The situation in Ukraine may be even more dangerous and unstable than we feared. According to this report from the Russian media, the separatists widely blamed for shooting down Malaysia Airlines MH17 are in control not just of one Buk missile launcher but a whole regiment of them.
The self-defense forces of Donetsk People’s Republic seized control of a Ukrainian anti-air military installation, RIA Novosti reports.
During the last several days the militia took control of two internal security troops’ installations in eastern Ukraine.
This report, from the end of last month, has had little play in the Western media, which has preferred to focus on reports from security sources that the rocket launchers (and tanks and APCs) used by the separatists were supplied by the Putin regime.
But if it is correct, then it would seem that the Russian separatists had by the end of June already captured more than enough missiles to wreak havoc. According to defence analyst Richard North, we can assume that the anti-air installation comprised at least three batteries, each with four mobile launchers carrying four missiles, which means a minimum of 48 missiles even before allowing for replenishments that could bring the total stock to more than 100.
“It is enough to sterilise air movement in the whole of Eastern Ukraine, which fundamentally alters the balance of power in the region,” says North. “Worse it means that these weapons are in the hands of militia groups who are a accountable to nobody and a danger to everybody – including the Russians. If so, then Western leaders may be adopting the wrong tone in pinning the blame on Putin. They should be working together with Putin to bring these dangerous militias under control.”