Ukraine, the map of the current situation and the 4 scenarios of the Russian invasion

Of Giuseppe Sarcina

Here are the scenarios considered most probable: from the most minimalist, the annexation of the Donbass; at its most devastating, the hybrid attack on Kiev

WASHINGTON – In close and constant contact with American intelligence agencies, Joe Biden Friday he said he was convinced that Vladimir Putin

it will attack Ukraine in the coming weeks, if not the next few days.

“We have reason to believe that they will attack Kiev,” said the president of the United States, who is waging an “information war” revealing all intelligence relationships, which by definition should remain confidential. It is not clear, however, how this aggression will take place: all at once, causing the biggest battle for a European territory since the Second World War; or through a series of smaller attacks, perhaps starting from Belarus and then gripping the Ukrainian capital. The American generals, in close contact with their colleagues in Kiev, are examining various scenarios. Here we reconstruct the four considered most probable
. From the most minimalist, the annexation of the Donbass; at most devastating, the hybrid attack on Kiev with the destabilization of the government of Volodymyr Zelenski.

The most likely: the invasion of the Donbass

The operation considered most likely is also the simplest for Moscow. Russian soldiers could officially enter the Donbassthe region of Eastern Ukraine which they have effectively controlled since 2014. There would be no clashes with the Ukrainian defense line, located west of Donetsk, the region’s capital. The pro-Russian formations would welcome the tanks bearing the Moscow insignia as “saviors”. On 11 May 2014, there was a sham referendum to sanction the “independence” of Donbass from Ukraine. Now the Kremlin could impose another to ratify its annexation to the Russian Federation. Of course, Westerners would not recognize the outcome of the consultation, as happened in March 2014 for Crimea. The Ukrainian army would not have the strength to go and take back the Donbass. Americans and Europeans could be divided on the extent of sanctions against Russia.

The most fearsome: the hybrid offensive towards Kiev

The most frightening scenario is the attack on Kiev. According to the Pentagon’s assessments, the Russian forces massed in the northern part of the border and those that could pass through Belarus are not enough to conquer the Ukrainian capital. But Putin could order a hybrid offensive. A deadly sequence of telematic raids would start, with the aim of putting the domestic heating network and telecommunications are out of order. At that point the capital would fall into chaos. The pro-Russians, who are already at work, would come out into the open, maneuvering in Parliament to overthrow the government of Volodymyr Zelensky and calling for “peace” with Moscow. If that’s not enough, starting from the end of February, the Russians could cross over, aiming at the cities of Sumy or Kharkiv (north-east of the country) and threatening an advance towards Kiev. In this case, the Western reaction would be very harsh.

The most aggressive: the control of the Sea of ​​Azov

The Donbass hypothesis has a more aggressive variant. The Russians would not be satisfied with annexation, but would carry out a plan conceived in 2014 and then abandoned. That is to say: expand southwards, conquering the port city of Mariupol (477,000 inhabitants) and reaching the Crimea. At that point Moscow would have full control of the Sea of ​​Azov and it would deprive Ukraine of an important commercial outlet, even if not as vital as the one on the Black Sea. At the same time, the Kremlin would solve the supply problems of Crimea, so far connected to the new motherland only by a road and rail bridge. The European Union had limited itself to a verbal protest in 2018 and 2019, when the links went into operation. On the military level, it is an operation within the reach of the Russian army, as it is deployed on the field now. The Ukrainians would be caught in the middle by enemies arriving from the north (Donbass) and from the south (Crimea).

The most “expensive”: goal odessa

The Russian offensive could also start from the Black Sea. Moscow can count on the military naval base of Sevastopol, in the Crimea. One can imagine, then, if not a real block of traffic, at least heavy disruptive actions on the routes leading to Odessa. The splendid Ukrainian city (990,000 inhabitants, historically considered the “mother of the Russian nation”) is also a fundamental hub for the country’s economy. About 50% of the country’s import-export passes through its port. From here the freighters with grain, coal and metals set sail. Here the basic necessities arrive. The turnover has decreased 10 times since 2014, when the Russians occupied Crimea and Donbass. And since then Odessa has lived in a precarious state of alarm. Pressure from the Russian fleet could lead to its collapse. It is no coincidence that NATO is moving war units to the Black Sea. Rapid land raids, departing from Crimea, as well as cyber attacks are not excluded.

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