Russian reinforcement near Ukraine raises fears of attack: Analysis

Is Russia preparing to invade Ukraine?

Fears of an invasion are greater now than at any time since Moscow first seized Crimea in 2014.

Over the past month, the United States has been It sounded the alarm Russia It has amassed more than 100,000 troops near eastern Ukraine and may be preparing for a major military incursion. Satellite Images and Videos posted on social media Russian armored and artillery units are shown moving into the area. The Ukrainian military also warned that Russian forces could attack in late January or early February.

The short answer, of course, is that no one knows if Russian President Vladimir Putin is actually planning an attack. Russian experts are deeply divided over the Kremlin’s intentions: is the state deceiving or flexing its muscles to intimidate Ukraine and the United States into concessions? Or is it preparing for a real invasion?

There were fears of war throughout the seven-year conflict, and this may also be illusory. But the concerns this time are different. Many analysts, including many who are usually skeptical of such concerns, believe that Putin’s calculations about Ukraine have changed and that the risks he will now use force are high. These analysts believe that the crowd is not just a rattling of a sword; It gives Russia an option to initiate a real military intervention if Putin fails to get what he wants through threats.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin may once again be engaged in coercive diplomacy, this time Moscow may not be disingenuous. If no agreement is reached, conflict may recur on a larger scale,” Michael Kaufman and Michael Kimmig Books in Foreign Affairs this week. “A broader war scenario is entirely plausible.”

The invasion this time may be more dangerous than Russia’s seizure of Crimea, likely to cause the worst crisis between Moscow and the West in 40 years and risks a wider conflict in Europe.

The world has already gone through this At the beginning of the year when Russia began to increase the forces. It turns out that Putin was cheating. Many experts believe he helped win it Summit with President Joe Biden.

But Russia denied it was preparing to attack, but accused Ukraine of acting provocatively.

And most analysts warn that the current boost could once again be linked to another potential summit between Putin and Biden, one that the Kremlin is pressing to hold by the end of this year. The Kremlin is good at creating the illusion of a possible attack and warns experts not to fall into the trap of believing it.

But the concerns this time are different.

US and independent analysts are expressing more concern now than last April. According to analysts, the Russian rhetoric has become more aggressive this time.

Most experts believe that Putin has not yet decided whether to use force. But the basis for the concerns is that the Kremlin’s view of the conflict has decisively changed.

Why invade Russia now?

This is the main question. The biggest argument is what Putin will gain. It would make Russia a pariah, taking great risks while likely achieving few of its goals.

The reasons for the current Russian buildup are the same for the seizure of Crimea – the Kremlin will not accept the “loss” of Ukraine and its annexation to NATO and the European Union.

The problem with the Kremlin is that Ukraine has been moving more assertively toward the West in recent years. Full membership in NATO is not on the table, but Ukraine is getting closer to the alliance. The United States is already providing Ukraine with lethal weapons and Ukrainian forces are training with NATO forces.

Like Andrew Weiss and Eugene Rumer from The Carnegie Center wrote recentlyUkraine is increasingly seen by the Kremlin as a Western aircraft carrier parked right across from southern Russia.

At the same time, Russia has come to see that its diplomatic tools to keep Ukraine close to not working. In 2015, while Russian forces were causing huge loss of life, Moscow managed to force Ukraine to sign the so-called Minsk Peace Accords. The agreement committed Kiev to granting broad autonomy to the pro-Russian separatist regions in its east. In practice, that would give Russia leverage within the Ukrainian government, giving an effective veto over its efforts to join NATO or the European Union.

Ukraine never wanted to accept that, and the agreements actually died years ago. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has switched to a hard-line approach to Russia.

The fear is that in the midst of all this, Putin now feels that Ukraine is moving too far, too quickly away from Russia and that this power is the only way to get the Western countries and Kiev to take Moscow’s demands seriously.

“Russian leaders have indicated that they are tired of diplomacy and find Ukraine’s increasing integration with the United States and NATO intolerable.” books Kaufman, an expert on Russian military policy, and Kimaji, a former State Department official on Russia/Ukraine policy. “The stage is set for Moscow to recreate this equation through force – unless Moscow, Washington and Kiev are able to find a peaceful solution.”

The Kremlin has indicated what it wants. Last week, Putin said Russia should seek “serious and long-term” security guarantees from the United States on Ukraine. In practice, this likely means a guarantee that NATO will not be expanded further and Western military aid to Kiev will not be reduced.

Some analysts fear whether Putin will use force if he does not get those guarantees.

Those concerns echoed by experts in Moscow with close ties to the Russian foreign policy establishment.

Fyodor Lukyanov, Chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. Warning in this week’s article That what is happening could become a “serious landmark in European history after the end of the Cold War”.

He wrote: “The development of the situation is dangerous due to the loss of a common understanding of what is happening.”

One dangerous component of all this is Putin’s vision for Ukraine. Putin has repeatedly said that he considers Ukrainians and Russians “one people” and this issue seems to be of personal importance to him. In July, Putin Published a 5000 word article On the history of Ukraine, its right to exist as an independent state was questioned.

As historian Sergei Plukhy has written, Ukraine’s exit from its sphere of influence would mean the end of the Kremlin’s vision of Russia as an imperial power that Putin sought to restore.

Ukraine is an “unfinished business” for Putin, Rumer and Weiss books.

What might happen?

The scenario that most experts fear is that Russia will use a false excuse for a supposed Ukrainian attack on pro-Russian rebel areas to launch an invasion. Few think that Russia will try to take over Kiev or occupy the whole country. What is seen as plausible is that Russia will try to deal a devastating blow to the Ukrainian army and possibly seize some territory, including major cities.

The idea would be such a painful blow that it would force Kiev and NATO to scale back their cooperation. This is what Russia did in 2008 when it invaded Georgia.

Senior Russian officials this week compared the current situation to preparing for war in Georgia, accusing Ukraine of preparing an attack. Some experts fear that these comments are intended to pave the way for a repeat of the invasion of Georgia.

Will it happen?

Many experts argue that he is still unlikely to attack Putin. Even those who warn about this possibility say that Putin may realize that the costs outweigh the potential benefits.

But these experts are concerned about the plausibility of the attack. What is frightening is the chasm that is opening between what the West sees as Russia’s rational interests over Ukraine and what Russia believes they are.

“From the point of view of the balance of benefits and losses, neither side is interested in a real war,” said Ivan Timofeev, an analyst close to the Russian Foreign Ministry. Written in this week’s article.

He added: “It is therefore not worth looking at the war scenario as a possible scenario. However, history knows many examples when rational calculations failed to put an end to the escalation. There is only hope that this will not be the case here.”

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