10 reasons that a full-scale invasion of Ukraine is possible before winter

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2014/10/03 • Featured, Military analysis

Article by: Mychailo Wynnyckyj

I’m going to be accused of scaremongering (again), but frankly, after keeping my opinions to myself for quite some time, I simply can’t do it anymore. So here goes: in my opinion, a full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia will occur before the Parliamentary election scheduled for October 26. This invasion will include at least 2 land-based components: a push northeastward from Crimea, and simultaneously from the Donbas westward; it could also be accompanied by a push towards Kharkiv from the north. Furthermore, together with a land war, Russian air power will be used against Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk, and possibly against other major Ukrainian cities. This is my opinion, and my prediction. I desperately hope I’m wrong, but just in case, I’ll be taking my family away from Kyiv on or about October 20-21 – just for a few days…

Here’s my logic:

1) Putin needs to establish a land link between the Russian Federation and Crimea before the onset of winter. If he chooses not to create such a link, the population of Crimea will surely starve and freeze; this will cause Putin major problems at home in the spring, when hiding the humanitarian catastrophe of an isolated Crimean winter from the Russian people will become impossible.

2) Occupying territory in Ukraine without the use of air power is now impossible. Ukrainian troops stationed in the Donbas have dug in very deeply in Mariupol, in Berdyansk, and in Melitopol (cities that need to be taken to establish even a minimal land bridge between Russia’s Rostov oblast and Crimea). Furthermore, massive reinforcements can be inserted into the theatre of operations quickly via Dnipropetrovsk if logistical lines between this city and the Donbas remain uncut. This cannot be done without air strikes.

3) Once air power is used, all pretense as to the supposed non-involvement of Russia in military action in Ukraine (as if anyone still believed the Kremlin’s official line) will be lost. When aircraft cross borders, their trajectories are tracked by radar and satellites. One can argue (although few believe it) that up until now, separatist rebels in the Donbas have been firing from captured artillery and driving captured tanks (although where the source of the shells and rockets that they are firing is more difficult to explain), but no one is going to believe a story about separatist rebels flying MIG-29’s or Backfire bombers from Russia into Ukraine.

4) Once Putin makes the decision to overtly engage Ukraine’s army and volunteer battalions, limiting his own use of air power makes no tactical sense. Whereas a covert war must of necessity by limited in scope, in an overt war, neutralizing enemy logistics and command and control structures becomes a major priority. In Ukraine’s case these are located in Dnipropetrovsk (the main logistical support base for the Ukrainian forces in the Donbas), and in Kyiv – the capital.

5) During the past few days, Putin has expressly denied his intent to disrupt the election in Ukraine on Oct 26, claiming that a free and fair vote is in Russia’s interests, and that he cares deeply about the “brotherly Ukrainian people”. Simultaneously, the Russian troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders has been intensifying – both in Rostov and Voronezh oblasts, and in Russian-occupied Crimea. Whenever Putin has expressed positive feelings towards Ukraine publicly during the past months, Ukrainians (with good reason) become intensely nervous…

6) Opinion polls show that the two pro-Russian political forces running in the current election (Serhiy Tihipko’s “Strong Ukraine” and the “Opposition Bloc” headed by former energy minister Yuriy Boyko) may not gain enough support to cross the 5% barrier required to be represented among the 225 MP’s elected by proportional representation. Although some pro-Russian MP’s are sure to be elected in first-past-the-post constituency races, it is likely that without a PR-elected core, it will be difficult for these “majoritarian” deputies to create a cohesive faction in the next parliament. In such a scenario, Putin’s voice in Ukraine’s domestic politics (i.e. his pro-Gazprom, anti-EU, anti-NATO lobby) will be effectively silenced. Such a scenario is unlikely to be attractive to the Kremlin.

7) According to Ukraine’s constitution, if a state of war is declared in the country, all elections are cancelled. Furthermore, until such time as a new Parliament is elected, all existing MP’s (including, in the current case, those who largely support Putin’s anti-EU/anti-NATO policy for Ukraine) remain in office. Although it is unlikely that aerial bombardment of Ukraine by Russia will provoke a military reaction from the EU and/or NATO, the Ukrainian government will have no choice but to declare a state of war, and therefore to cancel the Oct 26 vote.

8) The US administration has made it eminently clear that NATO will not fight for Ukraine. At this point sanctions are the maximum penalty that the West is prepared to impose on Putin for his aggression. However, although officially denied, it is likely that the US and/or other NATO countries have already begun to clandestinely supply Ukraine with some military equipment. Indeed non-lethal aid is quite openly being supplied. The longer Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is delayed, the greater the risk that this aid will be delivered and training will be provided in its use. Furthermore, Ukraine’s military has been taking full advantage of the relative diminution in hostilities during September to regroup and reorganize. The longer Putin delays his inevitable invasion, the better trained and organized the Ukrainian forces will become. With time on the Ukrainian side, and no deterrence from the West, the time for striking down the “fascist regime in Kyiv” is now!

