Under our noses, Russia has geared up for a western offensive

Russia's Kantemir Tank division marks its 75th anniversary. Photo: mil.ru

Russia's Kantemir Tank division marks its 75th anniversary. Photo: mil.ru 

Military analysis

In the last few months, I have repeatedly warned about Putin’s shifting approach to Russia’s involvement in eastern Ukraine. In spite of this, there has been very little coverage in the mainstream media and scant debate amongst the elite political circles, with both being more interested in the perceived mistakes committed by Donald Trump rather than acknowledging and responding to the very real threat of Putin’s increased foreign policy activity. Meanwhile, there are many signs that Russia is increasing its military activity near Ukraine.

On the way to Novorossiya

An explosion at the ammo depot of Balaklyaia in Kharkiv Oblast, eastern Ukraine

From right under the noses of politicians and the media they’ve completely missed increased Kremlin activity. The Kremlin reorganized, strengthened and attracted forces to the Donbas region and the border area with Russia to “correct” the existing borders.

Putin had accurately calculated that Russia’s advance would be unchecked by the West and counted upon the lack of a “joined up” response by NATO and the EU at large. This assessment and understanding additionally strengthened Putin’s resolve to take a firmer rein upon Ukrainian territory. Putin shows no signs of stopping and for the purposes of clarity for our green table experts, the recent efforts of the Russian Napoleon are set out in the points below.

  • Although parts of the three armed forces have been moving in a westerly direction since 2016, the current repositions are likely to be exacerbated by the “fake” news tsunami surrounding Donald Trump, emboldening Russia and giving them greater prominence
  • After the end of the large-scale military exercise KAVKAZ 2016 and related exercises on a smaller scale, it has become clear to Russia followers that Russia is looking for an opening to capture land in eastern Ukraine without nullifying agreements entered into in the MINSK II treaty. (1)
  • The Soviet model in which a “backbone” status of specialist rods and units as a starting point has been reintroduced. They can be strengthened quickly and silently for efficient mobilization – a typical Kremlin strategy
  • Different from other large-scale exercises in recent years, assumed KAVKAZ II units are part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs section. As in previous decades – and common in the Soviet era – soldiers were paid their fees in markets within specially deployed static administrative centers and military hospitals which been instructed to set up mobile field hospitals during exercises. This signals that Russian units are prepared for an impending large-scale operation.
  • Civil administration centers have been ordered to move forward to develop their operational lines. In the Southern Military District, (Ukraine) and also within Belarus similar to the deployment in Syria. If deemed appropriate, this will be applicable to the Baltic states and observers have noted an increased concentration of these units.
  • In the past, the Russian Federation utilized 25 divisions and 15 brigades on the ground. These units are still increasing in strength, placing the current combat power levels around 60% to 70% of total capacity. These units are looking to increase their personnel with an extra 10,000 men. A clear indication that the Russian forces are preparing for a possible deployment of military units.
  • Russian military action in the Donbas region has increased with 336 attacks recorded between 12 and 20 March 2017 where nine Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 35 wounded. Russia also perpetrated successfully an attack on a Ukrainian mobilization complex annex ammunition depot in Balakliya in Kharkiv. (2) most likely by the use of armed drones [Ed: Although the version of a Russian attack, as well as an armed drone had indeed been sounded as the reason of the explosion in Balakliya on 23 March 2017, it was later dismissed. The official investigation into the explosion has ended, but the results have not been made public yet].
  • It is generally believed that all activities will converge with a planned exercise ZAPAD likely to take place in September 2017.

Drilling in the border area with Ukraine

Disposition formations in the Southern Military District

As a result of the activity outlined previously, the Military District South contains three armed units: 1st Guards Tank Army, the 40th Army and the 8th Army headquartered in Rostov on Don. Subunits of this Army can be deployed quickly in the Caucasus for rapid response.

These armed units can also be deployed at short notice to carry out operations in Ukraine, Syria, Belarus and the Baltic States. Russia has further increased its armed presence and opened four new divisions, all located in close proximity to the Ukrainian border:

  • 150th Motorized Armoured Police Division in the Rostov area, (50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border)
  • 10th Army Division, 3rd Motorized Infantry Division in the Voronezh Region (45 kilometers from the Ukrainian border)
  • 144th Motorized Armoured Infantry Division in Smolensk (255km from the Ukrainian border).

