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Will Russian forces advance in the nearest days? 

Article by: Zhanna Bezpyatchuk
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Kyiv, Nov. 16 – This date started to emerge in various sources and prognoses regarding the possible advance of the separatists and Russian troops in the East of Ukraine. President Petro Poroshenko assured that the Ukrainian army is ready to respond, and there are no grounds for panic. However, both Ukrainian and Russian experts conclude that the troops Russia had accumulated at the border and the territories which are under the control of mercenaries are not enough for a large-scale invasion. 

NSDC Information Center spokesman Andriy Lysenko notes that as of Friday, November 14, there is observable movement of both separatists and Russian troops along the conflict line and the border.

“We continue to document the movement of the concentrated groups of Russian troops and mercenaries on the demarkation line and along Ukraine’ s border with Russia. The most activity of the Russian mercenaries is seen towards Donetsk, Luhansk and Debaltseve,” he reported.

Andriy Lysenko added that when trying to establish control over Donetsk airport, pro-Russian mercenaries concentrated “on the attempts to destroy communication between the defenders of this strategic location and the main ATO forces.”

Poroshenko: “The gunpowder should be dry” 

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stated on Friday at a meeting with military leaders that “gunpowder should be kept dry,” however Ukrainians have no need to panic.

“There is no reason to panic. We developed and executed in the past two months serious steps to prepare our Armed Forces and other departments to defend Ukraine. We see the solution of the issue of individual districts of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts by exclusively political, peaceful means. However, we have enough force to defend the country. Gunpowder should be kept dry,” noted the head commander.

However, Ukrainian servicemen managed to receive data from primary forces that illegal formations are planning to advance during the nearest weekend.

Kyiv-2 fighter: illegal armed formation announce mobilization at the nearest weekend

For example, Kyiv-2 battalion fighter Yevhen Karas was able to speak with the representatives of on irregular troop of separatists, Russian cossacks and deputy command of ‘DNR’ battalion ‘Kalmius.’ At the roadblock near Volnovakha, Kyiv-2 detained two men who, as it turned out, have ties with the illegal armed formations. Their mobile phones contained the according contacts.

“All three do not have certain information when this advance will happen, but all three report total mobilization this weekend. The rebels have vacations before the weekend. The cossacks hope that they will finally be able to advance, but they did not say who gives them this order. ‘Kalmius’ said that all of their troops have been sent to their default positions several days ago. They await final orders. So they have information that they will start advancing during the weekend, but they have no clear time or orders,” said Yevhen Karas.

Expert: the mercenaries can surround Mariupol, but they do not have enough forces for a deep operation

Ukrainian military expert, coordinator of Information Resistance Kostyantyn Mashovets notes: “The contents and amount of forces and means that were sent over are not enough for a deep operation and advancing on Crimea, Zaporizhya, Kharkiv. They have no forces or resources. Some are limited, they can conduct local action: surround Mariupol or the Debaltsevo foothold, attack Luhansk oblast. Move towards Avdiivka, Donetsk airport or Volnovakha. However, I would not dare speak about large-scale action.”

Co-director of international security programs at Razumkov Center Olexiy Melnyk evaluates the possibility of new advances as quite high: between 50 and 70 percent.

“There is enough reason to say that the possibility of future escalation is high. At the same time, we should also keep in mind that this is not 100 percent certain that advances or active combat will begin for sure. I would view this probability at 50/50 or even 75/25 in favor of advancing. Meanwhile, we should take into account that Putin’s most successful tactic up at this point has been blackmail,” notes the expert.

He adds that the enemy will probably conduct maneuvers aimed at distraction, and then hit completely different points.

Felgenhauer: Russia will be ready for large-scale invasion in January-February

Pavel Felgenhauer
Pavel Felgenhauer, Russian military analyst

Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer emphasizes that the Kremlin will not allow the separatists in the East of Ukraine to be defeated, which may explain the emergence of numerous convoys of military equipment and mercenaries through the border area which is not controlled by Ukraine. Military action on part of the separatists will provoke Ukrainian servicemen to respond and “the worse the separatists have it,” the more probably it is that Russia will continue to actively support them, says the analyst.

However, now he is convinced that Russia is not ready for large-scale invasion in Ukraine, and one of the reasons is that now mobilization is underway there for the servicemen who will replace the 150 thousand whose term has come to an end.

“Nothing will happen before the New Year. Local combat is possible, war for exhaustion, however large-scale invasion is very improbably. In the winter, in January-February, or in March – yes. That is a different matter,” thinks the Russian expert.

Pavel Felgenhauer also explains that at the moment Russia doesn’t have enough forces to land a “powerful blow” to Ukraine. Other options for invasion will cost numerous casualties.

“Now it is impossible in general. It will be very unpopular in Russia. There are various reasons for this. We don’t have enough forces to land a powerful, destructive blow to Ukraine. For this, we have to act along the entire border line, up to Belarus, in Kharkiv, in Sumy, in Poltava – we have to advance everywhere. Otherwise, if you move through a narrow corridor along the Azov Sea, there will be huge losses and difficulties. Everyone understands this very well. This will be very unpopular in Russia, where up to 70% of the population want for the Russian regular army not to help the ‘rebels’ and act in Donbas,” he notes.

As such, at the moment the majority of experts admit that the troops accumulated at the borders and the territory under the control of mercenaries are not enough for large-scale invasion, however local combat is guaranteed to happen.

Meanwhile, on November 15 and 16, the G20 summit is underway in the Australian city of Brisbane, in which Russia is participating. It is obvious that until the event is over, we should not expect any essential changes in the east of Ukraine, experts assume.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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