Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pre H-Hour

The Russians are coming:

"We are repositioning our armed forces to respond to the actions of the (rebel) fighters," Poltorak said. "I see my main task is to prepare for military action."

A military spokesman said on Tuesday the rebels were beefing up their forces, including around the port city of Mariupol in the southeast, control of which would open up roads to territory in southern Ukraine.

The Donetsk airport is clearly a target. But Mariupol, which blocks a Russian drive that could go all the way to Crimea, also seems to be on Putin's Christmas wish list.

Russia is doing something, and NATO isn't happy:

"Material, equipment, armored weapons, supplies continue to flow into eastern Ukraine. More have been seen in the past several days," Breedlove said in an interview with Reuters and two other news organizations at a NATO base near Naples.

"I am concerned about the increased movement."

And Russia still has 8 battalion-sized groups close to the Donbas region, which could quickly move in and provide the decisive force for a new battle for control of the region that Ukraine still holds a good chunk of.

There is too much activity for this to be anything but Russians and their proxies moving into a position to capture the Donetsk airport and Mariupol--at minimum.

And I'll ask again: why is Russia allowed to determine the war theater? Why isn't Ukraine thinking about how to strike back at the Sevastopol naval base?

UPDATE: Russia is reinforcing their Crimea bases. So it could be a target-rich environment.

If Russia starts capturing more Ukrainian territory, video of burning Russian warships listing at piers would be a good message to send Moscow.

UPDATE: Two days later, I'm seeing more alarms that my worries that Russia is about to attack are not groundless:

The Interfax-Ukraine news agency cited Zoryan Shkiryak, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister, as saying Thursday that he anticipated an imminent attack by Russian forces.

"We can indubitably confirm that the probability of another incursion remains quite high and we should be ready for this," Shkiryak was quoted as saying.

Speculation about a planned separatist assault has been swirling in Ukrainian media following a news report citing unnamed rebel commanders as saying an offensive would begin Sunday.

And this:

Russia has moved a massive wave of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and artillery into Ukraine’s Donbas region in recent days, accompanied by new uniformed troops without insignia, to bolster the armed forces of the Russian-sponsored Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics.

This military escalation follows Moscow’s political support for pretended elections to consolidate the two mini-states, a step that Europe and the US regard as a fundamental violation of the Minsk peace process launched in August. Ominously, evidence is growing that this buildup is preparing a new offensive by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his war against Ukraine—a campaign of attrition against Ukraine’s economically fragile state.

I'll ask again why Russia is allowed to define the battlefield as just Donbas? If Russia's forces attack, why can't Ukraine start bombarding Russia's Sevastopol naval base?

Why can't Ukraine declare the ports of Crimea closed, warning civilian ships away, and place mines outside the ports? Planes can drop them. Small vessels can do so. There don't have to be many to force insurance rates higher for any Western ships that want to travel to Crimea.

The Russians are coming.