The tense situation in eastern Ukraine continues to escalate. Russia is reinforcing its forces in Crimea and near the Donbas, and Moscow and Kiev blame each other for provocations and efforts to start the war again, which decreased in intensity with the signing of the Minsk Accords in the spring of 2015.
American President Joe Biden defended Ukraine and sent two Navy ships to the Black Sea. The Kremlin He warned the White House to stay away from the area, saying that “the risk of an accident is very high.” On the same day, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to stop consolidating forces on Ukraine’s borders and end support for separatists in the east of the country.
Security analyst Mikhailo Samos New Geopolitics Research Network, Who served in the Ukrainian Army for twelve years, currently sees no great risk of resuming the Russo-Ukrainian War. In an interview with Aktuálně.cz, he said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “testing” the reactions in Ukraine and the world through military maneuvers.
What is the situation this time with the strengthening of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border? We’ve seen it so many times since 2014 …
Russia had enough troops to invade alongside Ukraine since 2017. Since then, it has been able to attack at any time. The 8th Army, stationed in Novocherkassk, mainly controls the Donbas. Russia can attack at any moment. What is different now is that Moscow is showing its strength. It posts videos and posts information on troop movements and reinforcements. One of the reasons he’s doing this, in my opinion, is to test the new American president. The goal is to force Joe Biden to communicate and negotiate directly with Putin. Biden telephoned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and supported Ukraine, while calling Putin a murderer.
It is also a test of the NATO unit. It is no secret that some countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, the Baltic Republics and Romania, support Ukraine’s integration into the alliance. On the contrary, the second group is skeptical: Hungary, Italy, Spain and Germany. These countries believe that NATO’s inclination towards Ukraine will lead to greater confrontation and increased tension with Russia. It will create a new threat.
Putin also wants to force the Ukrainian government to cede Donbas. In order to obtain special status and make commercial contacts with foreign countries, even if they are busy.
The situation in eastern Ukraine. The areas controlled by Russia and their loyal separatists are dark. | Photo: Aktuálně.cz
There are opinions that Putin’s plans in 2014 were not entirely successful. He wants to tear off more than just a part of the Donbas. For example, Kharkov, Odessa, or a large piece of land to the right of the Dnieper. Is this scenario still in play? Is it realistic that Russia will attack Ukraine directly?
Moscow’s original idea was to divide Ukraine into several states. There was a plan to create a so-called Novorussia, which would isolate Ukraine from the Black Sea. That would really be a disaster. This plan may still be on the table in Russia, but this time Ukraine is ready to fight hard. Of course, Ukraine is not militarily strong like Russia, we do not have such resources, a lot of tanks, missiles and planes, but if there is a war, we will defend hard and there will be thousands of dead soldiers on both sides. For this reason, I do not see Putin’s motive to unleash a major conflict. This would bring more problems to the Russian president and possibly tighten Western sanctions against Moscow. Putin does not want to start a real war, he is talking about the demonstration of strength, the division of NATO and the Biden test.
Michelo Samos. | Photo: Aktuálně.cz
Last year, Ukraine received large supplies of weapons under President Donald Trump, such as the US Javelin anti-tank missile. To what extent has the strategic position changed?
The Americans provide the Ukrainian army with training, communication systems and radars. Javelin anti-tank missiles have not been used in combat yet, but we are starting to use Turkish drones produced by Bayraktar. (The deployment of these drones contributed greatly to Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Editor’s note)). In war, we will have to fight asymmetrically, because in conventional weapons we cannot keep up with Russia. We need strong anti-aircraft defense to prevent Putin from using air power.
Do you think there is any political change in Russia’s position on Ukraine?
Better not. Putin created a very stable system, I would say, several decades ago. I see no other alternative. Many Russians agree with Putin and his views.
What about the opposition Alexei Navalny?
Sure, he holds different views of the Kremlin, but it will be difficult for him to become a true surrogate for Putin. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It is a system based on a balance between various financial oligarchs, secret services and leaders of individual republics and regions. Think, for example, of the Chechen president.
If we assume that Putin will suddenly disappear, then the successor will be chosen unanimously among these people and forces. Navalny may inspire young people on social media, but that is not enough to take power in Russia. I don’t think the people around Putin who are profiting from it will risk their future in any way by playing with democracy.
Video: We are ready to fight, says the pro-Russian separatists
“We are ready to fight. We do not know a compromise,” said the trenches of the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. | Video: Reuters
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