This summary will attempt to understand what happened between March 31 and April 22 when tensions between Ukraine and Russia nearly reached the boiling point. This article will be based on tweets, open sources, and speculation from third-party analysts. Keep in mind that no one expects the Kremlin’s inner circle to know what the original plans were and that this is also a way of trying to understand motivation and reason. Whoever claims to know what is going on is lying or promoting one side.
A strange start to this year.
On March 21, 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin met Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the Siberian jungle for a weekend. The photo showed a smiling boss riding off-road vehicles and eating a meal with Shoigu in the woods. After only three days, the movement of troops and equipment began to move to the Ukrainian border. It is likely that this was the meeting where the final decision was made, and some analysts have noted. The whole picture gave the first impression that the mustering was a beaver resin first and foremost. The second is the influx of equipment images that have reached the border. In thousands of tweets, we can see amateur analysts retweeting Russian photos of military equipment, usually followed by very unhelpful words like “This is bad / This is not good.” They were spreading more fear. However, analysts can take some clues as well. The Russians did not cover all the sensitive equipment that they usually do and were very open about troops and equipment.
On April 13, some researchers concluded that the state of war preparedness had ended, and by the fifteenth, the US military command had said the horde had halted and had formally canceled the two warships they promised to send to the Black Sea. Interestingly, the documents needed to cross the Bosphorus were sent in late March, which means that the US leadership was only sure that Russia was boasting at some point in mid-April and made the logical decision that the presence of American ships in the area increased the risk of conflict.
At least a week has passed since the United States is not sure of Russia’s intentions. Around this time, we saw some Western reactions, most notably the US Secretary of State Blinkin, who warned Russia in harsh words of the consequences if Russia started something in Ukraine. Several US, Canadian and British cargo planes landed at Boryspil airport, most likely bringing in military equipment. At some point, something happened that convinced the United States that Russia was not planning anything that would change the world order. The planes stopped arriving. Soon, it is back to work for the United States, which announced its long-planned sanctions on Russia. The reader should note that the United States is still providing aerial surveillance over the border area with drones.
Lack of detail
There were questions about the adequacy of the logistics supply – there was a lot of front-line equipment, it was displayed very publicly, but the secondary logistics of armies, fuel tanks, ammunition depots, and the field kitchen could not be seen anywhere. In 2016, when Russia rushed to armies near the border, offensive action was ruled out due to lack of logistics, this time around field hospitals were set up, but the fact that the BBC had broken into the area showed that this was something Russia wanted to show the world. .
In the Russian term, it could be a metaphor that the military trains in April for everything that comes from August to October. As the mud dries up and makes the country road possible to lead, thousands of new recruits come into service. Training is always intensified in this period, and in itself, the exercises conducted by Russia were not out of the ordinary, but the fact that everything happened near the border was so. As more and more troops arrived, they went over another checklist on what they needed to attack. While in 2016 the crisis was swiftly eliminated in terms of logistics, this time it felt different. Just as Moscow wanted. The Russian propaganda network at that time also exceeded its activity with the popular TV show Russia-1 Вечер с Владимиром оловьёвым / Sunday evening with Vladimir Solovov calling on Ukrainian fascists to be stopped. Ultimately, the Russian government issued a statement that television programs and public discussions did not reflect the government’s view of Ukraine.
2021 was the year Zelensky reversed his domestic politics. He was elected overwhelmingly in 2019 on the basis of a program to clean up corruption in the country. He tried to find common ground with Russia, which led to a prisoner exchange program and a little bit more. Frustrated by the lack of concessions Russia made, he began a policy friendlier to the West. Shouting in Russian TV channels and imposing sanctions on Putin’s man in Kiev, Viktor Medvedchuk. Perhaps it is against his background that Putin decided to show who he is Russia in the region.
Some analysts speculate that Ukraine pushed the situation after a schedule of rotation of forces in the frontline in Donbas. He added that Zelensky had an additional tank battalion along the border. How true this is remains to be seen as it was difficult to find any sources to support this.
Since Ukraine can never hope to win a direct confrontation against Russian forces, the Donbas people’s republics will collapse in a short time without the help of Russia, a giant in the armed forces. Ukraine has turned from a corrupt and ineffective army to a regular, functional army, with some fighting fought in a potential conflict, making the price of the invasion slightly higher in terms of blood. However, LPR and DPR soldiers are in all classes a militia without any naval or air force. The conflict between Ukraine and the People’s Republic will be much shorter than the war between Ukraine and Russia. In this term, analysts can speculate that the Russian development was a strong signal that nothing would happen with the Donbas without their permission. Shoigu and Putin saw that the annual testing of troops in the Crimea and the western part near Ukraine was an excellent way to beat two flies with one swing.
