In recent weeks, the Kremlin has once again amassed a huge number of troops and military equipment on the Russia-Ukraine border after a major buildup this spring. In addition to the Western military circle, Russia collectively sent troops to two points, the interfered part of the Donbas and the Crimean peninsula, mainly from the Central and Southern Military District. Amid mounting tensions over the Donbas conflict, analysts began discussing Russia’s military actions against Ukraine. But what will it look like if there is such an intervention, and what would happen next?
By recognizing Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, Moscow can rapidly move its troops placed on the west to areas controlled by the DPR and LPR under the pretext of protecting the pro-Russian forces. The Ukrainian armed forces are not in a position to resist or seriously harm Russia’s taking the control of the disputed Donbas region. Considering that the pro-Ukrainian resistance in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions has weakened significantly since 2014, there is no possibility of active resistance against Russia in the Donbas. Assuming that the West will not intervene militarily in the conflict, the only problem Russia will face after taking control of Donbas will be the solution to administrative problems. Saving Donbas’ collapsing infrastructure, paying pensions, and providing medical care to the population are huge costs for the Kremlin’s budget. But depending on the situation, Moscow may decide to take more deep steps about Ukraine by leaving Kyiv out of the case. It can overthrow the government by directly supporting pro-Russian opposition forces, but the West is expected to prevent it from happening.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Washington that the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s security and territorial integrity is “ironclad” and will not change. He said any Russian escalation along the border would be viewed with “grave concern.”
Russia says military deployments on its territory are an internal matter and it denies any aggressive intentions while accusing the U.S. of provocation by sailing warships in the Black Sea close to its territory this week.
Russian officials said the troops were deployed for manoeuvres, casting them as part of measures to counter security threats posed by the deployment of NATO forces near Russian borders. Russia and the alliance also make statements about each other for conducting destabilizing military exercises near the borders.
This issue will be a completely different process from Russia’s quick and smooth taking the control over Donbas because the Ukrainian armed forces, which are weaker than the Russian army in the respective military categories, are likely to focus all their efforts on the offensive of the opponent. Despite Russia’s military advantage, it might not be easy for them to gain complete control over large areas. Russian forces will not be welcomed in Ukraine’s southern coastal cities and the Russians must be ready for the new uprisings. Unlike in 2014, the people’s trust in the Ukrainian government is stronger, and Zelensky’s pro-Western policy is supported by various segments of society. That`s why the United States and the European Union will therefore spend substantial time developing and coordinating various response measures, from mechanisms of political influence to military intervention.