Ukraine invasion fears as Putin faces Covid backlash in Russia
The Russian military is prepared to strike the EU’s border with an invasion of Ukraine, with an attack potentially ready to take place as early as January next year. According to an assessment from NATO and the Ukrainian military intelligence service, if Putin gives the order, the Russian army would organise “a simultaneous attack from northern Crimea, through separatist territories to the east and from the north”, a high ranking security source revealed.
The attack could take place “at the end of January, beginning of February” if Ukraine and NATO do not respond to Putin’s demands.
The Kremlin has not yet decided whether to implement the plans.
This comes as Mr Putin has recently demanded a legally binding guarantee that NATO will not expand east — including to Ukraine, with the Kremlin saying that the Russian leader plans to raise the issue in a call with US president Joe Biden.
An assessment from NATO insiders revealed that the attack may take place in three phases, giving Putin the opportunity to reassess the invasion if the Western reaction is sufficient.
Vladimir Putin plans to use 175,000 troops in three phases to capture Ukraine.
The Russian military is prepared to strike the EU’s border with an invasion of Ukraine
Just last Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Russian plans ranged from “efforts to destabilise Ukraine from within to large-scale military operations”.
German news outlet BILD, which spoke to high-ranking military sources, has revealed that the first phase of the attack would involve an invasion of the south of Ukraine.
A security officer told the outlet that the aim of this stage would be “to secure supplies to Crimea as well as to cut off Ukraine from the sea and thus from supplies.”
A high-ranking Western intelligence officer added that Russia was planning to use its warships, which were moved from the Baltic Sea to the region in the spring, “to transport tanks and troops from the Crimea to the area around Odessa” – allowing the region to be surrounded.
If Putin gives the order, the army would organise ‘a simultaneous attack from northern Crimea’
Mr Putin has recently demanded a legally binding guarantee that NATO will not expand east
There would also be simultaneous “airborne operations by Spetsnaz special forces” in the Kherson region along the Dnieper river, which would block the bridges over the country’s most important river and thus cut off supplies for the Ukrainians.
The source added: “From Crimea, there would initially ‘only’ be artillery fire on the strong Ukrainian positions. The Ukrainian troops would then be tied up there and would not be able to recapture the bridges behind them.”
In addition, Russian tank units, again supported by the navy and air force, would advance westward from the occupied Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, then split up and advance to Zaporizhia, the most important military centre in southern Ukraine, and Crimea.
If that succeeds, the entire south of Ukraine would be under Russian control and Putin would have built a corridor from Russia to the NATO border with Romania.
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Phase two would involve an attack on the Northeast of Ukraine.
BILD reported that, once the Kremlin has weakened Ukraine’s military capabilities, Russian tank units could then cross the border in the Lugansk and Kharkiv regions and advance to the major cities of Dnipro and Poltava.
One source said: “First of all, they would encircle or surround the cities and cut off electricity, gas and food supplies. After a few weeks, the Russians could celebrate themselves as the saviours of civilians, invade the capitulating cities and save the Ukrainian population from starvation or death.”
The three-stage attack would culminate in the capture of Kiev.
However, a source added that this “could happen at the beginning of the war if the circumstances require it”.
An assessment from NATO insiders revealed that the attack may take place in three phases
While NATO strategists are unsure whether or not Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko would support the invasion, if Belarus offered itself up as a starting point for Russian attacks the Kremlin could encircle Kiev from the northeast and northwest.
Russian forces would then march “roughly along the Korosten-Uman line to cut off supplies from western Ukraine. Then one would wait for a surrender of Kiev and thus Ukraine under pressure from the West”, a source said.
Another added: “If Russia goes in, the sanctions will come anyway.
“Then it doesn’t make sense anymore to stop halfway.”
The sources were also pessimistic about Ukraine’s ability to defend itself saying: “The Ukrainians would fight, but they would not be able to withstand a major attack by the Russians.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.