Russia is now preparing an offensive in order to create a land corridor through mainland Ukraine to the Russian-occupied Crimea, according to Deputy Secretary of National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Mykhailo Koval[.]
Russia paused the war in Ukraine to focus on Syria. And now the Syria effort is ratcheted back a bit. Does that mean Russia has enough military capacity to reopen the Ukraine front?
Is it too soon to say Russia has lost their "New Russia" gambit?
Russia lost its chance to create any ‘Novorossia’ on July 17 , when the passenger airliner was shot down over territory held by the militants,” Aleksandr said during a recent interview in Moscow, in reference to the downing of Flight MH17 by a Russian-made, surface-to-air missile that killed 298 people and shocked the world. “After that, the idea of Novorossia was closed. So it was shut down and the war was soon frozen.”
This is from a Russian businessman interviewed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty who claims he was involved in supporting Putin's takeover of Crimea.
Did the shoot-down really derail the project to grab portions of southern and eastern Ukraine? Or just require a decent interval for outrage to die down?
And does our political campaign season seem like a good time to Putin to cash in some of that American "flexibility" he was promised--whether that offer is formally on the table or not?
After all, Russia is unwilling to retreat and Ukraine seems unable or unwilling to retreat or counter-attack. Is Russia prepared to continue the status quo that involves sanctions?
Or will Russia escalate in the hopes of defeating Ukraine and depriving Europe of a reason to continue sanctions by grinding Ukraine into the dirt in obvious and formal defeat?
One thing interesting that the businessman reported is this part:
He remembers the first week of March as particularly tense, as pro-Russia Crimeans waited nervously for any sign from Moscow.
“Until March 6, it was forbidden to speak about unification with Russia or to hang the Russian flag,” he says. “Everyone was waiting for a final decision to be made in Moscow.”
Aleksandr believes Moscow was waiting to see how Ukraine’s military would respond to the unfolding situation. Only after it became apparent that Kyiv was not ready for a confrontation did the Kremlin give the final go-ahead.
Which is why I speculated before the Russian invasion that the best Ukrainian response to a Russian invasion was a rapid counter-attack into Crimea with whatever they could scrape together:
The idea is to move as quickly as possible to either drive the Russians from Sevastopol, or, if that isn't possible, to block the Kerch Strait and push artillery and the missile brigade to within range of the base to bombard the Russian fleet in port and facilities there--especially airfields.
I admitted that this was a paper exercise on my part. Ukraine was in too much chaos to organize a proper attack, which was not made.
But in retrospect whatever the new Ukrainian authorities could get to obey orders should have been sent south. Maybe the Ukrainian units besieged in Crimea would have fought rather than surrender later. Maybe Ukraine could have held part of the peninsula, compromising Russia's bastion.
Give the Russians time to dig in and they'd be hard to pry out. Strike early and the Russians could be hurt while taking advantage of the fact that Ukrainian military forces held out in their bases in this stage of the subliminal conquest.
Oh, and behold the disillusionment:
“The Russian World that I dreamed of, that the people of Crimea expected, that the volunteers who died in Donbas believed in, crumbled into dust before my very eyes,” he recalled.
Breaking into the prison rarely works out well.
And maybe Russia thinks they need the prison to be bigger.
And here's Strategypage on Russian issues in general.
UPDATE: Oh, and as Ukrainians are painted by Moscow as new Nazis threatening Holy Mother Russia, don't say I didn't warn Ukraine.