This forms part of the rapid response unit, in order to be able to supplement the already developed combat force at the border of Ukraine. Three motorized infantry brigades have been moved from Kazakhstan’s border and from Volgograd to Bryansk and the Voronezh region which is less than fifty kilometers from the border with Ukraine. The headquarters of the 20th Army have also been moved westward. The repositioning of such a major combat force in the border area with Ukraine have not been made with defensive considerations but are instead strategically placed for maximum offensive capabilities.

Measures in other traditional and modern dimensions

On 8 March 2017 the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the Black Sea Fleet will be equipped with additional ships capable of rapidly moving large troops to the south coast of Ukraine (Mariupol and Odesa), Caucasus (Abkhazia) and/or Russian bases in Syria. On 24 March 2017 observers in the port of Pokrovskoye noted the loading of some of these ships. At the same time, the Kremlin sent special air and land units to the bases in Belarus, which during a Russian invasion in Eastern Ukraine, would act to protect the north flank of those incoming units.

In addition to this, the Kremlin also increased its fourth-dimensional efforts against Ukrainian websites and the internet connections of high-level authorities and institutions.

By the end of 2016, the number of violations of websites and addresses of Ukrainian public institutions and high-level authorities such as the Ministries of Defense and Finance grew significantly. The Ukrainian government identified 6,500 attempts. A small proportion turned out to be successful and even managed to render large parts of the southern provinces of Ukraine without power.

It happens right under our noses

Russian military intervention and the movement of its armed forces clearly demonstrates that the Kremlin is on its way to continue its “Novorossiya” adventure and expects to successfully complete its geopolitical ambitions. Russia’s foreign policy plans within this area have been inadvertently supported by the role played by the liberal parts of Western-based media that often appears to push news narratives which the Trump administration feels forced to defend itself from. Liberal news media outlets media have become so fixated with undermining Trump that the aggressive military signals emanating from eastern Ukraine are willfully ignored.

To date, NATO’s response to force the Kremlin to rethink their geopolitical ambitions have been symbolic rather than strategically led with specific operational objectives. In part, this has been due to an insufficient combat force leading to deployment on a piecemeal basis emboldening Putin to deliver against his military objectives. One hopes by the end of the year the West will not ruefully reflect on the past 12 months and state.

(1) Source: Steven Blanks. Senior Analyst at the American Foreign Policy Council (a US non-profit think tank operating from Washington DC and focusing since 1982 on giving advice to the US government in the field of foreign affairs).

(2) Balaklya was Europe’s largest ammunition complex from which all eastern-stationed Ukrainian units of ammunition and spare parts were provided. Source: Avraam Smuleyvich, President of the Institute of Eastern Partnership

victorVictor A.C. Remouchamps is a retired Artillery Lieutenant Colonel with 34 years of service in the Royal Netherlands Army. He is a military and political analyst with experience of a senior Intelligence analyst in several NATO headquarters, where he was responsible for tracking and analyzing developments in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Presently, he lives in Vilnius, and writes for the periodicals “Carré”, “Armex” and “Sta Pal.”

 

 

  • Screwdriver

    Yes, sure…army of bogus so-called “analysts” keep taking about upcoming Russia offensive for years now…
    We do not see that offensive unfortunately. But let`s hope Russia will start one day long awaited liberation of Malorossiya-Ukraine.

    • zorbatheturk

      Farkov roublehead.

    • svend lykkegaard

      As a normal stupid Russian you cant distinguish between liberation and occupation, or mayby you just think that all nations around stupid Russia want to be “liberated” and live like the normal Russians outside Moskau? It may be a chock for you, but no one want to live like Russians.

      • Screwdriver

        If life under Kiev regime is so good, why millions of Ukrainians moved to Russia, and not willing to come back ? And millions moved to Western and Central Europe, USA, Canada, and this is ongoing process.
        Russia now is the country with biggest Ukrainian population living outside of Ukraine.
        Poland and Canada are far behind.

        • Микола Данчук

          Let’s consider that you don’t understand the difference between Ukrainians and Russians, where by you have answered your own questions.

          Yet you refuse to ask, why do so many Russians want to leave Russia?

