 is unique

Military expert Vladislav Seleznev: The experience of the Ukrainian army since February 2014 is unique

About how our army has changed since 2014, which can be publicly discussed to talk about during the war, and what not, about the subpoenas for rowdy “KP in Ukraine” was told by a person who knows about the hostilities not only from textbooks – military expert Vladislav Seleznev.

War is always war

– Vladislav, in your opinion, why is war not officially called war in our country? Various terms are used – aggression, invasion, conflict, but not war. How could it be called: the Russian-Ukrainian war? World War III?

– I cannot agree with this statement. We constantly hear the phrase “Russian-Ukrainian war”. The terms “aggression” and “invasion” are also used, however, this is a Russian-Ukrainian war. Whether it will be the forerunner of the Third World War is a debatable question. But the fact that in 2022 the history of the events of 1936-1939 is actually repeating itself suggests such an idea.

For the eighth year in a row, Russian aggression against sovereign Ukraine has been going on. At the moment, an active phase is underway, associated with a full-scale invasion of the occupying Russian troops into the territory of our country.

– Why do you think there is an opinion in society that the war began on February 24, 2022, and not February 20, 2014 (with the annexation of Crimea)? Why are these eight years, during which the defenders of Ukraine died, somehow hushed up?

– Each person perceives events through the prism of his impressions, emotions and situations in which he finds himself. Since the events of February 20, 2014 did not affect many residents of Ukraine, but more – residents of Crimea and Sevastopol, the report on the war for this category of citizens has been going on since February 20, 2014. The main part of Ukrainians, residents of different cities and villages, woke up from the sounds of explosions at 4.30 am on February 24, 2022. Therefore, on an emotional level, this date is closer to them.

Although it is obvious that the Russian aggression began with the annexation of Crimea, and it is connected precisely with the military component. If we are talking about economic and other methods of influence on Ukraine by Russia, then this war began much earlier.

For those who are related to this war, the list of the dead begins with the name of the ensign of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Sergey Kokurin, who died on March 13, 2014 during the assault by Russian military personnel (without distinctive signs) of the 13th photogrammetric center in Simferopol. We remember the second victim – Major Stanislav Karachevsky, who died from machine gun shots by a Russian Marine in Novofedorovka, Saksky District, on April 6, 2014. These were the first victims of the Russian-Ukrainian war that began on February 20, 2014.

Whether the Russian-Ukrainian war will be the forerunner of World War III is a debatable question. But that in 2022 the history of 1936-1939 is actually repeating itself, this is suggested by

– Residents of independent Ukraine knew about the war mainly from books, textbooks, films … Can we say that that we had some misunderstanding of the real military threat?

– Yes, the independence of Ukraine 31 years ago went to our country bloodlessly. This was the result of the civilized division of the USSR on the basis of the Belovezhskaya agreement. Ukraine did not know the war. There were only a few conflicts due to the Russian attack on the Ukrainian island of Tuzla in the Kerch Strait in late 2003, but then there was no bloodshed. There were conflict situations during the division of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation. Let us also recall the separatist processes associated with the so-called “Meshkovism” in 1994 in Crimea (then the pro-Russian local politician Yuri Meshkov became president of Crimea. – Ed.). But active hostilities were not carried out on the territory of our country.

Ukraine had experience in peacekeeping, as it was one of the main countries participating in peacekeeping missions both under the flag of NATO and under the flag of the UN. This is an absolutely normal practice of using the country's armed forces. Our military personnel could get real combat experience in peacekeeping activities. Therefore, I would not talk about some kind of misunderstanding.

Example: in 2009, as part of the national contingent of the joint Ukrainian-Polish battalion “UkrPolbat”, I participated in a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and saw how peacekeeping units work, what algorithm is involved, what forces and means are used. That is, we gained an understanding of what a peacekeeping mission is and what the consequences of a war are, we were involved in certain events related to the stabilization of the situation. As well as Ukraine's participation in the elimination of the consequences of the military conflict on the territory of Iraq.

How does this war differ from the previous ones (we are talking about new tactics and strategies)? What new ways of warfare do you see?

– First, we must understand that a hybrid war is going on. In addition to the power component, Russia uses energy pressure, as well as informational and economic pressure. Games with a gas pipe and the impact on our Western partners – we will give gas/we will not give gas – a vivid confirmation of this.

The two-billion-dollar spending on Russian propaganda is also a vivid fact that Russia does not spare money for the implementation of any options for influencing the minds, hearts, wallets of citizens of both Ukraine and collective Europe. Russia believes that almost the entire civilized West is its adversary, and the Ukrainian territory is just a battlefield where a new generation of war is taking place to achieve the results that President Vladimir Putin dreams of.

Our progress and their weapons

– There is an opinion that the Russian Federation has applied a new tactics of hostilities – from primary missile strikes on infrastructure to fighting in urban areas (examples – Mariupol and Severodonetsk). They even talk about the so-called “Syrian version” of the war. Is it true or is it?

