In Ukraine, General Winter now working against Russia, Felgenhauer says

Russian troops


Analysis & Opinion, Military analysis, War in the Donbas

Russia has often had General Winter as its ally against invaders with mud and cold working against them, but now Russia faces General Winter as an enemy in Ukraine – and it is the weather rather than any change in Kremlin policy that makes it unlikely Moscow will launch major new offensives there until 2016, Pavel Felgenhauer says.

Pavel Felgenhauer

Pavel Felgenhauer, Russian military analyst

In a comment for “Novoye vremya,” the Moscow military analyst argues that “the present relative calm in the Donbas must be connected in the first instance with the fact that the real time for the conduct of massive offensive military operations in this region has ended.” Thus, no new offensives should be expected “before January at the earliest.”

That was the case last year, he points out, and stresses that “this of course does not mean that in October, November or December exchanges of fire will not be renewed,” only that “wide-scale maneuver military actions are improbable.”

In the Donbas, it is easiest to fight when the ground is dry as in the summer or completely frozen as in late winter because that allows for movement not just along highways but across open country, Felgenhauer points out. When the ground is soft or muddy as now, it is difficult to conduct such operations.

There is an additional factor, the independent military analyst says. “On October 1, the fall draft begins.” The Russian military will be in some turmoil as approximately 130,000 draftees from a year ago are allowed to go home and 130,000 new ones take their place. The latter will not yet have the training for major operations.

At the same time, Felgenhauer says that he does not agree with those who argue that Russia will withdraw from the Donbas anytime soon. Not only is the tank army still there but Moscow has orchestrated a change in leadership in the “DNR” so that body has a more compliant head.

Consequently, he suggests, the current relative quiet “will not last forever but only for a certain time.”

Edited by: A. N.

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  • laker48

    Ukraine will have more time to stabilise its economy, better train its army, manufacture more weapons, especially so needed anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. This will also give more time NATO trainers to teach and Ukrainian trainees to learn the use of new weapons and battlefield communication equipment provided by NATO as well as battle, intelligence-gathering and sabotage techniques behind the enemy lines. Russia, in the meantime, will profusely bleed red ink and lives of its mercenaries and “little green men”.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      With Assad losing ground in Syria the dwarf will have a major distraction he doesn’t need. He can’t afford losing Assad- not because of the Dwarfstan base in Syria, but because Assad prevents a gas pipeline being laid from Qatar to Syria’s Mediterranean coast and from there to Europe. Qatar’s gas costs far less to exploit than Dwarfstan’s and once that pipeline is laid it will be all over for Gazprom as Doha can easily afford to undercut Gazprom’s minimum price and still make a profit.
      Right now the dwarf is only sending military aid and advisers, but the latter are already involved in the fighting. If they can’t prop up Assad the dwarf will be forced to send in troops to take a more active part in the fighting, with inevitable casualties going home as Gruz 200 and 300, not to mention adding another drain to Dwarfstan’s Treasury. He runs the very real risk of being drawn into another Afghanistan.
      And even if the dwarf manages to restore Assad’s control over all Syria, his problems won’t be over. Iran, Assad’s other ally, also wants to export gas to Europe and also has an interest in a pipeline through Syria. What’s more, he can’t prevent Qatar and Iran exporting LNG to Europe. His support for the Iran nuclear deal makes no sense- with Iran’s oil and gas coming onto the market both oil and gas prices are likely to drop further, which means even less income for Dwarfstan, and less for him and his crooked cronies to rob.

      • laker48

        You’re perfectly right and I actually commented somewhere that Putin had walked from the negotiating table holding the bag, but he was between the rock and a hard place. A nuke-armed Iran sitting on the Caspian shore would have posed a grave existential threat to the Putlerreich’s very survival as even a regional power and bully. The noose on Shorty the Shirtless’ neck keeps tightening.

        The US will also have around 100 billion cm of LNG surplus by the end of 2016 and this is over 60% of Gazprom’s exports to the EU. The pricing will be likely at or below $6 per MMBtu ($210 per 1000 cm) at delivery hubs. The EU already has about 180 bcm per year idling LNG regassing capacity that will be expanded by additional 10 bcm per year after the Swinoujscie, Poland, and Klaipeda, Lithuania, LNG terminals start working full swing by March or April next year. The most serious problem is the absence of a fully-integrated network of interconnectors supplying all EU member states plus Moldova and Ukraine.

