Vladimir Putin is continuing to use the Minsk-2 agreements for further occupation of Ukrainian territory. The first point of the plan allowed the Russians to capture the important Debaltseve transportation hub. Now the second point follows — the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
Despite the fact that the complete ceasefire required in the first point of the agreement has by and large not been honored, the terrorists are now boldly reporting on the implementation of the second point — the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the contact line. Yesterday one of the leaders of the DNR terrorist organization, Eduard Basurin, reported that “the withdrawal of heavy equipment by the DNR has been completed in the presence of the OSCE.” Similar statements have also been made by the LNR terrorists.
The OSCE seems to confirm that heavy equipment of the terrorists is moving somewhere and withdrawing from somewhere, but the observers do not have complete information since the militants show them only what they consider necessary.
At the same time, the Ukrainian side openly states that the “withdrawals” that are widely advertised by the terrorists are only an imitation. At best, the terrorists actually are only withdrawing defective military vehicles for repair and then just moving and hiding the equipment not far from the contact line.
Therefore, it is perfectly clear that Putin is trying once again to play both Ukraine and the “Western partners” for “suckers,” to use criminal terminology. And why not, since it has all worked before. Now there is no doubt that the Russian president had skillfully used the Minsk peace agreements to occupy Debaltseve. The calculation was primitively simple — the ceasefire, which Ukraine largely honored along the entire frontline, allowed Putin’s terrorists to concentrate overwhelming forces near Debaltseve — forces that had been moved from other sections of the front. According to Ukraine’s military, during the decisive assault, Russian forces on the Debaltseve salient were six times the size of the (Ukrainian) defense. That kind of superiority is fully capable of ensuring victory even in frontal attacks.
In order to provide such overwhelming force, the invaders had to expose other sections of the front, counting on the fact that Ukrainians, bound by the peace agreements, would not take any action. This assumption turned out to be fully justified. At the same time, Kyiv and the West swallowed the occupation of Debaltseve, hoping that Putin would be satisfied with this conquest. Somehow no one took into account the lessons of history regarding ineffective peace agreements based on concessions to the aggressor.
Obviously, right now Putin is attempting to repeat the same trick in somewhat different form. By imitating the withdrawal of heavy weaponry, the terrorists are forcing Ukraine to fulfill the obligations it has agreed to and which, in fact, it is doing. According to Ukrainian soldiers, there is already no artillery on many sections of the front. Now Putin only needs to wait for the right moment and choose the right direction for his attack. Taking into account the importance of artillery in this war, Putin is almost guaranteed a successful blitzkrieg, and another piece of Ukrainian territory will be added to DNR/LNR. At the same time, the so-called “ceasefire” and “withdrawal of heavy weapons” will more or less take place along most of the front. And any reproaches by Hollande and Merkel will be answered with some nonsense that, for example, terrorists consider Mariupol (Avdiivka, Shchastia, Stanytsia Luhansk) as their territory and that the Minsk agreements do not apply. Of course, no one will take this nonsense seriously, but in order to salvage the great goal of “maintaining peace,” details such as the occupation of yet another city will not be considered “salami tactics” in action.
It is possible to predict the next Putin attack even now. According to information presented by Dmytro Tymchuk of the Information Resistance group, right now the terrorists are concentrating their equipment in the areas of: Stakhanov-Bile-Alchevsk (springboards for attacks on Lysychansk and later on Sievierodonetsk and Rubizhne). Horlivka (attack on Kramatorsk), Pobeda (rear reserve), the northern border territories of Novoazovsk (attack on Mariupol), the Kuibyshevskyi, Kyivskyi and Petrovskyi raions (districts) of Donetsk (attack on Avdiivka), Stepne, Hranitne, Telmanove (attack on Volnovakha followed by the blocking of Mariupol).
Therefore, the generals in the Ukrainian General Staff should not put too much trust in peace and should prepare to outmaneuver the next Putin move.