– Military books say: in order to paralyze the system of government in a state subjected to aggression, it is necessary to destroy decision-making points, infrastructure facilities, military installations, bases with the first strikes , arsenals, warehouses for storing weapons, military equipment, ammunition. Russia acts strictly according to the textbook.

Experience of the Syrian campaign? It is unlikely, rather, a reference to the second Chechen one, when, in order to take Grozny, the Russian army first razed it to the ground, completely destroying the city with missile and bomb air strikes and the work of military artillery. Only after that, the Russians were able to take the capital of the then Ichkeria under effective control. Later, new towns and villages on the territory of the Republic of Ichkeria were captured using the same algorithm.

The version that was tested back in 1998 is used. The Russians apparently have no other ways and opportunities to take control of Ukrainian cities, unlike the Ukrainian army, which uses blockade tactics. The tactic was effectively tested during the blockade of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in 2014. It showed its effectiveness, and Girkin's troops were forced to flee into the corridors formed in the direction of Donetsk in order to avoid the fate of the besieged garrison. And he was doomed to surrender, because there were no more resources to survive.

– You are aware of everything that is happening at the front since 2014. How can you assess the progress of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during this time? Where did we make a real breakthrough, where could we be stronger?

– The state of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in February 2014 was depressing. The systematic work to destroy the military structure and military reserves of the Ukrainian army, which was carried out by the Russian defense ministers of Ukraine at that time, led to the fact that the Ukrainian army did not have the strength and means to repel a full-scale aggression. There was motivation, there was a desire – but there was no fuel, spare parts, a sufficient amount of the equipment that is capable of fully performing combat missions.

Since 2014, many actions have been taken aimed at quantitatively and qualitatively increasing the capabilities of the Ukrainian army. Today, according to various estimates, the defense forces are from 700 to 800 thousand people – this is a significant quantitative breakthrough. Ukrainian units operate on the basis of experience gained during the eight years of the war. And during this time, a whole galaxy of military leaders has grown up who know what a modern type of war is and how to conduct it, they know the place where hostilities take place and hot spots. And the practices of interaction with our Western partners gave us the opportunity to adopt and adapt their experience in relation to the current war.

In addition, the current supply of Western models of weapons and equipment give us the opportunity to be trained on these samples. Of course, Western weapons – artillery, 155-caliber howitzers – are an order of magnitude more effective and long-range than the weapons that are available in Ukraine. Since Soviet times, we have had a fairly strong artillery school. Experience and current opportunities to study and use modern high-tech weapons developments allow us to be as effective as possible.

The Russians have about 1,500 152-mm howitzers at the front, and 150 155-caliber howitzers in the Ukrainian army. In those places of the front where the most of these forces and means are concentrated, we are as effective as possible and deliver fire strikes in response to the actions of the Russian occupation forces, destroying Russian rashists in commercial quantities. We are able not only to effectively hold the defense, but also to carry out no less effective counter-offensive measures.

– We have been asking and waiting for heavy weapons from our Western partners for a long time. How quickly will the specialists of the Armed Forces of Ukraine be able to master it and how competently will they be able to apply it?

– Ukrainian specialists in the areas of “armored vehicles”, “artillery systems of various types” have basic knowledge. Next comes the process of studying the material and technical base, this is a fairly fast process. Then directly training and combat work on these samples of weapons and equipment.

There are absolutely clear definitions of war crimes. But the Russian occupation army violates almost all positions of this process

As our gunners say: “Give us a shooting table, the opportunity to practice on the range – and in a short time we will be able to learn a new weapon system and use it as efficiently as possible.” Ukrainians have repeatedly proved that in this process they are the most creative, the most capable students. From time to time, they even surpass their instructors in terms of their knowledge and combat work.

– We often hear the phrase “violation of the rules of war” or “forbidden methods of war” . So there are some rules and some allowed methods?

– Yes, there are norms and rules of warfare adopted at the global level. Do they work effectively? Definitely – no, because on some positions Russia has not signed the relevant agreements, and those that it has signed, it does not always comply with. For example, the use by the Russian army of cluster munitions, shells and missiles of indiscriminate destruction. Or when non-combatants, that is, people who have nothing to do with military service, fall into the risk zone. When there is a risk of death or injury from such projectiles and civilians suffer, this is, of course, a violation of the rules of war.

There are absolutely clear definitions of war crimes in the public domain. But the Russian occupation army violates almost all positions of this process, there is a total violation of the rules and the use of prohibited shells.

Military expert Vladislav Seleznev: The experience of the Ukrainian army since February 2014 is unique

< p> Rashists do not change their tactics – they demolish the city to the ground, and then proudly declare themselves winners. On the left is Grozny, 1995, on the right is Mariupol, 2022. Photo: and REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Military secrets will not be revealed

– Your opinion: what is the probability of using nuclear weapons in this war?

– No one will use nuclear weapons, because the existence of the planet Earth in principle can be threatened. To wave a baton, to threaten it is a simple matter, but it is unlikely to use it.

