by Vitalii Usenko and Dmytro Usenko
Russian forces keep on coming to Ukrainian borders and now not only the Crimean peninsula but also Northern and Eastern parts of Ukraine are endangered of the future possible attacks from the Russian side.
A new classified intelligence assessment concludes it is more likely than previously thought that Russian forces will enter eastern Ukraine, CNN has learned. But it is so? Isn’t this just a diversion to hide the area of main assault? This comes to mind taking into consideration recent developments and the Russian troops building up alongside the northern and north-eastern borders of Ukraine.
Most probably Russia is building up these troops on the border to be able to attack Kyiv through Chernihiv, as has been reported by several Ukrainian mass-media outlets.
Alarming news is coming from the Russian regions bordering on Ukraine. The Kremlin, despite assurances that “Russia does not want war,” continues to build up troops on the border with Ukraine. The most advanced, combat-ready units of the Russian armed forces continue to arrive.
The 12th Tank Regiment of the 4th Guards Tank Division knows as Kantemirovsky (elite Russian army, regularly participates in parades on Red Square) was discovered in the southwest of Bryansk Oblast on March 24, 2014. This Regiment disembarked near Novozybkov – Klimov district and is able to conduct an offensive through Chernihiv directly to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine
A battalion tactical group of another elite Unit, 2nd Taman Motorized Division, is building up in the areas of Amon and Kalynivka in Kursk Oblast (15 and 7 km from the border with Ukraine, respectively). Sources have reported about 400 servicemen on armored personnel carrier, a tank company (10 tanks) as well as communications units.
Three battalions of the 76th Pskov Airborne Assault Division and two battalions of the 106th Tula Airborne Division located on military training ground near cities of Belgorod, Severnyi, Stroitel. Total – about 1,100 servicemen 120 military cars and armored vehicles.
Build-up of Russian elite and airborne troops from North of Ukraine is indirect indication of possibility of the first strike from the North direction Chernihiv-Kyiv combined with the supplementary strike in the direction Kharkiv-Dneproterovsk. If US intel is able to look just at the map it could be clearly seen that these areas are ideal for sudden strong and fast strike to take control over all Northern and Eastern Ukraine.
What is surprising is such possible change in Russian military strategy have been shown since March 13, 2014. Only one question on the basis of what data US Intel is so sure on the first strike from Eastern and Southern Ukraine.
Cherhihiv – Kyiv as the first direction of attack, reinforced by an assault from North-East seems to be logical for a fast “blitzkrig” of Ukraine as supplementary one. This will allow Russia to seize Kyiv very quickly with a sudden airborne operation combined with a strike by tank and mechanized units of the Russian army. A strike from the North could also allow Russia to take control of the Chornobyl nuclear power station which in case of accident related to military activities could be damaged. Taking Central and North-East Ukraine, where the centers of power are located, it will not be much of a problem to take over the rest of Southern and South-East Ukraine.
Putin can do this if he wants, as he realized well that there would be either no military assistance of any kind from NATO to Ukraine or in worst case just some symbolic measures. During Obama’s meetings with EU leaders on March 26, 2014 it became very clear that the West has no plans to use force in Ukraine.
Putin realizes that NATO and the West are even not ready to defend Eastern Europe at the moment, not to speak of Ukraine. Obama just mentioned the importance of the American-European alliance at a more urgent moment on the continent and “I’ve had some concerns about diminished levels of defense spending by some of our partners in NATO,” he said.
Obama added that military alliance should set up a regular presence in Eastern Europe. Obama said NATO foreign ministers meeting next week should study plans to “make sure … that we do more to ensure that a regular NATO presence among some of these states that may feel vulnerable is executed.”
Confirmation that Putin is not afaraid of West is also an analysis of Article 5 of NATO agreement. This article says that NATO members pledge to come to the assistance of the attacked state using “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.” It is evident that a gaping loophole is availabe: President Obama can simply deem that the use of U.S. force isn’t necessary. He can walk back the red line, as he did with Syria. Stern talk and minimal sanctions would follow, but some Eastern European countries could simply lose some, if not all of their territory. NATO is currently not ready to challenge Russia to defend NATO Eastern European countries. NATO is not ready and is not willing to give any military assistance to Ukraine, either.
Many Ukrainians suppose that West has betrayed Ukraine. The West has never cared about Ukraine before and why would the West care about Ukraine today? As history teaches, after 1938, there was 1939 when WWII started. Putin will not stop with Ukraine. Perhaps, Putin supposes that the combined resources and potent Russian – Ukrainian military – industrial complex will allow him to crush Europe or at least its Eastern European countries. Europe, as he most probably supposes, has gotten accustomed to a calm, steady and non-problematic life and Europe is simply not ready to fight with Russia by military means.
