It sure seems like H-Hour is approaching in eastern Ukraine.
This analysis pretty much confirms that:
The amount of military hardware being moved into the war-torn region is insufficient for a major operation, which would probably not be launched during Ukraine's harsh winter, experts told AFP.
Instead, the deployments may be designed to deter Ukraine from launching a bid to reclaim the territories or send a message to a domestic audience in Russia.
"There is a positional war of attrition going on. Any large-scale offensives are highly unlikely," said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent military analyst based in Moscow.
"For a major operation, you need thousands of tanks. There are a lot less than that -- and mainly just artillery."
Call me overly suspicious, but I don't trust any Moscow-based analyst.
Seriously, a major operation is only possible with thousands of tanks? Really?
Did Putin take Crimea with thousands of tanks?
Did he seize half of Donbas with thousands of tanks?
I'm pretty sure we conquered Iraq in 2003 with fewer than 500 American and British tanks.
And we have fewer than a thousand tanks in our active Army today. (Although more are in National Guard reserve units, with the Marines, or in storage.)
Are we incapable of major operations?
Or is an operation only "major" if it makes it to Berlin?
So what kind of nonsense is this posing as "independent" military analysis? Perhaps I'm wrong to call this guy a propagandist for Putin. But when the analysis is complete and utter BS, I'll go with that interpretation.
Let's hope the Ukrainians really are ready:
Ukraine is ready to defend itself against attack amid reports that Russia had again sent columns of troops and military hardware across their shared border, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Friday.
“There are no grounds for panic,” Poroshenko said at a meeting in Kiev with heads of security and law enforcement forces, according to the statement posted on the official presidential website. “In two recent months, we have elaborated and implemented serious steps on the preparation of our armed forces and other units to defend Ukraine."
Ukraine can't really stop Russia if it commits to a major operation. But if Ukrainians send a lot of Russian boys back home in body bags, they may limit the scope of the operation and buy time to build an army capable of stopping Russia:
"Building an army, which is capable of stopping aggression from Russia, is the number one task," [Prime Minister] Yatseniuk told journalists.
With reality-denying analysis coming out of Russia, I have to believe Russia will renew the mobile war very soon. The only real question is the scope of conquest. The Donetsk airport will be just the start.
With winter approaching, conquering the rest of the Donbas and telling Ukrainians they can accept the loss or enjoy the cold without Russian energy seems rather likely.
Or maybe Putin will respond to the verbal scolding he received at the G20 meeting in Australia.
But given the "aides" that Putin brought with him, I doubt it.
Oh yeah, the Russians are coming. Ukraine may have to accept the loss of territory in the end, but that doesn't mean Ukraine shouldn't make Russia pay a price to deter future attacks.
And that price should include firing at Russia's Sevastopol naval base during Russia's eastern offensive.
UPDATE: Any outrage over Russia's creeping annexation of Abkhazia will surely be lost in the noise of renewed Russian land grabs in the Donbas region.