Photo: Tactical aircraft of the Armed Forces of Ukraine launches missile and bomb strikes on tank columns as part of the military exercise «Snowstorm-2022».
Source: Army Inform
The concentration of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border has attracted a lot of attention from the international community. The information space was filled with news about Ukraine, where international news agencies sent numerous film crews. One of the most discussed issues is still the likely date of the Russian invasion, on which there is still no consensus among the leadership of Ukraine and partner countries.
American intelligence has repeatedly warned about the possible danger from Russia and the possibility of an offensive in the near future. On February 11, 2022, the United States even warned allies that NATO countries were running out of time to develop a package of economic and military measures that could deter Russia in its plans to launch military operations against Ukraine and named a likely date for a full-scale invasion - February 16. Against the backdrop of a tense situation, several dozen foreign states have decided to move their diplomatic missions from the capital, Kyiv, to Lviv. The Ukrainian leadership, in turn, emphasized that the situation on the border had not actually changed since April last year and that warnings about a potential Russian military attack on Ukraine only harmed the country. Thus, the rhetoric of the Ukrainian leadership coincided with the rhetoric of Russian officials. Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN even used the words of V. Zelenskyy during a meeting of the Security Council.
Different interpretations of events have caused misunderstandings and tensions between Ukraine and NATO. Asked about accusations of panic by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that it would be irresponsible if the Alliance did not respond to the long-running military build-up that has been going on for weeks. "If NATO did not react at all, then we would be criticized for being passive," Stoltenberg said. The different rhetoric is explained by the following factors: first, Ukraine began to lose economically due to tensions and other subjective factors. The panic losses were compounded by Russia's announced exercises in the Azov and Black Seas, which effectively blocked Ukrainian seaports.
Second, the parties assessed the military threat differently. Russia has so far concentrated 122,000 troops at a tactical depth of up to 200 kilometers. That means, the number of troops stationed near the border has not changed. But, at an operational distance of 400 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, Russia has concentrated another 142,000. That is why the rhetoric of the Ukrainian and American leadership differs. NATO intelligence has seen that Russia has created two strategic echelons for a deep offensive operation that Ukraine has ignored. At present, the 1st Elite Guards Tank Army, the 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division, the 20th and 41st Combined Arms Armies, airborne forces, “Iskander” missile systems and aircraft have been transferred to the Ukrainian border. Thus, it indicates the preparation of the Russian Federation for the offensive operation along the line Yelnya-Bryansk-Kursk-Voronezh-Belgorod. In addition, Russian forces are potentially threatening not only Ukraine but also the Baltic states, which Russia may try to cut off by capturing the Suwa?ki Corridor to Kaliningrad.
Recognizing the potential threats, NATO members responded with practical and prompt measures. Ukraine was provided with macro-financial assistance from the European Union, signed a loan agreement with France, and a financial fund to support Ukraine was created. Ukraine also continues to receive an unprecedented amount of weapons for self-defense. Member countries have agreed to strengthen NATO's eastern flank, as Vladimir Putin's expansionist claims go beyond the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
Russian officials often publish texts outlining the views and positions of Kremlin leaders. Among the latest such publications there is an article by Vladislav Surkov, in which the Kremlin ideologist and ex-aide to Vladimir Putin writes: «If we compare the modern map of the European part of our country with the map approved by the notorious Treaty of Brest, there are hardly many differences. So, what is next? Definitely not silence. There is a lot of geopolitics ahead. Practical and applied. And even, perhaps, a contact one». Surkov in his publication puts forward territorial claims against Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic countries, threatening to use force. Vladimir Putin's «security guarantees» actually contain a similar demand - the withdrawal of NATO forces from the territory of member countries that have joined NATO since 1997. For a long time, the issue of protecting the Baltic countries was questioned in expert discussions, however, on February 15, 2022, President of the United States of America Joseph Biden stated that the United States remain committed to its obligations under Article 5 of the NATO Charter and will protect the Baltic countries. This is a powerful signal and an adequate response to the demands of the Russian president.
The leadership of the United States, together with European partners, not only helped Ukraine financially and economically, but also agreed on the form of announcing intelligence information and the position of the country. On February 2, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that the United States would no longer use the word «imminent». Although the Ukrainian leadership believed that the announcement of an imminent invasion harmed Ukraine, in fact, US information activity has become an effective deterrent, because Washington actually kept making public the Kremlin's intentions, preventing possible aggression. This consolidated the countries of Europe, who realized the threat Russia poses to their own national security, and also prompted the Ukrainian government to make more effective preparations at home. Command and staff exercises of the Armed Forces of Ukraine «Zaviryukha-2022» were launched throughout the whole territory of Ukraine, the preparation of territorial defense was intensified, and the actions of counterintelligence and the SSU have also intensified. In the last month, the Security Service of Ukraine has exposed a large number of agents working to destabilize the state from within.
At the same time, publicity exposed Europe's weaknesses. These are Slovak deputies who opposed the deployment of American troops in Slovakia; Hungary, which not only opposed the deployment of American troops, but also opposed the imposition of sanctions on Russia as a whole; this also applies to Germany, a country that still refuses to provide military support to Ukraine, but also, according to Bloomberg, is trying to exclude Russia's energy sector from the sanctions list.
Publicity in the media has become an effective mechanism for deterring Vladimir Putin. In recent weeks, the US leadership has been announcing Vladimir Putin's intentions, showing that they know the further steps of the Kremlin leader. Along with the information element, the United States and NATO members supported Ukraine financially and through the provision of defense weapons. At the same time, reports on the danger of imminent invasion prompted the Ukrainian leadership to prepare more effectively for defense. In particular, military trainings were launched, terrorist defense training intensified, as well as the fight against domestic agents of influence. Ukraine has to be ready for a potential Russian military invasion, so the government must keep working on internal issues, strengthening the country from within, as well as consolidate international partners against the Russian military threat, because experience shows that even in the face of Russian aggression, still there are many Vladimir Putin's partners in Europe.
- У НАТО відповіли на звинувачення у нагнітанні паніки щодо вторгнення РФ,
- Колишній куратор війни на Донбасі та радник Путіна Владислав Сурков написав колонку. Він відкрито говорить про війну, захоплення України та країн Балтії. Стислий переказ,