Russia’s goal is to destroy Ukraine bit by bit, says expert

Over the past few weeks, as allied Western nations have been screaming from rooftops that a further invasion of Ukraine is imminent, those at the center of this extraordinary crisis in eastern Europe have been patiently waiting for another adage to fall.

And now it looks like it has.

Not that, with their repressed anxiety and learned skepticism, Ukrainians are deliberately blinded when they reject the warning. They could see the massive buildup of the Russian military on their borders and know what it meant.

They had seen this film before, several times. The difference is that before, we in the West didn’t pay attention, or maybe didn’t fully understand what was going on in the complicated layers of post-Soviet politics.

Key justification for Moscow, say expert

What was missing for several weeks as the invasion anniversary fell was a pretext, many Ukrainian leaders and senior officials arguing with anyone who would listen.

Moscow, they say, needs a set of circumstances that they can use—or fabricate—to give Russian military action a layer of global legitimacy.

“The issue of justifying the invasion is very important for them to avoid serious international punishment,” Oleksandr Danylyuk, Ukraine’s former head of national security, told CBC News in a recent interview.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition on Monday of the two breakaway regions of East Ukraine as so-called “independent” republics and his order to Russian peacekeepers to protect them, the last missing piece of this tragic international puzzle fell into place. .

Oleksandr Danylyuk, Ukraine’s former head of national security and Russia’s war expert, said the issue of justifying a possible invasion was critical if Russia was to avoid serious international punishment. (Murray Brewster/CBC News)

Interestingly, Russia’s parliament last week asked Putin to recognize the autonomy of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, an idea that was initially dismissed by the Russian president’s spokesman as a violation of international agreements that have tried to end Russia’s seven-year proxy war. region.

“As we can see, the West is largely unprepared for a real clash with Russia, and the Russians are very good at giving them, you know, reasons to say that this is not a very definite situation,” said Danylyuk, who is now in charge. Center for Defense Reforms, a Kyiv-based think-tank that has studied Russian methods of warfare.

The goal, he said, was to divide the country, piece by piece.

VIEW | What does Putin’s recognition of separatist territory mean?:

What does Putin’s recognition of separatist territory mean?

Jodi Vittori, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, discusses the wider implications of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the two breakaway territories in Eastern Ukraine as independent territories. (AP Photo/Denis Kaminev) 4:44

“It’s not about their ability to attack Ukraine. It’s about their ability to control Ukraine after that,” Danylyuk said.

“That’s why the division of Ukraine into parts – this is what they need. In such a case, they can leave central and western Ukraine for some time and start digesting the east and south.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reacting to Putin’s decision, tweeted on Monday that “Canada strongly condemns Russia’s recognition of the so-called ‘independent state’ in Ukraine.”

“This is a blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and international law. Canada stands firm in its support for Ukraine – and we will impose economic sanctions for this action.”

VIEW | Canada condemns Russia’s recognition of separatist territory in Ukraine:

‘Further invasion of Ukraine’ will trigger sanctions package that has long threatened Russia: Joly

“If there is a further invasion of Ukraine, we will go ahead and do it,” Foreign Ministry Min said. Mélanie Joly was asked if Putin sending a “peacekeeping” mission to separatist-held areas of Ukraine would trigger a long-threatened package of sanctions. 7:50

Russia may not have the power to contain Ukraine

Military experts who have watched Russia’s buildup for weeks honestly say that even with 160,000 to 190,000 troops, Moscow has not amassed enough troops to invade — and more importantly, defend — all of Ukraine.

“I don’t think they can get to the Dneiper River, actually,” retired American lieutenant general Ben Hodges said, referring to the river that divides Ukraine and the north-south line, in a recent interview with CBC News.

“If Russia attacked it would be bad. It would be bad, but I don’t think they can defend logistically what it takes.”

Defense Minister Anita Anand met her Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksiy Reznikov, at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, and witnessed last weekend as Russian proxy forces in the Donbas ordered general mobilization and the evacuation of civilians.

The writing seems to be on the wall at the time.

“We are preparing for all eventualities and we support Ukraine in responding to all eventualities,” Anand said in an interview with CBC News.

Canadian shipments of lethal weapons, including machine guns, carbines and hand guns, arrived in Ukraine over the weekend.

Ukrainian soldiers walk during training for the use of US M141 Bunker Defeat Munition (SMAW-D) missiles at the Yavoriv military training ground, close to Lviv, in western Ukraine, on February 4, 2022. The US accused the Kremlin on Thursday. an elaborate plot to fabricate an attack by Ukrainian forces that Russia can use as a pretext for taking military action against its neighbour. (Pavlo Palamarchuk/The Associated Press)

During his meeting with Reznikov, Anand also restated Canada’s pledge to help improve Ukraine’s cyber capabilities – something it promised in late January.

Over the past few days, the Ukrainian government has endured debilitating cyber attacks, but Anand declined to say what kind of assistance Canada has provided to get government departments, including Ukraine’s defense ministry, back on their feet.

VIEW | ‘Putin should and will be punished’ says former Ukrainian ambassador:

‘If necessary, we will fight for every house and for every street’: Former Ukrainian ambassador

“We know that we are standing on a wall, winter is coming and we have to defend civilization from evil,” said former Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko, referring to Game of Thrones’ Night’s Watch when asked to describe the mood of Ukrainians. now. 7:59

The tug-of-war over the Donbas region continues

Danylyuk said the Donbas region, which Putin had ordered Russian troops to protect, had long been the center of a tug-of-war between the two countries.

The first attempt to “attack and divide Ukraine,” he said, came in 2004 when pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovych, who later became the country’s president, tried to organize a separatist assembly in the Luhansk region, along the border with Russia.

Russia failed in that attempt, and Danylyuk said they tried again once Yanukovych was elected president, but “they miscalculated the potential support from the Ukrainian population that Russia could get.”

Yanukovych was ousted and forced into exile in 2014 after rejecting closer ties to the European Union and overseeing a bloody crackdown on demonstrators in Kyiv’s Maidan Square.

Jackson Wintringham

"Coffee aficionado nerd. Troublemaker. General communicator. Gamer. Analyst. Creator. Total brew ninja."

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