NATO’s supreme allied commander, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said that recent movements and maneuvers by Russian backed Separatists in breakaway Eastern Ukraine suggest that preparations are underway for a new offensive:
“Many of their actions are consistent with preparations for another offensive,” Breedlove said.
Pressed during the hearing, Breedlove acknowledged he could not predict Moscow’s next move but characterized its ongoing actions as “preparing, training and equipping to have the capacity to again take an offensive.”
“In the past they have not wasted their effort,” Breedlove told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the ceasefire, says the violence is down markedly since the accord was signed in Minsk, Belarus, in February.
But the United States says Russia now has its largest force on the border since October and has deployed additional air defense systems, the biggest number since August.
While the February Cease-Fire has held relatively well, this could have been effected as much by the brutal cold winter rather than Vladimir Putin’s regional aspirations having been assuaged.
With the warming of Spring many observers think that the Separatists and their Russian handlers will try and connect the Donbass to Crimea via Mariupol. Having a contiguous land area secured will be much easier for Russia to make the case for the annexing of the whole of the Separatist region, mirroring the prior annexation of Crimea last year.[Reuters]