Russia continues attacks to build a land corridor to the Crimea

Moscow violates the Minsk agreement, to capture Mariupol and get a land corridor to the Crimea. This opinion was expressed by former Deputy Minister of defense of Ukraine, Chairman of Expert Board of Center for army, conversion and disarmament (ciakr) Leonid Polyakov.

“Mariupol is strategically important object for a number of reasons. Firstly, plays an important role in the military-strategic factor — the takeover of Mariupol or the environment and blocking greatly facilitates the creation of a land corridor to the Crimea. In this case, the Crimea is constantly increasing group for a possible oncoming blow. Second, Mariupol is a major transport hub with an airport and a large deep sea port and berths for the receipt and loading, including fuel. Third, is a developed economic centre with three large steel enterprises manufacturing, among other things, important for the defense industry products. Finally, it is a big modern city with more than half a million people,” explained military analyst.

Expert notes: possible capture of Mariupol is not the only reason for resumption of hostilities by Russia and controlled by the separatists. According to him, Moscow is trying to push Ukrainian troops away from the administrative-cent of the occupied areas of Donetsk and Lugansk, and demonstrate on the international stage, its influence on the situation. He also believes that the separatists are trying to keep the feeling of “external threats”, diverting public attention from their own looting and failure to develop the region’s economy. However, according to experts, the Russian leadership still has not abandoned the idea of the occupation of new territories.

“In Novoazovsk (between Mariupol and the border with Russia) created the whole complex of preparations for possible military action with the entire adjacent infrastructure needed to host, training, logistics, air defense, artillery reconnaissance, radio – electronic intelligence in the interests of large forces of Russian-separatist forces. By the way, has repeatedly documented cases of launching reconnaissance drone in the direction of Mariupol directly from Russia. In addition, near the border with Ukraine in the Rostov and other adjacent areas is now continuing the establishment of military bases for the deployment, and in the near future — to build a significant offensive potential in several divisions,” — said the expert.

In February, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said that in the immediate vicinity to the Ukrainian border deployed units of the Russian armed forces numbering up to 50 thousand people and about 470 tanks, 1,700 armored vehicles, 390 artillery systems and multiple rocket launchers, about 490 aircraft of the fighting, hundreds of helicopters and 24 combat ship.

Leonid Polyakov allocates and short term causes of the constant attacks, in particular, checking the status of military training of the separatists, “probing the defense” of Ukrainian troops and the zeroing of weapons.

“Often, fire is opened with the aim of diverting the attention of the Ukrainian military, for example, from attempts of sabotage and reconnaissance groups imperceptibly to cross the line of demarcation, and delve into the rear of the Ukrainian troops. Also could be fired in the secondary areas with the aim of diverting attention from the areas of concentration of the main efforts of the militants. A common practice is the discovery of fire to support the work of the snipers. Attempts to provoke a return fire and thereby to identify potential targets for the sniper — or to draw fire on those who is shelling, the sniper could act quickly,” — says military analyst.

According to the figures, which the International court of justice in the Hague brought by the representative of Ukraine Elena zerkal, the monitoring mission of the OSCE confirmed at least eight deaths of civilians and thirty cases they received wounds from 29 January to 5 February, following the shelling of Avdeevka.

“As a result of indiscriminate shelling of the city were largely destroyed residential buildings and critical infrastructure, the civilian population was left without electricity, water and even heating during severe frosts. Within two months from the beginning of 2017 the number of shells that were used for the shelling of the Town is estimated at 15 thousand units. This amount corresponds to 14 wagons brim full of ammunition,” — said zerkal.

Leonid Polyakov stresses: natural, spontaneous attacks from the separatists do not have a significant impact on the overall situation, but it may be the reason for its escalation.

“In any case, all incidents should be carefully recorded, studied, to establish the reasons and purpose. Although the possibility of a large-scale offensive of the Russians and separatists in the East of Ukraine is rather hypothetical, Ukrainians must be prepared for the worst scenario. The Kremlin adventurism shows that it can happen at any time,” he concludes.