Russian forces are massing on the Ukrainian border, and Western diplomatic efforts have not helped quell tensions. According to the American magazine “Foreign Affairs”, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to turn Ukraine into a failed state. The letter points to three possible scenarios for Russian actions.
Foreign Affairs, which focuses on international politics, says the diplomatic efforts have not only eased tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border, but also exposed the chasm between Russia and the West. “Putin aims to completely dismantle the post-Cold War security system in Europe and withdraw key international agreements that guarantee governments’ right to self-determination. The United States and its allies and partners will never accept that,” he adds.
Despite Russia’s assurances that it does not plan to attack Ukraine, Moscow is massing forces on its borders as well as in Belarus. The letter indicates that any serious military conflict in the region would be a disaster, but the United States must be prepared for this, as it presents three scenarios for possible military actions by Russia.
Foreign Affairs stresses that when analyzing Moscow’s moves, its ultimate goals must be taken into account. According to the magazine, it is about turning Ukraine into a failed state – by weakening its military potential and destabilizing internally. This would prevent the emergence of a stable democracy and strong economy in this country, which might inspire citizens to demand changes in their country. The magazine noted that in the face of diminishing influence on Ukrainian politics, Moscow could achieve this goal only by military force.
The first scenario – the annexation of the Ukrainian Donbass
The first scenario analyzed is Russia’s annexation of occupied Donbass by its separatists or recognition of the independence of the self-declared republics operating there (giving them a status similar to that of Abkhazia or South Ossetia – the breakaway parts of Georgia). The aim of these measures is to impose a diplomatic solution to the current crisis, which would avoid further military escalation, and at the same time enable Moscow to declare its victory, according to the magazine.
However, these moves will not give Russia any lasting benefits, cement the current status quo and prevent major interference in Ukraine’s internal politics, Foreign Affairs writes. He adds that this could also mean strengthening NATO’s eastern flank, something the Kremlin wants to avoid.
Scenario 2 – Limited offensive in Ukraine
The second option assumes a limited Russian offensive and occupation of areas in eastern Ukraine, including Mariupol – the main Ukrainian port on the Sea of Azov – and Kharkiv – a major urban and industrial center. The letter says, in a more ambitious assumption, that Russian forces will attempt to create a corridor connecting occupied Crimea with Russian territory or carry out a landing operation to take control of Odessa.
Ukraine will then be denied access to important ports, and Russia will solve its problems with the supply of Crimea, says Foreign Affairs. He notes, however, that such an operation will require the participation of all Russian forces massed around Ukraine, as well as the occupation of the occupied territories, which will be costly for Moscow and will weaken the power in Kiev, but will not lead to the collapse of the state.
Scenario 3 – Large scale invasion
“Therefore, the third and most likely scenario is a large-scale Russian attack with ground, air and sea forces in all directions of the attack,” the magazine said. In this form, Ukraine will be attacked from the north, east and south, from the territory of Russia, Donbass and Crimea, and Russian forces in Belarus will oblige the Ukrainian units guarding Kiev and prevent them from joining the defense of other regions.
Russia’s goal will not be to permanently occupy or capture large cities, but to control and protect the roads allowing to maintain supplies and attack military groups, key infrastructure elements, military factories and “objects important to the national identity and morale of Ukrainians”. Among the recent potential targets, Foreign Affairs mentions the most important government buildings in Kiev and Independence Square (Maidan) in that city – the site of the Dignity Revolution in early 2013 and 2014, after which Russia seized Crimea, and the separatists it supports captured Donbass.
In such an alternative, Russia will widely use long-range artillery, short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, the magazine reports. He added that such attacks could kill tens of thousands of people and lead to chaos, a humanitarian catastrophe, and possibly the physical elimination of Ukraine’s civil and political leadership.
He summed up Foreign Affairs: “If such a plan by Russia succeeds, the attacks will paralyze the Ukrainian government, military and economic infrastructure – all of which are important points for turning Ukraine into a failed state.”
Main image source: mil.ru
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