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Monday, January 30, 2017

The Ukraine 'Creeping Offensive'

you can read the entire article here....Anxious Ukraine Risks Escalation In 'Creeping Offensive'

by Christopher Miller

 ........Russians In Waiting

There is also a haunting prospect of Ukraine's creeping offensive: the risk of provoking a military response from Russia, as Kyiv and Western officials say previous advances did.

Ukraine suffered two devastating defeats -- in Ilovaisk in August 2014 and in Debaltseve in February 2015 -- that left hundreds of troops dead after Russia-backed forces encircled them and pounded their positions with heavy artillery. The battle changed the Ukrainians' calculus and gave the separatist side the clear upper hand.

Poltorak noted that Russia has since constructed several military bases and camps close to Ukraine's border, which allows Russia to deploy thousands of its troops "within a matter of hours."

Moreover, he claimed, 5,000 regular soldiers of the Russian armed forces are already on separatist-held territory, along with 40,000 Russian nationals fighting in separatist militias.

In addition to personnel, Poltorak said, Russia has deployed to eastern Ukraine "more than 600 main battle tanks, more than 1,300 armored vehicles, more than 700 pieces of artillery, and more than 450 multiple-launch rocket systems."

Russia denies sponsoring the separatists or deploying its forces to Ukrainian territory, despite overwhelming evidence of both.

New Strength?

Ukraine's army appears to feel emboldened almost three years after the start of the fighting, having undergone a crash course in warfare and modernized its military -- bold enough for some to say the occupied areas of eastern Ukraine could be "liberated" by the end of 2017.

After increasing its defense budget to about $6 billion, Ukraine created a standing army of 250,000 soldiers -- up from only 5,000 to 6,000 combat-ready troops in April 2014, Poltorak said. That makes it among the largest armies in Europe.........

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