Kremlin likely to resume its attack on Ukraine under guise of ‘peacekeeping,’ Felgenhauer says

Image: flickr.com

Image: flickr.com 

2016/08/10 • Analysis & Opinion, Military analysis, War in the Donbas

Recent reports about the influx of materiel into the Russian occupied Donbas and increasingly militant rhetoric by DNR and LNR leaders, combined with the world’s shift of attention away from Ukraine, has convinced many in the region that Moscow is about to launch a major new military campaign against Kyiv.

Pavel Felgenhauer

Pavel Felgenhauer, Russian military analyst

Pavel Felgenhauer, one of Russia’s most distinguished independent military analysts, says that such an attack in the near future “cannot be excluded” and that if it happens, it is likely to be camouflaged by Russian claims it is engaged in “peacekeeping” to avoid Western criticism.

In a commentary for the Apostrophe portal, the analyst says that at a recent meeting of the collegium of the Russian defense ministry, Minister Sergey Shoygu justified strengthening Russia’s presence in the southeastern direction because NATO has increased its forces in the region. But NATO has done so in the northeastern direction, not the southeastern or Ukrainian one.

Shoygu’s attempt to explain Russia’s actions by reference to NATO’s shows that there exists “a threat of escalation” of the conflict in the Donbas, especially given that officials there have talked about beginning new attacks on August 8.

But such an offensive, Felgenhauer suggests, would likely begin at least as “a grandiose ‘humanitarian operation to save civilians’ who are being fired upon by ‘Ukrainian fascists’ and ‘Banderites.’” That is even more likely, he suggests, because Russian officials have been saying that Ukraine is already on the attack.

Another “bad sign,” Felgenhauer says, is the unexpected recall of Russia’s ambassador to Kyiv and Kyiv’s refusal to give agrement to Russia’s preferred replacement given the individual’s career in the security agencies rather than in more conventional diplomatic work.

Of course, the analyst says, each of these things may have explanations that do not involve the launch of a major military operation. But taken together, they suggest that Moscow is at least preparing the ground for such a move and that both Ukraine and its Western partners need to be prepared for that.

“If something does begin,” he says, first will occur an intensification of clashes along the ceasefire line, an increase in shelling, and then Russia will declare ‘a humanitarian peacekeeping operation.’” That would follow its tactics in Aleppo, and such interference would be completely “open” with the use of Russian forces of perhaps as many as 100,000 men.

This is “one of the possible scenarios directed at regime change in Ukraine,” Felgenhauer says. Moscow will continue to demand that Ukraine agree to remain outside of the Western bloc, a commitment Kyiv is not ready to agree to. But Russia will do whatever it thinks it has to in order to ensure that happens, and the West may ultimately back down as a result.

Why does right now seem like the time Moscow is most ready to do something like this? Because, Felgenhauer argues, the US and Europe are distracted by their own domestic difficulties and are far less likely to be able to agree on any action, including enhanced sanctions if Moscow does expand its invasion of Ukraine.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Dirk Smith

    Putie the Pedo knows he has 5 months before his enabler leaves the WH. He’s a caged rat right now with Cargo 200 deliveries continuing on, skyrocketing HIV/alcohol rates, crumbling economy, laughingstock of the international sports world, stagnating oil prices, and NATO hanging around Eastern Europe. He’s done.

    • Mykola Potytorsky

      What will happen if donald tramp gets into the White House-an absolute disaster for Ukraine considering his advisors-Manafort and Page-they are paid agents paid directly from putin. I will take my chances with Hilary

      • Randolph Carter

        Hillary’s no angel either…I’m still waiting for her to return the $2,000,000 worth of artifacts that she and Bill stole (sorry, I meant ‘borrowed indefinitely’) from the White House.

        But Trump had no problem kicking three elderly ladies to the curb so he could build a casino.

        Either way, in November we’re going pick the lesser of two scumbags. Interesting point about Manafort and Page though.

        • Mykola Potytorsky

          I know Hillary is no saint either but you have to look at the big picture between these two-you have to hold your nose and vote for the lesser of the two evils. In my view Hillary is the lesser evil. As for Manafort-he was the spin doctor for Yanoukyvych and Page, even though he was a military man he has deep ties to russian oligarchs. I believe so does trump, otherwise why will he not release his income tax information? What has he to hide?

          • Alex George

            There is a new adviser who is far worse in terms of links to russia than manafort and page. Can’t think of the name.

          • Mykola Potytorsky

            yeah, read about this other guy, but right now cannot recall his name either

  • zorbatheturk

    Ukraine was peaceful enough before RuSSiya invaded it. Vladler Putolf – the man of peace. Seems to have a Napoleon complex. Jilted by a l a d y b o y, perhaps?

    • Randolph Carter

      Nah – he’s just run out of sheep. It’s so hard to find a girlfriend in Moscow whose fur is the right texture and has no ticks. I imagine Belarus, Kazakhstan, Romania and Poland have no more “Virgin Wool”

  • Ben Skinner

    It would appear that proclamations of “Ukrainian terrorists” attacking Crimean infrastructure and plotting violence with Tatar conspirators will be the first wave of bulldinky that Putin intends to employ.
    If Putin were a more clever man, with clever advisors, we wouldn’t see this avant garde theatre playing out in such an obvious fashion. If the world stands by, it can mean nothing short of complicity. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for a hero, as much as I wish some would surface.