The logic of the current spring freak out in eastern Ukraine is, in principle, quite simple and understandable. The degree has definitely raised.
But, despite the growing tension, raising the level of WATCHCON (situational or reconnaissance readiness) by the US European Command to the highest and the concern of our Western partners, nothing irreparable is happening yet.
At the end of March, during the duty rotations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, an information campaign from that side began. About the fact that Ukraine is preparing to attack Donbass, about the columns of security officials from Kyiv and the accumulation of heavy weapons, equipment, and manpower in the "red" zone.
All these were clumsy fakes—nothing extraordinary went to the east, green and grass appeared on the video, there was nothing more terrifying than a couple of battalions in rotation on real content. Yes, there was training of "Smerch" systems near Henichesk and the launch platforms of "Tochka" complexes appeared for a moment in the south, but for striking Donetsk and Luhansk—it is too far away. And what a sovereign country is doing on its territory, what is being worked out and where the Bayraktars fly—all this does not affect the situation under the conditional slagheap near Shumy in any way.
Rotations are taking place. The Marine Corps of the 503rd came out from under the face of Horlivka, and the 10th Mountain Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine occupied the area of responsibility. On March 26, a battle took place near Shumy, where four Ukrainian soldiers were killed, including the detachment commander of the 143rd demining center Serhii Koval.
Being blown up by a POM-2 mine, sniper and mortar fire, it even came to a large caliber—there were several powerful explosions. In principle, not the first and not the last battle in the sector—not so long ago near Chyhyri, up to 10 soldiers of the Army Corps of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) were killed and disabled.
Another outbreak of trench warfare
Since Ukraine has been included in NATO's expanded capabilities program since last summer, the escalation does not get past the US European Command. They put WATCHCON intelligence and situational awareness to the highest level.
In practice, this means that more analysts and intelligence personnel are engaged in regional issues, if necessary—more satellite time, communication channels, or strategic UAV flights from the Sigonella base in Sicily.
This protocol has been worked out in South Korea, where a mad dictator with a nuclear baton is arranging escalation from time to time—undermining a corvette; artillery battles with South Korea were not so long ago. And WATCHCON was also put there to the fullest in order to provide the ally with the necessary amount of intelligence data.
In Europe, an element of this system is Alliance Ground Surveillance—five strategic UAVs RQ-4 Global Hawk. The machines reached operational readiness in February 2020. And it is those machines that once a week or two hover above Ukraine, collecting information on the line of combat contact and along the border with the Russian Federation. Their radars detect the activity of enemy radars, they can recognize the target, the size of an AMPV or a truck with ammunition, filter out ammunition on the ground or fuel reserves, and detect air defense and artillery batteries.
By comparing satellite imagery, radar localizations, undercover information, communications activity, and much more, Alliance analysts can warn of the concentration of enemy forces in a theater of operations with a fairly high degree of accuracy. While this article has been being written, one of the machines with a 40-meter wingspan with tail number 11-2047 has been working over the front line. Right now.
At the same time, the Russians are transferring the 56th brigade from Kamyshin to Feodosia—it will be stationed there on a permanent basis. It looks like numerous trains with heavy weapons, automobiles, and self-propelled guns. In addition, special engineering equipment appears from time to time in the Rostov region—for example, pontoons and floating bridges just 30 km from the border of Ukraine. Yes, this is the road to the Borodinovsky training ground, but it's good that such things are visible in open sources.
Defence Intelligence of Ukraine and Khomchak report about 28 BTGs and potentially 25 more that can be deployed within 48 hours—mostly landing troops and special units. Up to fifty battalion tactical groups—30.000-35,000 soldiers.
A lot, but not enough for active action. The entire transfer has not yet gone beyond the scope of a series of exercises or redeployments—that is, there is PSYOP, all this noise in the network is for their internal purposes. Political pressure or a response to the largest NATO exercise in Eastern Europe—this will be clear very soon.
For the invasion of Georgia, the Russian army concentrated the same forces as the entire Georgian army, and if counting the puppets in Abkhazia and Ossetia, then much more.
The invasion of Chechnya and control of the foothills required up to 100,000 personnel and, at the peak, sent OMON (Special Purposes Mobile Unit) ot TDY.
The USSR is occupying Afghanistan, deploying 108,000 people in the region—to do so it was necessary to open a new training unit and call up reservists in the rear units.
For a possible invasion of Ukraine, where the National Guard of Ukraine, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and the State Border Guard Service are more than 300,000 personnel, and a quarter of a million people received the status of combat veterans, everything that the Russian Federation has will be needed. "Buryats" from the 5th separate tank brigade, Kantemirovskaya division, marines from the Northern and Pacific fleets, numerous departmental special forces, separate tank brigades. These are wagons to the horizon, supply vehicles spread along many kilometers, water carriers, equipment for drilling water wells, fuel tankers. Dozens of kilometers of columns.
Such activity cannot be hidden when a dashcam sticks out from everywhere. While nothing of these is present— we can say that the Russians are strengthening the rear and increasing the number of high alert groups on duty so that the "young republics" do not fall down, or are gradually building up the grouping until the moment when the situation with water in Crimea becomes unbearable.
A military transport plane with an unknown cargo arrived from the Ramstein airbase in Boryspil today, and the military attachés of the Embassies of Canada, the United States, and Britain held a number of meetings with the Ministry of Defense Taran and the commander of the JFO Nayev.
The US statement that Ukraine will not be left alone with the aggressor was also made. Steps towards escalation have been made, the transfer of troops has been identified, the war of attrition is continuing. In the coming weeks, it will be clear where the situation will develop. But to date, no matter what the media announces, this is more of a mongering of the information background than a real preparation for a military solution of the issue.