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Open Russian invasion in Ukraine – act of desperation or pure bluff?

Self-propelled howitzer brought by Russia to the Ukrainian border, Border town Donetsk, Rostov oblast, Russia, August 21, 2014
Self-propelled howitzer brought by Russia to the Ukrainian border, Border town Donetsk, Rostov oblast, Russia, August 21, 2014

Open discussion at the Center of Military-Political Studies and Euromaidan Press

No Russian invasion of Ukraine seems logical. All Russian hysterical screams about Kyiv are pure bluff to scare and demoralize Ukraine. But the country should remain vigilant, as Putin has lied many times before and Russia’s ‘humanitarian’ invasion has started.

Below is the opinion of a Ukrainian retired ex-Soviet military based on a conversation with his fellow servicemen in Soviet army who serves in Russian army. After opinion comments from Euromaidan Press provided.

“From history:

To crush the Prague Spring in 1968, the Soviet bloc brought in to Czechoslovakia:

USSR – 18 mechanized infantry, armored and airborne divisions, 22 aircraft and helicopter regiments, about 170,000 servicemen and 5,000 tanks and armored personnel carriers);

Poland – 5 infantry divisions with up to 40,000 people;

GDR (German Democratic Republic) – motorized rifle and tank divisions, up to 15,000 servicemen;

Hungary – 8th infantry division, selected military units with up to 12,500 servicemen;

Bulgaria – the 12th and 22th Bulgarian motorized infantry regiment, with a total number of 2,164 servicemen. One tank battalion with 26 T-34 tanks.

Area of Czechoslovakia – 127,900 sq kilometers

Population – 15.6 million people.

Area of ​​Ukraine – 603,628 sq km

Population – 45.4 million people.

Question: what size of army would need to be available to make the occupation of Ukraine possible?

Answer: all the hysterical screams of a campaign to Kiev are pure bluff to scare and demoralize Ukraine

Moreover in the existing Russian army there are large and serious issues.

Recently I received a phone call from a friend in Russia. We served together in Karabakh. Now he is the driver of  the battalion commander. He shared very interesting details with me. Actually there is a maximum of 60-70 thousand experienced combat-ready troops in the Russian Federation which can really fight. The demographic crisis in Russia has resulted in a situation where a third of the Russian army are not Russian by nationality. The Russian army has now many Chukchi, Buryats, Kalmyks, Yamals, Nenets, and people of Caucasian nationalities. These “Russians”  really do not want to fight for the ‘Slavic World’ and ‘Great Russia’.

There is very poor discipline in such units When the first massive casualties occur, these ever-drunk ‘orks’ tell everybody to screw themselves and head off home.

He said that tank servicemen will not go, the pilots will not fly. When the first efficient experienced combat-ready units are destroyed by the Ukrainian army, the rest of our plundered units will only be able to provide one third of operable combat ready vehicles.


Recent military drills were conducted only in a few experienced combat ready units of the Russian army. Basically airborne troops, which actually are already taking casualties in Ukraine, and armored divisions. Fight Ukrainians and do not be afraid. Not such a terrible Russian army of orcs as one tries to show it.

This Russian army does not want to die and you Ukrainians have demonstrated that you can kill invaders and terrorists with efficiency…

Therefore, you can absolutely be sure that Russia does not have either the energy or means for a full-scale war with Ukraine. That is why open invasion by the Russian army is hardly feasible. These words are also confirmed by some Russian experts.

The Russian foreign policy expert Fyodor Lukyanov in his interview with German weekly Der Spiegel said that an open Russian invasion of Ukraine is hardly possible now.

He assured that in the near future, Moscow and Kyiv will reach a diplomatic solution and the conflict will not evolve into open war. Commenting on the fruitless and futile negotiations in Berlin with participation of Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, Fyodor Lukyanov said it was good that there were no serious and harsh declarations from parties there.

“We are now in a catastrophic political situation with several possible ways out of it.  Any careless statement could jeopardize the negotiations. If negotiations eventually end in failure, we will learn more about them. If the result is successful, we will see a definite final package solution,” clarified Fyodor Lukyanov.

At the same time, he assured that Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear last week in Yalta that the Russian army would not go further outside Crimea.

“President Putin in his speech held in the Crimea presented a clear line, saying that he is not going to continue to expand Russia. This was the clear signal for those who believe in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Invasion will not happen” – assured Fyodor Lukyanov.

