The year before the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS) predicted the permanent reinforcement of global turbulence with the reinforcement of destabilisation in August-September 2016. Corrosion of the system of international relations, the futility of the UN, OSCE and other international organizations, the conceptual crisis of the EU, the election race in the US - all these factors create an ideal space for the Kremlin’s new shady undertaking in the post-Soviet states.
Moreover, the failure of the “hybrid“ plans for the collapse of Ukraine, together with the accelerating deprivation of the socio-economic situation in Russia, Putin is urged to act faster and more jumpy. “The window of opportunities” for Putin’s revenge will close around the middle of 2017, when the new administration of the United States will come on the world stage...
So Putin has only these 10-12 months to win back. Now he has his hands free: Neither the USA nor EU or UN are not ready to support Ukraine freely. If the Kremlin attacks on a massive scale the West will most probably limit itself to diplomatic statement and prolongation of already existing sanctions. The reinforcement of the sanctions is hardly probable, putting lethal weapons at Ukraine’s disposal is impossible under the current administration of the US. Now Putin has carte blanche towards Ukraine as it is.
The hysteria in the Crimea over “the Ukrainian reconnaissance and sabotage group”, Putin’s statement “Ukraine turned to the practice of terror“ and his refusal to get a Normandy format meeting in China on September 5 all these factors say that the situation is coming to a culmination. By Russia everything is ready to conduct a large-scale military development with the involvement of the regular units of the Russian Armed Forces.
It can be noted that over the last year Russia has created three powerful grouping of troops all around Ukraine.
In particular, in 2015 there was restored the 1st Guards Tank Army (Moscow region, Bakovka), consisting of: the 4th tank division (Naro-Fominsk), the 2nd motorized rifle division (Kalininets), five separate brigades: the 6th tank brigade (Mulino), the 27th motorized rifle brigade (Mosrentgen), the 96 intelligence brigade (Nizhny Novgorod), the 112th missile brigade (Shuya), the 60th command and control brigade (v. Bakovka). Additionally as a part of the 1st Guards Tank Army there began deployment of the 144th motorized rifle division (Yelnya), it is also planned to strengthen the 2nd motorized rifle and the 4th tank divisions.
Also over the last year the 20th Army (Voronezh) was cardinally strengthened. As its part there was restored (after it was disbandmented in 2009) the 10th Guards Tank Division (Boguchar). From the other regions of Russia the 20th Army was provided by 3 deployed brigades: from Nizhny Novgorod to Boguchar - the 9th separate motorized rifle brigade; from Samara to Valuiki and Soloti - the 23th separate motorized rifle brigade; from Yekaterinburg to Klintsy and Zaymische - the 28th separate motorized rifle brigade.
In the Rostov region there has been formed the command structure of occupational contingent on the Ukrainian territory at Donetsk and Lugansk areas on the basis of the Territorial Troops Center (Novocherkassk). In practice, we are talking about the formation of a new Army of the Russian Armed Forces which consist of the 1st (Donetsk) and the 2nd (Lugansk) Army Corps, as well as the 150th motorized rifle division (Novocherkassk). It is planned to continue the augmentation of this Army.
By the way, we would like to emphasize the important thing here. Now all Russian military units that are located in the occupied territory on Ukrainian Donbass are regular formations and units of the Russian Armed Forces with different categories of militaries, including collaborators from the citizens of Ukraine.
In January 2015 Putin signed a decree “On Amendments to the Regulations on the Procedure for Military Service”, according to which any foreign citizen was allowed to serve in the Russian Armed Forces on a contract basis, if he or she speaks Russian and hasn’t previously offended against the law. According to this decree, all of the personnel of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps are regular servicemen of the Russian Federation Armed Forces.
As the result, Russia has established at the Ukrainian border three powerful force grouping that can immediately switch to the attack to defeat Ukraine strategically. One of the possible scenario is probable invasion of Kiev with simultaneous attack from two directions and surrounding the main force grouping of Ukraine involved in the active conflict with Russia on Donbass. The additional attacks of the Russian Armed Forces can come from the Crimea and Transdniester region.
The Kremlin may start the prepared mechanism of full-scale war against Ukraine at any time - even minor and non-strategic developments (such as an attack on the leaders of terrorist organizations “LPR” or “DPR”, or fake “Ukrainian terrorists” in the Crimea) may happen to be the brought into play the part of the negative scenario.
As for the time when Putin will probably give the order to attack Ukraine, here can be mentioned a few presumptive dates:
- the Independence Day of Ukraine is a special stimulus, because this holiday refutes the Kremlin’s thesis that Ukraine “is not a state at all”. But 25 years is a period that proves that Ukraine exists and that it is a state that is separate from Russia, and the people of Ukraine has nothing to do with Russia and is a completely different identity
- The military exercises “Caucasus-2016”, which begin in Russia in early September, can be transformed into a military operation against Ukraine and become the beginning of a high-intensity war .
- the 5th of September is also an important date (at this time there is a meeting of the G20 in China) and the 18th of September (the parliamentary elections in the Russian Federation). That period after the 5th of September can be considered as the most dangerous one.
In August, Ukraine has got critically adverse foreign policy situation:
The first thing. The election campaign in the United States reached that point, when it is almost impossible to be digressed by the Ukrainian situation.
The second one. Europe is almost choked with its own problems, many of which, as consider some of the European leaders, could be solved with the help of Russia.
And the third one. The elections in the Russian Federation require the unification and solidarity of the electorate. It is commonly known that the war and the external enemy traditionally play into Kremlin's interest.
The CACDS cautions: the weakness of the US and EU allow to implement any scenarios on the post-Soviet space for the next 10-12 months.
Against the backdrop of a deep economic crisis in Russia and on the eve of the parliamentary elections in the State Duma the Kremlin has started developing the necessary information format (total filling of the “heroic propaganda fronts” information space, the support of pro-Kremlin parties and dissemination of fake proofs thesis about America’s war against Russia in the territory of Ukraine in order to zombify the people of Russia).
If Russia complete the successful implementation of Ukrainian full-scale attack scenario there will be continued the further developing of the cult of Putin’s regime and increased his personal popularity, despite the extreme deprivation of the economic situation in Russia.
The successful implementation of this plan will fulfill the main task of the Russian aggression against Ukraine - the complete destruction of the Ukrainian state, and also it will solve some important issues. For example, a land bridge to the Crimea turned into a military base, the removal of the issue of construction of the Crimean bridge, the problem of Transdniester blockade and so on.
In this regard, the CACDS appeal to the leadership of the Ukraine to take additional measures of training the troops in case of the sudden onset of active units of the Russian Federation, to bring the troops in full combat alert from the 20th of August to the 20th of September. Take steps to prepare the people of Ukraine in order to avoid panic and to mobilize civilians to fight the external enemy.
The CACDS insists on the need for a detailed consideration of the possibility of the establishment of the defense emergency in some regions of Ukraine: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odessa regions.
The CACDS initiates an urgent appeal to the thinktanks and public organizations of Ukraine, public persons, politicians, experts in order to prepare and implement joint appeal to the heads of NATO and EU member countries to increase pressure on the Russian Federation and prevent the bloodshed. Also the CACDS appeals to unlock frozen military-technical cooperation between Ukraine and EU and implement it without any restrictions on the supply of technology, arms and military equipment, to provide military assistance to Ukraine.
Valentyn Badrak, Mykhailo Samus
Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (Ukraine)