9) The war with ISIS/ISIL in the Middle East has begun, and US forces are fully engaged; China is preoccupied by protests in Hong Kong; the US public is preoccupied with ebola, and the US elite is in the final stages of the mid-term election cycle; the European Council Presidency and the EU Foreign Policy Commissioner posts are both in transition; NATO has a brand new Secretary General (as of Oct 1). Clearly with all of this ongoing, coalescing a cohesive international response to a Russian invasion that occurs during the third week of October will be difficult. This may spell ‘opportunity’ for Mr. Putin.

10) Protests in Russia against the war in Ukraine have already begun, and will only intensify during the coming months, unless a crackdown in Russia (under the pretext of war) occurs. Again, time is not on Putin’s side – the longer he waits, the more he loses domestically. In this context we can also mention the ongoing devaluation of the ruble, the continuous decline in oil prices, and the fact that Russia’s best troops (special forces, paratroopers, etc.) have already been on full battle-ready alert for over 6 months (and cannot be kept in this condition for much longer). If an invasion is to happen, it must happen soon.

For all of the above reasons I am not optimistic about the coming weeks. Putin does not command sufficient forces to occupy any more Ukrainian territory than he has already grabbed – particularly given the increasingly hostile population that he would be forced to passify as his forces move westward. However, as demonstrated by the severe devastation that Russian forces have caused in the eastern Donbas since April, the Kremlin’s strategy may not involve occupation – simple destruction will suffice. For this purpose, air strikes on Ukraine’s major cities are ideal. I sincerely hope I’m wrong in this prediction… But just in case I’m right, we will be evacuating our family from Kyiv during the days immediately preceding the Oct 26 Parliamentary election.

God help us!

Mychailo Wynnyckyj PhD

  • Michel Cloarec

    I think this is in the mind of all people who are supporting Ukrainia to be free from involvements from Putin. The non respect of the ceasefire agreements prove this.
    Or Putin has lost control over the terrorists or the terrorists are preparing the ground to continue instabilities. The Ukrainia loving Putin will have all the excuses to save Ukrainia from humanitorian disaster.
    Only to pray, that he will not use nuclear weapon.

    • Art Judge

      Nuclear weapon once a feared weapon years ago, is no longer so, in todays technology warfare, They are just another missile, that can be taken down.

      Sophisticated Radar system, anti-missile system, superior fighter jets all very capable in to days world.

      • PoeTentiate

        ICBMs are very difficult to shoot down

  • optionrider

    Not impossible.

  • Joni Pelkonen

    Ukraine has an extremely effective air defence complex. Ukraine is no Georgia where russians could attack cities with very few losses. Although they could use short and midrange missiles, which are extremely expensive single-use weapons but which cause no russian casualties and are still cheaper than shot down attack jets.

    • Chamois

      Not realy true russia didnt had air superiority in the georgian conflict. But Georgians didnt risked their airforce. Problem was russian mechanized divisions moving fast forward.

  • Lilia Horodysky Kovalenko

    Excellent forecasting…nailing some great arguments. I’m with you, when you say – I hope I’m wrong. God help us.

  • Art Judge

    Let`s not stop there if you are predicting, whilst Russia is distracted with Ukraine,

    China sees a opportunity to move on Russia` s South East Boarder, as they have been
    manufacturing Tanks and self propelled Artillery in there thousands, not to be
    taken to sea, but to land grab, they easy out-gun Russia with Military Hardware and Troops

    Russia has already justified to China that land grab is acceptable, with China population
    out growing the land and resources it has, Russia is seen by China as resource
    glory land fit for their needs.

    China will justify their actions as protecting their interests, being cheaper to go to war than paying $400,000,000,000

    • Chamois

      Nope china is building economical empire. It will stay neutral and trade with all until it will have clear market superioty on us and eu markets.

    • Paul P. Valtos

      I understand that large amounts of oil have been discovered in Mongolia on Russian territory. Be interesting to see what transpires there. Another Russo Chinese (Japanese) war??? That was the start of the downfall of the Czarist regime.

  • Brent

    Obama, send more blankets!!! Maybe you can wrap them around some serious hardware helping Ukraine to defend itself

    • PoeTentiate

      As long as the delivery is in vehicles painted white, and labelled “humanitarian” you can send as many weapons as you want.