At the same time, the administration of Petro Poroshenko is concerned that Russia can carry out an invasion under the ‘humanitarian’ pretext. The Guardian wrote that Russia “can go for an agreement with Ukraine not to fight openly”.

Comments from the Center of Military-Political Studies and Euromaidan Press:

The Guardian provided more comments in line with the above-mentioned opinion: “Some Ukrainian politicians had voiced fears that the Russian convoy was a “Trojan horse”; there were concerns over why many of the trucks were almost empty. Those running the convoy said the trucks were carrying “the optimum weight for a journey of this length in these conditions”.

As further pointed out by the Guardian “Behind the sabre rattling, the Russians appear to have stepped up their efforts to reach some diplomatic resolution. Rather than gearing up for an invasion, Moscow is hoping to be able to negotiate its way to some face-saving formula which would allow Putin to abandon the increasingly expensive political liability that is [the rebel project] while claiming it as a success.”

It is obvious that Putin and Russia cannot be trusted, but some interesting insights that are worth consideration were provided by the author of the post above.

Successes of the Ukrainian army have caused huge irritation and desperation in Russia, which has deployed strike groups near the Ukrainian border to demonstrate its invasion readiness. It is clear now that Russia has tried to use ‘humanitarian’ convoy as a pretext to bring in ‘peacekeeping’ troops into Ukraine to save Russian backed terrorists from complete defeat. Due to extensive publications and campaigns in the press, this plan failed at the first stage. But it does not mean that Putin will leave Ukraine alone.

Russian presidential advisor Sergei Glazyev even proposed that Russia should strike the Ukrainian army to prevent it from getting stronger.

A UNIAN correspondent in Russia reported on June 10, 2014 that Sergei Glazyev said during a roundtable in Moscow, “I recall the words of Churchill: whoever, choosing between shame and war, chooses shame, gets war and shame at the same time. This modern war. This does not mean that we need to move our tanks in Kyiv, but we at least have the right to stop the genocide of the population,” he said.

“It’s enough to close the sky and use the same mechanism of suppression of military equipment which was used by the US in Libya. The US initially closed the sky, then shot armored vehicles, artillery, aviation from the air. This way the US rendered the regime with which they fought incapable of combat. We still have the opportunity to do so now, but within six months, such an opportunity will not be possible,” said Sergei Glazyev.

He alleges that the Ukrainian authorities have set a course of militarization and mobilization of the population against Russia. “Look at the dynamics—in December 2013, the Nazis had two thousand people in Kyiv. In February 2014, 20 thousand; in May 2014, 50 thousand, together with servicemen. By midsummer there will be 100 thousand; in September 2014, 200 thousand, and by the end of the year they will put 500 thousand people under the gun,” said Sergey Glazyev, adding that Ukraine is reactivating military equipment.

“We will get a powerful war machine directed against us, loaded with Nazis and ideologically charged against Russia … The ultimate goal of all these actions is war against Russia. We cannot, losing the Donbas, keep the peace, as the next target which is declared is Crimea,” he said.

Putin understands that his failure in Ukraine could cost him not only high ratings but power. Nationalistic and chauvinistic organizations in Russia, as well as Russian backed terrorists in Ukraine, have started to accuse him of being the traitor who betrayed ‘Novorosiya’. Many of them have been very well armed by the Putin regime and they could well appear in the western regions of Russia seeking revenge for their defeat by the Ukrainian army. That is why under these new circumstances Putin will try urgently to change his strategy and tactics. On August 22 a Russian ‘humanitarian’ convoy invaded Ukraine ignoring established international rules, procedures and agreements, without the consent and escort of the International Committee of the Red Cross. All 280 KAMAZ trucks crossed the Ukrainian border from the Russian checkpoint at Donetsk, Rostov Oblast to the terrorist-controlled Ukrainian checkpoint at Izvaryno, Luhansk Oblast. Trucks headed for the city of Luhansk, and the first 16 trucks reached the city as Dmytro Snyegiryev, activist of ‘Prava Sprava’ informed UNIAN on August 22, 2014 at 17.45 Kyiv time. Andriy Lysenko, speaker of National Security and Defense Council assured that Ukraine will not provoke a conflict with Russian “humanitarian convoy”, but if improper ‘non-humanitarian’ items will be found in cargo, there will be another reaction of Ukraine appropriate to the situation.

