With the turn of the calendar and increased tensions between Russia and Ukraine and Russia and the West, Moscow will be ready to launch an attack on Ukraine “in a month,” although it remains far from certain whether it will take an action that could lead to a European or even world war, Pavel Felgenhauer says.
The prominent and independent Moscow military analyst says that clashes in the Donbas and the buildup in Russian forces just to the east of that region create the conditions which have the potential to lead to a wider war, although for the moment, only “the potential.” Whether things go further remains to be seen.
But one thing is already clear, Felgenhauer says, and it is this: the Western powers have no idea what to do in this situation. And the clock is ticking. “At the beginning of May, everything will be ready” for a Russian military advance. Those preparations have already been decided upon.
“Threats are growing and doing so rapidly,” he continues. “Much isn’t being discussed in the open press, but we are observing very bad signs.” Moscow has sent a naval group from the Baltic Sea through the English Channel to the south carrying enough marines for “a real ‘Normandy-style landing’” along Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.
Many have pointed out that Ukraine is far better prepared to resist than it was in 2014, but they fail to note that Russia too is in a “much-better” position than it was seven years ago, Felgenhauer says. It has ‘overwhelming qualitative and quantitative supremacy,” and it has eliminated all competitors within the Donbas area.
Today, “the leaders of the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ are fictions: they don’t command anything.” Instead, those areas are under the operational control of the staff of [Russia’s] Eighth Guards Army in Novocherkassk.” In addition, to the north, there is the 150th Russian division, an enormous force in its own right.
In Crimea, he continues, there is the 22nd Army Corps of the Shore Forces of the Black Sea Fleet with its own shock tank brigade. In the event Moscow decides to launch a major offensive, other Russian units will be brought in as well. Such an operation might in the first instance be intended to deprive Ukraine of access to the sea and create Novorossiya.
But Felgenhauer says, perhaps Moscow won’t go that far but instead, “will begin negotiating with the West as Putin usually does.” If Russia does invade, it is unclear how the West will react because it is divided about what to do and recognizes how large a commitment it would have to make to counter a Russian strike.
A Russian move might go as far as the Romanian border in order to “unblock Transdniestria,” the analyst says. But he adds that there is one piece of “good news” in all of this. Given Moscow’s current focus on Ukraine, it won’t be launching an attack on the Baltic countries anytime soon.
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