Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, under Russian occupation and claimed as Russian territory in violation of international law and Russia's own treaties, has no land connection to Russian territory. Without passing through Ukrainian territory, Russia can reach Crimea only by air or sea.
Russian president Putin has, since first invading Ukraine last March, made numerous references to "Novorossiya" (New Russia), a name from history for a territory of the tsarist Russian empire, that includes all of Ukraine's seacoast. Putin has implied that this territory should again be part of Russia.
It is widely recognized that Putin wishes to conquer the entire coast of the Sea of Azov, in order to establish a "land bridge" from Russia to Crimea.
From the standpoint of control of territory, the high-intensity combat of August 2014, in which units of Russia's uniformed armed forces unquestionably participated, consisted mainly of a southward thrust from land then controlled by separatists toward the Sea of Azov (the body of water to the east of Crimea), and an attempt to push westward toward Mariupol, the largest city on the north coast of the Sea of Azov -- and the first major obstacle along Putin's "land bridge" to Crimea.
In addition to substantial military equipment and "rebel forces" already sent into Donbass by Russia, large numbers of armored vehicles, other military machines, and Russian army units have been sent into Donbass in recent weeks.
Fighting has intensified sharply. The battle for Donetsk airport (probably of no military value at present) has received the most news coverage, but Russia's forces have also been striking outward into Ukrainian territory not under their control, including high-intensity attacks against checkpoints in the direction of Mariupol.
NATO has detected (probably by emitted radio signals) air defense units and electronic warfare systems operating near Russia's border with Ukraine's Donbass region.
Just three days ago, a railway bridge was demolished by explosives in the Zaporozhye region, far from the Donbass combat zone. This rail line is a primary means of communication between western Ukraine and Mariupol.
The strong Russian military reinforcements of Donbass, combined with the provision of air defense and electronic warfare systems, are consistent with preparation by Russia to launch a major invasion.
The attacks outward from the "rebel" perimeter could be attempts to increase the size of Russian-controlled territory in Donbass prior to a "cease-fire". However, those directed toward Mariupol appear to be the beginning of an operation to seize the rest of the north coast of the Sea of Azov.
The destruction of the railway bridge is exactly what an invading power will do (if possible) in the days leading up to an invasion: impair the victim country's ability to reinforce the city to be attacked.
Because of present cold soil temperatures, the lands of the southeast Ukraine coast are now
better suited to movements of large military vehicles than in other seasons.
NOTE: PREPARATIONS ARE SEPARATE FROM FINAL DECISIONS
Personally, I consider it very likely -- nearly certain -- that the Russian Federation is executing preparations for a seizure of extensive territory in southern Ukraine.
This does not guarantee that Putin will give the order to attack.
In the late winter and early spring of 2014, Russia was plainly making preparations to invade the entire eastern half of Ukraine. However, no such invasion took place at that time. Putin might order such preparations for several reasons:
* to exert political or psychological pressure against his adversaries
* to keep available the option of striking, should he decide to do so
* as preparation for a military campaign already decided
I don't know Putin's intentions, or the probability that a major invasion will take place.
I heard today that terrorist forces want to retake Slovyansk first before Mariupol. It has symbolic meaning as it was the "birthplace" of the rebellion they say plus it supposedly supplies water to much of the region. However, massive military buildup outside of the city suggest it wont be long before they attack Mariupol.
in the past 4 days the war has escalated nearly to what it was in August and Ukraine is losing ground little by little.
As you and I well know, Slovyansk was no such birthplace. Slovyansk is a small and (in most respects) insignificant city, and was never a hotbed of "Russian nationalism". It was taken over by armed thugs who were unknown in the city -- because it contains the major crossroads which must be passed in order to reach Donetsk and Luhansk from central Ukraine.
If a major offensive is intended, it planners will attack Slovyansk for military reasons; I doubt that the Russian generals in charge care about its symbolic value to Ukrainian traitors.
Obama, do us right, be more like your father and run off. Leave the task to Biden, he is mean enough to take on the task. Go to Ferguson, carry a sign and take up the cause and conderfederation you have chosen to be the pinnacle of your warped tenure and sense of justice...........While the world falls apart in every quarter. Incompetent fool!!!
Today: "Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said."
The death toll keeps climbing, 30 is the most recent figure.
