If Ukrainians are able to close the border between Russia, then the current crisis in the eastern part of the country would stop, says International Center for Defense Studies senior researcher Erki Männik.
Männik told ERR radio on Thursday that most locals do not support the separatists, but that the Ukrainian military has made and is making big mistakes, which shows how underfinanced it has previously been.
“But people learn from their mistakes and better leaders emerge and coordination is slowly improving,” he said, adding that a border guard station that was attacked recently on the outskirts of Luhansk was left without reinforcements, despite official channels saying otherwise.
Speaking about the separatists, Männik said different groups have battled each other and there is a lot of crime in the ranks. The chain of command of the insurgents is also weak.
“Stronger are those separatists who are more idealistic and from Russia,” he said, adding that they are surrounded by a more diverse local force.
He said the flow of men from Russia has brought increase in crime, and economic downturn and has increased the suffering of the local population. The crisis can be stopped, he said, if the borders are closed down.
If the local population does not begin to back the separatists, then the problem is solvable, Männik said. But Ukraine itself must build up its army.