Airstrikes or aggression: What is Putin’s military option against Ukraine?

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Western military analysts said the Russian president had limited invasion from the east or south of the country from targeted missile attacks, as Vladimir Putin threatened the possibility of military action in Ukraine. States that it can consider a wide range of scenarios, from full-scale aggression backed by it.

After deploying about 100,000 Russian troops near the northern, eastern and southern borders of Ukraine, Putin has “all kinds” of options if the demands on Ukraine and NATO’s activities in the former Soviet Union are not met. I warned that there was.

U.S. intelligence, shared with European allies, has warned Putin has not yet made a final decision, according to U.S. and EU officials that Russia is preparing for a possible aggression. Suggests. They said the military buildup could be aimed at securing diplomatic concessions from US President Joe Biden. US and Russian leaders will speak on the phone on Thursday prior to negotiations between Russia, the US and NATO members in January.

However, the deployment of key forces and sophisticated weapons, coupled with fierce rhetoric, has increased the likelihood of turning a slow-burning proxy war in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine into a full-scale conflict. More than 14,000 people have died since the fighting began shortly after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Michael Kofman, senior research scientist at CNA, a nonprofit policy research organization in the United States, said: “How many attacks does he have to make in Ukraine in order for people to think he is not bluffing?”

President Putin denied planning an aggression, but revealed that Russia was prepared to use “appropriate military and technical measures” to “respond severely to hostile measures.”

Ukrainian military reserves participate in exercises © Sergei Supinsky / AFP via Getty Images

Limited intrusion

Putin’s two longtime best friends said they were most likely Reason for opening the war Similar to what caused the four-day war with Georgia in 2008. Russia at the time responded to Tbilisi’s attempts to secure territory owned by Moscow-backed rebels with airstrikes and artillery, naval blockades, and land invasions supported by cyberattacks. ..

They said Russia would set up a conflict with Ukraine as a move to protect the Russian-speaking Donbas from what it describes as a Ukrainian aggression. Donbas has two self-proclaimed separatist nations, where Moscow has given many residents Russian citizenship in recent years. Russia has led separatist forces throughout the conflict, using its troops in 2014 and 2015 to overwhelm the Ukrainian army and urge Kiev to make concessions in peace talks.

In that case, the size and duration of the escalation will depend on how quickly Ukraine surrendered to Russia’s demands, security experts say.

By mid-December, Western intelligence officials said Russia had gathered about 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, including about 50 highly mobile and flexible battalion tactical groups. Said. They predict that by the end of January, when the terrain freezes, about 175,000 troops will be deployed, making them more suitable for tanks in the event of a land invasion.

A map of Ukraine highlighting the Donbas region in the east and Crimea in the south

Current deployments lacked the full range of logistical support needed for sustainable operations, including ammunition depots, field hospitals, and blood banks, but there is evidence that Moscow is moving these towards the border. did.

Rob Lee, a Fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute, who studies the Russian army, said: “Many of the staff may still be back in Siberia, but if they want to move it quickly, it’s much faster to fly them than to move the device itself.”

Target airstrike

According to Dara Massicot, a senior policy researcher at Rand Corporation, Russia could cause serious damage to Ukrainian troops through air raids on the front lines, military installations and critical infrastructure.

The Russian Air Force has not flown against hostile air defenses since the Georgia War, but “here there are many cruise and ballistic missiles that may come from the Black Sea or Russia’s hometown, Ukraine. The air defense system is struggling to deal with it, “said Macicot.

She added that potential strikes could use heavy artillery and long-range flamethrowers, as well as air-launched missiles. “It will be incredibly devastating to the power of Ukrainian land,” she said.

Ukraine, a country of about 41 meters, has vowed to resist Russia’s invasion. According to this month’s Kyiv International Institute of Sociology poll, 58% of all men are ready to arm Russia against a more serious aggression. Some joined the makeshift civil defense force.

Satellite image of a Russian combat group deployed at the Opuk training ground in the Crimea
Satellite images of Russian combat groups deployed in the Opc training area of ​​the Crimean Peninsula © Maxar Technologies via Reuters

However, according to Koffman, Russia’s military dominance will allow it to take control of Ukrainian troops in a few weeks by launching attacks on multiple fronts, including Belarus and the Black Sea.

“They are guarding the eastern side of Europe’s largest country, and what do they have? They can be very easily cut and isolated in the eastern part of Ukraine. Therefore, they are multifaceted. In the face of an attack, we can fight a systematic retreat, “Kofman said.

Full-scale aggression

A full-scale aggression will allow Russia to take over the territorial belt that can be used to counterattack in Donbas. It also applies to Putin’s idea that the Russian-speaking region of Ukraine, east of the Dnieper River, is Moscow’s “historic territory.”

Analysts believe the scenario is unlikely due to the enormous personnel it requires and the perhaps serious casualties of the Russian army.

But according to Lee, the extent of the assault will ultimately depend on how much damage Moscow had to do to get Ukraine to admit defeat.

“They can cause tens of thousands of casualties in a few days. They can significantly reduce Ukraine’s military power in the east. But is it enough to force Ukraine to make concessions? ? It comes down to their cost-benefit analysis, “Lee said.

Additional report by Henry Foy in Brussels and Roman Olearchyk in Kiev

Airstrikes or aggression: What is Putin’s military option against Ukraine?

Source link Airstrikes or aggression: What is Putin’s military option against Ukraine?

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