Staunton, August 28 – It remains unclear whether Moscow intends to launch a full-scale military attack on Ukraine, Pavel Felgengauer says; but if it plans to, there are compelling reasons – deteriorating weather in the fall and the new round of the Russian military draft in October – to think that it will begin in the next several weeks.
The Russian military analyst says that “Russian forces have been brought to full military readiness and moved up to the borders of Ukraine.” And while this at one level at least is only “saber rattling,” it is clear that it is possible that this will lead to a full-scale military conflict (apostrophe.com.ua/article/politics/2016-08-27/nastuplenie-na-ukrainu-doljno-nachatsya-v-blijayshie-neskolko-nedel/7021).
Indeed, if such an expanded invasion doesn’t begin, then it is far from understandable “why all this is being organized because the forces that have been moved forward are very serious.” To be sure, Moscow has not called up the reserves, but it doesn’t have to because “even without them,” Moscow can assemble “more than 100,000 men” for an attack.
Russian generals are in command of the forces of the Donbass, the so-called first and second corps of the DNR and LNR. And all of these are subordinate to the Southern Military District. But the forces in the Donbass will not move independently in any “principally new” direction without support from their Russian rear.
Everything that is taking place now, Felgengauer says, “is very dangerous, but whether there will be a war is something we shall have to wait and see. It won’t be long. Various scenarios are possible,” but “the main thing for Russia will be to achieve strategic and tactical surprise.”
“And if it does not do that now, then it will be [too] late,” the analyst says: In October, the weather will change for the worse, and the fall draft into the Russian army will introduce problems for commanders, including the rotation out of soldiers who have served their time, that would make any attack difficult if not impossible.
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