Putin Hints That Ukrainian Statehood Could Be Threatened if Kiev Launches an All-Out Blitz Against the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, Vows Moscow Will Keep Providing Humanitarian and Diplomatic Support
During the Q&A, Putin was asked by Zakhar Prilepin, an officer in the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) army, if he thought Ukraine would attempt a major offensive timed to coincide with the World Cup in Russia, so that Moscow would be blamed by the Americans and their NATO allies for the escalation in violence. Putin responded by warning the U.S. propped up government in Kiev not to launch an offensive, and vowed to continue supporting the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as the 2015 Minsk Agreements Kiev signed recognizing the DPR/LPR. The transcript of Putin's remarks is here, and the video is below:
Putin's threat of harsh consequences detrimental to Ukrainian statehood was not necessarily a vow to take military action. But his tone underscored exercises the Russian Army performed this week in its Southern District stretching from the Ukrainian border to the Caucuses. Moscow may not directly intervene in the coming round of escalation, as it did in limited fashion back in the late summer of 2014 -- when Russian thermobaric rockets and artillery destroyed multiple Ukrainian battalions camped along the border. However, Putin appeared to be promising the Donbass defenders whatever materiel they would need to hold the line. This could include newer anti-tank missiles like the Kornet or the latest long range Kornet D recently provided to the Syrian Arab Army, perhaps shipped in retaliation for the Javelin missiles Washington supplied to Kiev.
Due to the UAF Testing New Tactics in Failed Attacks on DPR Lines, Kiev's Losses Have Been Heavy in May and June 2018 with Hundreds Killed in Action
According to sources in the breakaway republics, Kiev's use of quick infiltration attacks launched during pre-dawn hours, followed by heavy bombardments attempting to stop reinforcements coming up to DPR lines, have proven costly Although UAF units have graduated from the NATO training courses taught by American, Canadian and Polish instructors at the Yavoriv complex in far western Ukraine, they have not yet become proficient at attacking on a battlefield dominated by artillery. The proliferation of rocket propelled grenades on both the UAF and DPR/LPR sides has led to armor being used as moving artillery, rather than screening attempts by infantry to advance.
As local volunteers with superior knowledge of the terrain compared to their often rotational conscript adversaries, DPR artilleryists and mortarmen have proven more skillful at targeting soldiers and vehicles on the move than their Ukrainian counterparts. To be sure since 2015, the UAF have gotten better at using drones to spot, map and occasionally bomb DPR positions. But the Ukrainian infantry often dash for cover to what they think will be protected locations like individual houses with basements or concrete buildings in no man's land, only to get hammered by DPR heavy mortar or shell fire. This makes for heavier casualties when the UAF try to reinforce or entrench in their 'grey zone' positions.
As we've previously reported here at RogueMoney, being an artillery man subject to superior counter-battery strikes may be almost as deadly a job in the Ukrainian Army as serving in the front line infantry. Certainly the anecdotes of Dr. Phil Karber, recently delivered to U.S. Army cadets at West Point (which the Russian Analyst plans to cover in the future), point to the UAF's artillery arm being qualitatively inferior to that of the 'Russians' (Donbass natives almost certainly trained in Russia and occasionally accompanied by 'vacationing' intelligence officer advisers). Given the amount of ordinance being fired, especially the large quantities expended by the Ukrainians, both the UAF and DPR are understating their casualties. But in the UAF's case, the real losses could be an order of magnitude higher than what is admitted to the public. The increased risk of being killed or maimed in turn, is driving up the rate of desertion and insubordination in the UAF's ranks:
A Serbian volunteer, a battalion commander, confirms that the enemy suffers between 5 and 10 dead a day. It doesn’t seem like much, but that daily average means between 1,500 and 3,000 dead a year, not counting the wounded.
And that’s what that Major Berich knows about in his sector of the front, every available clue and fragments of info confirms that the estimates I made for the years 2016-2017 of about 10,000-15,000 casualties per year or a thousand per month were correct, or at least approximate.
At the same time, Berich is convinced that sooner or later the Ukrainian security forces will attack, as forces interested in escalating the conflict “have placed them between a rock and a hard place.” However, the actual advance attempts to date have ended in nothing: in Gorlovka, Kiev received an “adequate repulse”, and the plan to surround Donetsk has failed for three years.”
“They did not occupy anything and they will not take it, they have 5 to 10 dead every day , what they say are just fantasies, they were going to advance to Moscow, and what happened?” – Berich recalled.
And judging from front eyewitness accounts and the recruitment posters plastered all over, the Novorussians are mobilizing workers to carry out fortification works, creating a second line of positions, and have been digging in for several weeks. This suggests that the Novorussian command has reason to expect an offensive this summer, and that Gorlovka has only been a rehearsal.
-- Julio Martinez writing for Ft. Russ
The chief concern of many Russian military and political analysts is that Petro Poroshenko does not care about the almost certain prospect of defeat, he cares about creating provocations to please his masters in Washington and especially, London. With France and Germany proposing autonomy for the Donbass, Washington and London need more violence in eastern Ukraine to stop wobbly EU members like Italy from challenging the Anglo-American demanded anti-Russia sanctions. Therefore the only real battlefield success Poroshenko hopes for is whatever makes the voentorg (a slang term for 'army surplus store') of arms flowing from Russia to the Donbass defenders more visible and thereby difficult for Moscow to quasi-deny. And to do this just as Russia is hoping to showcase its peaceful, modernized face with the World Cup.