With Russia’s forces in eastern Ukraine having increased their firing during 2021, there is much talk on social media of Russia preparing to launch an offensive.
Points worth reflecting on before speculating about a Russian offensive.
1: Because Putin doesn’t want peace, he needs to accuse Ukraine of likewise not wanting peace in the Donbas.
2: The Kremlin’s propaganda comes in the form of accusing the Ukrainian army of increasing their firing, deliberately firing on civilians and claiming Ukraine will soon launch an offensive. As my below video details, in 2017 & 2018, this fantasy of an imminent Ukrainian offensive got so out of hand, hardly a month went by without Russia claiming Ukraine was about to launch a “blitzkrieg offensive.” Needless to say, they never did.
3: To back up these false claims of increased Ukrainian firing and imminent offensives, Russia’s forces simply increase their own fire, thereby provoking more Ukrainian return fire. It’s this return fire which the Kremlin hopes will hit civilians and damage property – thereby giving Russia’s propaganda machine something to report.
4: A feature of Russia’s propaganda is to first get its puppet republics in occupied Ukraine to make a false announcement claiming Ukraine will soon launch an offensive or the Ukrainian army’s increased its firing. Basically accuse Ukraine of being the bad guy. Then the Kremlin chips in voicing its concerns about the Ukraine.
This duly happened on March 3rd. The Russia-led Donetsk republic claimed it would start “suppressing” (firing on) Ukrainian “firing” positions & claimed Ukraine may launch an offensive. Right on cue, March 4th the Kremlin urged France and Germany to use their influence with the Ukrainian government to make sure that events in the part of eastern Ukraine did not “cross a dangerous line.” Kremlin spokesman Peskov told reporters that Moscow was seriously concerned by a rise in violence on the contact line. So there is a standard pattern to all this, one where Russia increases the fighting in eastern Ukraine, then tries to play the peacemaker.
5: Thus far, although the firing levels are increasing, they are not higher than the levels seen during the first 6 months of 2020. The below OSCE report for March 9th of this year lists 154 ceasefire violations including 102 explosions – this over a 500km frontline, this is not heavy firing and did not involve heavy artillery.
The practicalities of launching an offensive.
6: Any sizable advance by Russia’s forces would see large scale fighting erupt with the real prospect of a defeat for Russia’s forces. Should any attack fail, there’s a good chance Ukrainian forces would launch a counter attack which might lead to the recapture of territory occupied by Russia.
7: Both sides have heavily mined their frontlines and any infantry or armoured attack would suffer heavy losses. The Ukrainian army is well dug in and has the means to repel any attack.
8: With Putin’s puppet Trump no longer in the Whitehouse, Putin could expect a harsh reaction from president Biden for any further advances into Ukraine. Following on from Putin’s attempted assassination of Navalny, it’s likely far greater sanctions would be imposed on Russia by the US and other countries.
9: Russia relies on keeping the conflict in Ukraine ticking over, but never enough to attract the full attention of the worlds media. The launch of a major offensive in eastern Ukraine would be see the worlds media descend on the region, bringing with it awkward questions of where the so-called “separatists” get all their ammo, tanks etc.
10: Russia’s forces in eastern Ukraine are largely poorly trained and inexperienced. Increasing the firing is a way of giving them combat experience.
11: Lastly: Russia plays Germany and France for appeasement fools and it’s a tactic which has worked well over the last 7 years. Before any peace summit, it’s beneficial for Russia to have more firing on the front line. That way Putin can call for another ceasefire & agree to release a few Ukrainian prisoners, thereby making gullible France & Germany feel the peace talks achieved something. Putin then walks away smiling and then after a few weeks or months the ceasefire breaks down and so on…
So there you have it. I can’t see any large scale attack by Russia happening any time soon, because it would be too costly to Russia. However, the level of firing is sure to increase and we may again see attempts to attack Ukrainian forward observations posts and some small scale skirmishes.
But then what the fuck do I know.