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Military escalation in Donbas: the reaction of the world community and what to expect from the Russian Federation

The situation in Donbas continues to worsen. On April 8, 2021, the militants violated the ceasefire 5 times. Of these, 4 times they opened fire on Ukrainian positions and 1 time on civilian infrastructure. During this, a soldier of the Joint Forces was mortally wounded.

The Page has reviewed the foreign press: what the leaders of states think about what is happening and what to expect from the Russian Federation—further in the article.

What the media outlets abroad say

According to the OSCE weekly monitoring, in the Donetsk region from the evening of April 2 to 5, the Mission recorded 1,424 ceasefire violations. In the previous reporting period, 594 ceasefire violations were recorded in the region. In the Luhansk region, 126 ceasefire violations were recorded, most of them on the evening of April 2. In the previous reporting period, 427 ceasefire violations were recorded in the region.

The Mission facilitated and monitored the ceasefire to ensure the maintenance and operation of critical civilian infrastructure. The freedom of movement of the Mission's staff was restricted, including at the checkpoint in the Staromykhailivka area in the Donetsk region.

Meanwhile, the representatives of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Lithuania, and Poland discussed the growing activity of the Russian military and accused Moscow of escalating the conflict. The leaders of the countries reaffirmed their support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Ukraine, and also expressed concern about the growth of Russian military activity in the region, the Pentagon notes.

According to the New York Times, about 4,000 Russian troops were sent to the border with Ukraine, prompting the US military commanders in Europe to increase their monitoring of the crisis to the highest possible level.

The US State Department called on Russia to refrain from escalating tensions with Ukraine. In recent days, Russia has gathered troops and transferred tanks to the border with Ukraine, DW writes, and the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine looks increasingly precarious. These actions are the latest point of tension in relations between Russia and the United States in less than three months after the inauguration of US President Joe Biden.

"They are conducting large-scale deployment in such a way as to be visible, but so far this does not look like the forces that could be expected to invade Kherson or other regions... It does not seem to me that Russia is preparing for an imminent invasion," FP quotes CNA Senior Research Scientist Michael Kofman.

Military escalation may well be considered as one of the possible scenarios, the Valdai Discussion Club writes. Kyiv may also believe that Russia will pay a heavy price for a new conflict. Even if the Armed Forces of Ukraine are defeated, Moscow is unlikely to go beyond the existing borders of the so-called DPR and LPR. New sanctions will be imposed against Russia. Investors are again talking about "geopolitical risk". The main problem is related to the fact that the resumption of a large-scale armed conflict will inevitably lead to new sanctions against Russia. In addition, the extent of such limitations is difficult to predict, and that leads to uncertainty in expectations.

"Perhaps the Ukrainian leadership is also hoping for good luck. Even tactical successes in Donbas will strengthen Ukraine's position," the media outlet writes.

However, this scenario is still extremely risky for Kyiv, according to the Valdai Discussion Club. The threat of sanctions and their introduction will undoubtedly be detrimental to the economy of the Russian Federation. However, this is unlikely to stop Moscow if it comes to a military conflict.

"In recent years, Russia has shown that it is ready for decisive action. The force can be used without undue hesitation. Moscow understands that the West will side with Ukraine in any case. But political support is one thing, and military intervention is quite another," the message says.

A NATO spokesman told Reuters that Russia is undermining efforts to reduce tensions in eastern Ukraine. According to the BBC, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy joined the criticism, saying that "military exercises and possible provocations on the border are traditional Russian games."

Nevertheless, according to FP, NATO should prepare for the worst. Negativity from renewed hostilities between Ukraine and Moscow separatists could emerge quickly.

"NATO does not play a direct role in the conflict in Ukraine, other than providing political support to Kyiv (while allied countries provide training, equipment, and weapons). But the Alliance must be ready for a crisis response," the message says.

Even if NATO is not obligated to defend Ukraine, it is obliged to protect all NATO members, including those who are close to Ukraine, the newspaper added.

The Russian Federation response

The Kremlin, in response to Zelenskyy's statement about the need for Ukraine to join NATO, said that this is "deeply unacceptable" for residents of the occupied territories.

"We deeply doubt that this will somehow help Ukraine to cope with its internal problem. In our opinion, this will further exacerbate the situation. Speaking about joining NATO, one should in no way abstract from the opinion of the people, and if you ask the opinion of several million people in the self-proclaimed republics, you will understand that NATO membership for these people is deeply unacceptable, an unacceptable prospect," Interfax-Ukraine quotes Press Secretary for the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov.

According to Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Head of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, Russia can stand up for the residents of Donbas if it is forced to. According to him, if Kyiv starts hostilities in Donbas, it will be "the beginning of the end of Ukraine."

"It all depends on the scale of the fire. If, as our president says, Srebrenica is carried out there, apparently, we will have to stand up for those people," RIA Novosti quotes him.

He added that he does not see a connection between Zelenskyy's trip to Donbas with the escalation of the situation—"this is one of the elements of information work, PR activity carried out by all politicians, including Zelensky."

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