Article by: Taras Klochko
The reaction of the Russian Foreign Ministry to the escalation of the situation at the Donetsk airport indicates that the Kremlin has launched a media campaign in preparation for a full-scale armed conflict with Ukraine.
Today, when it became quite clear that declarations by the terrorist warlords about gaining control of the Donetsk airport were nothing more than wishful thinking, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued a statement accusing the Ukrainian side of violating the Minsk agreements, shelling civilian districts of Donetsk, and so on. There would be nothing new here except for a few details.
First, the Kremlin has announced that, according to the Minsk agreements, it appears the Ukrainian side is supposed to relinquish the Donetsk airport to the terrorists. As the Russian MFA explained: “This issue could not be resolved for a long time because of disagreements regarding several other areas at the battle line. Meanwhile, Ukrainian security forces continued to fire from the Donetsk airport building and other residential areas and as a result civilians were killed, including women and children. Schools, residential buildings, and other civilian structures were destroyed. To stop these criminal acts, the DNR forces have taken control of the airport. However, Ukrainian troops, regardless of the civilian casualties, have launched a full-scale military operation in an attempt to recover this strategic site in order to continue shelling residential areas of Donetsk.”
Second, Russian diplomats noted that in light of recent events, Vladimir Putin has dispatched his “missive” to Petro Poroshenko, insisting that all parties to the conflict must maintain the “regime of silence” and respect the agreements to withdraw heavy artillery from the battle line, but that Poroshenko has rejected this “Putin peace plan.” According to the Russian MFA, “The Ukrainian security forces have rejected the proposals given to them and have renewed the artillery shelling of Donetsk, creating a direct threat to the lives of the civilians and OSCE observers.”
Meanwhile, Russian media has unleashed a new flood of lies about the “Kyiv retaliators.” Thus, the Russian information agency RIA Novosti, citing the Donetsk terrorist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko, reported that Ukrainian aviation allegedly has been bombing Horlivka using 500-kg bombs. At the same time, Russian political analysts have been dispensing endless commentary on the pages of Russian publications that “the war in the Donbas will continue as long as Kyiv feels immune.”
This entire stream of falsehoods appears to be an informational preparation for a full-scale war with Ukraine. The Kremlin’s messages are intended primarily for ordinary Russians in order imprint the following scenes on their brains: “Kyiv, incited by its Washington master, has treacherously violated the Minsk peace agreement, ignoring all appeals for a ceasefire by the peace-loving Putin and has continued a particularly brutal and cynical operation in the Donbas, massively destroying the Russian-speaking population. In this situation, Russia simply has no other choice than to intervene in order to force Ukraine to accept peace and to rescue the people in the Donbas from the bloody revenge of the junta.”
It is quite likely that Putin will not dare launch an outright invasion. This is why the responsibility for “punishing Ukraine” will rest with the “lost paratroopers” and the “little green men” without insignia. However, there is no way that this secret war will avoid the “cargo 200” transports (Russian casualties — Ed.). Therefore, the main goal of Putin’s message is to psychologically prepare Russians to accept the caskets of their friends and relatives.
However, this new disguised Russian invasion is not the only possible scenario. The quotes from Putin’s message to Poroshenko that have been released by the Russian MFA suggest that a final decision has not yet been reached by the Kremlin dictator. Otherwise, the Russian president would hardly appeal to the OSCE promising to cooperate with international organizations in monitoring the ceasefire. “I propose that both sides — Ukrainian security forces and the Donbas militias (DNR and LNR) — take immediate steps to stop reciprocal shelling and immediately abandon the use of firearms with 100 mm or more calibers, as established by the Minsk memorandum of September 19, 2014, based on the actual passage of the battle line according to the attached map… In turn, we will be ready to organize the monitoring of these steps together with the OSCE,” Putin declared.
It appears that Putin fears the consequences of another escalation after all, and is leaving himself some room for maneuver if Kyiv proves to be more compliant. However, the likelihood that these developments will occur is not very high.