An all-out invasion of Ukraine was likely never an option. Such an operation would have required far more resources and would be the largest conflict on European soil since World War II, potentially turning it into a global war. For comparison, the population of Yugoslavia before the split was 22 million, and there are 44 million in Ukraine. The losses could have been in hundreds of thousands of indirect combat only. This would have been the complete economic collapse of Russia because the international community would have pulled it out of every international agreement like SWIFT and foreign exchange trade. Even Germany could not defend its economic ties with the country anymore.
The world doesn’t work like Victoria 2 anymore. You cannot place your forces on the capital of a neighboring country until you have the option to join. Analysts also saw the land grab theory unlikely to occur. The water shortage crisis in Crimea is severe for Russia, but trying to control the dam in Ukraine costs several times what it takes to ship water or build new infrastructure. Moreover, some analysts note that Russian National Guard Do not spread to the front lines. This unit was tasked with controlling the population in a hostile environment and was needed if there were concrete plans to pacify the newly acquired area. If Russia took control of the canal, it would take years to modernize and protect it from Ukrainian sabotage.
What remains after that is an escalation in the Donbas region. Most likely, many people have warned Zelensky not to fall into a trap like Mikhail Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and current head of the Ukrainian National Reform Council. In 2008 he ordered his forces to respond to the escalation in South Ossetia, which gave Russia a reason to invade. Ukrainian forces around Donbas did not respond to sniper fire and repelled mortar shelling, a move praised by the Western world. By April 21, the momentum at the border was extinguished as the increasingly hostile rhetoric from Russian TV channels subsided. With Putin’s anti-climate rhetoric on the 21st, the crisis seemed to have reached its climax.
As a side note, there was also the involvement of the Belarusian president on April 18th, as he claimed here that the United States attempted to turn the country over and kill him. By this time, we noticed some Belarusian forces moving into the southwestern part of the country, which led to speculation about the country’s role in this reinforcement. Moreover, Lukashenko promised to announce a change, which he described as the largest in his presidency. Since he was scheduled to meet with Putin the day after the nation’s final speech, it was believed and in some cases speculated that the long talk of the Union State was taking place. But the meeting was nothing and the announcement that Lukashenko has empowered the Security Council, where his son would be an influential member if he is assassinated. In those three days between April 21 and April 23, the situation was basically over.
While the crisis appears to be easing, it would be wrong to say if there is a winner and a loser, the cards have been reorganized. It appears that the United States and the Biden administration have managed to play the cards right by stepping aside Russia and China while offering support to Ukraine. After all, no war is the best success ever. Russia tested its infrastructure, prepared a hasty campaign for the future, and got its climax with Biden. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy secured support from Erdogan, although the Foreign Ministry later announced vaguely that it was neutral in the conflict. He also received his long-awaited call with Biden and made a $ 300 million check for new weapons. Money that, if well spent, could fill some of the weaknesses of the Ukrainian military. Anti-aircraft weapons, communication equipment and naval expansions should be high on Kiev’s wish-list.
Although opinion polls have not yet returned, Zelensky may have emerged from this situation as his popularity continued and fresh winds pushed his reforms forward. However, his two-year term as president saw a slowdown in the armed forces’ budget. One of Poroshenko’s greatest successes was the transformation in the army. Ukrainian and Western officials say that the more vital armed forces in Kiev will increase the military cost to Russia as a result of the incursion or invasion. The Ukrainian army has evolved from a group of trained soldiers backed by volunteer battalions into more professional corps, hardened by years of fighting. However, it also demanded around 4% of the country’s GDP. It was understood that Zelensky, who had been voted for a local office and the fight against corruption, wanted to transfer those resources. Now he will have to follow the position of his predecessor in building an army.
However, there are some clear losers in this. Many professional NGOs and analysts used public channels to spread fear and conclude that war was imminent, while some managed to be objective about the situation.
The other losers are the civilians in the occupied territories and the periphery of the front. Despite this crisis, the situation has reached a dead end and Kiev will not revert to the Minsk Agreement.