By ten-forty-five it was all over. The town was occupied, the defenders defeated, and the war finished. The invader had prepared for this campaign as carefully as he had for larger ones. On this Sunday morning the postman and the policeman had gone fishing in the boat of Mr Corell, the popular storekeeper. He had lent them his trim sail-boat for the day. The postman and the policeman were several miles at sea when they saw the small, dark transport, loaded with soldiers, go quietly past them. As officials of the town, this was definitely their business, and these two put about, but of course the battalion was in possession by the time they could make port. The policeman and the postman could not even get into their own offices in the Town Hall, and when they insisted on their rights they were taken prisoners of war and locked up in the town jail.
The local troops, all twelve of them, had been away, too, on this Sunday morning, for Mr. Corell, the popular storekeeper, had donated lunch, targets, cartridges, and prizes for a shooting competition to take place six miles back in the hills, in a lovely glade Mr. Corell owned. The local troops, big, loose-hung boys, heard the planes and in the distance saw the parachutes, and they came back to town at double-quick step. When they arrived, the invader had flanked the road with machine-guns. The loose-hung soldiers, having very little experience in war and none at all in defeat, opened fire with their rifles. The machine-guns clattered for a moment and six of the soldiers became dead riddled bundles, and three half-dead riddled bundles, and three of the soldiers escaped into the hills with their rifles.
By ten-thirty the brass band of the invader was playing beautiful and sentimental music in the town square while the townsmen, their mouths a little open and their eyes astonished, stood about listening to the music and staring at the grey-helmeted men who carried sub-machine-guns in their arms.
Comment: Thus begins John Steinbeck’s “The Moon Is Down,” his famous tale of occupation and resistance. I read this book the Summer before starting high school. It was assigned reading by the Jesuits of Fairfield Prep. I don’t know why other than that it is a literary classic. Maybe it was a precursor to their flirtation with liberation theology. I already knew about partisan resistance from my family’s stories. I would visit the topic again later in my career.
The concept of national resistance is enshrined in Ukrainian law. In addition to the regular active armed forces, there are several categories of reservists and the Territorial Defense Forces. Civilian partisan resistance is to be in addition to these forces. Ukraine was under no illusion that their forces were strong enough to prevent an invasion and ensuing occupation. The task of continuing national resistance on occupied Ukrainian territory fell to Ukraine’s special operations forces. They conducted rudimentary resistance training in peacetime and now organize and lead partisan forces in war. That’s were we are now. It doesn’t happen overnight. It develops over time. Over months and years. Over forty years ago I wrote of the development of the Lithuanian resistance to Soviet occupation. I linked to that article if anyone is interested. We are just now beginning to see the effects of organized partisan resistance in the areas occupied by Russia.
Southern Ukraine is becoming a hotbed for such activity. The photo above is of a poster warning the occupiers of their fate… having one’s throat slit by a Ukrainian babushka. IO is an important element in partisan warfare. It always has been and forever will be. As one reporter noted, “It’s an increasingly rough business being a Russian occupier in Ukraine where the locals want them dead. Kherson partisans have taken out around 300 Russians, mostly at night with small arms, knives and poison.” Other notices posted on telephone poles and building walls in Kherson have appeared, saying “Russian occupiers and everyone who supports them. We are close, already operating in Kherson. Death awaits you all! Kherson is Ukraine.”
The mayor of neighboring Melitopol, Ivan Fedoriv, claims at least a hundred Russian soldiers and Rosgvardia police were killed in night ambushes. In late March, Valery Kuleshov, a pro-Russian blogger living in Kherson, an alleged collaborator with the occupying forces, was shot dead in his car in a gangland-style assassination. Pavlo Slobodchikov, an alleged collaborator, was gunned down in his vehicle two days later. A few days ago, “Russians discovered two bodies in the morning hours in the area of house No. 52 on Heroes of Ukraine Street in Melitopol, a hotbed of Ukrainian resistance. The deceased were two high ranking Russians who met a timely end at the hands of local partisans.” When asked how the two Russians died, the reporter answered, “It wasn’t instantaneous, from what I understood.”
A high profile act of sabotage occurred on 18 May as reported by the online “Mirror Weekly” out of Kyiv. Some reported the act was carried out by special operations commandos, other said it was local partisans. Given Ukraine’s defense laws and strategy, it was probably a raiding party consisting of both.
In the occupied Melitopol near the meat-packing plant on Wednesday, a remote detonation of an armored train of the Russian occupiers was carried out, the Zaporizhia Region Defense Headquarters said. Closer to noon, information about the sounds of an explosion and a shooting came from Melitopol. As it became known later, the armored train of the occupiers exploded while moving on an explosive set on rails.
“The train consists of 10 cars, the blast was carried out under a car with personnel. According to the results of the explosion, two railway tracks were damaged, the armored train was stopped, and a locomotive with 10 fuel tanks, which was following the armored train, was also stopped, ”the headquarters said. There was also a shootout in the city after the explosion. We will remind that in the end of April in the Zaporizhia region near Melitopol the railway bridge leading to the Crimea was destroyed. Later, the Armed Forces confirmed the sabotage against the enemy.
Even in the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk, the locals are becoming fed up with their Russian benefactors. Wives and relatives of those forcibly conscripted by Russian and local authorities are protesting the lack of medical care and compensation of the wounded conscripts and are demanding the return of those not yet dead or wounded. Protests have numbered up to 700 participants lately. Acts of sabotage far beyond just hiding those of draft age are bound to begin even in the heart of the DNR and LNR.
The Russians have a lot more to worry about than the steady flow of Western weapons and aid and the still mobilizing, equipping and training Ukrainian reserves. It’s going to be a long, hot Summer followed by another cold, miserable Winter. The partisans will see to that.