Reuters: Russian convoy crossed into Ukraine. Checkpoint Donetsk, Rostov Oblast, Russia August 22, 2014
Reuters: Russian convoy crossed into Ukraine. Checkpoint Donetsk, Rostov Oblast, Russia August 22, 2014

The political scientist Vadym Karasev believes that the Russian ‘humanitarian convoy’ invasion of Ukraine right now is a provocation by Vladimir Putin. The Russian president is trying to weaken the bargaining position of Ukraine in Minsk.

The ‘Humanitarian convoy’ crossed the border in order to prevent the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘Peoples Republics’ being defeated by the Ukrainian army on the eve of Independence Day and the meeting in Minsk scheduled for 26 August, 2014. The goal is to prevent the possibility for the President of Ukraine to have a strong negotiating position. If prior to the meeting in Minsk the Ukrainian army had taken Donetsk and Luhansk, it would have dramatically altered the agenda of the talks in favor of Ukrainian interests,”- as Vadym Karasev commented to UNIAN.

Putin’s probable new strategy to achieve control over Ukraine is to protract the conflict in any form including not only open fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, provocations with ‘humanitarian’ convoy but also by supporting guerilla warfare and terrorist acts throughout Ukraine. Putin will try to play on internal disagreements in Ukraine hoping for economic collapse with ensuing public unrest in Ukraine occurring earlier than Russia collapsing as a result of Western sanctions.

According to report published in Reuters on August 1, 2014, “mathematically Russia has enough reserves to hold out for at least two years before Western sanctions start to choke the economy.” On the other hand Ukraine’s hryvnia is in freefall and is in the middle of a two year-long recession, Ukraine needs to pay war bills and may be needs sovereign debt restructuring, because as supposed by FT Alphaqville, Russia is also the owner of Ukrainian sovereign debt. As mentioned by The Financial Times in the article ‘The country’s finances have worsened, raising pressure on the International Monetary Fund’: “At best, the International Monetary Fund and other western backers are likely to have to step in with more loans to help the government staunch its fiscal deficit.” On top of that terrorists are deliberately destroying the infrastructure of the Donbas, and the amount of damage is already worth billions of dollars, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said at the opening session of government, Thursday, August 20, 2014. As most probably supposed by Russia, Ukraine without Western financial aid, without reforming the current oligarchic system and introducing reforms against crony capitalism and corruption, without introducing reforms in energy sector and  increasing energy efficiency of Ukraine, without restructuring of sovereign debt could collapse as early as October – November 2014.

Of urgent attention shall be energy efficiency Ukraine by introducing EU energy saving technologies. Currently Ukraine’s GDP energy consumption remains at a very high level, exceeding the average GDP energy consumption level of the rest of the countries in the world by 2.6 times, which inevitably leads to substantial technological gap in the majority of economic sectors in comparison to the developed economies. As was noticed by Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister: “If Ukraine improved its energy efficiency to reasonably EU levels, I doubt it would need to import any energy at all.”

By protracting the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, as supposed by some Russian experts, this goal could be achieved. Huge public unrest with an unpredictable outcome could occur if the West does not help Ukraine, the current oligarchic system and crony capitalism remain unchanged, wars between Ukrainian oligarchic clans move from cold to hot, currency speculations in form of refinancing of banks (made twice in 2014) resulting in rapid Ukrainian currency devaluation continues, and rapid fall in Ukrainian living standards reaches dangerous levels.

The most efficient way for Russia to protract the conflict as long as possible could be the organization of guerilla warfare after the final military victory of the Ukrainian army. Economic damage in Ukraine resulting in massive unrest could be a far more strong and dangerous threat to Ukraine than military intervention. Therefore urgent economic reforms, measures to fight corruption and Western financial aid are essential to beat such a Putin scenario.

Edmond Huet,  Euromaidan Press armament and military questions specialist, consultant to French TV and radio, expresses a slightly different point of view.

“According to retired or active members of the former Soviet Union armed forces, or Russian Federation armed forces, Russia would not be able to invade.  They may be right when using logical and realistic thinking, but if logical thinking and realistic thinking had prevailed, Putin would not have invaded Crimea.

Let’s not forget that Hitler invaded Russia against all the German General Staff’s opinions. In war, there is a plan and then there are many unplanned events.