No one will use nuclear as a strategic weapon, otherwise the Earth will cease to exist as a celestial unit. And the use of tactical nuclear weapons… Will it break the Ukrainian resistance? Will it change our intention to hold the line and destroy the enemy? No. Therefore, the effectiveness and rationality of using nuclear weapons in this war is zero.

War, no matter how we experience this process, has more of a rational component than an emotional one. The main thing here is the rational use of forces and means, the use of enemy mistakes, military cunning, military logic leads to the desired result. For us – to victory and the elimination of the entire enemy occupation group.

– Do you think that many facts and figures related to military operations, the personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the locations of military equipment and military personnel, etc., are they not military secrets? Since it is voiced by all and sundry – from deputies to soldiers.

– Any information that does not harm the actions of Ukrainian military personnel, does not create problems for their health and life, can be voiced. Of course, there are information restrictions due to martial law. We cannot talk about the movement, redeployment of weapons and equipment of our troops, about the places of their deployment, about the specifics or quantity of equipment. We are not talking about logistics routes, state deliveries of equipment and weapons until the moment when our partner countries are the first to announce this.

Of course, the issue of the death of personnel is a motivating factor. But on the other hand, we must understand that we have a full-scale war going on. And if a few years ago the statements of the Chief of the General Staff, General Muzhenko, boiled down to the fact that every day of intense full-scale battles could lead to the death of 10-12 thousand Ukrainian soldiers, now the statistics differ significantly from these forecasts, but the Ukrainian army suffers losses. I believe that at the first stage this information was not voiced, so as not to bring confusion to the Ukrainian society. And this is a completely logical decision that corresponded to the situation at that time.

Now the war is gradually moving into a routine phase. And from time to time there are reports of dead and wounded Ukrainian servicemen. This is being done to put pressure on our Western partners. After all, it is quite obvious that we are suffering colossal losses because of the strange position of some of our partners in the supply of weapons. They announce shipments and then sabotage them and don't sell them.

 Military expert Vladislav Seleznev: The experience of the Ukrainian army since February 2014 is unique

Ukrainian army in 2014 and 2022. Photo: Photo by Irina Pustynnikova/UNIAN/

Re-educating alcoholics is definitely not for the army…

– Went a wave of “horror stories” related to the possible delivery of subpoenas to people who violated the law (caught drunk driving, swimming in the wrong place). The army is outraged: patriots are coming here, it is an honor for them to serve! Should I speculate on this topic?

– During the first mobilization campaign in 2014-2016 (six waves of mobilization), there were different stories with the delivery of subpoenas in different places. Article 22 of the Law of Ukraine “On mobilization preparation and mobilization” does not clearly indicate the place where these summonses can be served. That is, they can be given anywhere – on the street, at work, at a checkpoint, in an elevator, subway, etc. This is a completely normal procedure.

On the other hand, the agenda does not at all mean a one-way ticket to the front. This is an invitation to the territorial recruitment and social support centers (former military registration and enlistment offices) to determine the degree of suitability for military service as part of mobilization. There are many reasons for not conscripting Ukrainian citizens – they can be found in the public domain.

Since 2014, a whole galaxy of military leaders has grown who know what a modern-type war is and how to conduct it

I am categorically against it when illegal citizens of the country, drunkards and brawlers are sent to the army. The army is not engaged in the correction or re-education of citizens. The army is a fighting organism, the main task of which is to ensure the territorial integrity and independence of our state. Re-educating alcoholics is definitely not for the army. There are special structures in the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which should deal with this.

Many times, the speakers of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine have stated that the level of staffing of forces and the implementation of mobilization programs for the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other defense forces are being carried out at 100 percent. One cannot say that they are rowing everyone in a row, these are completely empty and harmful conversations.

Protection of the territorial integrity and independence of our state is the constitutional duty of every citizen of Ukraine (Article 17 of the Constitution – we read, we do). There is definitely no need to speculate on this topic.

Yes, mobilization will continue until August 23, 2022 under martial law. The Ukrainian army is fighting, there are losses, dead and wounded. To make up for losses, citizens of Ukraine with the appropriate military specialties are called up to the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for mobilization. According to this list, in accordance with the requests and needs of the General Staff, a mobilization task is being formed for the regions of Ukraine. But no one will ever send people who arrived at the military unit on the agenda to the front line.

As for the territorial defense units, since February 2022, 32 Troop Brigades have been created, of which 25 are now performing combat missions on the first and second lines of the Russian-Ukrainian front.

Military expert Vladislav Seleznev: The experience of the Ukrainian army since February 2014 is unique

Vladislav Seleznev KP Dossier

Vladislav Seleznev is a Ukrainian military journalist, colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He graduated from the Simferopol Higher Military Political Construction School, the military construction department at the Crimean Institute of Environmental and Resort Construction.

Until December 2017, he served in the Armed Forces of Ukraine in various positions. Dismissed from the Armed Forces of Ukraine due to the expiration of the contract.

Member of hostilities (participated in the Antiterrorist operation on the territory of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2014-2016).

С On April 2014, due to the occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, he has the status of an internally displaced person.

He has the distinction of the President of Ukraine, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the NATO medal “For Service to Peace”.

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