        After the October parliamentary elections in Canada and Poland, the two staunchest supporters of Ukraine and advocates of the toughest possible sanctions against RuSSia, chances are almost 100% that in both countries pro-Ukrainian and anti-Russian government will be installed (in Canada, we may see a Tory-NDP minority government lead by the Tories, but the NDP is also pro-Ukrainian and anti-RuSSian). Also the US will likely change course after a new president is installed in the White House in January 2017.

        The present invasion of the EU by mostly young Muslim men will strengthen the positions of the UK, the Scandinavians, Finland, the Baltics, the Visegrad Group, Romania and Bulgaria within the EU, while significantly weakening the clout of Italy, France and Germany. The Benelux states will follow the money, i.e. will likely work towards the signing and ratifying of the TTIP with the US, Canada and Mexico.

        The main determinant of potential Shorty’s political demise will become global prices of hydrocarbons, mostly crude oil, as gas sales generate only 10% of Dwarfstan’s revenue from hydrocarbon sales. Gas is used by the dwarf as a weapon and an instrument of blackmail, but this era seems to head to an ultimate end.

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          Regarding interconnectors, the one interconnecting the Baltics wil be ready for use next year. This will allow Latvia and Estonia to make use of the Lithuanian LNG terminal at Klaipeda as well- and they will. If my information is correct the Klaipeda terminal can potentially handle 90% of the gas consumption of all three Baltics. The Baltics aren’t a huge customer, but losing them would put a dent in Dawrfstan’s treasury, ditto for Poland.
          Kyiv still is a major customer and its loss, quite apart from the political side, would be a more serious blow. Ukrainian energy efficiency is appallingly low and cranking that up should be a major government priority. One of the few things that Proffessor Viktor did right during his presidency was getting Shell and Chevron in to explore Ukrainian shale gas deposits, and Shell and Exxon to explore the waters round the Crimea for oil and gas. Here we have the REAL reason for the dwarf invading the Crimea: the dwarf couldn’t risk Kyiv telling him “Shove your oil and gas up your you-know-what.” Apart from the ethnic makeup of the Donbas being an excuse for the little green men, seizing or destroying the Donbas coal mines, inefficient death traps though they are, would make PV’s programme of switching from oil or gas-fired power stations to coal practically impossible. But with US shale gas driving US coal out, it can now be exported, causing a price drop on the world coal market. The dwarf may now offer Donbas coal from the few mines that are still working in the LNR and DNR at attractive prices, but buying that gives the dwarf cash and should be avoided at all costs, even if it means paying more for US, South African or Australian coal. Polish coal may also become available as the country switches to gas for environmental reasons.
          But increasing energy efficiency should receive top priority. It makes sense both economically and politically.

          • laker48

            The problem with Polish coal is technical and next to impossible to resolve. Ukrainian coal-fired power plants use anthracite Poland doesn’t have and the closest anthracite mines are in the UK. They’re also in North Korea, South Africa, Vietnam, Australia and the US.

            Poland will add up to 7.5 bcm per year of regassed LNG from its Swinoujscie LNG terminal commencing next year. Donald Tusk is also a big time advocate of the creation by the EU an energy union making it 100% independent from RuSSian gas supplies. The problem with oil doesn’t exist, as all RuSSian crude imported by the EU can be easily replaced with supplies from other sources at comparable prices.

            In the wake of a long-expected economic crisis and deep capital market correction in China that are far from over, RuSSia is cornered and corralled, as it doesn’t have enough importers ready to buy its piped NG, while lacking enough capacity to liquefy all its surplus, so it must flare up huge volumes of its gas that cannot be utilised domestically or exported..

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            I don’t have experience with coal-fired steam boilers, but I do have extensive experience with oil-fired high-pressure boilers. Basically the same applies to both coal and oil firing: you can burn any solid or liquid fuel, but the fuel’s composition may mean burning more fuel to get the same steam generation. There may be problems with extra fouling, requiring more frequent cleaning, and there may also be more high-temperature and/or low temperature corrosion, though careful design should eliminate or at least minimise the possibility of these occurring. In short, there should in principle not be any serious difficulty in burning Polish coal in Ukrainian boilers which normally burn anthracite. The only negatives would be a higher consumption due to a lower energy content per kg, or lower steam generating capacity, reducing the plant’s power output, or a combination. But reduced power output would be beter than no power at all, I would think.
            Remember that in the days when ships burnt coal Welsh steam coal, as it was called, was considered the best. But quite often, especially in the Far East, it would not be available and ships would have to burn Indian coal for instance, which didn’t burn as well as Welsh coal. The boiler(s) would still generate steam, however.

          • laker48

            I’m taking your analysis at face value, as I’m not too familiar with Ukrainian anthracite-fired power plants, let alone technology employed by them. Thanks for the heads up!.