These stolen lives are in addition to 13 civilians murdered in the shelling of a bus near Mariupol, only eleven days before.
I don't say "murdered" casually. These shells were not fired by Ukrainian soldiers or patriots: they don't attack territory far from rebel-occupied land. The "rebels" aren't "defending themselves" -- none of their fighters are in Mariupol. They aren't even "reclaiming" territory, because they never reached Mariupol.
This is nothing other than murder of civilians, as part of a brutal and absolutely unlawful war of conquest.
To those men who participate in this forum, who have been apologists for Russia's aggression: I hope you are able to regain some sense of decency, and feel the burning shame you have earned.
Look at the bodies, just feet from the apartments and magazines of residential neighborhoods. These could be any town throughout the FSU. It is international terrorism and murder. This is no accident. It shows how disconnected Herr Putin is, his greed, callousness and the violence he will conduct to reach his ends. He has no intention of building a bridge to occupied lands. He will steal the path and pave it with the bodies of the proletariat. He is no different than Stalin in starving the masses into submission in the last century. He image will someday soon be wiped away in attempt to deny complicity by the adoring fans,,,,, his legacy and fate will be that of Il Duce and Der Fuhrer.
"The RIA Novosti news agency cited Ukrainian rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko as saying an offensive had begun on Mariupol. Zakharchenko swiftly backtracked, however. He denied that his forces were responsible for Saturday's carnage, saying it was caused by Ukrainian error."
Seems the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.
I canít believe how some people seem to live much longer than they should! From the time of the Crimean invasion, there hasnít been a way for Putin to turn back. Weakness is something he can never show, because once he does, someone just might take him out.
He doesnít just want a land route to Crimea, but over to Belarus and Moldova too. Once he has that, he will turn north for Kiev and western Ukraine then threaten Poland.
I believe it was someone from Estonia, that said, Putin would never attack the Baltic states. If I were him,,, Iíd start looking out of the window.
A story online claims that the Russian people are willing to eat less to help the cause,,,, they think the cause is fighting Ukrainian terrorists,,, but itís really Putin fighting the west. Putin has them believing that we want to destroy them, when we care more about their welfare than their own leader does. What is the population of Russia?? Putin expects all but a hundred or so of them to go hungry this winter, just so he can maintain his power and wealth.
This seems to be the original full video that some TV and Internet news sites used to report the rocket attacks in Mariupol:
BBC news explains what happened in a two minute report:
Some of the population there must be questioning their loyalties. The Ukrainian Army shot dead a number of civilians on 'Victory Day' on 9th May, causing much resentment. Yet now this predominantly pro-Russian city has had at least 30 of its citizens killed yesterday by the pro-Russian rebels. Having seen several videos of the attack, which covered a large area, it seems unbelievable that there weren't even more casualties.
I wonder if Alexander Zakharchenko (head of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic) will ever be sent to The Hague for war crimes. Probably none of the deaths in eastern Ukraine would have happened if Putin hadn't sent Alexander Borodai, Vladimir Antyufeyev and Igor Girkin to Donetsk, Sloviansk and Lugansk (all Russian citizens). These three aren't local Donbass rebels: they are military men with previous experience of stirring up trouble in other countries - ordered to go there by their president. Of course none of these men will be charged because Putin would have to join them, and this will never happen.
It's important to maintain a level of balance in war and civil conflict otherwise nothing gets resolved. The casualties/murders are committed by BOTH sides. We should never overlook that fact. Such as the recent slaughter of innocent people at a bus stop in central Donetsk on Thursday which I detailed on another thread. There were no comments on that. The families of those who were killed and disfigured in the Donbas region by the U.A. since May certainly do not believe they are on the 'wrong side'. There is massive hatred and anger there at the moment towards those they hold responsible. I don't have current estimated figures but when this situation is concluded I have no doubt that deaths of civilians and rebel fighters will far outnumber those of the U.A., and besides, many homes and other buildings are totally destroyed, unlike other parts of Ukraine which remain virtually untouched.
This time last year I was exchanging many e-mails every day with a girl while she was protesting in Kiev. It was like having a personal reporter. Now I communicate at length almost daily with someone in the heart of the war zone, and life in Donbas is extremely grim, with frequent power and water cuts, totally inadequate food supplies, and some people having to live in basements - if they're fortunate enough to have one. It is at least a good thing that the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) is there to impartially monitor and collect facts.
