Remember, although not guaranteed, August is the month of war.
EUCOM: ‘Extremely concerned’ by regional tensions
The Pentagon has identified eight staging areas in Russia where large numbers of military forces appear to be preparing for incursions into Ukraine, according to U.S. defense officials.
As many as 40,000 Russian troops, including tanks, armored vehicles, and air force units, are now arrayed along Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.
Additionally, large numbers of Russian military forces will conduct exercises in the coming days that Pentagon officials say could be used as cover for an attack on Ukraine.
“Russian units will likely practice reinforcing the [Crimean] peninsula through such activities as amphibious landings and air defense exercises, and this may involve the change out of equipment and long convoys of military vehicles,” one defense official said.
The military exercises are an ominous sign. Similar large-scale Russian exercises were conducted near Ukraine a month before Moscow carried out the covert military operation to take over the strategic Black Sea peninsula in March 2014.
Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez, a spokesman for the U.S. European Command, told the Washington Free Beacon that the upcoming Russian exercises are being closely monitored.
Russian forces do not appear to be building up inside the occupied Crimean Peninsula along the border with Ukraine, he said.
However, over the past several months large numbers of Russian troops and tanks have been moving into eight bases stretching from Yelnya, near Smolensk and northeast of Ukraine, southward through Rostov—a city located very close to eastern Ukraine.
Defense officials said it is not clear whether the massing of forces is saber rattling by Moscow designed to coerce Ukraine into accepting the takeover of Crimea or preparations for further conflict. “Regardless of the reason, the warning time for Russian action has been greatly reduced” by the staging of forces near Ukraine, a second defense official said.
Russian military forces were identified by the officials at eight locations near the Ukrainian border: Yelnya, Klintsy, Valuyki, Boguchar, Millerovo, Persianovskiy, and bases called Rostov-1 and Rostov-2.
“For the next month the terrain is perfect for armor moving cross-country and the skies are clear for air,” Karber said. “The 24th of August is Ukraine’s Independence Day, which is when the Russians attacked in 2014. A successful campaign, with U.S. and NATO doing nothing but verbiage, re-establishes Russia as a major European Power that has to be dealt with and increases Putin’s popularity at home.”
Karber said a full-scale Russian military offen0sive likely would aim to seize key military-industrial areas such as the tank plant at Kharkiv, the missile factory at Dnepropetrovsk, the shipyard at Mykolyev, and the port of Odessa.
Russian forces also could drive into Ukraine from the northeast to the outskirts of Kiev and place the capital within artillery range in a bid to force a change of government.
“Loss of that much population, around 14 million people, and territory would effectively end Ukraine as a viable state,” Karber said, adding that the action would involve full-scale war, large numbers of refugees, and heavy casualties. It could also trigger anti-Russian guerrilla warfare.
Full article: Russian Military Forces Staging Near Ukraine (Washington Free Beacon)