Putin may launch invasion of Ukraine in Donbas, analysts say

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Press quote (Yahoo News)
19 February 2022

Ian Bond, a former British diplomat in Russia and current foreign policy director of the think-tank the Centre for European Reform, told Yahoo News that if Putin’s goal is to seize Donetsk and Luhansk, it “would significantly damage Ukraine’s economy because they’ve got a lot of heavy industry there.” But given Russia’s influence over the region already, limiting an invasion to those areas of Donbas would be “a bit of a consolation prize,” Bond said, that might not “justify the impact on the Russian economy that Western sanctions might have.”

...On the other hand, notes Centre for European Reform’s Ian Bond, Putin might use diplomatic pressure from France and Germany, who helped engineer the controversial ceasefire agreement called the Minsk Protocol, which Ukraine and Russia interpret differently, to try to whip Ukrainians into a frenzy, when all reports are they are calm and ready to fight Russia.

“If I’m Putin, I want to get people panicking and thinking there’s no point in fighting because they’re just going to get steamrolled.” Putin, he said, “could use the next few next days to ramp up diplomatic pressure, and get the French and Germans telling Zelenksy, ‘You’re not going to get any help from NATO, you need to fulfill the Minsk Agreements the way Russia wants them fulfilled.’”

“I’m sure,” Bond added, “Putin would rather achieve his objectives without having to go to war. But to do that, he’d have to increase the level of threat to the point where the opposition surrenders without having to fight.”

While stressing that he’s “not a military man,” Bond said he was looking at the possibility of an attack on Kyiv. Russia might also “make amphibious landings along the Black Sea coast near Odessa,” he added, thereby “effectively cutting off Ukraine from the sea.” Cities along the Black Sea, where over 30 Russian warships have been conducting military exercises over the past week, are seen as vulnerable by other analysts as well.