          • Screwdriver

            Do you know the percentage (ratio) of emigrated Russians , compared to the same with Ukraine?

          • Микола Данчук

            Why, would you be able to discern the relevance or dynamics of such data?
            What lies did you use to enter the US?

          • Screwdriver

            You know that you will loose that comparison with Russia.
            You go to any of the so called “Russian” areas of USA (parts of Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Chicago) and Canada (Toronto), and you’ll see hundreds of thousand “Ukrainians”, and very few people from Russia itself.

          • Микола Данчук

            Like I said, you can’t comprehend relevant factors!
            But isn’t it nice that there is a voice in support of Ukraine coming from the West?
            Other then your old Bolshevik regurgitation?

          • Screwdriver

            What are your “relevant factors”, I asked you a question, and got a donut . :-)

          • Микола Данчук

            As I have asked questions of you and got zilch?
            Eat your donut, it may be relevant.

          • Murf

            Yep and that is why you see a FTA with Canada and improved sanctions on Russia by a bi partisan Congress.
            Soon we will add Javelins in Ukraine.
            You see that’s soft power in action.
            Oligarchs with buckets of money only get you so much.
            Gold only buys obedience.
            Voters gets you loyalty.

          • Quartermaster

            I have as yet to meet a Ukrainian in the US. I have, OTOH, met many, many Russian expatriates.

          • Screwdriver

            Those who speak Russian are not necessarily Russians.

          • Quartermaster

            I’ve asked them. Not everyone is a moron like you.

          • Quartermaster

            If a Russian can afford to leave, they do so. Many regret not being able to leave.

          • Dirk Smith

            Because of skyrocketing HIV, alcoholism, and poverty in third-world ruSSia. Why else are all the Tambov mafia’s offspring living in the West? 😉

        • svend lykkegaard

          Again you demonstrate your ignorance. The Ukriniens in Russia are from the “liberated” Eastukraine. So they dont count. Rest moved to emigrate and get a job, and that didnt just happen after 2014, but before.

      • Rafael Hernandez

        Liberation: South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Crimea. Occupation is taking place is Serbia, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan by your beloved oppressors

        • svend lykkegaard

          You Russians Teens are funny, stupid, but funny.

          • Rafael Hernandez

            Care to refute my points in my comment? Or are you just going to throw your same lame one-liners?

          • Quartermaster

            You have made no points. All you have posted is bald assertions that have long been discredited.

        • Eddy Verhaeghe

          Abkhazia, the Crimea and South Ossetia were not liberated by Russia, but occupied.

          In the case of Abkhazia the Georgians were in large part ethnically cleansed from Abkhazia.

          In the case of South Ossetia russification is going on and as far as I know only in Georgia of all places the Ossetian language is still being taught…

          In the case of the Crimea it is well known that it is nigh impossible to get schooling in the Ukrainian and Tatar language, etc…

          Serbia isn’t occupied by anybody.

          As for Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya :
          – Libya isn’t occupied by anybody;
          – and in Afghanistan and Iraq there are indeed Western troops.

    • Brent

      “Malo”….meaning “little”…..kind of like your brain and credibility…..

    • Murf

      Doesn’t something have to exists before you can “Liberate it”?

      • Quartermaster

        Russia has never liberated anything. All it does is put a boot to your throat.

        • Murf

          That’s not true!
          Sometimes they use the back of the neck

          • Quartermaster

            My bad. I stand corrected! :-)

    • veth

      SPOKEN LIKE A FASCIST AKA INFERIOR RUSSIAN….

  • zorbatheturk

    Stomp the Putinator.

  • rgb

    Putin tends to do things on anniversaries, Sept 2017 is coming soon. While the USA is busy looking at N. Korea Putin may make his move.

  • Eolone

    Remouchamps provides Russian troop movement, but then refers to events that occurred in March. Is the Russian troop movement current or from March?

    • Eddy Verhaeghe

      Those troop movements are ongoing, as you very well know.

      • Eolone

        Troops move in and out of the Donbas area; but were the units cited the current ones? I was wondering if this article was written some months ago and resurrected. The author says he expects Russia to attack next month. Usually, predictions are made months in advance (which is why I doubted the date of this article). What is going on now that leads one to expect an attack in September?