Putin is now debating whether to attack Ukraine or not. These doubts are connected not with NATO response or West sanctions. These doubts are connected with his evaluation of how the Ukrainian nation will defend itself. If, according to his assessments, resistance be fierce and uncompromising, including a wide scale guerrilla war against Russian occupiers he will refrain from a military attack. Many casualties from the Russian side can seriously damage the wide swath of the Russian population which is thirsty for Great Russia and supports Russian aggression against Ukraine. Their thirst for myths about Great Russia could be destroyed.
Also possible and more logical would be an assault on Ukraine till the presidential elections in Ukraine scheduled for May 25th 2014. This intentions are also discussed by some military experts who infer this conclusion from indirect data. Russia is able to build-up manpower almost 50% – 75% without mobilization as the Russian army’s spring conscription session starts on April 1. Servicement being demobilized cannot be kept in the Russian army for more than two months in peacetime without causing concerns. After this fast increase in Russian army manpower without declaring mobilization, the next such opportunity will be possible during the next conscription in Russian army, which begins on October 1, 2014.
Putin cannot afford to wait till October 1, 2014. It would enable the Ukrainian Presidential election to take place, the situation in Ukraine to stabilize, give time for the Ukrainian armed forces to strengthen and increase their combat readiness, decrease the euphoria in Russia related to the military actions against Ukraine, and let the dramatics effects of Western economic sanctions take hold. Russia is not ready for a protracted war; Russia needs a blitzkreig. If he waits until the presidential elections in Ukraine, time will be lost. The most suitable areas of attack are the North and North-East, bissecting Ukraine and blocking all Eastern and Southern Ukraine. Russia expects that if Northern and Central Ukraine including Kyiv are seized, the government of Ukraine collapses and Eastern and Southern Ukraine could be very easy targets and would not provide much resistance to Russia. Ukraine shall prove that this is not the case as the only thing which can stop Putin is the realization of a fierce and tough resistance by the Ukrainian people, resulting in bringing the Russians into a protracted war with many Russian losses.
Ukraine can rely only on itself for protecting its freedom and integrity. Most probably the West will only watch the development of events in Ukraine and restrict itself only to average economic sanctions against Russia. Finland protected its independence in war against USSR in spite of the total military superiority of USSR, why cannot Ukraine do it in 2014?
Written by: Dr. Vitalii Usenko, MD, MBA, expert of the Center of Military-Political Studies in the sphere of psychology of communications, and by Dmytro Usenko, student at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
in co-operation with Edmond Huet, Euromaidan Press armament and military questions specialist, consultant to French TV and radio
Edited by Olena Wawryshyn
2. Россия готова бросить на Украину элитные войска, – Кантемировская и Таманская дивизии прибыли на границу (ВИДЕО, ФОТО) – March 26, 2014 NR2.ru
4. Developments around Ukraine – March 13, 2014
5. Obama: West Has No Plans to Use Force in Ukraine – March 26, 2014
6. Obama urges Europeans to bolster NATO to help deter an expansionist Russia – March 26, 2014
7. US, EU summit focuses on Crimea crisis – March 26, 2014
8. Why Russia No Longer Fears the West – March 02, 2014
9. Obama doesn’t grasp Putin’s Eurasian ambitions – March 20, 2014
10. Would America Go to War with Russia? – March 22, 2014
12. Россияне не возражают против принятия в состав России и других регионов Украины. – Russians are not against to take into Russia other regions of Ukraine
Опрос «Левада-центра» – March 27, 2014
15. Никто не знает, что задумал Путин, но Украина в беде – InoPeressa – March 27, 2014
16. Vitalii Usenko FB Post on Winter War between USSR and Finland – March 24, 2014
17. У России хватит сил дойти через Украину к Приднестровью – генерал НАТО – UNIAN – March 24, 2014
19. Delayed invasion/May Gambit – Thoughts from Kyiv on 22 March 2014 – Euromaidan PR
20. A key to understanding Putin’s motives – Military Industrial complex of Ukraine – March 19, 2014
21. The first target of Putin’s Russia is not only Crimea, but all Eastern and Southern Ukraine – Euromaidan PR – March 16, 2014
22. Myths and Truth about Russian nuclear potential from Euromaidan PR – March 18, 2014