Home World News has the russian-ukrainian war already started?

has the russian-ukrainian war already started?


As tension mounts between Russia and Ukraine, the international community is agitated and concerned about the possible outbreak of an armed conflict between the two countries. The week was very intense from a diplomatic point of view, between American-Russian summit, NATO meeting, and meeting of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). If we agree for the moment to see in this sequence above all a large-scale diplomatic crisis – the first of what it is now agreed to call the new cold war – how would a real war? Marianne questioned Michel Goya, colonel (st, in retirement) of the troops of Marine and recognized expert in military strategy.

Marianne:Several unclaimed cyberattacks have just been launched against the sites of Ukrainian ministries: Education and Science, Emergency Situations and Foreign Affairs. Could this constitute a declaration of war? Or its beginning? And more broadly how could a war between the two countries start?

Michael Goya: Yes and no, cyberattacks are not something new, it happens regularly. Today, we are in a context of “confrontation”, which in France we call “contestation”. One state puts pressure on another, we remain below the threshold of open war. This threshold is vague, there may be limited fights, but it is not said. It happened, and no one realized it, in the early 1960s in Borneo, between the British and the Indonesians. There were shows of force, displays of troops and aircraft carriers, but no war. In reality, there were fights in the jungle which claimed hundreds of lives.

In the Donbass in 2014-2015, no one said there was a war, and yet there was fighting. The Russians were saying “it’s not us, it’s the Donbass militiamen”. In this limited phase, everything is possible, economic pressures, the use of international law, disinformation, cyberattacks, shows of force. For there to be an official declaration of war, there would have to be a vote of Parliament. In France, it hasn’t been done since 1939. If we went to the next stage, two scenarios are possible. The first is to reproduce that of 2014. The Russians declare that Ukraine threatens the separatists of Donbass, and will send battalions to defend their citizens, holders of Russian passports. They settle in Donestk and Luhansk, fighting is limited, no air operations, as in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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The second is the massive invasion, from Crimea to the south, Kursk to the north and also Moldova to the west, which we tend to forget. And there is not necessarily a need for an official declaration of war by the Duma, the Russian Parliament. The means massed at the border by the Russians are considerable. The exercises that they carry out on their side are an ideal vector, they make it possible, if necessary, to mobilize them for actions of force. They permanently have about thirty GTIA (Combined Arms Battle Group), and now they must have between forty and fifty. With about one thousand two hundred tanks. For the record, we have two hundred. The objective is to neutralize Ukraine, and this is what was achieved with the Minsk agreements in 2015. The message is intended for Westerners, NATO, and President Biden: “ Do not set foot in Ukraine”.

Could such a trigger come rather from Russia, or from Ukraine?

Both. In 2014, Russia’s commitment came from the Ukrainian operation, the “anti-terrorist offensive” intended to regain control of the separatist territories. It started with artillery fire, they came in, and then the Russians crushed them! Since then, the Ukrainian army, which is all the same much weaker, has undoubtedly strengthened a little. One can imagine a large-scale operation by Russia, but it is unlikely. The escalation would be so huge, nobody wants it. And then the Russians are not very bold, they want to be sure of the success of their operation. They don’t like the blur too much.

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Given the forces at play, who would have the advantage?

The Russians, they are unquestionably the strongest. In 2015, they destroyed a battalion in forty-five minutes with multiple rocket launchers guided by drones, it scared everyone. They have very big abilities, which even we don’t have anymore. I wrote it in a file on Azerbaijan, the French army would have had very big difficulties in such a context. Nagorno-Karabakh, Ukraine, these are conflicts without planes. With the combination of multiple rocket launchers and drones, we have achieved something very powerful and dangerous.

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What could be the reactions of the international community and NATO?

Militarily, none. Otherwise we would have done it a long time ago. In 2014, if we had really wanted to, we would have sent a multinational armored brigade for protection, as France had done in Chad in 1983. These are called “reinsurance” operations, and NATO was able to to do in the Baltic countries in 2015. From the moment French or American soldiers are on the spot, at the Ukrainian border, the situation changes: if we had to intervene, we could do it, but we don’t dare.

Nobody wants a war with the Russians, and they don’t either. Already, the help provided by the Americans and the British, with a few advisers and equipment, greatly displeases Moscow. We could have carried out a major modernization plan for the Ukrainian army, but we didn’t, no one wants to escalate in this direction. If nothing happens militarily, however, this will lead to a major diplomatic crisis and economic sanctions.

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*Colonel Michel Goya is the author of The time of the cheetahs, France’s world war, from 1961 to the present day, Tallandier editions, 368 pages, 21.90 euros.

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