Civilians in Mykolaiv attempt to stop an armored column by standing in front of the vehicles. The Russian troops respond by giving them verbal warnings, followed by warning shots.
This will likely be an unpopular article.
We're seeing a significant increase in aggression by Russian troops this morning as an armored column of Russians gets spotted near Mykolaiv. The civilians, who for the past few days have been stopping Russian troop movements by standing in the path of their armor, are dispersed by the Russians after verbal warnings are followed with a spray of warning shots over the civilian's heads and into the ground at their feet.
While this is an increase in aggression from the Russian troops, it's likely warranted and completely legal. Escalation of Force, better known as EOF, is a common tactic used by professional militaries when they are dealing with a potentially hostile civilian population. At this stage in the conflict, Russia is doing what they need to do in order to protect their troops from potential insurgent activity while mitigating civilian casualties through typical EOF procedures.
By now, the Russians have already experienced insurgent or guerilla Ukrainian civilians who are fighting instead of surrendering. While we whole-heartedly respect the civilian's will to fight, we also understand the position of the Russian Soldiers and respect their right to use EOF measures to protect themselves. After all, anything less would be hypocritical as Americans and other NATO members used the exact same measures, including warning shots on civilian vehicles, throughout the last twenty years of the Global War on Terrorism.
However, for the civilians on the ground this means there is likely a much higher risk when dealing with Russian troops in the open. If they are indeed now using an ROE that allows for the use of EOF measures, that means there is an increased likelihood of civilian casualties. Those casualties, if incurred during EOF counter-measures, will likely not be viewed as war crimes as the Soldier's were doing what they needed to do in order to ensure they are protecting themselves from insurgent or guerilla activities, which is their right.
To put the above video in perspective, the Russian Soldiers were being impeded by the Ukrainian Civilians. They did not know the people, nor the disposition of the group mustering on the side of the road to film. What they do know is that movement is life when you're in a combat environment, and stopping makes them an easy target for RPG, NLAW, and ATGM style attacks. They have probably also been briefed on civilian resistance movements throughout the area. Therefore, the lead tank commander initiated Escalation of Force. Escalation of Force is a four step process. Shout, Show, Shove, Shoot. We saw three of those four stages here in this video. The Soldier initially commanded the civilian to get out of the way (Shout). He then brandished a weapon while continuing to warn him (Show). Last, he opened fire with a salvo of warning shots to get the civilian to make way for his column (Shove).
We know the coverage here has been slightly skewed politically in favor of the Ukrainians. That's because we don't like bullies, and in this instance Putin is using his military might to bully the Ukrainian people out of their land. In the case of this video however, the Russian troops did absolutely nothing wrong. Had this situation escalated again to the final phase in EOF and the civilian had been killed, likely we would still not have been able to fault the Russian Soldiers. This is the war Ukraine is in now.
The Ukrainian Government will hopefully recognize these procedures being used by their enemy, and make an announcement to inform their civilians to not interact with the Russians unless absolutely necessary, or to do so at their own risk.