The power of the Russian Federation’s armed forces is not diminished by the reduction of forces. The firepower of today’s Russian army cannot be compared to yesterday’s Soviet army. The training of the Russian army has been derived from western forces training  (with the assistance of Germany)  and it multiplies the efficiency of troops in combat.

Ukraine armed forces, on the other hand, could deploy less than 5,000 combat ready troops a short while ago. What Soviet forces had to face in Prague and what the Russian army faces in Ukraine today cannot be compared.

Just like Hitler lost in the end, Putin will lose. Now if the world stands up and confronts him; or much later at the end of a general conflict in Europe”

Statement of the MFA of Ukraine in connection with the illegal crossing of the state border of Ukraine by the Russian convoy, August 22, 2014 | 13:21 Kyiv time

Reuters: Russian convoy crossed into Ukraine. Checkpoint Donetsk, Rostov Oblast, Russia August 22, 2014

On August, 22 Russia began smuggling humanitarian aid into Ukraine, ignoring established international rules, procedures and agreements, without the consent and escort of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Although the border and customs services of Ukraine had already started clearance of the Russian convoy, in the morning Ukrainian officials were blocked by the Russian forces and detached from the inspection of the rest of the trucks in the column, despite previous agreements and the fact that they had been invited to the territory of Russia. We are concerned about the safety of our employees. Moreover, deep concern is raised because so far neither the Ukrainian side nor the ICRC are aware of the content of the cargo.

The fact that Russian trucks entered the territory of Ukraine without proper border and customs procedures and that the cargo was not donated to the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross indicates the deliberate and aggressive nature of Russia’s actions.

As we have previously emphasized, the Russian side is fully responsible for the safety of the cargo. It is important to note that Ukraine has already taken all necessary measures to ensure the security of the cargo.

In order to prevent any provocations, we have issued all necessary instructions for the safe passing of the convoy. Despite all attempts by the Ukrainian side, contact between the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Russian counterpart has not been established, which is critical to ensure security along the route. We point out that terrorists carry out mortar attacks along the possible route of the cargo.
We are also not aware of the content of the agreements of the Russian side with Luhansk insurgents and we do not exclude the possibility of any planned provocation.

We consider this act to be another flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including inviolability of borders, non-interference in the internal affairs of another state and bona fide fulfillment of international obligations by the Russian Federation.
We call on all international partners to join the strong condemnation of illegal and aggressive acts of the Russian Federation.

President of Ukraine

President of Ukraine: Ukraine offers Russia to return situation with humanitarian cargo to the framework of the international legal field – Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, official web-site, Press office of President – August 22, 2014 | 15:09 Kyiv time

The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko says that Ukraine is concerned over the situation with the Russian convoy which entered the territory of Ukraine, first and foremost over the security on which Russia and terrorists took responsibility.

At the meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius in Kyiv, the Head of State noted: “We will do everything possible to prevent more serious consequences”.

The President informed that pursuant to his instruction, Foreign Minister Klimkin and Head of the Presidential Administration Borys Lozhkin had contacted their Russian counterparts, “expressed our concern and offered to return the situation in the framework of the international law”.

Petro Poroshenko noted that Ukraine had conveyed its humanitarian cargo to the ICRC a few days ago. Representatives of customs and border services were sent to the Russian checkpoint “Donetsk” with an instruction to permit the access of humanitarian columns from Russia under the aegis of the ICRC and accompanied by it. Today, the President said, these arrangements were violated. Russia decided to neglect them and unilaterally refuse from the participation of the Red Cross.

The President emphasized that Ukraine had fulfilled its obligations, 35 Russian vehicles had been registered. The only factor that prevented the Red Cross from fulfilling the humanitarian mission was the shelling of the roads by terrorists on the way of the humanitarian assistance to Luhansk. “The Red Cross didn’t receive confirmation from terrorists on the guarantees of ceasefire,” the Head of State informed. Instead, the President noted, according to the available information, a column of more than 100 vehicles entered the territory of Ukraine without customs examination, border crossing registration and convoy of the Red Cross which is a flagrant violation of the international law.

Compilation, translation and comments by

Dr. Vitalii Usenko, Vitalii Usenko, MD, MBA, expert of the Center of Military-Political Studies in the sphere of psychology of communications

Edmond Huet,  Euromaidan Press armament and military questions specialist, consultant to French TV and radio

Dmytro Usenko, student at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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