Kiev’s Problems and the Escalation in Donbass

There was another escalation in Donbass. Everyone understood that sooner or later it would take place. Periodic exacerbations were the basis of Poroshenko’s tactics in Donbass, and since Zelensky was fully embedded in the image of his predecessor, it was reasonable to expect also a repetition of his tactical moves.

However, the escalation format was surprising. It is not so much military as informational.

This is possible to verify by comparing the assessment of the event made by the leadership of the DPR/LPR with the hysteria that broke out in Kiev. The position of the People’s Republics is that a Ukrainian saboteur-reconnaissance group, trying to move to the rear of the Republic’s troops, hit a minefield. The result is one killed and four wounded. In order to evacuate them from the neutral zone, Ukrainian troops, according to the People’s Republics, shelled residential districts.

A convincing story. Similar things have already happened many times before. The difference is that until now Ukrainians, trying to save their wounded, have struck the positions of Republic’s troops. Shelling of residential neighbourhoods was carried out in other cases (usually without reason at all). That was the logic. It makes no sense to shoot at the deep rear if the danger to your soldiers is in close proximity. In order to prevent the capture of the wounded and to carry away the body of the victim, it is necessary to suppress the firing points at the front line. Shelling residential neighbourhoods in this case will not help.

But I do not think that the representatives of the DPR/LPR in this case exaggerate. Again, similar clashes with saboteur-reconnaissance groups have happened many times before. Sometimes they turned into local battles involving several dozen soldiers on both sides. But never has anyone claimed that Ukrainians fired on residential neighbourhoods if there was no shelling. The DPR/LPR simply does not need to slander their enemy. This does not improve their position in any way, but can significantly undermine confidence.

Moreover, in this case, the Ukrainian side does not deny the shelling. It did not refute the statement of the DPR/LPR. Kiev simply interpreted the events in its own way. From the point of view of Ukraine, the corps of the DPR/LPR (according to another narrative, “Russian soldiers”) went on the attack in the area of the disengagement of troops in Zolotoye, trying to capture several settlements.

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As we can see, the Ukrainian interpretation indirectly explains the reasons for the shelling of residential districts – the UAF, they say, repelled a massive attack. Further, it is not difficult to state that reserves were (or could have been) accumulated in these very residential neighbourhoods, concentrating them before the attack. And then – “war is war”.

Thus, with a high degree of confidence it is possible to speak of a provocation organised not by some colonels of the UAF (as was often the case before) for the sake of hiding the fact that the material base of their subordinate units was stolen, but by high-ranking military and influential politicians in Kiev.

In order for everything to work out as necessary, there was a need to plan the operation, bring additional ammunition to the batteries, deploy reserves in case something goes wrong, and for the corps of the DPR/LPR to really respond to the attack by shelling UAF positions. Lastly, it was necessary to send the saboteur-reconnaissance group to the minefield to get fresh victims as proof of the “craftiness of the enemy” and as an excuse for shelling. All of this was supposed to be synchronised with each other and with political actions in Kiev. The military needed to provide political cover in case Zelensky showed principle and started investigating the incident. Finally, it was necessary to ensure an instant coordinated reaction in the Ukrainian press.

We’ve seen all this. Up to the fact that Zelensky was forced to urgently convene the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC) in order to consider this issue. However, during the meeting of the Council, he either overcome his fear or, more likely, received the support of influential external and/or non-political forces. Despite the massive hysteria of Kiev politicians and media, Zelensky, after the NSDC meeting, declared Ukraine’s policy of unchanged peace. I.e., at this stage he tries not to inflate the conflict, while maintaining space for manoeuvre.

Consequently, we can assume that quite influential Ukrainian political forces tried, without informing Zelensky, to provoke a serious conflict. And its military component had to be minimal in order not to bring the case to real full-scale fighting. The main focus was on the information component, which was supposed to present an ordinary incident, of those that regularly occur on the demarcation line, as an unprecedented force of the DPR/LPR offensive in one of the points of withdrawal of troops, and if possible, point to Russia as an accomplice.

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Zelensky, facing a development that was unexpected for him, decided to try to understand what specifically happened, and then form an official reaction. A sensible move (probably the first he made as president) that leaves all ways open and eliminates the need to make decisions in the face of a lack of information.

But who in Kiev might need this provocation, and why?

Everyone. Ukraine has received a number of reported signals over the past month indicating Kiev’s loss of support from the West, and that key regime figures could be declared criminals by the same West.

No one knows how far Trump will go in his revenge against the Democrats. But a film about “Ukrainian lies” shown on a supporting channel that calls the events of 2014 a coup d’état carried out with the money of American taxpayers and with the support of the American administration, allow Trump to seek prison terms for the entire political top of the Democrats, including Obama himself. Accusations of fraud made by Congress and the unauthorised, without parliamentary sanction, launching of a war (albeit a hybrid one) with Russia against the former president have already been made.

But by blaming US Democrats for criminal offences, he can’t help but blame their Ukrainian partners. Moreover, in some cases, only the preliminary conviction of a Ukrainian criminal creates evidence to charge his American counterpart. The Trump administration is becoming an objective threat to key figures in the Kiev regime.

The European Union noted the “12 steps for peace in Ukraine” and the publication of van der Werff’s documents, which indicate that the Dutch Joint Investigation Team is well aware that none of the Russian or Ukrainian Buks could have shot down flight МН-17. A reasonable question arises: who shot it down, and how? It is also interesting to know who could do it unnoticed in the airspace of Ukraine, in front of Ukrainian attack aircraft, or fighter jets, flying near a “Boeing”. In general, there are many questions and all of them are extremely uncomfortable for Kiev. Apart from the Baltics and Poland (and they are too few to change anything), the EU has also renounced Ukraine and ceases to cover the crimes of the same regime it brought to power, trying to get away with it.

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In addition, France and Germany agreed with Russia on the impracticability of planning a meeting in the “Normandy format” in Berlin until the homework given to Ukraine in Paris was completed. Zelensky is required to implement “Minsk”.

The hope that it will be possible to get concessions from Russia thanks to the appointment of a new responsible for Ukraine, too, was not justified. The Kremlin’s position has even tightened somewhat.

The Kiev regime is plunging into increasingly complete isolation, gradually remaining alone with the people it has robbed. It’s pillars (Poroshenko, Turchynov, Yatsenyuk), as well as Tymoshenko, Klitschko, many Maidan activists, most oligarchs, and even many so-called oppositionists face great trouble.

For all of them, the escalation in Donbass is the last attempt to change the West’s position on Ukraine, show Europeans a “real war” with “attacking Russia”, get support again (financial, economic, military, political, diplomatic, etc.), and somehow stabilise the domestic political situation. The external force represented by the American Democrats and Soros is also interested in exacerbating Ukraine. This escalation can be used in the anti-Trump campaign, showing voters that his policies lead to the outburst of American allies and the loss of resources invested in them.

So at least Zelensky traded time for reflection, but his choice is limited. He may refuse to support a new confrontation, but then he will have to fight almost all influential players on the Ukrainian field. Only Russia can support and protect it, but for this purpose it is necessary to agree to Moscow’s declared format for resolving the crisis in Donbass and to start actively implementing the Minsk agreements. For such actions, Zelensky has neither his own forces nor strong allies, and even his approval rating has dropped below the 40% mark and continues to decline rapidly.

Rostislav Ishchenko

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