Hero of Belbek, UA: Colonel Yuri Mamchur
How do you triumph against an oppressor who has an overwhelming advantage in terms of firepower? If you are Mahatma Gandi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, or Ukrainian Colonel Yuri Mamchur, you practice non-violent direct action. I hope that Ukraine may yet share in the triumph of this strategy.
I will tell the story from Simon Shuster’s Twitter stream:
UPDATE: Very Good Summary on Buzzfeed
Commander of Ukraine’s Belbek base just got a call from Russian counterpart. Another ultimatum: surrender by 16:00. This is the 3rd one
Incredible. Half the Ukraine troops from Belbek base now marching to airstrip occupied by Russians. Unarmed. To take it back.
The column of troops, carrying the Ukraine and Soviet (!) flags, about to march on the Russian occupied airstrip. pic.twitter.com/prR9rfP7Fp
Ukraine column has reached Russian checkpoint. Russians begin firing in the air. Ukrainians keep marching
Russians call commander to negotiate. Troops have RPGs and machine guns trained on the column of unarmed Ukrainian soldiers. Belbek, Crimea
Russians back down, allow 10 Ukraine soldiers to take up positions at occupied base, but still awaiting orders from Moscow
Face off between Ukraine base commander Col. Yuli Manchur and Russian officer at occupied Belbek airbase pic.twitter.com/6N10wuezef
The Ukraine commanders just received word that Putin ordered the Russian troops to withdraw. Is that true?
Officer who shot in air as Ukraine column marched up to him said he was on the Maidan fighting ‘fascists’ with a stick. Presumably Berkut
The red flag the Ukrainians marched with is the banner of the fighter pilots who fought Nazis in 1941 and guarded the Yalta Conference
Ukraine Colonel still negotiating, Russian snipers & RPGs still aiming at column of soldiers. But deescalation is clear, at least in Belbek
Personnel carrier just arrived, disgorging armed Russian troops at checkpoint. Ukraine commander just finished negotiating.
Ukraine commander demands to guard the base jointly with Russians, who pledge to give their commanders’ response by 12:00, in 2 hours
Russian military truck just brought a handful of (probably Russian) news crews to the Belbek standoff. They’re now filming from Russian side
Ukraine’s 204th tactical aviation brigade when they just arrived to face down the Russians in Belbek: pic.twitter.com/Zz91TuJHXf
Marching along with the Ukraine brigade were the wives of four of the officers, all standing surrounded by Russian snipers at Belbek
Phone battery dying. Read @Time a bit later for the hair-raising conclusion of the ballsiest move of the Crimean conflict so far. #Belbek
I first read of the story via ABC News. I think this is an excellent strategy to employ against the Russian occupation. Putin claims the Russians are there to defend against violent acts. It would appear that the Ukrainian Military are Not the Problem here. I hope this tactic is employed further by Ukraine’s soldiers and its people, and I wish to see them succeed. Mamchur and his soldiers are heros of humanity.