May 20, 2018: On the continuing aggravation near Gorlovka [Donetsk People’s Republic] on both sides.
1. The sharpening military situation near Gorlovka cannot be stopped by diplomatic methods (i.e., the Minsk agreements), since it is part of the strategy of the U.S. and Kiev to prevent the freezing of the conflict. Since the negotiations in the Minsk and Normandy formats have reached a deadlock, and attempts to replace these formats with the introduction of peacekeepers through the Volker-Surkov talks failed, Kiev will continue to implement attempts to seize the “gray zone” (not just in the direction of Gorlovka) and create all possible problems, regardless of losses, that will allow it to maintain a “hot” controlled conflict. Losses in manpower and materiel allow them to maintain the current level of combat intensity for years, as they are insufficient to inflict unacceptable losses on the military structures of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics [LDPR] or Ukraine.
|Building shelled by Ukrainian forces in Gorlovka, DPR, May 21, 2018.
2. In this respect, neither the scenarios of the proponents of “Putin’s crafty plan” with its “terrible silence” on the topic of stopping and freezing hostilities, nor the proponents of the “Putin surrenders” scenario, who’ve waited four years at the border for the LDPR [to be returned to Kiev] can work, as pointed out back in June 2014 – the Kremlin will not be allowed to jump out of the fork between war and surrender. The past four years of positional warfare have only confirmed what was obvious four years ago. If someone hoped that diplomacy would work, then of course they were “surprised,” however, by the obvious.
3. The substitution of Surkov for Babich does not change much here, since those opportunities, which people like to moan about in the comments, were lost four years ago, and our interest is rather in the question of what is supposed to be done now, besides the obvious scenario of maintaining the status quo in the hope that the desired freeze will somehow happen. We’re talking about what to do in the current situation, and not about what could have been in the spring of 2014, when the Russian Federation had many more options than it does now. Russia obviously implements the inertial scenario, counting on the possible freezing of the conflict and the internal disintegration of the fascist regime in Ukraine, while the U.S. works in every possible way keeps the Poroshenko regime in power and supports the course of an active positional war to prevent the Russian Federation from achieving its desired goals. Neither Surkov nor Volker could change this fundamental arrangement.
4. Ukraine will obviously increase the intensity of hostilities, which, among other things, will be accompanied by increased shelling of front-line settlements, with an increase in the number of civilian and military casualties on both sides. The notorious World Cup is just an excuse. Even if it were not, the intensity of the positional war in the Donbass would only increase, since it corresponds to the logic of the existence of the current regime in Kiev and the general vector of U.S. policy toward Russia.
5. The current course of the LDPR and RF in the Donbass cannot and will not stop the escalation of the positional war, because the counteraction and corresponding losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (APU) are insufficient to make the costs of such a course unacceptable for the Kiev regime (not to speak of the U.S.). Rather, the initiative for escalation is preserved by Ukraine (or rather by its real U.S. masters), which probes the front line in LDPR in various directions, trying by show successes through escalation in the “grey area” and by causing additional military-political and image costs for Russia.
6. As a result, after more than four years of war in the Donbass, neither side has achieved its desired strategic goals. The U.S. was never able to squeeze Russian influence out of the territory of Ukraine. Russia has not been able to use the existing structures in the Donbass to return its influence to Ukraine in the desired way. Hopes that this will happen through some international negotiating format have not been justified, nor are the hopes that international formats will at least lead to the freezing of the conflict according to the Transnistrian scenario.
7. The current escalation serves only as a further illustration of the military-political impasse, which neither the Normandy-Minsk negotiations, nor the low-level battles in the “gray zone,” nor attempts to circumvent the deadlock through the Syrian war, have resolved. In the face of the refusal of the parties to take the initiative through a full-scale offensive, there is no military-political solution at the current stage, and Donbass is doomed to remain hostage to the irremovable contradictions in U.S.-Russian relations.
Translated by Greg Butterfield