The armed conflict in Donbass can flare up with renewed vigor: the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, has authorized the use of all available weapons on the line of contact. Now the unit commanders do not need to coordinate this with the leadership. In addition, Bayraktar strike drones were deployed to the front line. Experts believe that the Ukrainian army is preparing for a large-scale offensive.
Breaking the truce
The new order became known after Zaluzhny’s meeting with journalists and bloggers. In Kiev, the information has not yet been officially commented on. However, Deputy Pri-me Minister of Ukraine O-leksiy Reznikov, representing the country in the contact group, refused to refute it. And this is understandable: the general would not have made such a loud stat-ement without the approval of the president’s office.
The representative of Russia in the contact group Boris Gryzlov, in turn, stressed that the actions of the Ukrainian authorities “are tantamount to withdrawing from the agreements on measures to strengthen the ceasefire of July 22, 2020”.
But it is possible that the commander-in-chief is bluffing. The Ukrainian media have repeatedly published such statements of him that another leader would be ashamed of. In particular, Zaluzhny admitted that he dreamed of driving a tank around Moscow, and assured that nothing prevents Ukraine from joining NATO.
However, now his words are confirmed by the commanders of lower rank. In particular, the press officer of the 503rd separate battalion of the Marine Corps, Alexei Godzenko, wrote on social networks: “Orders that prohibit opening fire have been canceled. New introductory note: you can inflict death on enemies.”
However, it is unlikely that the “new introduction” came as a surprise to the DPR and LPR, who have been living under shelling for years, despite the ceasefire. So, at the end of the week, Ukrainian security forces fired at least forty 120-mm mines at the villages of Vasilyevka and Mineralnoye. Previously, they opened fire on Krutoy Balka and Dolomitnoye. The OSCE mission confirms that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are deploying additional positions in the “gray zone”, digging trenches, and transferring heavy equipment to the front. The neighbors are also restless. The representative of the LPR delegation at the Minsk talks, Maria Kovshar, said that in fact a new hot spot had emerged in the republic. According to her, more than half of the shelling from the Ukrainian Armed Forces falls on a site near the Pervomaisk-Zolotoye checkpoint under construction, as well as on the village of Zhelobok. Kovshar clarified that this week Ukrainian snipers killed two members of the People’s Militia here.
According to experts, the situation will only get worse. “The Ukrainian Armed Forces have been opening fire all the time throughout all these years,” Natalya Makeeva, deputy director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, said on the air of Sputnik radio. retaliatory actions stipulated by the Minsk agreements. Legally, it can be concluded that Ukraine is withdrawing from the Min-sk agreements, although this is an undeclared exit. Nevertheless, the order to open fire without the consent of the command actually means exactly that. “
In her opinion, the shelling will become more intense – the Armed Forces of Ukraine will begin to use large-caliber artillery and multiple launch rocket systems. Makeeva is convinced that the war will turn into a hot phase, and losses on both sides will sharply increase. In addition, the Ukrainian military can try Bayraktar strike drones, which, according to Zaluzhny, have already been transferred to the conflict zone. According to Internet resources tracking aviation flights, drones regularly patrol the contact line, but have not yet participated in hostilities.
This week, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and the Turkish company Bayraktar signed a memorandum on the construction of a joint center for the maintenance and modernization of drones near Kiev. According to the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, Moscow fears that Kiev will use this weapon against its own people. However, Turkey has declared its readiness to sell drones to anyone who pays.
NATO countries are actively pushing Ukraine to resolve the “Donbass issue” by force. At the end of September, a multinational exercise Rapid Trident 2021 was held in the Yavoriv district of the Lviv region – servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and their Western counterparts jointly practiced offensive actions. More than six thousand people took part in the maneuvers. A special role was played by special forces units, which parachuted into the rear of the conditional enemy. “During the exercise, the ground forces demonstrated coordinated tactical actions, practical interaction and real compatibility with the units of the United States, NATO member states and partner countries,” Kiev said.
The fact that Ukraine is preparing for war is confirmed by the recent visit of the US Embassy staff to the Joint Forces Operation (JF) zone. They met with the co-mmander of the Mariupol tactical group, familiarized themselves with the security policy in the Sea of Azov and in other areas. The delegation also went to sea in an armored artillery boat to assess the situation off the Ukrainian coast. In the unrecognized republics, the visit was perceived as a review of troops before a major offensive.
Appreciated the military preparations of Kiev and the Russian Foreign Ministry. Deputy Minister Andriy Rudenko said that it is difficult to predict anything with the current Ukrainian leadership and nothing can be ruled out. “We hope that, after all, reason will prevail in Kiev and that the military scenario, including the Donbas scenario, will not reach,” the diplomat said.
He stressed that the possibility of another aggravation in the southeast of Ukraine is taken into account in the Kremlin during military planning. And President Vladimir Putin earlier said bluntly that an attempt by Kiev to return Donbass by force would have “grave consequences for Ukrainian statehood.”