Published On: Tue, Aug 16th, 2016

Russia: Preparing an Offensive or Maneuvering for Easing of Sanctions?

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What is President Vladimir Putin planning for Ukraine? Kyiv officials argue Russia’s leader is accumulating pretexts to justify a major assault with the aim of securing a land route through Ukraine’s southeast regions to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula Moscow annexed weeks after the 2014 ouster of Putin’s ally Viktor Yanukovych.

They see the escalation of fighting in the country’s mainly Russian-speaking eastern region of Donbas, where for more than two years pro-Moscow militants and Russian forces have been locked in a so-called ‘frozen conflict’ with the Ukrainian military, as a prelude for an offensive.

The massing of Russian troops and hardware, including S-400 Triumph missiles, in Crimea and last week’s claims by Moscow that Ukraine infiltrated saboteurs into the peninsula with the plans to commit “acts of terrorism” – something Kyiv vehemently denies – are viewed in Kyiv as ominous signs.

Ukraine’s military intelligence officials say they expect more sabotage claims by the Kremlin, insisting “the enemy is planning large-scale provocative actions” in a bid to discredit Ukraine in the eyes of the West.

Their thinking is that Moscow is planning an offensive to start just before Russian parliamentary polls scheduled for September 18. Russian officials, who say the provocation is coming from Ukraine – not the other way round, deny this.

Source : VOA

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