  • Adrian Rrllc

    The invation would happen but sanctions and lowering oil prices are stopping Putin. Brent below $93, and heading lower, will make him think twice.

  • Kruton

    Putin is crazy,Russians are crazy. You could be right.

  • Murf

    A well thought out analysis. I am sceptical but Putin has proven to be…bold in his actions. and this is a very real Course of Action (COA) open to him.
    Whether correct or not the Ukrainian Army Staff had better be prepared for the eventuality.
    Hopefully who ever is in charge in the south is thinking a head and will be prepared to give Putin’s boy a warm welcome

  • franciscoalmeida_br

    1) – Russia’s targeted key-element to acquire , is to preserve the fruits of Germany’s utter willingness to prevent another Major War – being that the reason for which Germany led the weaving of European Union – to which Russia desperately tried for decades to integrate, but has been blocked by US+UK influence.
    2) – Thus posed, aligning Berlin-Moscow axis is Russia’s End Game to prevent Atlantic Powers from achieving another victory on preventing the rise of an Eurasian Unity – and here Germany is the West-East key-conduct – , which would mean utter demise of Anglo-sphere’s grip on entire planet.
    3) – Invading Ukraine would pose Russia as an expanding aggressor before Germany’s eyes , and that would finish off Russia’s hopes of an integrated security pact from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
    4) – Russia doesn’t fear Ukraine, as Ukraine has no significant means to harm Russia nor interest in poking the bear to an intolerable limit. Furthermore, Russia while considering Ukraine as part of Russia herself, with utter brotherly intertwining relations, does not wish to subjugate Ukrainians by force, but rather pursue a reintegration through persuasion.

  • Jacob Schønberg

    It is not difficult to supply the app 2 million people in Crimea by ship and airfraight. The problem is only cost as Crimea can not pay for it. An open offensive on Ukraine would be opposed very strongly in Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine will make any occupation very expensive to Russia. To me it is clear that Russia try to winn politically by empowering Ukraine. Ukraine did not do much to improve the export and the foreign investments so so far Russia succeded. But if Russia want to occupy part of Ukraine then it will be very much easier in the strongest winter cold because Ukraine is very poorly prepared to fight in very cold and snowy weather. To attack Ukraine would be a very big mistake for Russia and I do not believe they will be so stupid, It will be very very expensive ! many greetings Jacob Schonberg, danish citizen in ukraine

    • Murf

      The ferry will have to shut down when the ice freezes the Azov. So yea it’s going to get a little tight in crimea.

      • Jacob Schønberg

        Russia have enough icebreakers and they just sail around to sevastopol. They also fly – 2 million pople doesnt need very much ! The problem is to distribute to people without money. They do not have the distribution for free

        • Murf

          2,ooo,ooo x4 liters of water per person per day by plane?
          Naw that’s not much.
          Ice breakers are not ferries and vis verse.

  • Michel Cloarec

    In “echos of Moscow “, it starts to admit that there are russian officers in Donbass.

    But they are peacekeeping helping OSCE. Now can russia explains the cargo 200.

    And accuse the Ukrainian army of killing “peace keeping” soldiers. The russian people are going to believe that and give Putin right to intervene with occupation.

    “Upon arriving at the “Joint Coordination Center for Ceasefire Monitoring” in Soledar, the SMM noticed that one military officer from the Russian Federation was wearing an OSCE patch on his uniform as well as carrying an ID card with the OSCE logo. The SMM made the necessary demarches in response to this unauthorized use of OSCE insignia.” Quote from Osce report 3/10/2014

  • Paul P. Valtos

    Time to make sure that Ukrainian pilots are trained in Polish aircraft and weapons that can be shipped over to Ukraine if they haven’t been shipped so far. I would hope that the Poles will not stand for this bullshit. England and France went to war over Poland in ’39 and Americans also. No need to turn Poland over to the sdamn Russians again. Kill the bastards.

  • http://vgrab.blogspot.com grabian

    IF THAT WILL HAPPENS NOTHING WILL STOP UKRAINIANS TO BE IN MOSKOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE&HANG THE PUTIN ONTO HIS EGGS

  • Oleg Chebeneev

    Clear proof that it never happens: If Putin wanted to do full scale invasion, he would do this long time ago. This makes all 10 points in article irrelevent

  • Michael Smith

    The Ukraine is a cesspool of a territory.
    Decent people are harrassed by Nazis, scum, parasites and American backed con-men who can’t stop lying (see above).

    Russia should bomb the dens of Fascism back to the Stone Age.

  • Michael Smith

    “devastation that Russia has caused in Donbass”.

    What a verminous Polack idiot you are!