NATO top commander warns of new Russian offensive in Ukraine

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]

3 Comments

  1. Florian Sohnke

    Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov are both first-rate strategists. Despite the two men appealing to the West to curtail NATO’s and the EU’s eastward expansion and insisting Ukraine to remain a non-aligned state, Putin intervened and encouraged Russian nationalism among the Russian-minority in Ukraine.

    This recent activity could be a Potempkin-esque show: By stirring military activity, Putin and Lavrov are misrepresenting their next strategic move. If the West is genuinely interested in rapprochement, a good-faith gesture would be a public announcement declining lethal aid to Ukraine.

    While it is far too late to undo what has been done, particularly with respect to the Crimean peninsula, diffusing this situation can only be realized by the West guaranteeing they will not interfere in Russia’s front yard through any alliance or military assistance to Russia’s neighbors and actually remaining truthful in the guarantee.

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