By now most of you would have heard about the artillery strike on the civilian outskirts of Mariupol. The Nazis blamed the Novorussians, who denied it. Turns out the locals saw it all and even filmed it. Bottom line is this: this appears to be an "honest" mistakes, meaning that the Ukrainians were probably trying to hit the advancing Novorussians but that their salvo came in short (Ukie artillerists do not exactly have a reputation of being snipers...). Here is a map sent to me this morning by a friend:
On the ground, it looked like this:
Ugly and scary, for sure. And horrible for those who were hit, but what is forgotten in this story is that this is what Donetsk has been suffering every day and what Gorlovka is getting hit by daily, but in truly massive amounts. And, unlike in Mariupol, Donetsk and Gorlovka are getting hit like that deliberately.
What the events in Mariupol do show, however, is that regardless of the expertise and caution taken by Novorussian artillery (it is considered very skilled as it always aims at precision strikes at Ukrainian positions in order to prevent the latter from hitting the Novorussian civilians), there are major risks in an operation to take a city like Mariupol. If this time around it was probably just an "honest" mistake (to the degree that the word "honest" can be used for junta forces), the next time around it could be a deliberate SBU false flag. For example, imagine this:
You are Poroshenko or Nalivaichenko and you asked the USA and the EU to declare the Novorussians "terrorists". And then, for some reason, both the USA and the EU declined to do so (they did decline). How would you go about proving them wrong? The MH-17 and the recent civilian bus false flags failed, those pesky westerners still don't want to declare 7 million people as terrorists, so what would you do about it?
So the risk is real and huge. So far, the Novorussians have played their hand very well, but their offensive on Mariupol has me nervous all for the same reasons as the first time around. At least now they are moving in slowly and making darn sure that their lines of supply remain open and secure. Still, this is a very dangerous situation and the events this morning show that even an "honest" Ukie mistake can be immediately turned into political ammunition to flame anti-Russian hysterics in the West.