People ride on a towed broken armoured vehicle left behind after Ukrainian forces attacked police headquarters in an attempt to drive out pro-Russian militants in Mariupol May 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)
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Eastern rebels that Kiev and the West say are backed by Russian special forces benefit from political vacillation, disarray among the generals and field commanders unsure of their orders."What we see now is improvisation," Dmytro Tymchuk, a former soldier and head of Kiev's Center of Military and Political Research, told a briefing. He pointed to a failure of the many different forces, from army and paramilitary police, to special forces and air units, to communicate and cooperate efficiently. Oleksander, 23, stands in a field near Kiev dressed in camouflage uniform, forage cap and reflective glasses, his face masked. He is a recruit to the newly formed National Guard that he sees as the vanguard of a revived Ukrainian fighting spirit. Some come from the "self-defense forces" involved in demonstrations early this year that eventually forced Yanukovich to flee.The conflict in the east remains a murky affair; inexperienced Ukrainian forces sounding out insurgents, who are sometimes untrained civilians touting a rifle, sometimes apparently well trained fighters with heavy machine guns.
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