Something seems to be gearing up in Donbas:
NATO on Wednesday warned pro-Russian separatists against grabbing more land in eastern Ukraine and stressed Moscow has a "special responsibility" to help restore peace as fighting escalates.
Why NATO maintains the fiction that Russia is not the instigator is beyond me. "Pro-Russian separatists," indeed.
And August seems to be the month for war:
Many observers expected a late-summer offensive, likely a drive on the Ukrainian Sea of Azov port of Mariupol. This fits a grand pattern. In Europe, August is a good month for vacations and war. The days are long and dry. An attacker can seize territory through late September, and then General Winter will help slow counterattacks.
This week, a U.S. State Department spokesman accused Russia and its proxy separatists of launching new attacks "just as they escalated the conflict last August."
And Russia has played the government-in-exile card:
Ukraine's last prime minister under Yanukovych. On August 3, Azarov—now living in exile in Moscow—formed the "Ukraine Salvation Committee," whose goal is "regime change" back home. Azarov is wanted in Ukraine for several crimes including embezzlement and abuse of power. ...
The timing of the formation of Ukraine's Salvation Committee makes perfect sense. Putin needs to make a new move, and now he has a full-fledged Ukrainian puppet government-in-exile that could lay claim to the entire country.
I'm not sure what to make of this. Is it a replacement for major offensive action to lay the ground for a future grab?
Or is it laying the legal fiction of a direct and open (because it is too large to deny) Russian offensive to seize ground?
That is, is Putin tired of the drawn-out conflict that saps Russia and does he seek to end that by suspending the conflict or escalating it?
Of course, Russia's move is something Ukraine should have done long ago--create a government-in-exile for Crimea (and now occupied Donbas). That's what I urged on March 1, 2014 (item 17).
I expanded on the notion a couple weeks later.
And not long ago, I raised this as a part of my original idea to essentially bill Russia for occupying Crimea, to pave the way for eventual liberation.
If Russia renews the hand puppet secessionist attacks, Ukraine needs to send Russian body bags back to Moscow in numbers that Putin can't hide. For all the talk Putin makes of restoring Russia, he sure doesn't believe the Russian people are willing to pay the price to buy that glory.
The fact that Ukrainian-held Donbas doesn't have Kursk-level fortifications by now is an outrage.
Talk of superior Russian interests in Ukraine overlooks that we openly paid the price of 4,500 dead Americans to win in Iraq. Putin can't admit to casualties in neighboring Ukraine?
If Russia attacks big, Ukraine needs to also directly attack Russia's new Crimean military assets.
And if Russia either takes land or just decides to lay low for a while, Ukraine needs to begin their counter-attack with governments-in-exile that hold open legal options to fight Russia and to hold open the possibility of reclaiming their land that Russia has taken from them.
Just sitting there and letting Russia attack when they feel ready is just a plan to lose ground. How confident is Kiev that Putin has limits on what he want so control?
Ukraine needs to prepare for liberation of lost territory.