The reason I say "murder" in this case, is that (to my knowledge) the many civilians slaughtered by forces loyal to Ukraine's lawful government, were not targeted intentionally. Rather, Ukraine has very often failed to hit its military targets, due to the limitations of its equipment, battlefield intelligence, and training of soldiers.
What I am saying might seem like a flimsy distinction, but it has some importance in the way many people perceive the morality of conduct in war, and perhaps also in law.
All modern warfare, without any exception whatsoever, includes the incidental killing of noncombatants. The US military, which certainly has the best equipment and training overall of any of the world's armed forces, has accidentally killed many noncombatants in its modern-day engagements.
Russia's rocket barrage on Mariupol:
(a) had no defensive necessity whatever, as the "rebels" were not under attack from that city;
(b) was not against any kind of military target; and
(c) was guaranteed to kill noncombatants, as its perpetrators certainly knew.
The bloodshed and heartache are surely on both sides. But I don't see the barrage against Mariupol as morally equivalent to the action's of Ukraine's lawful government.
I wanted to clarify my position on this. However, I don't wish to minimize the very important points you made in your comment. I know that many in Donbass hate the Kyiv government for their present suffering. Some, to be sure, understand that their true tormentors are the separatist thugs who insist on tearing their country into pieces, but probably those are a small minority.
When peace comes -- in whatever year, or generation that may be -- the people of the region will have to come to terms with this tragedy, and the anguish that will continue as long as memories do.
As a practical matter, the former Soviet countries, and the State of Israel, generally have very positive relations with Germany. It is possible to heal, and life must go on.
I read something the other day where buddies/deputies, whatever, were rallying around warning the west not to try to topple Putin citing that these Russian people will starve before they allow that to happen.
This situation has been going on for, what, something like 9 months, why come out and make statement(s) like that now unless certain party(s) are beginning to feel unnerved?
And did they put this "Putin or starve" opinion to a public referendum, to a public vote? ... Did they bollocks!
"The reason I say "murder" in this case, is that (to my knowledge) the many civilians slaughtered by forces loyal to Ukraine's lawful government, were not targeted intentionally. Rather, Ukraine has very often failed to hit its military targets, due to the limitations of its equipment, battlefield intelligence, and training of soldiers."
I'm sure your heart is in the right place, but this is wishful thinking for those who want to believe it; even naÔve in a war situation in a dirt-poor country where western moral practises are irrelevant, and I am 100% sure this would not convince any of those affected. I can't look for it now but even one of the big human rights organisations accuses both the rebels and Ukraine of abuses including torture.
Throughout this conflict I have always empathised with those who don't want war: the innocent civilians caught in crossfire - they are the ones paying the price for politicians', gangsters' and warlords' ambitions, because life for the residents must be a living hell. I doubt any of us could even imagine their situation. The many people who have deceased relatives and friends, injuries or amputated limbs, flattened houses, destroyed families and communities due to the one million who have fled, will not differentiate between clumsy intention or deliberate murder of their people. To them, or you or me - if we were them, the result is all the same.
To get a rough idea on the destruction of just one small village near Donetsk, I recommend you look at this video made last Sunday where this freelance British journalist simply walks around a village street. Throughout, explosives can be heard nearby. Even if no one died there (which they must have done) virtually every house is wrecked. This is clearly a residential area. How would we feel?
Also here is similar footage to a link I posted about the captured Ukrainian Army Commander the rebels say was in the area when the bus stop in central Donetsk was attacked, killing ~13 people. He is forced to look at the results. I don't care for the way these rebels parade their captives through the streets to be beaten and humiliated. But just see the intense hatred and anger the citizens of Donetsk have, including elderly women, for the U.A. The whole crowd, including journalists, do not even notice an unfortunate dead woman lying in the street from the earlier attack - she is almost trampled on in the fury for revenge:
I don't disagree with any of your points (a), (b) and (c). But having seen many hundreds of truly awful videos and endless news coverage from the region, where admittedly it is not always clear who is to blame, I see no difference between what happened in Mariupol on Saturday, and the other videos I have given as examples in my thread about the Ukrainian/Russian conflict, except that in Mariupol it was to incite war - which legally carries more weight, but morally, I think not.
Life only goes on for those who have the privilege of not getting killed - by a lawful government or Putin's thugs.