Bloody fighting continues in Ukraine’s Donbas region. Russian troops slog to advance yards at a time in the city of Severodonetsk, only to be thrown back by counterattacks. But Russian troops face another threat in areas that they have taken.
Ukrainian head of intelligence Gen. Kyrylo Budanov announced back in April that an insurgency was getting ready to start. That insurgency is growing inside of Russia-occupied Ukraine, and the attacks against Russian troops and proxy government leaders are getting worse.
A History of Resistance
A look at Ukraine’s history shows that the people there have the will and ability to fight a protracted guerrilla war. Ukrainian partisans fought against Nazi Germany during World War II. Later they fought against Soviet occupiers, and guerrilla warfare of some sort lasted into the 1950s.
That resistance against the Soviet Union continued with no outside support, which is amazing, considering that the Soviets would suppress any resistance using the same brutal tactics that Russia employs now.
Today, Ukraine has given at least marginal training to Ukrainian Territorial Defense forces. Training from its special operations forces, which learned from Western militaries – including the U.S. Army Special Forces, who are experts in guerrilla warfare – will greatly increase their effectiveness. Plus, the Ukrainians are getting plenty of outside support from Western democracies to aid in their fight against Russian aggression.
Guerilla Warfare Takes Root
The New York Times reported that there have been a dozen attacks in recent weeks targeting high-profile individuals in Russia-occupied territory. That speaks to a highly organized operation, with coordinated attacks to disrupt the Russian occupation.
The guerilla attacks seem to be largely centered on the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of southern Ukraine. This is significant, because the guerrilla activity will require Russia to pull front-line troops back to secure rear areas and population centers in the very places where the Ukrainian military is conducting a counter-offensive.
Ukraine has set up a website called the Center of National Resistance, which features reports of Ukrainian guerilla attacks, as well as instructions on methods of sabotage and how to use VPN to get real news instead of Russian propaganda. Alexander Motyl in 1945 amassed reports of numerous incidents where resistance elements killed Russian troops, assassinated pro-Russian bloggers or government officials, carried out acts of sabotage, and much more. It should be noted that in some cases, attacks against Russian troops may have been conducted by members of Ukraine’s Special Forces, or were guerrilla actions led by them.
Attacks have hit military checkpoints, and the office of Russian proxy leader Yevgeny Balitsky was rocked by a massive car bomb explosion in Melitopol. Two days earlier, Andriy Shevchyk, another Russian proxy and self-proclaimed mayor of Enerhodar, in the Zaporizhzhia region, was badly injured in a car bomb explosion.
The Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate reported through a Telegram channel that the Russians say they are placing a special detachment of its employees “on leave.” These personnel will be tasked with bolstering the security of buildings and officials in the separatist Luhansk People’s Republic.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 10 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.