Offense at Maryinka village turned out to be failure for fighters. Does it leave hopes for calm summer in Donbas.
Unian correspondents asked this and other question to experts in Ukraine to find out why Russia tried to increase degree of confrontation in Ukrainian East. Article has been written by K. Goncharov and T. Urbanska. Original is available at unian.
On June 3 Russia-backed fighters tried to break through the defense of Ukrainian Armed Forces in Maryinka village and its outskirts.
Fighters used tanks and MRLS ‘Grad’ although these weapons are prohibited by Minsk agreements.
Later Ukrainian General Staff informed that offense was carried out by about 1000 Russia-backed fighters supported by 10 tanks.
‘Information Resistance’ group experts mentioned that massive strikes using BM-21 ‘Grad’ were delivered on the frontline and tactical rear of Ukrainian forces.
Ukrainian troops forced the enemy to retreat. Moreover, terrorist suffered significant losses when they came under artillery fire of ATO forces.
It is curious that Donetsk People’s Republic leaders initially boasted of taking control over Maryinka in social networks, and then they blamed Ukrainian side of violating Minsk agreements. It is prohibited to use artillery they said. Meanwhile, nobody of them bothered to explain to OSCE mission reasons for relocating tanks, combat vehicles and artillery systems. According to OSCE mission representatives, leaders of DNR refused to give explanations for moving their heavy machinery near Maryinka.
Speaking about artillery strikes at militants made by Ukrainian troops who defended territory from terrorist offense it should be mentioned that, having notified international partners, commandment of ATO forces made decision to use this type of weapons to give adequate response to the enemy and save lives of soldiers and civilians.
Later EU representative of internal policy and security policy Maya Kosyanich mentioned that battles in Maryinka are the most serious cases of violation of Minsk agreements since February.
In its turn, Russian Federation hurried to blame Ukraine for increasing intensity of hostilities in Donbas. Head of State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs Alexei Pushkov connected escalation of conflict to approach of date when EU can make decision to prolong sanctions against Russia. And, of course, he blamed Ukrainian side of everything forgetting to mention that active hostilities were started by Russia-supported terrorist group of fighters.
Meanwhile US State Department spokesperson mentioned that battles for Maryinka started with offense of DNR fighters. She put responsibility on Russia and spoke of possibility to expand sanctions.
Burden of western sanctions is one of reasons of conflict activation in Donbas. G7 summit is scheduled for June 7-8 there and possibility to cancel sanctions against Russia is to be discussed there.
‘Putin cynically raises the stakes, tries to achieve certain concessions from the west. He wants sanctions to be canceled, paradoxically, despite obvious violation of Minsk agreements. Meanwhile he’s trying to reduce damage for Russia, in particular, about the fact that FIFA can take World Cup 2018 from Russia (this is possible due to resignation of Sepp Blatter as president of the organization)’, director of Berta Communications Taras Berezovets says.
However, the expert believes that the west wouldn’t be affected by this blackmail.
Director of Center of Army Studies, Conversion and Disarmament Valentyn Badrak agrees to this.
‘Putin creates additional trump card, as if to say: if sanctions are not canceled the war will continue, and that west will not be able to dictate Putin’.
According to him, Russian authorities realize that Russia-terrorist groups concentrated in Donbas won’t be able to make corridor to Crimea, and there would be too many problems in case if regular Russian troops are introduced into Ukraine.
Badrak says that this is why Russia uses its officers in Donbas secretly, as leaders of terrorist organizations and meanwhile tries to undermine Ukraine from the inside.
‘Modernized’ war strategy in Donbas aimed to undermine Ukrainian authorities. First anniversary of Petro Poroshenko presidency is a very convenient moment to show that he hasn’t done anything during this year, although he promised to solve issue of anti-terrorist operation in couple of hours.
So that, Russian-terrorist troops have two tasks. On one hand, in military perspective, they have to provoke counter-offence. On the other hand, in non-military aspect, they have to discredit Ukrainian authorities in eyes of Ukrainian servicemen and their families, cause indignation and distrust to government.
In his turn, chairman of the center of applied political studies ‘Penta’ Vladimir Fesenko believes, that escalation of situation in Eastern Ukraine happened because before that Kremlin had failed to impose its scenario in Minsk. Russian Ambassador made a demarche leaving the trilateral meeting. In Minsk Russia obviously sought to certain forced result, it wanted to push Ukraine in negotiation process so that it agrees to Russian scenario of conflict regulation in Donbas. However, Ukraine wouldn’t agree to this.
Actually, in order to accelerate the negotiation process Russia used its tradition weapon – forcing to peace through war.
‘So that by activation of hostilities it sought to affect us [Ukraine] and Europeans, blackmailing them with conflict escalation, trying to force them to agree to Russian scenario. There are not only military tasks, this is diplomacy of force’, – Fesenko says.
He believes that attempt to scare western leaders and Ukraine with threat of war hasn’t succeeded – the scenario was disrupted. Political scientist says that this failure can stabilize situation in Donbas for some time.
‘Offense in Maryinka is some kind of first attempt in writing: if they succeed in taking part of territory near Donetsk, the same can be done in other key frontline parts. Because the tactical task for separatists and Russia is to push Ukrainian troops away from Donetsk and Luhansk’, – he added.
In his turn, MP, coordinator of ‘Information Resistance’ group Dmitriy Tymchuk believes that under cover of Minsk II commandment of Russia-terrorist forces tried to create prototype of regular army with unified system of troop management, single logistic system, powerful repair base of weapons and equipment. Attack at Maryinka is a probing action. If terrorists used all forces they have at Ukrainian border and inside Ukraine, situation would be much more difficult.
‘Let’s hope that these events sobered up eternally drunk ‘Novorossivists’. But we shouldn’t relax’, – Tymchuk says.
However, actions or lack of actions in Donbas is not the only reason why Ukraine should stay focused.
According to Valentyn Badrak, when defending Maryinka Ukrainian forces showed their readiness and ability to rebuff the aggressor. However, we need to create preventive mechanism of counteraction to such offenses and reaction should come not to attacks, but to their plans.
‘Even without strong army reconnaissance, movement of heavy equipment, tanks, armored vehicles, personnel was detected in advance.
The military expert believes that for future Ukraine has to create a scheme for action in case if such offense repeats. For example, if there appears information about movement of enemy’s weapons Ukraine should immediately inform western partners of its readiness to give rebuff to such action of Russia-terrorist forces. If weapons of the enemy is in field of vision it should be fired at without warning.
‘Thus we get transition to active defense’, – the expert says.
However, heralds of the Kremlin already spread information about readiness of Ukrainian forces to start offense. This may indicate that Moscow radically changes its political strategy and tries to shift from military to political-economic solution.
Da Vinci AG group says that activity of Russian side in spreading rumors about upcoming Ukrainian offense means that Russia lacks personnel and means to control illegal armed groups in DNR and LNR.
In this respect, danger of upcoming attack of ATO forces is the only factor which can preserve controllability, military and moral state of fighters.