By sending its military to quell the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the government in Kiev may be setting itself up for a spectacular defeat, as neither its army nor its intelligence services are prepared for a confrontation with Russia
Like many of the leading men in Ukraine’s new military pecking order, Petr Mekhed wasn’t exactly ripe for the task of fending off a Russian invasion when he assumed the post of deputy defense minister in February. His last tour of combat duty was about 30 years ago, during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, after which he reached the rank of colonel in the Red Army. When revolution in Ukraine broke out this winter, his wartime experience made him better equipped than most at defending the barricades of the Maidan protest camp in the center of Kiev. But it was not as useful in preparing him to lead his country into war. “For some issues I’ve had to sit down with a book and study up,” he says.