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 IS THERE A THREAT OF RUSSIAN INVASION INTO CENTRAL UKRAINE IN AUGUST 2017?

The concentration of Russian troops at Ukraine’s border causes concerns and attracts attention. This is true — Russia continues seeing the war and the invasion as the major factor of influence upon political situation in Ukraine. This is why the war in the Donbas continues, this is why new armies and divisions are being deployed to the Southern and Western military districts of Russia. The drills in Belarus are a convenient legend to cover the exercise of scenario to invade Ukraine.

However, to my opinion, there is no military and political background for the invasion.

In 2014, Russian troops attacked Ukraine because Putin hoped the Ukrainian army would flee, people get scared, and the Kyiv government waver and make terms with the Kremlin.

The military invasion back then was an instrument for achieving certain strategic goals of Russia — the legitimization of Crimea annexation and creation of a loyal, pro-Russian puppet regime in Kyiv.

As long as there was no organized pro-Russian influence in Ukraine back then, and they failed to gain this influence upon the government from the inside (as Moscow had been doing for 24 years earlier), the Russian army was to force Ukrainians back into the Russian sphere of influence.

Even in August 2014 a large-scale invasion and occupation of Ukraine would have become possible only in the case of complete collapse of the Ukrainian army and state apparatus. Because the fact is that the land forces of the Russian Federation are relatively small and do not exceed a total of 350,000 servicemen, some of whom are constrained by tasks at different ends of the one seventh of the planet earth. For the occupation of Ukraine, troops and resources were needed, which economically weak Putin's Russia did not possess in 2014, so they wanted an actual surrender of Ukraine to the aggressors.

In August, the war revealed serious problems in the organization of the Russian army, as well as low morale —remember all those refusals of the Russian military to go to war, the speeches of relatives. Putin's reforms have significantly increased the level of combat capability of the Russian troops, but this army is still far from NATO standards and suffers from a variety of problems. The Russian army was able to conduct local operations primarily because of the chaos in the Ukrainian army's management system, due to its low combat readiness and lack of experience, poor supply and communications. After all, Ukraine then fought with improvised forces, and the command staff had poor understanding of capabilities of their troops.

As of now, the prerequisites for an invasion are even fewer than in 2014.

Why?

1. Ukraine had some serious gains in strengthening its defense capacity. The organization, the command, the combat readiness of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, the National Guard, the Security Service (SBU), the Border Guard Service, and the Interior Ministry are much higher now. Hundreds of thousands of fighters have received real combat experience, and in case of the invasion, the law enforcers will have serious reserves for reinforcement. The Ukrainian secret services have conducted a number of successful operations on the occupied areas. Ukraine is far from having modern army and law enforcement agencies, but it has created a really manageable system, and this system will act as a core for mobilization of the civil society, unlike the army of 2014. The war will not be a vacation for the aggressor — it will be a slaughter the Russian army is not ready to, either in 2014, or now.

2. Russia and the Russian army are not emotionally ready to the big war in Ukraine. Russia is perfectly ready for the hidden war led by mercenaries and leave men, who pledged to secrecy. But not for another Chechnya. And Ukraine is not Chechnya; here, the Russian army will encounter organized resistance movement with the use of heavy weapons. The losses of advancing Russian career soldiers will be thousands of people. And they will not persist. Huge lack of personnel in the occupation army in the Donbas shows than the number of idiots (who don’t care what they fight for if they are paid) has reached next to zero in Russia.

3. Foreign policy. The situation is a catastrophe for Putin. Ukraine has achieved a lot at the diplomatic front line. Over the past three years, the sanctions against Russia have been significantly extended and stiffened, numerous Russia ties have been cut in the West, and there are no doubts that in the case of a big war, the sanctions will be extended even more and harm the Russian economy. To the contrary, Ukraine has made serious achievements in terms of EU integration and cooperation with the U.S. Russia cannot afford cutting its contacts with the West — it will lead to grave losses, and deprive it of the resources for the big war in Ukraine. It will also lead to global consolidation in support of Ukraine. All of this means that only diplomacy is able to keep Putin: if he is sure that Russian attack will destroy Ukraine, he will invade regardless of outcomes and sanctions by the West.

4. Domestic policy. The military invasion will again discard all domestic political conflicts in Ukraine. The civil society will unite and defend against the enemy. The government will get stronger, not weaker, as Putin would want. The fighting of Avdiivka in January-February 2017 showed that despite domestic issues, the Ukrainian people learned to act jointly against the adversary, and that the quality of the reaction by both the state and the public have grown significantly. All Kremlin-financed media and politicians will go away from Ukraine’s political scene.

Conclusions:

There will be no military invasion or big war in central Ukraine in August 2017. However, the war in Ukraine continues, and it requires quick changes in the country, rapid modernization of the army and defense agencies. To survive, Ukraine must win. So the task of liquidating the adversary in the Donbas, Crimea, and Transnistria is the priority one. Despite the achievement, the Ukrainian state and security and defense forces are far from modern standards. We might be proud of quality superiority of our people, their patriotism and readiness to sacrifice, but the level of their professionalism is very low, and this prevents us from overcoming the enemy in quality.

The threat of the invasion persists as the war continues daily.

Yurii Butusov, Censor.NET

 
 
 
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