While Russia prepares for the World War 2 victory celebrations on May 9 and showing off its advanced military hardware, the US top officials fear the Kremlin will order a new military offensive.
US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that Russian forces have used a recent lull in fighting in Ukraine to “reset and reposition” while protecting its territory gains.
Despite a fragile Minsk ceasefire agreement signed on February 12, 2015, and a volatile situation in Ukraine, the United States needs more avdanced intelligence in the region to better understand the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s further intentions.
“Many of their [Russia’s] actions are consistent with preparations for another offensive,” Breedlove warned, according to The Associated Press.
Breedlove: We Must Learn from Putin’s Actions
“Some Russian military exercises have caught us by surprise and our textured feel for Russian involvement on the ground in Ukraine has been quite limited,” Breedlove said, acknowledging the fact that he was not able to predict the Kremlin’s next move and added that: “What we can do is learn from his [Putin’s] actions.”
By saying about Russian military exercises, Breedlove refers to Russia’s recent increase of its military presence in Donetsk and Luhansk by conducting military drills and deploying air defense systems near the frontline.
A State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said last week that there is “the highest amount of Russian air defense equipment in eastern Ukraine since August.”
Breedlove explain this kind of Putin’s actions as “preparing, training and equipping to have the capacity to again take an offensive.”
“In the past they have not wasted their effort,” Breedlove told the Senate Armed Services Committee, and thus urged to bolster US intelligence capabilities. He said that the amount of intelligence experts specialized on Russia has significantly decreased since the end of Cold War and stated the fact that all valuable intelligence assets have been shifted to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“What we do see suggests growing Russian capabilities, significant military modernization and an ambitious strategic intent,” Breedlove said, adding that Russia is looking for ways to strengthen its grip over separatists in eastern Ukraine by stepping up its command and control “because there was disunity in some of the earlier attacks.”
The US finally names who pro-Russian rebels are
The US has decided to introduce a new term describing pro-Russian rebels in eastern. Nothing surprising though. The State Department used the term “combined Russian-separatist forces” three times in one of its statements last week, slamming Russia and its militants for the recent ceasefire violations in Ukraine.
Therefore, the US has finally decided to put much greater and tougher responsibility on Moscow for the violations, which is likely to create more difficulties for Russia in persuading the West to let go of the sanctions that are crippling its economy. Furthermore, Washington and Moscow’s partnership on such matters as nuclear nonproliferation and counterterrorism have become less possible.
US intelligence officers, on the condition of anonymity, told about the close linkage between the pro-Russian separatists and Putin’s government and presented evidences of them working and training together as well as the facts that the militants are answering directly to the Kremlin.
Still No Lethal Aid for Ukraine from the US
However, the United States President Barack Obama administration is still uncertain about providing lethal aid to Kyiv’s government, which would help end the one-year-old conflict in Ukraine.
As ValueWalk reported over a week ago, the US is sending approximately 300 troops to train and advise Ukrainian forces in western Ukraine. The paratroopers are going to spend six months (until October 31, 2015) training the Ukraine’s National Guard. To nobody’s surprise, Russia then warned the US that the training of its troops in Ukraine could escalate fighting in the region.
Having many of its spy agents in Ukraine, it is very likely that Russia will monitor the training closely, trying to learn the tactics of the US army in order to be able to use it in case military confrontation between Moscow and Washington begins.
The training is a significant upgrade in US involvement in Ukraine, which has been promised by US officials so many times and came true just now. Russian and US soldiers are now within 800 miles of each other in Ukraine.
There were numerous comments by pro-Russian rebels in Russian media that US’s decision to deploy its troops to Ukraine will only motivate them engage in more severe fighting due to their openly expressed hatred to the Americans.
The questions is: if during the next weeks or months there will be reports of the US soldiers getting injured, or worse, dying – will the Obama administration finally begin supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine’s government?
War could Start at Any Moment
“War could start at any moment,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said this week.
The President’s comments come as the conflict in eastern Ukraine has recently intensified at the border formed as a result of the Minsk ceasefire agreement.
Ukraine’s anti-terrorist operation press center reported a few days ago that shelling of the positions of Ukrainian troops are carried out using the artillery systems with caliber higher than 100 mm, which should have been withdrawn as stated in Minsk II protocol. In the Shirokino region, which is in Mariupol, there is a non-stop fighting.
As Russian has recently unveiled its brand new cutting-edge tank to be presented during the World War 2 victory celebrations on May 9, the neighboring countries are concerned about the possible attacks on their sovereignty during the celebrations.
The questions is: could Russia attack the remaining territory of Ukraine during the World War 2 victory celebrations on May 9 and thus begin the World War 3?