Popov: Ukrainian offensive likely around Trump’s inauguration day

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January 10, 2017 – 

By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

On January 8th, the deputy commander of the operational command of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Eduard Basurin, reported that Ukrainian security forces were preparing a provocation with possible casualties among the civilian population in the area of Marinka. 

Basurin stated: “We call on Ukrainian authorities to cease and not commit foolish and rash actions which will lead to new casualties, including among the civilian population. We also want to draw the attention of the OSCE mission and UN representatives to this fact and demand that measures be taken to prevent provocations from the UAF.”

Earlier, another truce was supposed to enter into force on the night of December 23rd-24th, 2016. The events of the first hours of December 24th, however, showed that these expectations were not to be fulfilled. Observers in the field did, however, note a relative decline in the intensity of UAF shelling. 

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The UAF provocation exposed by Eduard Basurin is a continuation and development of the Svetlodar adventure. In fairness, it should be added that the Ukrainians themselves never concealed their plans. They have repeatedly said that Minsk-2 is for them a tactical ploy and that the “Ukrainian liberators” will not leave the “separatists” in peace. Even their main target lines have been named: Debaltsevo (at the junction of the DPR and LPR), Stanitsa Luganskaya (LPR), and Marino-Shirokino (southern DPR). For the Ukrainians, provocations like the recent firefights near Svetlodar and the expected provocation near Marinko are part of a single plan of conducting reconnaissance via forays on strategic fronts.

It is rather dubious that such an obvious violation by Kiev of the Minsk Agreements will draw broad international condemnation. Kiev has long since thought up an explanatory formula for justifying offensive actions and, in the least, the OSCE mission has literally closed its eyes more than once to violations by the Ukrainian side. An offensive, however, will most likely end in another tactical defeat. 

It can be presumed that the Ukrainians’ intensification of activities in the “ATO” zone is directly connected to Trump’s victory. In Ukraine, many known figures directly tied to the UAF and political circles feared the possibility of Donald Trump winning the US presidential elections. Since Trump’s victory has become a fait accompli, the Ukrainians expect serious, if not fundamental changes in American policy towards Ukraine. I think that the Ukrainians will attempt to drag the new American administration onto their side. To this end, a series of military provocations which will take place at the very beginning of (or just before) Trump’s inauguration (January 20th) are in order. Even better for the Ukrainians would be if these provocations would affect Russia and thereby give the Russophobic lobby in US political and military circles the occasion to accuse our country of aggression and put pressure on Trump.

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Based on the all of the above, it follows that provocations near Svetlodar and the Ukrainians’ announced offensive near Marinka are part of a single operative plan, not an initiative of individual commanders. Moreover, they will continue and quite possibly qualitatively escalate. The firefights near Svetlodar bear the character of a tactical offensive. A new offensive could turn into an operational one and, if the internal political situation in Ukraine changes radically, then this could turn into a strategic offensive.  

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